The U.S. dominated in morning foursomes, highlighted by Keegan Bradley/Phil Mickelson romping Lee Westwood/Luke Donald 7&6, and the pattern looked to continue in the afternoon four-balls with the Americans winning three of the four matches until a late charge by the Europeans put them in the game again.
In the afternoon four-balls, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson closed out Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari 5&4. Webb chipped in with 7 birdies, while Bubba carded two, including the winning putt.
For a while, there was so much American Red on the board that it appeared like it was going to be another routing in the afternoon four-balls. Then, in the pivotal final match of the day, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter birdied the last 6 holes to beat Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner 1-up in the final match of the day — under a full moon, no less.
I followed the Stricker/Woods vs. Donald/Garcia match until the 14th hole (though I almost fell asleep halfway through because it was so uninspiring — I found out later that Rick Reilly actually did pass out in the media center!), when I dropped back to watch McIlroy/Poulter vs. Dufner/Z. Johnson. I was rooting for a European resurgence because things were getting a tad boring. An American blowout in the afternoon would have sucked the excitement out of Sunday Singles and made the 12 matches a mere formality.
Most inspiring and coolest moment I witnessed on Saturday? Dustin Johnson stroking in a curling 20-footer for birdie on 17 to go 1-up with Matt Kuchar over Nicolas Colsaerts and Paul Lawrie. That was f*****g awesome. That putt was crucial in curbing another rally by the Europeans, who squared the match on the 16th. Poor Colsaerts tried his best, but Lawrie wasn’t much help, only making one birdie. (Note: In Friday’s afternoon four-balls Westwood didn’t make a single birdie.) On the American side, Kuchar carried DJ around for most of the day, but the long-hitting American rolled in a massive putt when he needed to.
Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker started out flat with Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald taking the early lead, but the American duo rallied on the back nine to go out kicking. Woods birdied the 10th and missed a 15-footer for another on the 11th. Stricker’s only contribution came on the 12th. Woods dropped four more birdies, but it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback. Garcia and Luke won 1-up.
Heading into Sunday, the Americans have a four-point lead over the Europeans, who have dominated the Ryder Cup matches in the last few decades. The score stands USA 10, EUR 6. Usually, it’s reversed a la ’10 in Wales and ’99 in Brookline, where the Americans bounced back to win the biennial matches (that’s also the only winning team Tiger Woods has been a part of).
Here’s the day summed up in tweets, pictures and videos, etc. Enjoy!
Sunday Singles Picks! (My prediction for the winner in bold. Tee times start at 11:03AM CT — thank goodness!)
*Bubba Watson vs. Luke Donald
*Webb Simpson vs. Ian Poulter
*Keegan Bradley vs. Rory McIlroy
*Phil Mickelson vs. Justin Rose
*Brandt Snedeker vs. Paul Lawrie
*Dustin Johnson vs. Nicolas Colsaerts (YES! The bombers!)
*Zach Johnson vs. Graeme McDowell
*Jim Furyk vs. Sergio Garcia
*Jason Dufner vs. Peter Hanson
*Matt Kuchar vs. Lee Westwood
*Steve Stricker vs. Martin Kaymer
*Tiger Woods vs. Francesco Molinari
(Note: I’ll be lucky if I get half of them right. I basically flipped a coin.)
See you tomorrow. Can’t wait!