Well, well, well – here we are again. Four years ago at Medinah, the United States team (captained by Davis Love III) led after Saturday’s matches with a margin of 9 ½ to 6 ½. All looked to be trending toward the U.S. as Saturday moved into Sunday. But unless you’ve lived under a rock, you know what happened on Sunday. A bloodbath of epic proportions ensued, as the Euros came roaring back, completing the greatest comeback in the history of the Ryder Cup.
Will history repeat itself four years later in the Midwest? Or will DL3’s latest band of brothers exorcise the demons from 2012 and snap the Europeans hold on the Ryder Cup? Only 12 singles matches stand in the way. But before they tee off, here’s our recap of Day 2:
MATCH OF THE DAY
Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello (Europe) vs. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed (United States)
Morning Foursomes, Match Halved
If the Europeans end up retaining the Ryder Cup this year, this is where they earned the crucial half-point to put them over the edge. This match was done. D-O-N-E. Spieth and Reed were dominating, well on their way to another full-point for the American. The juggernaut team for the USA was four up with six holes left to play … when Spanish Armada 3.0 came to life. Garcia and Cabrera Bello won four of the final six holes to split the match and steal a critical half-point, which could be a difference-maker on Sunday.
Phil Mickelson, United States
We were totally set throw Lefty the goat title after his showing in the morning. He forced himself back out there with Rickie Fowler, simply because they got a full point on Friday morning in the foursomes. (Failing to recognize that it’s hard beat a two-man team when you – Rory McIlroy – are playing abset your partner.) Mickelson and Fowler were smacked 4 & 2 by McIlroy and Thomas Pieters. Instead of forcing the issue, Mickelson went out in the afternoon on Saturday, paired with Matt Kuchar – someone who he should’ve been with all these years. A perfect blend of gambler and conservative, Mickelson shined like never before at the Ryder Cup. He made great shots around the green, sank putts and helped the U.S. win an important full point.
Lee Westwood, Europe
Conversely, if the Europeans fail to retain the cup, you can point right to the Westwood’s missed putts on the 17th and 18th greens which cost his team. Those were gimme putts, which a stalwart like Westwood should’ve drained no problem. Except he missed both badly, each time pushing his team further from a possible full point. He and Danny Willett (who has been truly sub-par this week) were 1-up with eight to play – hardly in control, but this was a match against J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore that could’ve gone either way – and then Westwood blew two chances on the last two holes. That left the door open for the U.S. to nap the 17th to take control and then when Westy gagged it away on the 18th, it cemented how much of a missed opportunity this was.
Pairing Rory McIlroy with Thomas Pieters
European captain Darren Clarke may be heading up the favorites this week with seasoned Ryder Cuppers like Sergio Garcia, Westwood and Justin Rose, but he does have six rookies on this roster. He’s had relatively few steady go-to options this week – however, he’s stumbled onto one in the McIlroy-Pieters pairing. They’ve been terrific. McIlroy has been a beast, but more than anything he’s unlocked something in the rookie Pieters – kid looked stoic and shy on Friday, but by Saturday morning, he was shushing the crowd and whooping it up with Rory.
Angering Rory McIlroy
The crowds at Hazeltine National have been … um, how do we put this? … a little rough on the Euros, McIlroy in particular. Maybe it’s because Rory is the most visible or the best player period on either squad, but man is he getting it from this partisan crowd. It’s bordered on inappropriate on occasion (and on others, over the line), but if anything, it’s jacking McIlroy up to another level. He is surging on the negative vibes being tossed his way, playing out of his mind.
KEEP AN EYE ON…
Martin Kaymer vs. Matt Kuchar
If Sunday seems a little familiar to 2012, well you’re not incorrect. The Americans lead by the same margin, we’re in the Midwest and Kaymer is going second-to-last in singles on Sunday. His opponent – just like 2012 – is a genial American veteran, too. Kaymer hasn’t been super-sharp this week (just like 2012), but will be put in a position to potentially sink another cup-clinching putt … should the Euros complete another comeback, of course.
MOMENT OF THE DAY
Patrick Reed’s hole-out
Is there anything that this guy hasn’t done this weekend? He’s been the heartbeat of the American squad, sinking big putts, winning big matches, chipping it in, electrifying the crowd – everything. You can add holing out for an eagle on the sixth hole in the afternoon win over Rose and Henrik Stenson to that list now, as well. It certainly seems like the Unites States team has found its Ian Poulter – loud, brash, cocky, and terrific player in this event.
Patrick Reed (U.S.) vs. Rory McIlroy (Europe) – Europe
Jordan Spieth (U.S.) vs. Henrik Stenson (Europe) – United States
J.B. Holmes (U.S.) vs. Thomas Pieters (Europe) – Europe
Rickie Fowler (U.S.) vs. Justin Rose (Europe) – Europe
Jimmy Walker (U.S.) vs. Rafa Cabrera Bello (Europe) – Halved
Phil Mickelson (U.S.) vs. Sergio Garcia (Europe) – Europe
Ryan Moore (U.S.) vs. Lee Westwood (Europe) – Halved
Brandt Snedeker (U.S.) vs. Andy Sullivan (Europe) – United States
Dustin Johnson (U.S.) vs. Chris Wood (Europe) – United States
Brooks Koepka (U.S.) vs. Danny Willett (Europe) – Halved
Matt Kuchar (U.S.) vs. Martin Kaymer (Europe) – Europe
Zach Johnson (U.S.) vs. Matthew Fitzpatrick (Europe) – United States