U.S. puts itself in prime postion for Ryder Cup win
GalleriesRyder Cup 2012
MEDINAH, Ill. -- Surely, someone must just have a feeling. Actually, everyone involved with the Ryder Cup has some kind of feeling. The U.S. players, ahead 10-6, feel they have a heck of a chance Sunday. The Europeans, who won the final two dramatic matches Saturday, feel that at least they have a chance.
Either way, the 12 singles matches at Medinah Country Club Sunday should be interesting as well as climactic. The Americans want to keep riding the hot hand of Keegan Bradley, about whom Europe's Luke Donald said Saturday, "He has obviously been a rock star this week."
The Europeans want to hide the hot hand of Ian Poulter, who seemed more of a Shakespearean dramatist with the way he reacted after making birdies on the final five holes to help his twosome win a pivotal point.
Both sides know that no one ever has come back from a deficit larger than 10-6, but they know that the United States rallied to win from that very score 13 years ago at Brookline, after captain Ben Crenshaw had presciently said, "I just have a feeling about tomorrow."
So what are the chances?
"You can't really compare," said Bubba Watson, who teamed with Webb Simpson for a 5-and-4 win over Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari in the afternoon best-ball matches. "It's just a different time, a different setting, a different everything."
But Sergio Garcia, who teamed with Donald to hold off Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker as dusk approached, was on that 1999 team and said: "Hopefully we'll get off to a good start and see how they react, and then we'll see what happens from there. You know, it would be nice to kind of give it back the way they did to us in '99."
No visiting team ever has come back from a deficit greater than two points heading into the final day (Europe in 1995). And the 1999 European team had the likes of Jean Van de Velde and Jarmo Sandelin, who had not played at all before Sunday. This U.S. team is both primed and rested, with pretty much everyone playing well, even Woods (0-3).
But it is possible. Of the finish Saturday, Poulter (3-0) said: "It's given us a massive boost, to be able to go into tomorrow knowing you can win from this position. It's been done in the past and it's going to be done again, and we've definitely got a chance tomorrow."
The U.S. team had been building what seemed like unstoppable momentum in the morning, after both Poulter and Watson insisted on hitting their first tee shots while the crowd was roaring -- a clear reversal of golf's "silence please" custom. Bradley (3-0), who was there to watch it, said, "I mean, I was freaking out, I was so excited."
Bradley, the former St. John's star, and his partner Phil Mickelson were most responsible for getting the massive crowds excited with their record-tying 7-and-6 drubbing of Donald and Lee Westwood in a morning alternate-shot match. It ended with Mickelson expertly placing and nearly holing out a 110-yard uphill pitch, banking it off the rear left part of the 12th green and letting it roll down. Bradley then did a pirouette that fired up the fans.
In Sunday's singles, Bradley will play against Rory McIlroy two groups after Watson and Donald start it off and one group after Poulter -- arguably the best match-play player in the world -- faces Simpson.
Matt Kuchar, whose partner Dustin Johnson made a crucial 25-foot birdie putt on 17 Saturday afternoon, recalled being at Georgia Tech and watching the normally stoic David Duval acting like Hulk Hogan during the 1999 U.S. victory.
"I think we know that that sort of deficit is overcome-able," Kuchar said. "We have to go out and still play some really good golf and more sure we don't let a comeback like that happen to us."