Sep 27, 2014 8:27 AM

Europe leads 6 -5 after Ryder Cup fourballs

The Associated Press

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson finished with 10 straight birdies to win Saturday's first fourballs match for Europe. The United States responded by winning the next two matches and halving the fourth to cut the deficit to 6 to 5 on day two of the Ryder Cup.

Rose and Stenson birdied 12 of 16 holes to beat Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar 3 and 2. The Americans had nine birdies themselves.

The European duo's 12-under score was a Ryder Cup record in fourballs. The 21-under total for the two pairings was also a record.

"It's hard to reflect on it when you're playing, but 21 birdies in 16 holes between us, that's something special," Stenson said. "It might be a highlight to put on the big screen with the grandkids one day."

Europe started the day with a 5-3 lead after taking 3 points from Friday afternoon's foursomes.

After Rose and Stenson stretched the advantage to 6-3, the Americans surged back, and came close to leveling the score by the end of the morning.

Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan beat Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson 4 and 3. Rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed winning their second match in two days took down Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer 5 and 3.

Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker earned a half-point against Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, bringing the U.S. within a point going into the afternoon foursomes. With an eagle putt to win the match on the 18th, Fowler left it just short.

Europe has won seven of the last nine Ryder Cups, and the United States hasn't won on foreign soil since 1993 at The Belfry in England.

U.S. captain Tom Watson has been portraying this Ryder Cup as a chance for redemption after the Americans' collapse two years ago at Medinah, when Europe overcame a 10-6 deficit going into the Sunday singles matches.

On a bright and crisp morning with little wind, Saturday's fourballs belonged to Rose and Stenson.

The Englishman and Swede, who won both of their matches together Friday without trailing a single hole, put on a birdie clinic like no other.

"It was one-half Stenson, one-and-a-half part Rose," the Swede said. "Justin played phenomenally all week, and luckily I was there to back him up on a couple of occasions."

Rose could do no wrong, making seven birdies.

"It is amazing," he said. "I really got into reading the greens well today and I just had the feeling of the anticipation of what it's going to feel like to make putts today. You see the ball going in the hole and you sort of get those positive vibes. Today was a day it all happened for me."

Bubba Watson and Kuchar, who led through seven holes and kept making birdies of their own, could only admire the display.

"That was wild," Watson said. "We would like to go to a few more holes, just so we could watch some great golf again."

Said Kuchar: "They were unstoppable."

Stenson was held out of the afternoon foursomes to rest a sore back.

Left out of both sessions Saturday was Phil Mickelson, marking the first time the American has been omitted from an entire day's play in 10 Ryder Cups.

There was plenty of drama in the final fourballs.

Most of it involved Poulter, the European catalyst who had won seven consecutive Ryder Cup matches until Friday's humbling 5 and 4 fourballs defeat with Stephen Gallacher to Spieth and Reed.

Poulter pitched in for a birdie at the 15th and celebrated the way he did during his stunning run in Medinah, pumping both arms and thumping his chest, eyes bulging. But Fowler responded and halved the hole to keep the U.S. 1 up.

"As soon as he chipped in, I was like, here we go again," McIlroy said.

Poulter did it again at the 16th, pounding his chest after draining a 12-foot birdie putt that left the match all square. At the 18th, McIlroy and Poulter both came up with great third shots to set up birdies. Fowler had a chance to win the hole and the match but came up short on an 18-foot eagle putt.

"It was nice to have a putt for the match there at the last, maybe a little bit outside the range that you're used to making," Fowler said. "It was a chance and felt like I hit a decent putt. Just needed to hit it a little harder."


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