Well, that didn’t go so well.
After taking a 6-4 lead through two “sessions” of the 2010 Ryder Cup, the Americans needed only a decent set of Saturday afternoon matches to put themselves into position to retain the Cup.
It didn’t exactly go “decently”.
There’s still golf to play in the 3rd session — a lot of golf, actually — but the Europeans currently lead ALL six matches, with play called at 6:30 pm local time due to darkness.
The United States needed anything to stop the European onslaught. And since their own golf couldn’t do it, the Americans took advantage of mother nature to end the session on Saturday.
The biggest slap-in-the-face was being applied by the duo of Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, who own a 4-up lead on Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker through 9 holes of their alternate shot match. To say that Woods and Stricker stunk it up in the first eight holes would be doing a disservice to the term “stunk it up”. They were worse than stunk-it-up…whatever that might be. Stricker got a case of the lefts with his iron play and Woods – other than the first hole where he piped it 340 right down the middle – couldn’t hit a fairway if it were the size of Delaware. Tiger and Stricker entered the match 2-0 in the matches thus far, but it looks like they’ll need a miracle of epic proportions to even get a half point in this one.
Several of the other matches are reasonably close late in the front nine, so there’s plenty of time for the U.S. to come out and turn things around in the morning.
Later on Sunday, the 24 players will tee it up in the singles matches, which will no doubt decide the outcome of this year’s Ryder Cup.
Typically, the players in the event go to bed on Saturday knowing who they will play on Sunday in the singles, but the two captains couldn’t agree on that stipulation after Saturday’s matches and it appears as if they’ll wait until the end of Sunday’s foursomes and fourball matches to announce the singles pairings.
One thing for sure: Sunday’s going to be a helluva day at Celtic Manor.
Let’s hope the U.S. brings their “A game” to the course on Sunday. It wasn’t much fun watching the C-variety that tagged along with most of them on Saturday afternoon.
12:20 pm EDT update —
It looks like they won’t finish the afternoon session today, making for an interesting scheduling decision for Sunday, but the U.S. leads the 2010 Ryder Cup through two sets (plus) of matches in Wales.
Four matches on the course right now are of the better-ball format, while two – including Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods looking to go 3-0 – are alternate shot matches. This quirk in the Saturday schedule was made necessary by Friday’s day one 7 hour rain delay.
11:15 am EDT update (Currently: U.S. has 6 points, Europe has 4)
A funny thing happened right after NBC’s Johnny Miller spent 45 seconds or so questioning why Stewart Cink has been a 3-time Ryder Cup captain’s pick.
Cink rammed it up Miller’s backside with an improbable 40-foot birdie putt at 17 and the Cink/Matt Kuchar pairing came from 1-down with 3 to play to beat Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell and give the Americans a 6-4 lead after two sessions of the Ryder Cup in Wales.
Kuchar’s 10-foot birdie putt at 16 evened the match and then Cink provided the heroics with his long-distance birdie effort that quieted the pro-European crowd. Moments later, McIlroy missed an 8-footer for birdie.
At 18, Cink’s 3rd shot on the par-5 settled to 25-feet, setting the stage for Rory McIlroy, who was 110 yards out in the middle of the fairway. The young Irish player somehow whiffed his wedge and dumped it into the front bunker and that ended their hopes for a half-point as Kuchar and Cink picked up a huge point for the American side.
Elsewhere in the morning session, it went like this —
News flash: Steve Stricker can putt.
News flash: Tiger Woods couldn’t hit a fairway if the Ryder Cup depended on it (let’s hope it doesn’t…).
It didn’t matter much, though, because even a wobbly Woods performance couldn’t keep the U.S. duo from winning their alternate shot match on Saturday morning in Wales. Stricker and Woods combined for six birdies, most of them compliments of Stricker’s red hot putter, and Woods came alive late in the round with a couple of “vintage” Tiger iron shots to beat Europe’s weakest team.
Captain Corey Pavin trusts the Stricker/Woods pairing so much he’s sending them back out in the afternoon – again – in the alternate shot format.
Rickie Fowler committed one of the worst rookie mistakes in Ryder Cup history when he dropped HIS ball on the 4th hole while taking relief and the subsequent loss of hole came back to semi-haunt the U.S. pairing of Fowler and Jim Furyk when they halved their alternate shot match with Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood. Fowler did atone for his blunder at the 18th hole when he rammed in a 5-foot birdie putt that was set up by a sensational 3rd from Furyk, who did his best to guide the Ryder Cup rookie around the Celtic Manor layout.
Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson? Not. Good. They were run out of the gym by Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher and were the only U.S. side to go 0-2 through two matches. They just didn’t play well together, Johnson and Mickelson. In fact, Pavin announced shortly after their alternate shot loss that Johnson would play with Furyk in the afternoon better-ball match and Fowler would play with Mickelson.
Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan played steady enough to hold off the two arrogant Italians, Francesco and Eduardo Molinari. Eduardo tipped his cap to the crowd so much I thought he was giving a retirement speech at Yankee Stadium.
Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson were decent enough in a loss to Europe’s best team, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, but Donald’s sizzling iron to 3-feet at 17 was converted by Poulter in a 2-up win for the hosts.
The sun is out and golf is being played in Wales today as the Ryder Cup tries to get back on schedule after a rain-soaked opening day on Friday.
The U.S. leads after the “Day One” four-ball matches (completed this morning), 2.5 to 1.5, after Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods (well, mostly Stricker) beat Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher, 2-up. Woods had a chance to win the match at 17 with a 15-footer but missed it. Stricker then hit his 3rd shot at 18 to 10 feet and when neither Poulter or Fisher could convert long birdie putts, they conceded Stricker’s birdie at 18 for the 2-up margin. Earlier, Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson got the other U.S. win by beating Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald, 3 and 2. The story of the match was Overton’s putter, which was labeled by many as “suspect” heading into the Ryder Cup. He made several key putts including an early birdie on the back nine that gave the U.S. a 3-up lead en-route to a surprisingly easy win.
The mid-morning matches that are now underway — foursomes or “alternate shot” as we know it – include the debut of Rickie Fowler (with Jim Furyk) and a return pairing of Stricker/Woods, who are now 5-0 as a team since being paired together at the 2009 President’s Cup.