U.S. 4 points ahead at Ryder Cup
Medinah, IL (Sports Network) - The United States will take a 4-point lead into the Sunday singles after a split of Saturday afternoon's four-balls at the Ryder Cup.
The Americans lead 10-6 over the Europeans at Medinah and need 14 1/2 points to reclaim the Cup.
The Europeans will have to match the largest comeback in Ryder Cup history Sunday, but they gained some momentum from the last two matches Saturday afternoon.
Ian Poulter birdied the last five holes, including a 10-footer at the last, to give himself and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy a 1-up victory over Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.
Poulter is now 3-0 in this Ryder Cup and 11-3 all-time.
"I surprise myself. Match play, I love the fight of it," said Poulter. "There's a lot of passion in that team room. This event is just so big to everyone of us. I love it."
The penultimate match went to Europe as well, although through no fault of Tiger Woods.
After he sat out his first session in Ryder Cup history, Woods and Steve Stricker lost to Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, 1-up. Woods, much like he was Friday afternoon in defeat, was spectacular on the back nine, but it just wasn't enough.
Woods and Stricker are the only winless Americans this week.
Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, the reigning Masters and U.S. Open champions, registered their second 5 & 4 win in four-balls this week. The victims on Saturday were Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari.
Dustin Johnson poured in 20-foot birdie putt at the 17th to give himself and Matt Kuchar a 1-up lead over Nicolas Colsaerts and Paul Lawrie. The teams halved 18 and the U.S. picked up the 1-up win.
Europe will have to equal the task of the historic 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup team in order to keep the Cup. On that Sunday at Brookline 13 years ago, the Americans were four points down, but came back and won in the singles.
"Those last two matches were massive. It gives us a chance - it's been done in the past," said Olazabal, who was playing Justin Leonard when the American made his long putt to secure the win for the U.S. in 1999. "Things have not gone our way, especially on the greens, but I believe momentum will come our way. Why not tomorrow?"
The morning foursomes went 3-1 in favor of the Americans. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley matched the biggest victory in a team match with a 7 & 6 drubbing of Donald and Lee Westwood.
Sticking to his plan, American captain Davis Love III didn't play anyone five sessions, so, despite a perfect 3-0 record, Mickelson and Bradley sat in the afternoon.
Rose and Poulter beat Watson and Simpson in the first match, highlighted by both Poulter and Watson teeing off at No. 1 with the galleries screaming.
Dufner and Zach Johnson bested Colsaerts and Garcia and Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker topped McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
That gave the U.S. an 8-4 advantage, but the afternoon four-balls were tight.
Zach Johnson and Dufner were 2-up through 12 holes, then the Europeans came back. McIlroy birdied 13 to win the hole, then Poulter took over.
He birdied 14 to halve Dufner and was conceded a short birdie to win the 15th and square the match. McIlroy tried to put his par putt in the hole at 16 to give Poulter a ride at his putt, but missed. Poulter made his 15-footer for birdie and Dufner missed his chance to give the Europeans a 1-up lead.
At the par-3 17th, Johnson hit his tee ball close, but Poulter sank his 12- footer to put the pressure on the former Masters champion. Johnson made his short putt and it was off to 18.
Dufner hit a spectacular iron to three feet at the last. McIlroy had a decent look at birdie, but came up short. That left it up to Poulter and he was up to the task. He ran home a 10-footer to secure the full point for the Europeans.
"It was an incredible finish to what was looking like a mundane day," said Poulter.
The penultimate match was no slouch either.
Donald and Garcia amassed a 4-up lead at the turn, but Woods played brilliantly. He birdied the 10th, then Stricker contributed with a birdie and win at 12.
The Americans got it to 1-down with a 5-foot birdie from Woods at 13. Both teams birdied 14, but the U.S. couldn't muster a birdie at the drivable, par-4 15th and lost the hole.
They were 2-down with three to play until Woods got to the 16th green. He sank a 9-footer for birdie and the win to go 1-down with two to go.
Woods hit a beautiful 8-iron to five feet at 17 and screamed, "give me some, give me some." He got a great result, but Donald knocked it closer and the two made birdies to halve the hole.
Donald made a bit of a mess out of 18 and it came down to Garcia against the Americans. Stricker hit a great approach to eight feet at the last. Woods didn't make his birdie putt and Garcia rolled his birdie try close and was conceded par.
That left it up to Stricker. After two days of disappointing play, Stricker couldn't convert his birdie putt. His slid by left and the full point went to Europe.
After Watson and Simpson crushed Rose and Molinari, Dustin Johnson and Kuchar were in a fight.
The Americans bogeyed the 16th to drop the match back to all-square. Lawrie 2- putted for an easy par and Colsaerts had his birdie try lip out. Johnson had 20 feet for birdie and the win and drained. A thunderous roar went out from the gallery and it was over to 18 with the U.S. guaranteed at least a halve.
Colsaerts nearly dunked his approach, but it spun back to 15 feet. Johnson had a reasonable look at birdie from 18 feet and his par putt slipped by. Colsaerts pushed his putt and the U.S. got what turned out to be a much needed full point.
"That putt on 17 was probably one of the biggest putts I have ever made," acknowledged Johnson.
NOTES: Every American played on Saturday, but Peter Hanson and Martin Kaymer sat out for the Europeans...The Europeans only need 14 points since, in the event of a tie, the Cup stays with the defending champion.
09/29 20:57:13 ET