Ryder Cup Rookies Bubba Watson, Jeff Overton Help U.S. to Lead Over Europe

A stellar debut from Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton helped the U.S. into the early lead at golf’s Ryder Cup.

The Americans beat Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington by three holes with two remaining, or 3 and 2. The U.S. took a 2 1/2 to 1 1/2 lead today after the opening four-ball matches in Newport, Wales. The pairing of the Ryder Cup rookies against a duo that has played in the event a combined seven times raised some eyebrows when it was announced.

“His putter was hot this morning and I love him as a partner,” Watson, 31, told reporters after the win.

The pair took an early lead in the match yesterday with birdies on the first two holes before a seven-hour rain delay. When play resumed this morning, a birdie by Donald on the eighth hole cut the lead to one.

Overton, 27, then ran off four straight birdies to put his team 3-up, then added another to halve the 15th hole. The match ended one hole later when both teams made par.

“We got off to a bad start and Jeff birdieing those five holes when we came back didn’t help,” Harrington said. “He played great.”

U.S. captain Corey Pavin said he wanted to get the two out on the course as early as possible so they wouldn’t get too excited.

“They are both energetic individuals and they get the adrenaline flowing,” Pavin said yesterday. “I just thought that they would have a fun time together and enjoy being out there and kind of just feed off each other.

The move was so successful Pavin kept the duo together for today’s foursome, or alternating shot, matches where it faces Donald and fellow Englishman Ian Poulter, Europe’s top scorer at the 2008 Ryder Cup.

‘‘That should be fun,” Overton said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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