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  • December 15, 2017 11:34 PM GMT

    CHASKA, Minn. -- Phil Mickelson was facing the prospect of a withering public beatdown, and man did he know it. This is why he could not sleep. This is why his heartbeat was pounding in his ears as he entered the arena for the 11th Ryder Cup of his career.Mickelson had brought it on himself, of course. Hed undressed a legend, Tom Watson, two years ago at Gleneagles, and hed spent part of this week reintroducing Hal Sutton to his most stubborn Ryder Cup haunt: a foolish, 12-year-old decision to pair Mickelson with a rival who couldnt stand him, Tiger Woods. It seemed Lefty had ripped every American captain except Captain America.But what he did to Watson in that infamous news conference, all but smashing a lemon meringue pie in the mans sun-beaten face, started the buildup to this moment. Mickelson had a losing Ryder Cup record (16-19-2) and had been a part of eight losing American teams. He ended up on a Ryder Cup Task Force, and then on a committee -- with Woods, Davis Love III and a small handful of PGA of America suits -- to lord over a biennial event dominated by European teams that forever took advantage of Mickelsons wayward aim off the tee.In other words, Lefty planted himself on the end of a long and lonely limb. He was the guy who gave that unfortunate thumbs-up to Justin Rose at Medinah, who blamed Watson for everything but the breakfast options in Scotland, and who figured Suttons long-forgotten choice to team him with Woods was a subject worth revisiting.I felt it last night, Mickelson said Friday as he stood near Hazeltines 18th green, right after Lefty and Rickie Fowler finished off Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan in a morning sweep of the Europeans in the 41st Ryder Cup.I had felt it for two years coming. I knew that this was going to be a pressure-packed Ryder Cup, but yet I thrive on that, Mickelson added. I couldve totally sat out this morning, but that wouldve been a big cop-out, you know? Stand up and go play and win your point.Mickelson had no choice but to win that point. The Ryder Cup forces golfers, card-carrying individualists, to assume the team-sport burdens assigned to the LeBron Jameses and Tom Bradys of the world. It isnt easy when youre playing for a circle of men depending on you, when youre playing for a cause bigger than a new four-car garage. Its even harder when youre playing for your country.Thats why this competition is so much fun. Big-name golfers cant hide at the Ryder Cup. They cant cash a big check for finishing 14th and then jump into a waiting courtesy car for a ride to a private jet and another week of fully catered living.Golfers are treated here like NFL, NBA and MLB players -- and then some. If a superstar in another sport trashes his captain or gets his coach fired, and then fails to perform in the biggest games, hes destroyed by media and fans.An old hand at 46, Mickelson was experienced enough to know that tidal wave was heading right at him. This is a match, he said, where I felt more pressure than I felt in any Ryder Cup.The pressure was so intense, Love said, that the U.S. captain debated whether to bench his oldest player for the first half of the Friday doubleheader.He went through a lot the last few days, Love said. He and Hal had some tough conversations and made up, and Phil was really upset about that. And so we worried about sticking him right out there this morning. We asked him, Are you ready to go?Yes, Phil said, he was ready to go. Asking for a timeout until the afternoon, Mickelson conceded, would have been a total weak move.About as weak as his tee shot on the sixth hole, a ball Mickelson sent whistling out of bounds. Fowler responded with his own alternate-shot crime, landing his drive up against a fence and forcing Lefty to attempt a right-handed slash with an inverted clubface -- the resulting line drive nearly struck a credentialed observer nearby. Mickelson and Fowler were already down two holes to Sullivan and McIlroy, who had the Ryder Cup track record to mock the disbanded U.S. task force and Loves claim that his was the best golf team, maybe, ever assembled.It looked bad -- really, really bad -- for Mickelson, at least until his younger friend started talking some sense into him. This guy, Lefty said of Fowler, loosened me up. Thats why I wanted him as my partner. He knows what to say and when to say it.Fowler did his talking with his clubs at No. 9, capping a run of three straight winning U.S. holes by chipping in. The Europeans stormed back to take a seemingly safe two-hole lead with four to play, a momentum swing that unleashed all of McIlroys fist-pumping, primal-screaming fury. But even though Mickelson had been driving it all over the joint for the sake of old times, Fowlers patience and light touch kept the old man in the game.Rickies laughing at Phil for hitting it out of bounds, Love said, rather than stomping off and getting mad. ... Phil can hit a few bad drives and Rickie can handle it.Fowler handled it far better than Woods did in 2004, when a fatal Mickelson misfire left Tiger shooting daggers Leftys way. After Mickelson won the 15th with a par putt, Fowler helped him recover from another accidental drive on the par-5 16th and put Mickelson in position to hit his sweet approach shot. That birdie preceded the mornings most damaging mistake: Sullivans tee shot into the water at 17.The Americans carried a one-hole lead to the 18th, and Mickelson honored his two primary responsibilities -- he kept his drive in play, and then he deftly lag putted for a conceded par that forced McIlroy to make a birdie he didnt make. When it was over, Mickelson sank into a long hug with Fowler, and then a longer one with his wife, Amy, who confirmed her husband had been too nervous this week to sleep.What I love about Phil, she said, is that hes as hardworking and passionate and invested as he was when [I was] in college and he was in his first Ryder Cup. Im proud of him. Im proud of the way he mentors guys. Im proud of the role he has in the room. On the other side of this successful partnership, Fowler had exorcised some demons of his own. He entered the day with a 0-3-5 Ryder Cup record -- and a whole lot of people wondered why he was even picked for the team, never mind the task force.Fowler made his own personal history with his first Ryder Cup victory (someone get the kid a cookie). And yet his biggest Round 1 contribution was found in the way he elevated a partner in dire need.I certainly played tight today, Mickelson said. I didnt play the way I wanted to off the tee. But Rickie was able to get the best out of me, and get me to hit some iron shots I needed to hit, and to get me to perform. We showed a lot of heart there those last four holes to win that match.It was a good thing, too, given the potential consequences of failure. Love chose to rest a spent Mickelson in the afternoon, when the Europeans predictably started draining all those putts theyd lipped out in the morning.Nobody knows better than Love, captain of that sinking Medinah ship, that anything can happen over the weekend, including another all-American meltdown. But above all else Friday, the home team couldnt afford its outspoken leader and most prominent player to fall flat on his face.Phil Mickelson didnt collapse under the weight of his own fears. As hopeful Ryder Cup signs go, it was a strong red, white and blue start. Zapatillas Vans Baratas . Murray beat Sam Querrey 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-3 to clinch Britains opening-round victory against the United States on Sunday at Petco Park. "Im proud of the way Im playing just now, because I had to do a lot of work to get back to where I want to be," Murray said after celebrating with his teammates on the red clay court in a temporary stadium in left field of the downtown home of baseballs San Diego Padres. Vans Old Skool Negras .com) - The game was all punts and field goals before Kodi Whitfields catch. http://www.zapatillasvansoutlet.es/ . -- There were so many positives from the Orlando Magics first victory of the season that it was hard for coach Jacque Vaughn to stop praising his players. Zapatillas Vans Outlet . Takahashi, who had a 10-point lead after the short program, received 268.31 points after the free skate to finish 15 points ahead of second-place Nobunari Oda. 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