By Thomas Dodd
- Europe win third session of 2016 Ryder Cup to close deficit to United States to just one point
- Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters beat Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler
- Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello fight back to claim half point against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed
- Afternoon fourballs remain on Saturday, before decisive Sunday Singles.
HAZELTINE NATIONAL GOLF CLUB, MINNESOTA, AMERICA- Europe painted the scoreboard blue on Saturday morning of the Ryder Cup by winning the opening foursomes session to close the gap on the United States overall.
Darren Clarke’s visitors won the competition’s third session 2.5 to 1.5 to peg the home side back to 6.5 to 5.5 overall with just the afternoon fourballs and the Sunday singles remaining.
Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters dealt the first blow to the host’s hopes of regaining the trophy they last won in 2008 by defeating Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler 4&2.
Long-hitters McIlroy and Pieters were never behind in the match, taking control before the turn to keep their opponents at bay before closing out the match on the par-five 16th green.
The point for McIlroy marked the first time he had defeated Mickelson in Ryder Cup play in four attempts.
Chris Wood secured his maiden point in his first Ryder Cup by outlasting US pair Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson alongside partner Justin Rose on the 18th hole to win 1 up.
Fellow debutant Matt Fitzpatrick – who also sat out day one with Wood – had no such luck in his first Ryder Cup experience with Henrik Stenson losing 3&2 to Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka, who managed to be three under for the round after 16 holes despite hitting some very wayward tee shots.
But the biggest momentum swing for Europe came from the final match, where Spanish duo Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello staged an incredible comeback on the back nine to deny Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth another American point.
Spieth and Reed were six-under par through twelve holes and held a four up lead at one point, only to stagger to the clubhouse with a series of bogeys to let the Spaniards back in, and when Cabrera-Bello chipped in on 17 to level the match it even looked as though he and Garcia would steal the point.
But a gutsy six-footer from Reed on the 18th green spared his and Spieth’s blushes, and left the Americans one point ahead with the fourballs to come later on.
With the afternoon session already in full swing, those watching on will now wait with excitement to see captain Clarke’s and Davis Love III’s picks for the Singles on Sunday, where all 12 players on both sides will square off against each other to determine the destiny of the trophy.
Saturday morning foursomes results:
Phil Mickelson/Rickie Fowler lost to. Rory McIlroy/Thomas Pieters 4&2
Brandt Snedeker/Brooks Koepka beat. Henrik Stenson/Matt Fitzpatrick 3&2
Jimmy Walker/Zach Johnson lost to. Chris Wood/Justin Rose 1up
Patrick Reed/Jordan Spieth HALVED with Sergio Garcia/Rafael Cabrera Bello
41st Ryder Cup:
United States 6.5
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