GLENEAGLES, Scotland – On a markedly better day for scoring, the U.S. Ryder Cup team mounted a morning comeback Saturday, winning two of four fourball matches to cut Europe’s lead to a single point, 6 1/2 to 5 1/2.
The U.S. team was again led by the rookie duo of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who rolled over Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer, 5 and 3. In two matches this week, the young Americans haven’t been pushed past the 15th hole and will head out again for the afternoon foursomes session.
But the match of the morning was the day’s first game between Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson for Europe and Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar for the United States. Although the Europeans won, 3 and 2, the four players combined to play 16 holes in 21 under par, a cumulative fourball record.
“When you get into that mindset, and you just see the ball going in the hole and you sort of get those positive vibes, today was a day it all happened for me,” said Rose, who combined with Stenson to finish12 under par. “We knew we were up against it today with two great players. Matt and Bubba played really well.”
The fast-paced match, however, was Europe’s only full point of the session and gave the visiting squad some much needed momentum going into the last team frame.
Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan got things going for the U.S. team, building an early 3-up lead against Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood en route to a 4-and-3 victory.
The morning’s final match was the closest, with the core of the European team, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, building a 2-up lead at the turn before Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler rallied to secure a crucial half point.
The matched turned for the Americans when Fowler chipped in from a greenside bunker at the 10th and Walker birdied two of the next three holes.
But Poulter finally wrenched himself out of an inexplicable slump this week when he chipped in at the 15th hole from the wrong side of a greenside bunker and charged in an birdie putt at the next hole to square the match.
“Funny things happen, don’t they? It was a time where we needed something to happen. Holing that (at No. 15) and turning one over on the next hole makes a difference,” said Poulter, who will not play in the afternoon session.