September 29, 2012
After the first day of the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, Illinois, the American team had played themselves into an early lead. After the morning foursomes, the scores were all square at 2-2, but a fantastic afternoon session saw the Americans win three of the four matches to take a commanding 5-3 lead.
With two days left to play – including 12 points available in the singles on Sunday – the competition is still wide open but it would need a good performance from the Europeans to catch up. Both captains shuffled their sides around to try and find more successful pairings.
Saturday Morning Foursomes
The first foursome of the morning session had European pair of Justin Rose and Ian Poulter against Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. In a change to the American procession that followed in the morning session, the European pair took the first hole with a birdie. The Americans took holes three and five to move into the lead before the Europeans won three holes out of four from the ninth to move into a lead of two. Pulling back the 16th hole wasn’t enough for the Americans to draw level leaving Team Europe to take their only points of the morning session.
The second foursome match pitched the American pairing of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley against Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. The American pair won both games they played yesterday and continued this fine form in the biggest thrashing of the tournament. The American’s won the first two holes, and then took hole six, seven, nine, ten and eleven to win 7&6.
The third foursome had a new European pairing of Nicolas Colsaerts and Sergio Garcia take on Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. The American pair first played together in the four-balls yesterday and won that match. This match was yet another where the Americans took an early lead, this time on the second hole and extended it to two on the fourth. The European pair managed to stead themselves and pulled back on holes six and eleven to level the tie. This did not last and the Americans took the next two holes to reassert their two hole lead. A European birdie on the 16th brought the lead down to one before Johnson sunk a 30 foot putt on the 17th to take the match 2&1.
The final match-up of the morning session saw the Northern Irish pairing of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell take on the American pair of Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker in a repeat of the first match from Friday. Friday’s match saw the Europeans take the point on the final hole and they were hoping for a repeat performance.
Like yesterday, the American’s took an early lead on the first hole and then extended this by taking the fifth to go 2 up. A mistake on the eighth hole let the Europeans pull one back before the American pair extended their advantage again on the 11th. A birdie on the 16th pulled the deficit back to 1, but the Americans held on to take the match by 1 hole.
By the end of the morning session, the Americans had moved into an ominous 8-4 lead at the halfway stage of the tournament.
Saturday Afternoon Four-Ball
With the European challenge losing momentum, the American crowd and players were in a buoyant mood and hopeful of getting into an even better position before the singles on Sunday.
The first four-ball match saw Nicolas Colsaerts and Paul Lawrie take on Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar. Just like in the morning games, the Americans struck early and raced into a two hole lead after three holes. Good play by the Europeans pulled it back to all square by the seventh hole. The Americans retook the lead on the tenth and held by one until the 16th when it was pulled back to all square. However, the American pair took the next hole and the match by one.
The second match had Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari play against Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. After sharing the first two holes, the American pair took the lead on the third hole. They extended the lead on the 7th, 10th, 13th and 14th holes to take the match 5&4.
The third four-ball had Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald playing against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker. Before Friday, the European pairing of Garcia and Donald was unbeaten in Ryder Cup matches, and the American pair had lost both games they played on Friday. This game followed the form book, with the European pairing racing into a three hole lead after the first four holes. Strickler pulled back one at the fifth hole but Luke Donald took holes eight and nine to put Europe four up. Tiger Woods led a fight back on the back nine, but it wasn’t enough and the Europeans won the match by one.
The last match of the day had Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter taking on Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. Yet again, the Americans got off to a great start and won the first two holes. Ian Poulter took the honors at the fourth to reduce the lead to one before Dufner extended it to two again on the seventh. A late fight back saw McIlroy take the 13th before Poulter took the 15th and 16th to swing the tie to Europe. The match ended with Europe winning by one.
After two days play, the Americans have got a great lead by 10-6. Two of the four sessions have ended all square and the other two have been won by the Americans 3-1. Surprisingly none of the eight matches so far have been halved. With just the singles to play, the Americans are in a strong position, but it would not take much for the Europeans to come back into it tomorrow.