"You need momentum on your side and, unfortunately, we didn't have it today," Garcia said.
Neither did Woods and Steve Stricker, who were in trouble from the first tee and fell 2-and-1 to Ian Poulter and Justin Rose for their third straight loss in match play. The two had little time to dwell on the loss, however, facing Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts in the final afternoon match.
European captain Jose Maria Olazabal sent McIlroy, the world No. 1, and McDowell, who delivered the winning point two years ago, out first in hopes they would get Europe off to a quick start. His plan appeared to be working, as an unfavorable relief ruling on the second hole fired the Northern Irish duo up. Two holes later, McIlroy chipped in from behind the green for the first of four straight birdies.
The world No. 1 screamed and threw a roundhouse punch when the ball went in the cup, and slapped McDowell's hand so hard his friend will likely be feeling it the rest of the day.
They were 3 up through 12 holes and the momentum was infectious, with Europe leading all four matches at one point.
Bradley was rolling in one putt after another, and he and Mickelson won four straight holes to close out their match against Donald and Garcia.
"It was one of the most memorable days of my life so far," Bradley said.