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Poulter, McIlroy maintain European lead after US fightback

The US has reduced Europe’s lead to one going into the foursomes.

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter battled back to get a very important half-point for Europe.
Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter battled back to get a very important half-point for Europe.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

UPDATED 13.30

IAN POULTER AND Rory McIlroy staged a late back nine fightback to snatch a half-point in their fourball match against Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker at the Ryder Cup.

It was a badly needed half for Europe as an American victory would have seen the teams enter the afternoon foursomes all-square but as it stand Europe have a 6.5-5.5 lead.

The Poulter/McIlroy vs Fowler/Walker fourball was the last one on the course and looked to be going America’s way until Poulter stepped up down the stretch.

First, he chipped in on 15 to snatch a half and then birdied 16 to get Europe back to all-square, which is how it finished.

Earlier, Europe had gotten off to the perfect start on day two when Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson made it three wins in a row for their pairing by defeating Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar 3 and 2 in the first of the day’s fourballs.

The two Europeans putted well all day and between them they birdied ten straight holes from the seventh to the sixteenth.

Amid reports that Stenson was struggling with a “tight” back, Kuchar gave the Americans the perfect start with a winning birdie at the first. Rose replied in kind at the second, but Watson regained the advantage for his side at the next hole.

A 10-footer for birdie at the par-3 sixth made it 2-up for the Americans.

But a tentative-looking Stenson got on the board with his first birdie at the seventh and when Rose sunk a snaking 15-footer at the eighth, it was back to all square.
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The European team then kept up the pressure with back-to-back birdies from Stenson and Rose giving them a two-hole lead after 13. They sealed their unbeaten record at 3-0 when neither of the Americans could reach the par-5 green in three and Rose took advantage with yet another birdie.

In the second fourball, Hunter Mahan fired five birdies and an eagle as he and Jim Furyk defeated Europe’s Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson 4 and 3.

Mahan birdied to win the opening hole at Gleneagles, Furyk birdied to capture the third and when Mahan birdied the seventh, the US duo led 3-up.

After halving the next six holes, three with birdies and three with pars, the Americans moved 4-up on Mahan’s eagle at 14 and closed out the match on Mahan’s three-foot par putt to halve the 15th.

Furyk broke his own Cup record with a 16th different partner in Mahan and took his first-ever pairs victory over Westwood, a fellow nine-time Cup starter who had been 5-0 with two halved against Furyk.

The third match also went the way of the Americans as Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed made it two wins from two by defeating European pair Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer 5 and 3.

The Europeans, who halved their fourballs match Friday, got off to the perfect start with birdies at the first from Kaymer and third from Bjorn, pushing them into an early lead.

But that advantage vanished in the space of two holes as the Europe duo made a mess of the tough fifth hole and Spieth, at 21 the youngest player at Gleneagles, sunk a long-range effort at the next.

Spieth struck again at the ninth with a 15-footer for birdie to send the Americans round the turn at 1-up.

They then ran away with the match, taking birdies at 11, 13, 14 and 15 as the European challenge faded fast.

Spieth became the youngest player to win two Ryder Cup matches at the age of 21 years and 62 days, whilst he and Reed were the first rookie pairing to win their first two matches in 25 years.

- additional reporting by Will Slattery

© – AFP 2014

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