Having took a slender lead from a truncated first fourballs session, the Americans would have entered the foursomes full of confidence. The challenge of foursomes is a unique skill and Tom Watson had at his disposal two pairings in Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk as well as Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson, two teams that considered the alternate shot format as their strength. Both sides, though, came up against some rigid opposition in the form of morning fourballs victors Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, and Lee Westwood and debutant Jamie Donaldson. Europe would have know the importance of a strong start to the afternoon session and that’s what the two pairs gave them, with Donaldson and Westwood beating Furyk and Mahan 2Up, while Stenson and Rose overcame Mahan and Johnson 2&1. With the evening session extended after the delayed finish to the final fourballs match, Europe held a one-point lead for most of the evening, which they carry into day two.
No one will have been more disappointed to lose their match on the 18th and hand America and advantage than Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy. It was always going to be difficult for the pair to put the disappointment behind them to turn around quickly and get back out on the course against a pair that played extremely well in the morning session Ricky Fowler and Jimmy Walker, who themsleves battled back from two down to halve their fourballs match earlier in the day. It was nip-and-tuck throughout until the American pair went dormie two with a halved birdie on 16. with no choice but to chase the match, The duo ranked one and three in the world respectively threw everything at the Americans, including McIlroy sinking a big 40ft put to win the 17th and take the match up the last. That had Fowler and Walker rattled and they lost all composure to be lost the 18th and halve the match. Whether Spaniard will partner the Northern Irishman tomorrow remains to be seen but they will relieved to end an up and down play with at least a half point to their names.
With Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley coming back from the abyss to down Garcia and McIlroy, thus extending their unbeaten run, the match-up against Graeme McDowell and first timer Victor Dubuisson was seen as one they should and would win. Instead the majestic Frenchman combined with Celtic Manor hero McDowell to cause one of the upsets of the day and hand Europe a two-point advantage after the first day. Perhaps frustrated by the quick turnaround of their first match, the Americans looked out of sorts early on, going three down after just five holes and from then on they never quite recovered. While they did manage to cut it to just one hole behind, Dubuisson and McDowell managed a birdie on 16 to seal a big 3&2 victory over the previously undefeated American duo. It completed a big momentum shift for the Europeans who won 3 ½ of the four points on offer in the afternoon to bounce back from losing the first session 2 ½ – 1 ½ ending the day 5-3. It will be interesting to see how the pairs line up tomorrow with Rose and Stenson looking likely to continue, while McGinley will have to consider who to pair Ian Poulter with after the talismanic Englishman had an out of sorts morning and missed out in the evening. For the Americans though, they will know they will have to take a lead into the singles to have a chance of wrestling the cup from the European clutches.
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BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge
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