Europe have one hand on the Ryder Cup after fouresomes surge
GLENEAGLES, SCOTLAND // European golfers tightened their grip on the Ryder Cup, stretching their lead over the United States to 10-6 after Saturday’s foursomes and fourball matches at Gleneagles.
It left Tom Watson’s American squad needing to match the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history to take the trophy.
Holders Europe outscored the US side 3 1/2 to 1 1/2 in afternoon foursomes matches for the second day in a row, the final blow a six-foot putt by Justin Rose allowing him and Martin Kaymer to halve with unbeaten US rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
“We worked hard for our half point,” Rose said. “Feels good.”
The US team must swipe 8 1/2 points from Sunday’s 12 concluding singles matches to reach 14 1/2 and win for the first time in Europe since 1993.
Europe need only 14 points to keep the trophy and are in a strong position to win for the sixth time in seven tries and eighth time in the past 10 Cups.
But both sides are mindful the deficit can be overcome. Europe rallied on the last day from 10-6 down in 2012 in the Miracle at Medinah for a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 triumph, matching the record victory comeback famously staged by the US squad at Brookline in 1999.
“We’re obviously in a good position,” said world No 1 Rory McIlroy. “But we all remember what happened two years ago. No complacency on our side.
“We have to go out there tomorrow and get the job done.”
The Americans lead the all-time rivalry 25-12 with two halved.
A two-foot par putt miss by Reed at 16 squared the pivotal match but a bogey at 17 ended Europe dreams of an unpecedented foursomes sweep.
Rose found a bunker at 18 but Kaymer blasted out to six feet and Rose made the putt to stay undefeated after three earlier pairs wins.
England’s Lee Westwood and Welshman Jamie Donaldson took the first afternoon foursomes point, beating Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar 2 and 1.
Graeme McDowell and French rookie Victor Dubuisson beat Americans Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker 5 and 4. The US duo had halved three prior matches but Fowler remained winless in Cup play.
McIlroy, the reigning British Open and PGA Championship champion, and Sergio Garcia followed with a 3 and 2 triumph over Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan.
Electrifying early foursomes matches set an epic shotmaking tone, with Rose and Henrik Stenson combining for a Cup-match record 12 birdies, including closing with 10 in a row, to defeat Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson 3 and 2.
“It is amazing,” Rose said. “I really got into reading the greens well and I just had the feeling of anticipation of what it was going to feel like to make putts. When you get into that mind-set, and you just see the ball going in the hole and you get those positive vibes, today was a day it all happened for me.”
The combined 21 birdies by both duos was also a Cup record.
Rose and Sweden’s Stenson, who sat out the later session with a tight back, each had five birdies in the closing run, the Englishman making seven in all.
“That was something special,” Stenson said. “It might be a highlight to put on the big screen with the grandkids one day.”
Kuchar birdied the sixth hole to give the US duo a 2-up lead. Then came the 10-birdie run, which ended when Rose chipped from the rough at the par-5 16th.
“What a team,” Kuchar said. “It was impressive what they were doing, just birdie after birdie. Ten in a row. Awfully tough to beat that.”
And Ian Poulter, the hero of Europe’s 2012 fightback victory at Medinah, awoke late to join Rory McIlroy in halving with Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.
“That halved match was huge for us,” Europe captain Paul McGinley said.
Poulter pitched in for a birdie to halve the 15th and made a birdie putt to win the 16th and square the match, the captain’s pick re-energized to his chest-thumping, arm-pumping peak after struggling early.
“Funny things happen, don’t they? Late delivery. Second-class post,” Poulter said. “A time where we needed something to happen. Looking like that match is going to go 2-up and then obviously holing that and turning one over on the next hole makes a massive difference.”
McIlroy followed at 18 with a chip from deep rough to within inches of the cup for birdie and Fowler missed a long eagle putt to leave them deadlocked.
“As soon as he chipped in, I was like, ‘Here we go again,’” McIlroy said. “We held strong out there.”
The result blunted a US fightback that saw Furyk and Mahan beat Donaldson and Westwood 4 and 3 while Spieth and Reed downed Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn 5 and 3.
Results after Saturday
Match 5 Jamie Donaldson/Lee Westwood (Europe) beat Zach Johnson/Matt Kuchar (USA) 2 and 1
Match 6 Sergio Garcia/Rory McIlroy (Europe) beat Jim Furyk/Matt Kuchar (USA) 3 and 2
Match 7 Martin Kaymer/Justin Rose (Europe) halved with Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed (USA)
Match 8 Victor Dubuisson/Graeme McDowell (Europe) beat Jimmy Walker/Rickie Fowler (USA) 5 and 4
Europe 6 1/2 United States 5 1/2
Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson (Europe) bt Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar (USA) 3 and 2
Jim Furyk/Hunter Mahan (USA) bt Jamie Donaldson/Lee Westwood (Europe) 4 and 3
Patrick Reed/Jordan Spieth (USA) bt Thomas Bjorn/Martin Kaymer (Europe) 5 and 3
Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter (Europe) halved with Jimmy Walker/Rickie Fowler (USA)
Jamie Donaldson/Lee Westwood (Europe) bt Jim Furyk/Matt Kuchar (USA) 2-up
Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson (Europe) bt Hunter Mahan/Zach Johnson (USA) 2 and 1
Rory McIlroy/Sergio Garcia (Europe) halved with Jimmy Walker/Rickie Fowler (USA)
Victor Dubuisson/Graeme McDowell (Europe) bt Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley (USA) 3 and 2
Europe 3 1/2 United States 1/2
Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson (Europe) bt Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson (USA) 5 and 4
Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed (USA) bt Stephen Gallacher/Ian Poulter (Europe) 5 and 4
Thomas Bjorn/Martin Kaymer (Europe) halved with Rickie Fowler/Jimmy Walker (USA)
Keegan Bradley/Phil Mickelson (USA) bt Sergio Garcia/Rory McIlroy (Europe) 1-up
Europe 1 1/2 United States 2 1/2
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Updated: September 27, 2014 04:00 AM