MEDINAH, Ill. • A unique part of playing for Europe in the Ryder Cup is that you not only are representing your continent, you're representing your country.
In Nicolas Colsaerts' case, he is representing Belgium in a Ryder Cup for the first time. He's going to be a hard act to follow if his performance on Friday is any indication.
Playing with Lee Westwood, Colsaerts almost single-handily defeated the pair of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in afternoon four-ball, getting a 1-up decision for Europe. The rookie made his debut by making eight birdies and an eagle, four times negating birdies by Woods.
"I don't know what to say," Colsaerts, 29, explained. "You know, when you're a kid and you dream about playing in this tournament, you (dream of getting) a chance to go out with somebody like Lee, who has a lot of experience. I felt comfortable going out with Lee."
Maybe so, but Westwood didn't offer much help in terms of performance. The veteran did not contribute a single birdie to the fight.
"I had the best seat in the house," Westwood joked. "It was a pleasure to watch and a joy to watch, I have to admit. You never know how people are going to react in their first Ryder Cup. I think he took it quite nicely."
Perhaps the biggest moment for Colsaerts, and Europe for that matter, came at No. 17. With the Americans trailing 1-down, Woods threatened to even the match by putting his tee shot on the par-3 within three feet of the flag.
But Colsaerts erased the advantage by rolling in a twisting 25-foot birdie putt in front of Woods. Europe maintained its edge and closed the match out on the final hole.
"When you know Tiger is going to make two, either one of us was going to have to hole (our putts)," Colsaerts said. "As much as I read a lot of putts very right today, I had a pretty good read on that one, too.
"Just all of these putts, they just went in the perfect pace, the right side of the hole, which is something that doesn't happen very often. So, it was my first uncontrolled Ryder Cup reaction, as all of you would have seen. It's a pretty special moment you can be proud of, I guess, yeah."
woods now a BENCH WARMER
When pairings were announced for this morning's foursomes, Woods was on the bench. Woods joins Stricker, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson on the sidelines. It is the first time Woods ever has sat out a Ryder Cup session. The development must be surprising to Ian Poulter.
The European pair of Poulter and Justin Rose defeated Woods and Stricker in the opening Ryder Cup session Friday morning, a 2-and-1 outcome that was critical for Europe. The match was the last to conclude in the morning and lifted the visiting team into a 2-2 tie.
When afternoon four-ball began, Woods and Stricker were back in the saddle for Team USA. But Poulter was one of four players European captain Jose Maria Olazabal rested.
"It's not disappointing," said Poulter, who joined Francesco Molinari, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia on the afternoon bench. "I would love to have played five matches, but I realize we are a team. That team is very, very strong this year and Ollie really wanted to kind of get everybody playing on Friday."
Woods and Stricker did little to earn their afternoon start. They finished with a combined score of 1-over against Poulter-Rose, an uneven performance that included many awkward moments. Still, Poulter suggested sitting Woods would be difficult for any U.S. captain.
"He's Tiger Woods," Poulter explained. "Is Davis Love going to sit Tiger Woods? He's a brave man."