Sergio Garcia didn’t have his A-game at Gleneagles on Friday. In fact, he might not even have had his B-game as he played alongside Rory McIlroy in the afternoon foursomes, but he hit the shot of the day with his second on the par-5 18th.
McIlroy’s drive left Garcia in the right rough. While Sergio acknowledged he had a decent lie, he launched a spectacular five-wood to about 15-feet for eagle. Though McIlroy missed the putt, the tap-in birdie was conceded and the Europeans walked away with a half point from the American pair of Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.
The only USA red on the scoreboard for most of the day during afternoon foursomes came from that match. It looked like the Americans had the match in the bag as they headed to the 16th hole in command at 2-up. But, coincidentally enough, similar to what Fowler and Walker did to Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn in the morning fourball session — winning two of the last three holes to steal a half point — McIlroy and Garcia responded, birdieing the last three holes and winning the last two to salvage a halve.
“We needed it, we really did,” said McIlroy, referring to their wonderful finish. “We were making life difficult for ourselves out there. I don’t think either of us was playing from the fairways very much.
“We were 3-under for the last three holes…Sergio had the shot of the day at the last. It was big, and at least we get something out of the day. We played two really tough matches and we have half a point to show for it.”
(The duo only hit three fairways in their afternoon foursomes match.)
Added Garcia: “I felt like I owed him a lot today.”
Rory countered, “We owed each other a lot, I think.”
While Garcia had the shot of the day, it was McIlroy who slam-dunked a 35-footer for a brilliant and very timely birdie on the par-3 17th to extend the match to the 18th hole.
“It was one of those you knew what you needed to do,” said McIlroy. “There was actually a little short of piece of dirt or I don’t know what it was in the line, and it was sort of embedded in the ground, so I couldn’t move it. Sergio said it was easier to hit the hole than hit that. I stood up and it was going at quite a speed, and I was lucky to hit the hole.”
It was truly a team effort that seemed more like a win than a halve.
Meanwhile, for the Americans, it felt more like a loss.
“Half point is still a half point,” said Fowler. “It’s puts a half point on the board for us. Unfortunately, it hurts a little bit because we were up and we had control of the match coming in. Rory made an awesome putt on 17, and that’s out of our control. Jimmy and I played well today. We had a great ball striking day. We didn’t get many putts to go in.”
Walker, who played beautifully in his Ryder Cup debut, reiterated that there was only so much they could do, especially with McIlroy draining the bomb on them on the 17th.
“There is nothing you can do about that,” he said. “We put ourselves in position to make a par and it’s a good par hole. He makes a great putt there. The last hole, it shifted there way. It’s amazing how different a feel it is from the morning to the afternoon. Still pointing points on the board.”
Walker and Fowler contributed a full point combined on Friday to the American total of 3. They’re eager to get back after it on Saturday for a bit of redemption and Captain Tom Watson is giving them the opportunity. The pair will play in Saturday fourballs against McIlroy and Ian Poulter at 8:20 local.