Crazy outfits. Outlandish noise. Lucky bounces. Fast greens. Minimal rough. Stunningly good golf. Shots so bad we could have hit them. Skywriting. Looooong drives. Ian Poulter’s shoes. Michael Jordan. 11 players who have won major championships. Past Presidents. Of countries. Michael Phelps, without goggles. Deep dish pizza. Justin Timberlake, not singing or dancing. Bill Murray in bad pants. Even golfers with nicknames.
It’s the Ryder Cup at its best and so far this week, we’ve had everything but the Mike Ditka and Ernie Banks. But there’s still a day to go.
For most of Sunday it looked as though the final day would be no more than a victory lap for the US squad, but the teams of Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter pulled out 1- up matches over US pairings of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker and Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, respectively.
By winning those matches the two-day tally stands at 10 to 6 in favor of the US. Had the Euros lost those two matches, it would have been 12 to 4 with 14 ½ points needed to win the cup and 12 singles matches to play on Sunday.
Once again, the team of Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson closed out their afternoon fourball match early. Simpson had seven birdies during the round. Watson took care of two of the fives, making them impossible to keep up with. They dusted Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari 5&4.
Matt Kuchar took the lions share of the birdies with partner Dustin Johnson coming through at a critical time on the 17th hole with birdie to take the match to 1 up against Nicolas Colsaerts and Paul Lawrie. Though Colsaerts had the luck on the greens yesterday, Saturday, he had two 270 degree lip outs. The luck went elsewhere.
Ian Poulter had five birdies in a row starting at the 14th to turn around his and McIlroy’s match with Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. They had been as much as 3 down at one point.
“We needed something to happen,” Poulter’s partner Rory McIlroy said. “I think the birdie on 13 sort of sparked us and gave us a bit of momentum. Then Ian sort of took over from there. It was good to be a part of; he was incredible on the way in.”
Luke Donald hit his tee shot to two feet at the 17th to provide Europe with a much needed birdie. Tiger Woods, who finally came alive in the last six holes of his match with Donald and Garcia, hit a tee shot to makeable birdie distance, leaving Donald no choice.
“Tiger hit it close.I thought I better hit it close, too. I was hoping to hole it,” Donald said. The two points in the after gave Europe what Donald called “a heartbeat for tomorrow.”
The only way for the Euro squad to retain the Ryder Cup on Sunday is to pull a Ben Crenshaw moment from 1999 out of their bag. Do they have the bad shirts? Can Olazabal inspire them? Will they match the biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history that was achieved by the 1999 US team? The answer is that they will wear Seve Ballesteros’ favorite colors of navy and white on Sunday and Seve’s silhouette will be on the shirts.
Davis Love III said Presidents Bush 41 and 43 were talking to the team at dinner while he was speaking with the media so he had no idea what was being said in his absence, but he felt good about his team and his order of play.
Sunday Pairings and Predictions:
Bubba Watson vs Luke Donald – Donald, because he has to have the point for Europe.
Webb Simpson vs. Ian Poulter – Poulter with theatrics.
Keegan Bradley vs. Rory McIlroy – McIlroy, although Bradley will give him a run, again, because they have to have the point.
Phil Mickelson vs Justin Rose – Halved
Brandt Snedeker vs. Paul Lawrie – Snedeker
Dustin Johnson vs. Nicolas Colsaerts – Halved
Zach Johnson vs. Graeme McDowell – McDowell, because Europe has to have the point
Jim Furyk vs. Sergio Garcia – Garcia because Europe has to have the point.
Jason Dufner vs. Peter Hanson – Dufner is playing better.
Matt Kuchar vs. Lee Westwood – Kuchar is playing better.
Steve Stricker vs. Martin Kaymer – Kaymer because he’s rested.
Tiger Woods vs. Francesco Molinari – Woods, and if not, it’s a shock.
That would give the US five points and the Ryder Cup. The US only needs 4 ½ points.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.