US stretch Ry­der lead

> Amer­i­cans take 3-point lead into fi­nal day as Europe look for an­other mir­a­cle

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

MOV­ING CLOSER to their first Ry­der Cup vic­tory since 2008, the United States cap­tured Satur­day’s three fi­nal four-ball matches to seize a 9 1/2 - 6 1/2 edge over Europe.

Heck­ling crowds were de­lighted as the Amer­i­cans put them­selves in prime po­si­tion to snap a three-edi­tion los­ing streak in the bi­en­nial team golf show­down.

“We al­ways get crit­i­cised – we don’t bond as a team, we don’t have enough pas­sion – and this time we’ve taken it per­son­ally,” US cap­tain Davis Love said. “We’re in a good po­si­tion. I’m very elated.”

Pa­trick Reed and Phil Mick­el­son made clutch putts over the fi­nal holes to se­cure two vi­tal US points while 10time Cup starter Lee West­wood, a cap­tain’s choice, botched a two-foot putt to cost Europe half a point.

As a re­sult, the US team needs only five points from to­day’s 12 con­clud­ing sin­gles matches to re­claim the Cup while Europe must take 7 1/2 points to keep the tro­phy.

“Dis­ap­pointed. We had a few chances but the Amer­i­can guys played very good,” Europe cap­tain Dar­ren Clarke said. “We are go­ing to have to work hard to­mor­row.”

It would take Europe’s sec­ond-big­gest rally to keep the Cup, hav­ing trailed 10-6 in 2012 be­fore a Love-guided US squad was shocked in the “Mir­a­cle at Me­d­i­nah.”

“It has been done be­fore from a worse po­si­tion than what we have,” Clarke said.

“We have a chance. The guys are ca­pa­ble of do­ing it. There is a prece­dent.”

Since 1979, when the Cup ex­panded be­yond a Bri­tishIr­ish team, teams ahead by three points or more en­ter­ing sin­gles have won seven of nine times.

“I’m ex­cited but a 3-point lead can be gone in the first three matches,” US star Jor­dan Spi­eth said.

“We need to come out and play ag­gres­sive, like we are two points down.”

Reed and Spi­eth, who lost four of the last six holes to halve a morn­ing four­somes match, beat Olympic cham­pion Justin Rose of Eng­land and British Open cham­pion Hen­rik Sten­son of Swe­den 2 and 1 in four-ball.

Reed won four holes in a row start­ing at the fifth with three birdies and an ea­gle at the par-5 sixth, lift­ing the Amer­i­cans 3-up, then si­lenced a rally with birdied to win the 14th and 15th holes and re­store the 3-up edge.

“I was made for this kind of stuff,” Reed said. “Any time I can get in front of the crowd and es­pe­cially the Amer­i­cans and have the red, white and blue on, it just fu­els me.”

Spi­eth and Reed lead the US team at 2-1 with one halved while McIl­roy and Thomas Pi­eters pace Europe as a part­ner­ship at 3-0.

“I know he has that in him. He’s Cap­tain Amer­ica for us,” Spi­eth said of Reed. “He’s as good as any­body on the big stage.”

Spi­eth and Reed, 4-1-2 over­all, matched the all-time US pairs points record of five set by Arnold Palmer, the six­time Cup win­ner who died last Sun­day at age 87, and Gard­ner Dickinson.

McIl­roy, last week’s PGA Tour Cham­pi­onship win­ner, and Pi­eters beat Phil Mick­el­son and Rickie Fowler 4 and 2 in four­somes and beat US Open cham­pion Dustin John­son and Brooks Koepka 3 and 1 in four­balls.

Holmes and Ryan Moore beat Mas­ters cham­pion Danny Wil­lett and English com­pa­triot West­wood 1-up af­ter West­wood missed a two-footer at 18 to halve the match.

Mick­el­son and Matt Kuchar downed Spain’s Ser­gio Gar­cia and Ger­many’s Martin Kaymer 2 and 1. – AFP

Phil Mick­el­son of the United States hits off the 17th tee dur­ing af­ter­noon four­ball matches of the 2016 Ry­der Cup at Hazel­tine Na­tional Golf Club yes­ter­day in Chaska, Min­nesota. – AFPPIX

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