CHASKA, Minnesota The United States threatened to pad their overnight lead at the Ryder Cup on Saturday as the hosts led Europe in two foursomes matches and trailed in one after a warm, sunny start at Hazeltine National.
The U.S. side, losers of three straight Ryder Cups, carried a 5-3 lead into the second day of the biennial match play competition.
The Americans did not get off on the right foot, however, as Europe’s lead-off team of Rory McIlroy and long-hitting Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters charged to a 3-up lead through eight holes against U.S. veteran Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.
Pieters and McIlroy, who clinched their fourball partnership on Friday by rolling in a 20-foot eagle putt, registered three birdies against one for Mickelson and Fowler, who combined for a pair of bogeys in the alternate shot format.
The U.S. tandem of Brandt Snedeker and rookie Brooks Koepka led Swede Henrik Stenson and rookie Matt Fitzpatrick of England, playing his first match, 1-up through seven.
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, playing the anchor match against Spaniards Sergio Garcia and rookie Rafa Cabrera-Bello, led 2-up after five holes.
All square after six holes were England’s Justin Rose and his compatriot, rookie Chris Wood, and the U.S. duo of Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker.
Europe, winners of eight of the last 10 competitions, need 14 points to retain the Cup, while the United States must accumulate 14-1/2 points to reclaim the gold trophy they last won in 2008 at Valhalla.
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)