When Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer went two up after three holes, Tom Watson and his American charges would have been fearing the worst after seeing their day one lead turn into a deficit by the close of play. Instead a pair of rookies who impressed on day one with a dismantling of Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher, fought back to win the match at a canter Patrick Reed and Jordan Speith landed seven birdies between them, the latter accounting for five of them as they wrapped the match up on the 15th for a comfortable 5&3 victory. It would have been easy for two players so new to the Ryder Cup atmoshphere to fold under the pressure of trailing early on but they showed magnificent resolve to be the find of the tournament so far for the USA. Watson may be left wondering what might have been had decided not to rest the pair for day one’s foursomes, which saw his side manage just a half point from the four available. It will be interesting as well to see how well these two fair on their own on Sunday, with the focus completely different for an individual with no margin for error and nowhere to hide.
Having endured a disappointing time of it in his only match yesterday, people were beginning to wonder if and when the man who lives for the Ryder Cup, Poulter would inject the passion into the weekend that was so evident two years ago in Medinah. Having been paired with Rory McIlroy in the morning, and after a quiet round for the most part, Poulter lit up Gleneagles with a majestic chip in from off the green to salvage a half from a situation that looked for all intents and purposes that would see them fall two holes behind. He then followed it up with a superb approach shot to the par five 15th to leave a decent birdie opportunity, which he of course holed to level the match. A unbelievable turnaround from a wonderful team player. That was how it would finish as they halved the match to retain a slender lead for Europe going into the foursomes.
There are occasions in sport where the quality of the play is such that it is often a shame that there has to be a winner and a loser. The top match of day two’s fourballs fell perfectly into that bracket. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson were the pick of the Europeans on the first day, winning both their matches to give their side a lead at the end of two sessions. They came up against Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar, two players who would have wanted to get more out of the first day, so were keen to prove a point this time round. What was on display was an exhibition of matchplay golf of the highest order. Yes, the Europeans won with two holes to spare but they birdied 12 of the 15 holes they played, with six of them only achieving halves, such was the level all four player were at. Rose and Stenson have been something of a find for Europe this time round with the Englishman clearly benefitting from the confidence of being a major winner, while the Swede has shown the coolness that has rightly earned him the nickname ‘Iceman’.
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