Now THAT was great freakin’ golf

September 21, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Is Robert Karlsson on drugs?

What about Ian Poulter?

Holy cow.

Just when it looked like the U.S. might sniff the 10-point mark and be virtually assured of winning the Ryder Cup at Valhalla GC, along came Robert Karlsson and Ian Poulter on the back nine of their respective four-ball matches.

Poulter putted like a freak all day long and Karlsson made five birdies in six holes and then made one final birdie at #18 as the Europeans clawed their way back into the event, trailing 9-7 entering Sunday’s singles matches.

For the U.S., Steve Stricker’s 15-foot birdie putt at #18 was good for a much-needed half point and in the final match of the afternoon, Hunter Mahan two-putted for birdie to help partner Phil Mickelson earn another half-point for the Americans.

The golf was spectacular at times on Saturday afternoon, as both teams put on virtuoso putting displays.

The MVP of the day without question was Ian Poulter, who has won 3 of the 4 matches he’s played in and looks to be a European star for years to come.

The Sunday singles will be announced at 8:45 pm. Just for you-know-whats-and-giggles, I’ll try my hand at pairing them up…then I’ll come back later and list the actual pairings when they’re revealed.

Match 1 — Furyk vs. Westwood
Actual > Kim vs. Garcia
DF pick: Garcia 1-up

Match 2 — Perry vs. Garcia
Actual > Mahan vs. Casey
DF pick: Mahan 1-up

Match 3 — Leonard vs. Harrington
Actual > Leonard vs. Karlsson
DF pick: Karlsson 3 and 2

Match 4 — Weekley vs. Jimenez
Actual > Mickelson vs. Rose
DF pick: Mickelson 3 and 2

Match 5 — Cink vs. Hansen
Actual > Perry vs. Stenson
DF pick: Halved

Match 6 — Campbell vs. Rose
Actual > Weekley vs. Wilson
DF pick: Weekley 3 and 1

Match 7 — Mahan vs. Wilson
Actual > Holmes vs. Hansen
DF pick: Halved

Match 8 — Curtis vs. Casey
Actual > Furyk vs. Jimenez
DF pick: Furyk 5 and 4

Match 9 — Holmes vs. Stenson
Actual > Cink vs. McDowell
DF pick: McDowell 2-up

Match 10 — Kim vs. McDowell
Actual > Stricker vs. Poulter
DF pick: Halved

Match 11 — Stricker vs. Karlsson
Actual > Curtis vs. Westwood
DF pick: Westwood 1-up

Match 12 — Mickelson vs. Poulter
Actual > Campbell vs. Harrington
DF pick: Halved

U.S. wins 15-13 – Steve Stricker makes Cup clinching putt on 18th green.

Singles notes: Clearly, U.S. captain Paul Azinger is going for the throat right from the start, trying to get four points from his four best performers by using Kim, Mahan, Leonard and Mickelson to start the day. It’s also obvious that Azinger tried to bury his two most ineffective players thus far (Curtis and Campbell) at the back of the draw, hoping their two points won’t matter.

Faldo’s pairings are drastically different, as two of his first four players (Casey and Rose) were less than specatular thus far. In fact, his two most experienced players are on the tail end of the draw, as he hopes the 11th and 12th matches DO mean something – thus, he has Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington in those two spots.

When you’re the team that’s up two points, you put your horses at the top of the draw and say, “go get me some points, boys…”

That’s exactly what Azinger has done.

As long as the U.S. can take care of business in matches 1-10 on Sunday, they’ll win. If somehow the Europeans are still alive when those ten matches are complete, the Westwood-Harrington duo could put them over the top.

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