Ryder Cup 2014: Europe a fours to be reckoned with

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Shot of the afternoon

Jamie Donaldson, who has taken to the Ryder Cup like a duck to water, had little green to work with when he hit a great chip at the 16th to set up a crucial birdie made by Lee Westwood.

Key quote:

Victor Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell celebrate their first birdie at the third. Picture: Getty

Victor Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell celebrate their first birdie at the third. Picture: Getty

“At Medinah, we were in a hole but took some momentum into the locker-room. But Justin’s putt was huge because it gave them nothing to take away this evening.” Graeme McDowell

Verdict:

While the Americans won the second-day foursomes 3-1 at Medinah, it’s been a disastrous format for them in this match. The Europeans, in contrast, have gelled well in alternate play.

Match 1:

Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood beat Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar 2&1

Europe twice came back from one down in the first five holes before a bogey by the United States at the sixth put the hosts one up. However, it was their turn to be pegged back when Matt Kuchar birdied from 12 feet only for Lee Westwood’s chip to five feet on the par-five ninth to put his side back on front again.

Westwood’s short game picked up another hole at the tenth as they escaped with par after missing the par-three green and America bogeyed.

Kuchar drove the short 14th and his partner holed from 15ft for eagle to reduce the deficit but when the USA failed to reach the par-five 16th in two Westwood ensured Europe got up and down from the greenside rough for birdie to put them two up, and a comfortable par at the next secured victory.

Match score: Europe 7½ USA 5½

Match 2:

Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy beat Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan 3&2

Europe needed a big performance from their big two and they got it as they went ahead at the first hole courtesy of a USA bogey and they never allowed their opponents a sniff. Even when they lost the third hole they remained in control, despite Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan both cancelling out European birdies with unlikely putts.

The short 14th proved pivotal as Mahan’s wildly-sliced drive left his partner with an almost impossible lie in deep rough and, although they escaped with a par, Rory McIlroy birdied to put them two up and pile on the pressure.

It all finished rather messily for the USA, as they could only make a bogey six at the 16th after laying up and then going through the back of the green, and Europe made their four.

Match score: Europe 9½ USA 5½

Match 3:

Victor Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell beat Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler 5&4

Victor Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell won comfortably. The Frenchman’s approach to the third set up their first birdie and when Jimmy Walker missed a five-footer at the fifth his side were three down.

Dubuisson hit his tee shot at the short sixth to seven feet to go four up. When the Americans hacked their way down the eighth fairway they ended up conceding McDowell’s 12-footer for par to go five down. Then Walker missed a short putt at the ninth, although Fowler did manage to sink an eight-footer at the 11th to give the USA a glimmer of hope.

However, when Walker failed with another short putt they trailed by five again. Dubuisson then drove the 294-yard par-four 14th with a hybrid for a half and a convincing win.

Match score: Europe 8½ USA 5½

Match 4:

Martin Kaymer & Justin Rose halved with Jordan Spieth & Patrick Reed

The USA rookies appeared to be in the box seat after going two up after seven. However, when Patrick Reed missed his birdie chance at the par-five ninth the lead was cut to one.

At the tenth Rose missed from six feet and Reed converted from similar range to restore the USA lead. A par was good enough for Europe to reduce the deficit at the 12th and a failure to make par at the 15th green, coupled with Rose’s brilliant lag putt, saw the match levelled.

Europe made a mess of the 16th but the pressure got to Reed, who missed from two feet for par. Spieth responded by hitting his tee shot at the short 17th to six feet to give them a one-hole lead, but after finding a difficult lie in a greenside bunker, the USA could only make par and Rose finally got an afternoon putt to drop for an important half.

Match score: Europe 10 USA 6