Ryder Cup 2016 Read: Saturday
The crowd and the golfers both stepped it up on the second day at Hazeltine Club, Minnesota. If you missed anything, here is your review of Saturday’s action-packed play.
There is one word to sum up the morning session: ‘maintenance’. The crowd maintained their vigour, the glorious weather maintained and, most importantly, the quality of golf was maintained.
A big factor was the combination of Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters. The Irishman and Belgian were handed an opportunity when Phil Mickleson and Ricky Fowler bogeyed on the 14th hole.
The European combination may have been strong but the questions will be raised as to why Dustin Johnson was not included in the morning session at all.
It was a different story in the second foursome, Brandt Snedeker & Brooks Koepka v Henrik Stenson & Matt Fitzpatrick. 22-year-old Fitzpatrick made his Ryder Cup debut but it was one to forget.
Despite Europe’s accuracy on the drives, a splash by Fitzpatrick and Stenson’ s early troubles on the green handed the point to the Americans.
It was an even narrower victory for Justin Rose and Chris Wood against Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson. A mistake from the Americans made the difference on the 7th hole, leaving Rose free to putt a 12-footer.
Fitting of the name, Rose and Wood chipped away at the Americans as more errors slipped into the Americans’ game.
The most spirited performance of the morning came from to the Spanish pair again, Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello. Fresh from winning yesterday, they managed to win four of the last seven holes to tie Jordan Speith and Patrick Reed.
The McIlroy/ Pieters power-pair blazed the afternoon session despite a small scare late on from Koepka and Dustin Johnson. Nine birdies for Team USA and they still lost - this is the sign of top quality golf!
Despite an excellent putt on the first hole, McIlroy was slightly erratic throughout the course - probably due to his war with the American fans.
Pieters steered the victory, winning five of the seven points and getting the better score on 12 holes.
Garcia was partnered with Martin Kaymer but they never found the chemistry on the green. It was the same for Mickleson and Matt Kuchar though, but 11 Ryder Cup appearances counted for something as Mickleson nailed his putt on the 17th hole to seal the point. USA 7 ½ - 6 ½ Europe.
Two minutes later, Westwood dramatically handed another point to Team USA as he missed two vital putts on the 17th and 18th holes. J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore were not spectacular but their moments of brilliance were timed to perfection.
In the final match-up, Reed dragged Speith along the course with all six points. Whilst Stenson’s chipped eagle on the 16th kept Europe in the match, Reed was formidable on the green to seal the last point of the day.Saturday, Gleneagles, 2014: Four-balls- USA 5 ½ - 6 ½ Europe Foursomes- USA 6 – 10 Europe ”
In 2014, this was the point where the demise of Team USA started as they won a half point in the Saturday afternoon session. Things are a lot closer this time but being ahead on Saturday is still no certainty of victory. At Medinah, the score was USA 10 – 6 Europe; and we all know what happened next!
Funny on the Furlong!
The crowd is certainly not short of personality this year. Having already taken to the green, they are also part of the course. On the 4th hole, Koepka hit a long drive into the crowd but more precisely the rucksack of a spectator, rumoured to be Thomas Pieters’ father. Never has the phrase ‘Don’t Move!’ been more pertinent in a golfing context!
Next to Tee
The real question for the singles matches is this: who will prevail in the battle of the rookies?
Whilst Rose and Stenson have been slightly off, McIlroy will be feared by Team USA. Pieters will also be one to watch out for on Sunday.
Speith and Reed have passed rather unnoticed in the shadow of McIlroy this weekend but, with 23 birdies between them, Europe will be wary of the threat they pose.
It’s tough for Team Europe captain Darren Clarke but will he go for the easy points or will he put his best against USA’s best to win the required 7 ½ points?