From the solitude of a morning practice round to the cheers of the gallery at dusk, Jose Maria Olazabal returned to the Ryder Cup on Friday afternoon from a short, and self-imposed, sabbatical.
After benching himself in the morning alternate shot matches -- snapping a perfect attendance record spanning five previous Ryder Cup appearances -- Olazabal paired with Miguel Angel Jimenez in the afternoon fourball to beat Hal Sutton and Jeff Maggert, 2 and 1.
"Obviously, it was a difficult decision for me not to play in the morning," Olazabal said after the European pair clinched a point with a par 4 on No. 17. "But I think it was the right thing to do."
Instead, Olazabal spent the time on the course, trying to rescue a swing that has caused him to miss the cut in two majors -- he withdrew in the third, the U.S. Open, when he broke his hand punching a wall -- since winning the Masters in April.
On Friday, he was criss-crossing the fairways through his round, putting him between an access road and the gallery on No. 15 before he saved par with a 4. "I still missed some tee shots that I was not pleased with," he said before trying to beat the sunset with a few more practice holes.
Sutton and Maggert were the only Americans to win their morning foursome match as the Europeans took a 6-2 lead after the first day. But Olazabal and Jimenez outplayed them, winning the first hole on Jimenez's birdie and holding a two-hole lead for 14 of the last 15 holes.
Golfers can play a minimum of one and a maximum of five matches in a Ryder Cup. For the first two days, in both morning and afternoon, the captain must choose eight members of the 12-man team to play and four to sit; all 12 play singles on Sunday.
Although Olazabal had never sat out in five previous Ryder Cups -- that's 25 of a possible 25 matches, with a 14-8-3 record -- he went to European captain Mark James on Thursday and said his driving was too erratic to play in the alternate shot format. James obliged by leaving him out of the draw.
"I'm quite happy with what Jose tells me," said James, who as captain has kept close tabs on all of his players' progress. "There's no secrets in that team room. It's an open book."
Colin Montgomerie complained about the size of the driving range when he arrived at The Country Club. It didn't take him long to take issue with something else when the Ryder Cup matches began.
Phil Mickelson and David Duval took an early lead in their alternate-shot match against Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie when Mickelson played a flop shot to within a foot for birdie at No. 6, and Montgomerie missed a 10-footer.
PGA official Bill Clarke announced the score incorrectly -- "Europe 3, United States 4, Europe is plus-1" -- and Montgomerie tried to correct him.
After Europe won the next hole to tie the match, Montgomerie approached another PGA official.
"He's got it all wrong, and he's walked in my line twice," Montgomerie said. The Scotsman said when he tried to point out the errors to Clarke, the official told him, "I'm too old and too decrepit. There's nothing I can do about it."
It didn't seem to matter. Europe won the opening match, 3 and 2.
When Payne Stewart hit a shot into a bunker to the left of the 17th green Friday morning, one spectator to the right of the green apparently didn't see where the ball landed.
Emma Villacieros, the chairman of the Spanish golf federation, tapped Sergio Garcia's mother on the shoulder and asked, "El bunker?"
"Si," Garcia's mother said. "Bunker."
A 49-year-old man was revived after suffering a heart attack at the Ryder Cup. He was one of more than a half-dozen spectators with possible heart attacks at The Country Club by noon Friday, according to Dr. Charles Tracy, a club member and part of the event's medical team.
The man was standing near the 13th green during practice Thursday as Tiger Woods was approaching. The man collapsed and paramedics who arrived quickly found him unconscious and with no pulse. "They shocked him once and he woke up. I have to believe we saved one man," Tracy said.
Of all the U.S. players, soft-spoken Maggert seemed least likely to issue remarks that would become bulletin-board stuff.
But Maggert uttered the same words Ben Hogan and Raymond Floyd used in years past: that the U.S. Ryder team has "the 12 best players in the world."