Europe back with a vengeance
Paul McGinley’s men came roaring back in Friday’s Ryder Cup foursomes to turn a one-point deficit into a two-point lead.
The Europeans would have been disappointed with letting their advantage slip in the morning fourballs and allowing the Americans to seize the initiative, but they clearly didn’t dwell on what might have been and will now head into Saturday with a thoroughly deserved 5-3 lead.
Heading out in the afternoon, they soon gained the upper hand and refused to let it go.
Debutant Jamie Donaldson and seasoned veteran Lee Westwood were given their first taste of what Gleneagles had to offer after sitting out the morning play.
Their partnership proved a potent one, as they took the lead early against Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar and never let it go, securing a 2-up victory to erase the morning’s deficit.
Next up was Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. Their partnership had paid dividends with a big win in the morning, and it was a case of more in the same in the afternoon as they edged Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson 2&1.
Victor Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell made their tournament debuts and were given the tough task of taking on the highly successful Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley partnership.
Mickelson and Bradley were victorious in all their matches together at Medinah in 2012, and they were victorious again over Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy in the morning, but surprisingly they were never a factor against McDowell and Dubuisson.
The European pair went ahead early and clung on that lead tenaciously throughout, securing a superb 3&2 victory to make it three wins from three for Europe in the afternoon.
Only Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler seemed to provide the Americans with a reason to cheer. Pitted against Garcia and McIlroy, they soon took the lead and seemed well on course for victory right up until they reached the 17th green.
The Garcia/McIlroy pairing was looking to be McGinley’s main tactical error of the day. It failed to fire in the morning and looked to be failing in the afternoon as well, but it took some magic from McIlroy to turn it all around.
Two down on the 17th, McIlroy nailed a massive putt that stretched nearly the length of the green to get one back.
Garcia responded on the par-5 18th by hitting a superb second shot out of the rough and giving McIlroy a real chance of making an eagle.
The eagle putt didn’t drop but the birdie was secured, and when Fowler could not make his 15-footer for birdie, McIlroy and Garcia had escaped with the unlikeliest of halves.
That gave the Europeans a 5-3 overnight lead, and all the momentum heading into day two.
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