2016 Ryder Cup day 2 round-up: Europe need another miracle after US late show
Simon Sinclair | October 2, 2016
Europe will need to repeat their feat from Medinah four years ago to retain the Ryder Cup after a strong late display from the US put them in command at Hazeltine.
Darren Clarke’s men reduced the deficit to the States in the morning foursomes to just one point, producing fine golf across the board.
However, the US rallied in the afternoon and capitalised on shaky putting from the Europeans to close within just five points from victory.
Check out guest blogger Steve Palmer’s 2016 Ryder Cup day three tips here. He’ll also be live tweeting throughout the final day and Coral news provide a handy live feed hosted in our Ryder Cup section!
Europe shine in the morning
Clarke opted to begin the day with a successful pairing from fourballs in Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters, and the two men had no problem keeping up their fine form.
They eased past the duo of Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, rising above the taunts of the crowd and even their veteran opponent at times to claim a 4 & 2 victory.
However, the one loss in the morning would come from Henrik Stenson and Matthew Fitzpatrick in their clash against the surprise package of Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka.
The European rookie bailed out his teammate on a couple of occasions as the Swede struggled to find his best, while the American duo maintained their level of excellence on the course from Friday to claim a 3 & 2 win.
Justin Rose and Chris Wood – who was making his first appearance in the tournament – enjoyed a feisty battle against Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson.
The match swayed one way then the other, but the Europeans took control at the turn and held off a comeback attempt down the stretch to clinch a 1up victory.
As expected the final game of the foursomes card lived up to its hype as the American duo of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth faced off against Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
The States came out of the blocks firing and raced into a 3up lead on the front nine before adding another hole to their advantage after the turn. However, a run of two bogeys and a birdie from Garcia reduced the deficit to one with two to play as the American duo cracked under the pressure.
Cabrera-Bello holed his putt from the edge of the 17th green, forcing Spieth to match his efforts, only to his ball slide millimetres past leaving the contest all square.
The match would be decided on the 18th as both Reed and Garcia had birdie putts, which both of them nailed to halve the game, but would allow Europe to claw themselves back within a point of the hosts.
US hit back to close in on crown
Europe got off to a strong start in the afternoon as Clarke opted once again to send his strongest pair McIlroy and Pieters to build momentum for the following six players.
Both players were again outstanding amid tough conditions at Hazeltine as the behaviour of the crowd worsened, which resulted in the ejection of one spectator after a confrontation with McIlroy.
However, the European’s held their nerve and fended off the best attempts of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, eventually sealing a 3 & 1 victory on the 17th.
The States would respond though as Mickelson and Matt Kuchar controlled their contest against Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer. The duo’s short game was outstanding, with both men holing putts from distance seemingly on every green.
Garcia tried to bring Europe back into contention and, although they took the match to the 17th green, Mickelson sealed the 2 & 1 win, with the Spaniard rueing several missed chances on the front nine.
Reed produced one of the rounds of the Ryder Cup as he carried his team-mate Spieth in their victory over Stenson and Rose. The 26-year-old was absolute money off the tee, hitting fairways with regularity, while his approach play and putting were even better as they raced into a 4up lead.
The Europeans battled back and Stenson kept the game alive by chipping in for eagle at the 16th, but Reed landed his next tee shot 12ft from the pin and his effort was good enough that it could not be beaten by Clarke’s men, securing a 2 & 1 win.
Clarke may look back at the performances of Lee and Westwood and Danny Willett in their match against J.B Holmes and Ryan Moore as the moment his side lost the competition, should they fail in the singles tomorrow.
Unlike the other contests this one lacked high quality efforts, although there was brilliance in spurts from both teams. Down the 17th the match was all square, while Holmes hit the water and the other three players were in and around the green.
Moore made his par, while lacklustre second shots left both Willett and Westwood, needing to sink their third efforts to send the match all square to the 18th. However, both lost their nerve to end with bogeys and hand the US the lead with one to play.
Matters got worse for both men on the 18th green as they had birdies to give Europe a half. Willett missed from 18ft, putting the pressure on Westwood, who lost his nerve from less than five, leaving Clarke’s men with nothing from the contest. Westwood has been a fine servant of Europe in Ryder Cups’, but this may have been one tournament too far, given his record thus far.
The Miracle of Medinah was kickstarted with a wave of blue down the scoreboard in the early stages of the day and Clarke will need that once again if his side are to triumph.
As a result he has loaded the front of his card with his star men, with McIlroy leading the way.
The first match will be the marquee game as the Northern Irishman will face off against Reed, the States’ form player. A mouth-watering contest will ensue and whoever wins will surely shape the rest of the day of their respective teams.
McIlroy is backed at 3/4 to defeat the American, although the 26-year-old has decent odds of 19/10.
Another clash of titans will take place when Stenson faces off against Spieth. The American has not been at his best over the past two days, and it will take a huge effort for him to overcome the Swede.
There is little to choose between the pair as Stenson’s backed at 11/10, while Spieth has odds of 5/4.
One match where Europe will be fairly confident of victory is Rose’s clash against Fowler. The American has been out of sorts throughout the competition, and it’s reflected as the Englishman is a 10/11 favourite to claim the win.
The US will be anxiously looking at the board as to where their five points are going to come from. Dustin Johnson could be a lock, although he was shaky on the back nine on Saturday, which could leave him with a tough task against Wood.
Johnson has odds of 4/7 to defeat the Englishman, with the rookie coming in at 19/10 to pull off a surprise win, which his team may need.
Towards the back of the card Kaymer finds himself in a similar position to Medinah, bringing up the rear and hoping for a repeat performance. He will face the steady Kuchar, with the German having odds of 15/8 to triumph, while the American is priced at 4/7.
The odds of a US victory are even shorter now following the afternoon session as they are priced at 2/9 to triumph for the first time since 2008.
However, lightning can strike twice and at 6/1 there could be money to be made backing Europe. All will hinge on how Clarke’s stars fare at the top.
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Stay tuned for the wise words of Coral’s guest blogger Steve Palmer, who will be dropping useful tips throughout the tournament.