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Americans come on strong in the afternoon session, take 9 1/2 to 6 1/2 lead over Europeans

After the Americans jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the morning yesterday, the Europeans took 3 of 4 in the afternoon to close their deficit to 5-3. The morning session on Saturday was electric and full of drama. Having lost the last 3 Ryder Cups, it was important for the Americans to build upon their lead.


MORNING FOURSOMES

Match 1: Phil Mickelson & Rickie Fowler vs. Rory McIlroy & Thomas Pieters

Phil and Rickie struggled throughout the morning, especially Fowler. They got down early, losing 3 of the first 5 holes, and never could make back the deficit. They did win a couple of holes but ultimately lost 4 & 2 on the 15th hole. Rickie’s performance, or lack thereof, left doubts in the mind of his position for the afternoon sessions. Nonetheless, the Europeans put the first tally on the board on Saturday to pull within one of the Americans.

Match 2: Brandt Snedeker & Brooks Koepka vs. Henrik Stenson & Matt Fitzpatrick

Ryder Cup rookie Matt Fitzpatrick made his debut on day 2, and interesting strategy employed by Euro Captain Darren Clarke. And he ran into the buzz saw that is the Americans best pairing through two days, Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka. They won walking away on the par-5 16th when the rook rinsed his ball into the lake on the left side of the green for his second shot.

WATCH: Brooks Koepka hits a 4-iron 253 yards. Yes, you read that right:

Match 3: Jimmy Walker & Zach Johnson vs. Justin Rose & Chris Wood

This match was a not as flashy as the other ones were, and the Americans kept a steady pace with the Europeans with the first hole being awarded to the Europeans on the 7th. They would win again on the 10th and 13th, taking a 3-up lead into the 14th. The Americans won two of the next three, ultimately ending up dormie going into the 18th, with the Europeans up one hole.  They both pared, giving the Europeans a 1-up victory.

Match 4: Jordan Spieth & Patrick Reed vs. Sergio Gracia & Rafa Cabrera-Bello

Reed and Spieth won 3 of the first 6 holes, to assert their dominance over the two Spaniards. They won another on the 11th to take a commanding lead, but began to lose momentum down the stretch, losing 3 of the next 5 going into the 17th with only a 1-up lead. At the 18th, after a wayward drive right from Spieth, Cabrera-Bello hammered a drive left-center of the fairway. Reed’s approach wound up on in the right rough, short siding the Americans for their 3rd shot. Garcia followed with a safe approach to the center of the green. The Americans were able to get up and down and Europe two-putted to halve the match.

Team USA and Team Europe halve the match.

After the Saturday morning session: Americans – 6 1/2, Europeans – 5 1/2


AFTERNOON FOURBALL

Match 1: Brooks Koepka & Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy & Thomas Pieters

U.S. Captain Davis Love III decided to split up his formidable pairing for Snedeker and Koepka, opting instead to pair the long-hitting Koepka with equally as long Dustin Johnson, a move that plays well for the highlight reel, but not necessarily for the Ryder Cup. The power hitting duo of Johnson and Koepka got off to a pedestrian start against their European counterparts, losing 2 of the first 5 holes. The Europeans would pick up another on the 8th and then on the 9th, extending their lead to 4-up going into the homeward nine. Johnson and Koepka got one back on the 11th when they birdied the par-5. The Americans dropped the 13th and 14th, leaving them dormie playing the final four holes.  DJ and Koepka fought back valiantly, winning the next two holes, in the end the Europeans had too big of a lead, and won 3 & 1.

Match 2: J.B. Holmes & Ryan Moore vs. Danny Willet & Lee Westwood

This was an interesting pairing of four, non-flashly, consistent players. And it played itself out in like fashion. Through 5 holes they were all square. The Europeans finally broke through on the 7th, taking a 1-up lead. Holmes and Moore clawed back on the 9th to bring things square. They traded holes on the back nine, remaining all square through 15 holes. The Americans took the lead 1-up on the seventeenth hole with a Ryan Moore birdie leaving the dormie with only the 18th to play. The Americans secured a 1-up victory.

Match 3: Phil Mickelson & Matt Kuchar vs. Martin Kaymer & Sergio Garcia

As was suspected, Love III benched Fowler for the afternoon session, deciding to pair Phil with the steady hand of Matt Kuchar instead. The two Americans won 2 of the first four holes, but the Euros got one back on the 7th. The Americans extended their lead to 2-up on the 13th. After winning the 14th hole, Phil and Kuchar were dormie heading into the 16th, which they lost, but ultimately ended up with the 2 & 1 victory.

Match 4: Patrick Reed & Jordan Spieth vs. Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson

With a possible hangover from the morning session, the momentum stayed with the Europeans on the opening hole against Spieth and Reed, birdieing the first hole and taking a 1-up lead. Reed and Spieth would bring things even on number 5 then take the lead on number 6, then extending that lead on 7 and 8 to 3-up, with three birdies and an eagle from Reed. They gave two back on the back nine, before another birdie by Reed to extend their lead back to 2-up. Reed birdied again on 15, giving the Americans a 3-up with 3 to play. Patrick Reed kept the momentum going on 16, when he nutted a second shot to the par-5 to the middle of the green, but was outdone when Henrik Stenson chipped in for eagle, keeping the match alive.

WATCH: Patrick Reed jars an eagle on no. 6:

Coverage continues tomorrow at 9 A.M. EST on NBC. 

Day 2 Results: Americans – 9 1/2, Europeans – 6 1/2

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