Team USA Gains Ryder Cup Point in Morning Session Despite Record Round by Europe’s Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson
GLENEAGLES, Scotland -- Europe’s strongest duo smashed a Ryder Cup record, and Ian Poulter reprised his role as crazy-eyed Cup destroyer just in time to keep Europe in front of the U.S., 6.5 – 5.5 , heading into Saturday’s afternoon session.
Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson sent roars through the home crowd in the opening match while ringing up 12 birdies, including 10 in a row, to fend off Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson, 3 and 2. The duo’s 12-under total set a new Ryder Cup fourball record.
“It’s been a culmination of a lot of hard work. It’s about getting zeroed in and being focused, said Rose, whose seven birdies led the way. “The Ryder Cup is amazing because the pressure is so much, you either focus or struggle. Give Bubba and Matt credit, we were up against it with those guys. They would have won nine out of 10 today.”
Kuchar and Watson combined to shoot a net nine under for 16 holes, and the 21-under total for the two teams was also a Ryder Cup record -- one that Stenson was still trying to process after the match.
“It’s hard to reflect on it while you’re playing,” Stenson said. “Twenty-one birdies in 16 holes is something special. It might be a highlight to put on the big screen with the grandkids one day.”
With the win, Europe’s star team ran its record to 3-0 for the week.
“What a team. Awfully tough to beat that,” said Kuchar, who suffered his first career loss in Ryder Cup foursomes in five matches. “Right now they are unbeatable. Hopefully we can find a way to make some more birdies.”
But Saturday’s stellar golf didn’t stop with the first match. On Friday, the four morning matches combined to finish 25 under par. On Saturday they were 60 under. And the U.S. was able to gain ground, keeping this event the tight race many expected.
In the second match, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan surprised Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson 4 and 3 for the first U.S. point of the day. Furyk, who has struggled in the fourball format, birdied the third hole to put the U.S. ahead by two, and Europe never drew closer. Mahan drove the par-4 14th and drained the putt for the first eagle 2 of the event, and he closed the match on the next hole with a par.
“You look at today as a fresh day,” said Furyk, who improved to 2-8-1 in Ryder Cup fourball. “We have to have two solid sessions today, and we wanted to get ahead early, so we were the ones applying the pressure.”
The all-rookie U.S. team of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth returned to action in the third match after being controversially benched by captain Tom Watson on Friday afternoon, and the duo once again displayed clutch putting -- and raw emotion -- while dumping Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn 5 and 3. They won’t be benched again: Spieth and Reed were slated to head back out against Kaymer and Rose in the afternoon foursomes.
“We’re here to do one thing: that’s to play for Tom Watson and the United States,” Reed said. “So far we’re 2-0 and hopefully that will continue.”
In the anchor match, Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler had a late lead on Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter before a familiar scene arrived at Gleneagles. Poulter opened with two quick birdies before later chipping in on No. 15 and erupting with one of his famous wide-eyed, fist-pumping celebrations that brought the house down. On 16 he dropped an 8-footer for another birdie and another first-pump that squared the match after Fowler badly flubbed a pitch shot.
But the U.S. would hang on for a critical half-point. On 17, Fowler walked in a clutch 7-foot par-saver to keep the match square. At the par-5 closing hole, Fowler ripped a 3-wood from the right rough onto the putting surface – the only player in the group to reach in two – but Poulter answered by stuffing his third shot and McIlroy feathered a tricky chip for a gimme birdie that set the stage for the Americans to take runs at eagle. But Walker’s bunker shot settled a foot from the hole, and Fowler’s putt up and over a ridge missed by a few inches, leaving the U.S. tandem with its third draw in three matches.
The full afternoon slate:
Match 1: Donaldson/Westwood vs. Johnson/Kuchar
Match 2: Garcia/McIlroy vs. Furyk/Mahan
Match 3: Kaymer/Rose vs. Spieth/Reed
Match 4: Dubuisson/McDowell vs. Walker/Fowler