Saturday, October 1, 2016

Anthems, pocket shots & drama at Ryder Cup

In foursomes, there’s nowhere to hide, and no time for apologies. The second day of the 41st Ryder Cup began the same way the first did, with alternating shot play. While the United States rode its foursomes to a 4-0 lead early Friday, Saturday didn’t quite break the stars and stripes’ way.

The day began with the Americans up 5-3, but team captain Davis Love III didn’t concede any nerves after a 3-1 drubbing in the Friday afternoon session. “This team’s always in a good mood. Obviously we don’t like losing matches,” he said. “They know they played well, they just ran into some buzzsaws.”

FOURSOME RESULTS
Rory McIlroy/Thomas Pieters
def. Rickie Fowler/Phil Mickelson, 4 & 2 (USA up 5-4)
Match note: With McIlroy in full strut, the Europeans went up three early, but the Americans chipped away at the lead, helped by this monstrous Mickelson putt shown above. Mickelson and Fowler got to within 1, but McIlroy and Pieters began dropping both putts and bombs-from-the-sky drives on the back nine and put away a ragged Mickelson and Fowler with three straight hole wins culminating in match victory on the 16th hole.

Brandt Snedeker/Brooks Koepka def. Henrik Stenson/Matthew Fitzpatrick, 3 & 2 (USA up 6-4)
Match note: Fitzpatrick was one of two European rookies, along with Chris Wood, who didn’t play at all on Friday. But if you’re going to play your first match in your first Ryder Cup, you’d have a hard time picking a steadier partner than Stenson. Alas, Snedeker and Koepka were brutally efficient over the final few holes, standing even on the 13th and winning three of the next four to take the overall match by the 16th.

Justin Rose/Chris Wood def. Jimmy Walker/Zach Johnson 1UP (USA up 6-5)
Match note: Love decided to rest Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar in the morning session in order to give every player a chance, and Walker and Johnson were one of the pairings that didn’t quite work out, never able to close the early gap on Rose and Wood.

Patrick Reed/Jordan Spieth halved Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello (USA up 6 1/2-5 1/2)
Match note: Team USA’s anchor duo is usually as tough as they come, with Spieth throwing lethal darts and Reed coming off the top rope whenever momentum lulls. They even posted a 4-up lead on the back nine. But against the Spanish duo of Garcia and Cabrera Bello, the American Eagles fell apart late, losing four of five holes and seeing putt after putt hang on the edge of the cup. The quartet stepped to the 18th tee all square and split the final hole, giving Europe a crucial, and unexpected, half point.

STOKING THE FIRES

On the very first hole, Thomas Pieters shushed the crowd, a move reminiscent of Patrick Reed’s hushing the Gleneagles gallery in 2014. It was a gutsy move, but Pieters and McIlroy followed up on it by pushing around the Americans en route to an eventual 4&2 win.

PATRIOTIC MOMENT

As Team America’s most American duo approached the ninth tee, a spontaneous rendering of the national anthem broke out, and nary a knee was taken.

PECULIAR MOMENT

A Sergio Garcia shot went right into the pocket of a course marshal. No bonus for that, but still … pretty impressive.

WHAT’S NEXT?
Four-balls in the afternoon, best ball on every hole. European captain Darren Clarke kept the winning McIlroy/Pieters team together, while Love is once again turning to his fabled Reed/Spieth combo:

  1. Brooks Koepka/Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy/Thomas Pieters
  2. JB Holmes/Ryan Moore vs. Danny Willett/Lee Westwood
  3. Phil Mickelson/Matt Kuchar vs. Martin Kaymer/Sergio Garcia
  4. Patrick Reed/Jordan Spieth vs. Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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