Impressive afternoon hands Europe Ryder Cup lead

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Ryder Cup 2014Original article appears on Pundit Arena.

Europe will head into the final day of the 40th Ryder Cup with a 10-6 lead over their American counterparts. It was again the foursomes’ format that Europe shined in, winning three matches and halving one. Europe’s record in the format for this edition of the competition reads seven points from a possible eight. It will leave Team USA with an uphill battle but they will remember what happened to them at Medinah in 2012 and hope they can inflict the same heart-breaking defeat they suffered, on their opponents.

Rose/Stenson pairing breaks records

It was Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson for Europe and Team USA’s Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar who opened today’s proceedings. The much talked about team of Rose/Stenson wanted to carry on with their fine form from yesterday and they did, winning their match in style. Their round of 12 under is a Ryder Cup record and the combined round with Watson and Kuchar of 21 under is also a new Ryder Cup record in the Fourball’s format.

Swede, Stenson sat out the afternoon session due to a tight back. Fellow Scandinavian, Thomas Bjorn, joined him in the clubhouse. The Dane and his morning partner Martin Kaymer fell to the wonder team of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth. That left Rose to team with Kaymer to take on Reed and Spieth in the afternoon.

Fatigue to blame as Spieth/Reed lose 100% record

Arguably the pairing of the tournament, the rookies, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed picked up where they left off. The pair fell two down to Bjorn and Kaymer on the 3rd hole but when they reached the back nine they kicked their game up a gear and went five under in seven holes to win 5&3.

After being frustrated to be left out of Friday’s afternoon session, USA captain Tom Watson decided to throw his rookies into Saturday’s second session. They faced the team of Rose and Kaymer, who didn’t seem to gel as hoped. The European pair were only up once in the whole match and that was on the 3rd.

Spieth and Reed seemed to have the game in hand. However, a short attempt on the 15th went horribly wrong for Reed, the only stain on his record so far this weekend. Reed’s reaction to his poor attempt suggested he was exhausted. It was a gamble to leave Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley out of the both sessions and really, they could (and possibly should) have taken the place of the rookies after sitting out the morning as keeping the rookies out backfired.

This allowed the Europeans back into the game temporarily. A bogey by Rose on the 17th meant the Americans went one up to the 18th only needing to halve the hole to get a precious point. After a bad lie in the bunker, Reed could only manage a chip onto the putting surface, which landed a distance from the pin. Rose took advantage and drained his birdie to halve the match and put some distance between the teams heading into the final day.

Dubusisson and McDowell put on a foursome master class

The team that surprised most on Friday was of Graeme McDowell and his partner, the rookie, Victor Dubusisson. After handing the, previously undefeated, pair of Mickelson and Bradley their first defeat on Friday, the dynamic duo then went on to comfortably defeat the pairing of Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler.

The European pair’s round was just perfect golf. Drives, approaches and the short game were all impeccable with Dubusisson staking his claim to be the top rookie of this tournament. He helped his side to a tremendous 5&4 win and should he win comfortably in the singles, he could be picked out as one of the heroes of the 2014 Ryder Cup

Is Poulter back to Ryder Cup best?

Questions surrounded the selection of Ian Poulter for Saturday’s morning session. Was he passed his best? Would he falter again? Thankfully, the man many of us have come to idolise at this event showed signs of the magic that makes him loved by the European fans.

Nothing summed this up more than his crucial attempt on the 15th. Poulter needed to make the hole to prevent opponents, Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler going two up with three to play. The Englishman stood over the ball confidently at the edge of putting green. All eyes were glued to see if the magic could come back. Thankfully it did as Poulter’s chip attempt ended with the ball in the bottom of the cup.

From there, Poulter was full of confidence and sank his birdie on the 16th to halve the match. That is how it ended. It was a vital point for Europe as they only won a single match in the morning. Going up against major winner Bubba Watson on Sunday should spur on the captain’s pick as he will want to payback the faith shown in him by Paul McGinley. Expect the familiar roar and bulging eyes to be seen around the course tomorrow.

With what is a commanding lead going into the final day, Europe will rest easy knowing that all they need is 4 ½ points to win outright and retain the trophy. They will also remember what happened in 2012 and will want to prevent the Americans doing what they did two years ago. Tomorrow should go back and forth but will be filled with intense excitement and should end with the trophy in European hands.


Saturday Morning Fourball Results

Match 1: Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson def. Bubba Watson & Matt Kuchar 3&2

Match 2: Jim Furyk & Hunter Mahan def. Jamie Donaldson & Lee Westwood 4&3

Match 3: Jordan Spieth & Patrick Reed def. Thomas Bjorn & Martin Kaymer 5&3

Match 4: Rory McIlroy & Ian Poulter A/S Rickie Fowler & Jimmy Walker

Europe: 6 ½ USA: 5 ½


Saturday Evening Foursomes Results

Match 1: Jamie Donaldson & Lee Westwood def. Zach Johnson & Matt Kuchar 2&1

Match 2: Justin Rose & Martin Kaymer A/S Jordan Spieth & Patrick Reed

Match 3: Sergio Garcia & Rory McIlroy def. Jim Furyk & Hunter Mahan 3&2

Match 4: Victor Dubuisson & Graeme McDowell def. Rickie Fowler & Jimmy Walker 5&4

Europe: 10 USA: 6

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