29 September 2012

Europe Struggling In Medinah As The Americans Increase Their Lead

The US Ryder Cup team increased their lead to 8-4 after a disappointing morning foursomes session for Jose Maria Olazabal's Europe side. Leading 5-3 going into the second day the US were quickest out of the blocks as Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson continued their sensational partnership with a comprehensive 7&6 victory over former world number ones Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

The away team did hit back through the opening pair Ian Poulter and Justin Rose as they saw off 2012 major champions Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson by one hole. Poulter showed great match-play form yet again to improve his already excellent Ryder Cup record, while good friend Rose showed why he is the current world number five. 

Englishman Poulter said of the electric atmosphere at Medinah: "A win is a win. It was a special moment [on the first tee]. It was pretty special of Bubba to pump them up yesterday. It is an amazing amphitheatre and I knew Bubba was going to do it today, so why not join him?" 

Fellow country-man Rose acknowledged that it was a hard-fought, but crucial point: "We won ugly. That was a good point. We didn't have our best out there but we won." 

Yesterday's European hero Nicolas Colsaerts was unable to repeat the trick today alongside Spanish Ryder Cup veteran Sergio Garcia. The solid partnership of Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson were excellent from tee to green and fully deserved their 2&1 win. The point increased the US lead to 7-4 and put them firmly in pole position. 

Garcia and Colsaerts were always behind the 8-ball and they could not find the consistency to match their American counter-parts. Two down with three to play Garcia did conjure up some magic to chip-in for birdie, but that was about as good as it got for the continental pair as they succumbed to defeat on the next hole. 

The Northern-Irish pair of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell struggled early on against Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker but McIlroy conjured up some magic to force the match down the last. Half a point was always going to be vital for Europe as they looked to hold onto the USA's coat-tails going into the four-balls. 

McIlroy hammered his tee shot miles down the 18th fairway and Snedeker clearly felt the pressure as he found a fairway bunker. Furyk did brilliantly well to get his partner out of trouble as he managed to hit a great shot onto the front of the green and leave McDowell needing to stiff it close to give world number one McIlroy a chance. 

McDowell tugged his chip left and over the back of the green effectively ending Europe's chance of getting into the clubhouse at less than four points behind. 

The 8-4 deficit means that Europe will need to replicate, or do something close, to the incredible Saturday fourballs session of two years ago to give themselves a realistic chance of retaining the trophy.

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