GLENEAGLES, Scotland – On a brilliant Scotland morning under bright skies, the Ryder Cup – and the U.S. – kicked it up a few notches with sensational golf and red numbers galore on the Centenary Course.
But in the afternoon session, the Americans saw things fall apart after winning the morning four-balls session 2½-1½.
Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar were the first to lose in the afternoon foursomes, 2 and 1, to Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood. When all four were complete, Europe had taken 3 1/2 points in the alternate-shot matches and strengthened its lead to 10 to 6 going into Sunday’s singles.
Europe needs 14 points to retain the trophy and 14 1/2 to win it outright.
In the morning, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan controlled the match in a 4-and-3 win against Donaldson and Westwood.
The young wrecking machine of rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed won its second match, a 5-and-3 rout of Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer.
Bubba Watson woke up – and unfortunately ran into Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. Watson and Matt Kuchar made nine birdies between them in 16 holes and were still defeated by Rose and Stenson, who made birdies on the final 10 holes to win, 3 and 2.
And Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter pulled out a half point in the anchor match with birdies on four of the final five holes to tie Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.
Poulter rescued his team with a stunning chip-in for birdie on the 15th when Fowler was close with a birdie putt of his own and the U.S. was 1 up.
After Poulter’s ball disappeared and the crowd erupted, Fowler holed his putt from six feet to keep the lead. But Poulter added another birdie on the 16th to even the match and the two teams traded birdies on the last for the tie.
"As soon as (Poulter) chipped in, I was like, here we go again," McIlroy said. "And then he holed a putt on 16, too. We held strong out there, and you know, we’re down most of the back nine and to get a half, against Rickie and Jimmy, who have been a very strong pairing this week, is a good thing."
Spieth and Reed have been a good thing, too.
U.S. captain Tom Watson was hailed for pairing the rookies and then criticized for sitting them Friday afternoon after the two won in the morning.
But Spieth and Reed didn’t look bothered as they won their second match.
"We are doing what Tom tells us to do and we trust what he says is best for the team," Spieth said. "We played really well yesterday, but maybe he decided to just sit us for a little more rest for this afternoon and tomorrow’s singles.
"You can look at it a bunch of different ways but I don’t think that added any fuel for this morning. I think this morning, we got out, and we got off to the same exact routine that we had done before."
Meanwhile, no team played better than Rose and Stenson, who improved to 3-0 as a team in the morning session.
"It was crazy," Bubba Watson said. "They played good the last two days. I made some putts today, my partner made some putts. But they made a lot of putts."
And hit a lot of other good shots, too.
"It was one-half Stenson, one-and-a-half part Rose," Stenson said. "Justin played phenomenally, and luckily I was there to back him up on a couple of occasions. … It’s been a great two days."
Rose said it was an "amazing" round.
"I really got into reading the greens well and I just had the feeling of the anticipation of what it’s going to feel like to make putts today. When you get into that mind-set, and you just see the ball going in the hole and you sort of get those positive vibes, today was a day it all happened for me," Rose said. "We knew we were up against it today with two great players. Matt and Bubba played really well."
Europe captain Paul McGinley split Rose and Stenson for the afternoon match as Stenson, bothered by a sore back, needed rest. Rose, instead, went out with Kaymer.
Watson kept Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley on the bench, as well as Webb Simpson, for the entire day. Mickelson and Bradley were 3-0 in 2012 as a team and were 1-1 on Friday.
The Saturday morning four-balls:
Match 9: Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar (U.S) vs. Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson. Watson and Kuchar were 9 under as a team through 16 holes – and lost. With Rose playing some of the best golf of his career and Stenson a steady, at times spectacular presence, Europe combined for birdies on its final 10 holes and didn’t make birdie on just three of the 16 holes it played in a 3-and-2 victory.
Match 10: Jim Furyk/Hunter Mahan (U.S.) vs. Jamie Donaldson/Lee Westwood. Mahan came out with birdies on the first two holes and Furyk added his first birdie on the third hole as the U.S. controlled the match throughout. A birdie on the seventh from Mahan put the U.S. 3 up and his eagle on the 14th all but shut the door. On the 15th, the U.S., which was 9 under on the day, did slam the door with a par for a 4-and-3 victory.
Match 11: Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed (U.S.) vs. Thomas Bjorn/Martin Kaymer. The U.S. was 2 down early as Bjorn and Kaymer combined to make birdie on the first three holes. From there Spieth and Reed didn’t let their opponents make any more noise, winning seven of the last 12 holes. A final birdie from Spieth closed out a 5-and-3 victory.
Match 12: Jimmy Walker/Rickie Fowler (U.S.) vs. Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter. The match roared from the get-go as Poulter made his first two birdies of this Ryder Cup, coming on the first two holes. With Europe leading 2 up at the turn, the U.S. fought back and took its first lead with a birdie from Walker on the 13th. The two teams traded birdies on the next two holes, with Poulter’s chip-in on 15, when Fowler was close for birdie, was a stunner. Poulter then squared the match with another birdie on the 16th, the two teams made pars on the 17th and Fowler and McIlroy matched each other with birdies and the match was halved.
PHOTO GALLERY: Day 2 at the Ryder CupTags: car, player, sports, today