Golf Saturday foursomes in focus: Gritty Europe edge closer

Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters earned their second wins together, while Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka did the same for the Americans.

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The 41st Ryder Cup continued to produce drama and excitement on Saturday as the Europeans came out on top in the morning wave.

Darren Clarke's men won two out of four matches, having been whitewashed in the foursomes 24 hours earlier, while Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera Bello rescued an unlikely half from four down with six to play against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.

Our man at Hazeltine, Alec Brzezinski, analyses the action.

 

Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters defeated Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler 4 and 2

Ryder Cup rookie Pieters is fast emerging as one of the stars of the week at Hazeltine. Having teamed up with McIlroy to good effect in the fourballs on Friday, the Belgian once again looked calm and poised en route to another win. McIlroy was pumped up throughout, frequently fist-pumping and roaring after holes had been won.

Fowler and Mickelson may have beaten McIlroy and Andy Sullivan in the foursomes on Friday, but they really have not played well yet. After falling three down early, they made a run midway through this match to cut their deficit to one hole, but struggled to find fairways on the back nine, leading to their demise.

 

Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka defeated Henrik Stenson and Matt Fitzpatrick 3 and 2

Much like McIlroy and Pieters, Koepka and Snedeker have formed a formidable pairing. The two are now 2-0 this week with wins in the last two sessions. Snedeker is the stable veteran who knows how to hit every shot and keep the crowd involved. He has been a calming influence for Koepka, a rookie.

Koepka had an interesting round, complete with missed fairways, a horrid shank, deadly iron shots and a few clutch putts. He said after the round that he and Snedeker have a lot of "grit", and that has been evident while watching these two battle.

Stenson is quietly 1-2 this week. He came in battling a knee injury, but that did not look to be a problem on Friday afternoon when he and Justin Rose trounced Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. Fitzpatrick, a 22-year-old Ryder Cup rookie, fought his nerves to make some pressure putts, but could not help Stenson overcome the USA's new power duo.

 

Justin Rose and Chris Wood defeated Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker 1 up

Englishmen Rose and Wood hung on to beat the gritty duo of Johnson and Walker. Many Americans will not be familiar with Wood, but he is a masher off the tee. He hit a crushing three-wood on the par-five third hole, becoming just the third player to reach the green in two shots this week.

Walker and Johnson, again rested for the afternoon, have played solid golf in two sessions together and this was a big win for Europe, who put Rose back alongside Stenson for Saturday's fourballs.

 

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed halved with Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera Bello

Spieth and Reed looked like they had this one sewn up at the halfway stage, after birdieing five of the first seven holes to excite the crowd and move four up.

However, Garcia and Cabrera Bello came roaring back on the back nine and were sensationally level when the latter holed a birdie putt from just off the green on 17, moments after a putt from Spieth had somehow stayed up on the edge of the hole.

Despite all the commotion surrounding Reed and Spieth as a duo after a convincing Friday morning win, they have secured just half a point in the last two sessions. They are both struggling for accuracy off the tee, which inhibits their ability to make clutch putts.

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