CHASKA, Minnesota Birdies galore and thrills aplenty characterized another remarkable day of Ryder Cup golf as the U.S. repelled a Rory McIlroy-inspired fightback from Europe to lead by 9 1/2 – 6 1/2 points on Saturday.
The holders silenced a raucous Hazeltine National crowd by winning the morning foursomes 2 1/2 – 1 1/2 but the U.S., desperate to avoid a fourth straight defeat in the biennial team event, rallied to take the afternoon fourballs 3-1.
McIlroy, all high-fives, fist pumps and eye-bulging reaction, was as animated as he has ever been in the Ryder Cup as he and Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters took their record to 3-0 this week by beating Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson 3 and 1.
Ryder Cup veteran Lee Westwood suffered heartbreak in the next match, missing from two feet at the last as he and fellow Englishman Danny Willett slid to a one-hole defeat at the hands of JB Holmes and Ryan Moore.
Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar never trailed in match three, recording a 2 and 1 victory over Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer.
The irrepressible Patrick Reed was the central figure in the last tussle of the day as he and Jordan Spieth took down England’s Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson of Sweden 2 and 1.
The 41st Ryder Cup ends on Sunday with 12 singles encounters.
(Editing by Andrew Both)
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