Ryder Cup: Stars earn stripes as USA battles back

Shot of the morningRickie Fowler holed from out of a bunker to win the tenth with a birdie-2 in the bottom match, but that was eclipsed by Ian Poulter’s chip in at the 15th that finally brought him to life.

Jim Furyk celebrates after making a birdie on the ninth to stay three holes ahead of Donaldson and Westwood. Photograph: Ian Rutherford

Key quote

“I really got into reading the greens well today and I just had the feeling of anticipation of what it’s going to feel like making putts. Today was a day it all happened for me” – Justin Rose

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Jim Furyk celebrates after making a birdie on the ninth to stay three holes ahead of Donaldson and Westwood. Photograph: Ian Rutherford

After what felt like a bit of sparring on the opening day, this was a session which saw both teams come out with all guns blazing, with Europe securing a vital half in the bottom match.

Match 1:

Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood lost to Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan 4&3

Jim Furyk gained revenge for his foursomes loss at the hands of Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood as he and Hunter Mahan eased to a comfortable victory. The European pair were unable to generate any of the momentum they enjoyed on Friday.

The Americans started strongly as Mahan birdied the first and Westwood’s excellent response at the second, pitching within a few feet to set up a birdie, counted for nothing as Mahan equalled him.

That set the tone and despite their best efforts, the Europeans could not win a single hole. An eagle by Mahan at the 14th put the Americans four up and effectively sealed the contest.

Match score: Europe 6 USA 4

Match 2:

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter halved with Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler

Poulter finally came to the Gleneagles party to secure half a point and ensure that Europe kept their noses in front after the third session with some superb play in the closing holes.

Aside from a winning birdie at the first, Poulter again struggled to find his usual Ryder Cup magic, leaning heavily on McIlroy until the match reached the 15th green with the European pair one down. Poulter chipped in from off the green and although that only scraped a half, the juices were flowing. He recovered from a fairway bunker to birdie the next and level the match and his superb approach to the 18th green, coupled with a fine chip from McIlroy, put the pressure back on the Americans. Fowler had a long putt to win the point and level the match but he could not convert.

Match score: Europe 6½ USA 5½

Match 3:

Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer lost to Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth 5&3

It all seemed to start so well for Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer but the inspired rookie pairing of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth again charged to victory. Reed seemed nervous as he repeated Webb Simpson’s skied tee shot at the first hole and Kaymer birdied. Bjorn followed suit at the third to put Europe two up, but Spieth began the fightback at the fifth and followed up to take the sixth with a birdie two. It took a brilliant save from off the green by Bjorn at the seventh to keep the match level but Spieth clicked into gear with birdies at the ninth and tenth. When Reed punched the air after adding another biride at 13 the point was in sight and the European pair could not respond, losing two more holes.

Match score: Europe 6 USA 5

Match 4:

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson beat Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar 3&2

The European pair, and particularly Justin Rose, produced a sensational display to maintain their winning momentum from Friday and register another point for the hosts.

Rose’s putter was hot, nailing seven birdies while Henrik Stenson weighed in with five. Ten of the European birdies came in succession from the seventh to the 16th, turning a two-hole deficit into a commanding win, and in a competition record fourball score of 12 under.

That the contest even reached the 16th was credit to the American duo, who played superbly themselves, shooting a combined nine under par total.

Matt Kuchar prolonged the match by holing a long putt under pressure to halve the 15th but Rose completed the job at the next.

Match score: Europe 6 USA 3