Ryder Cup: USA hold slender lead after Europe battle back

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Team USA have the lead but Europe are on the comeback...

Team USA take a 5-3 lead into the second day of the Ryder Cup after a thrilling first day at Hazeltine.

USA took a 4-0 lead after the opening foursome matches in the morning. Read about their whitewash start here.

But Europe battled back in the afternoon fourballs and won the session 3-1 to cut the deficit to just 2 heading into Saturday.

The first match was a repeat of the opening foursomes battle as Spieth and Reed took on Rose and Stenson, and in the early stages it looked like it was going the way of the American’s again. Early birdies meant USA were 2 up through 3 holes despite a solid start for the European’s.

Stenson though would not give up and after 8 holes he was 7-under par and all of a sudden Europe found themselves up in the match for the first time.

CHASKA, MN - SEPTEMBER 30: Henrik Stenson of Europe hits off the fourth tee during afternoon fourball matches of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club on September 30, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

After the turn Reed’s putter was not as hot as it was in the early stages and the European pair capitalised to move to 4 up after 13 holes, and from there closed the match out to pick up Team Europe’s first point of the competition with a 5&4 victory.

 

Europe’s second point of the session came in the second match where a Spanish duo completely dominated the US pairing of JB Holmes and Ryan Moore.

Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello started fast, the rookie birdied the first and continued his hot streak with two more birdies through the next five holes.

Their dominance throughout the round was very rarely challenged until the back nine when the American’s made a couple of much needed birdies to keep the match alive. That was until the 16th when a European birdie resulted in a  3&2 victory.

Winning the session 4-0 was a big ask, and Europe could not quite pull it off. The third match of the afternoon saw Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka teach Masters Champion Danny Willett and Martin Kaymer a lesson.

CHASKA, MN - SEPTEMBER 30: Martin Kaymer of Europe hits off the third tee during afternoon fourball matches of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club on September 30, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

With all eyes on Willett he rattled in a long birdie putt on the 1st for a half, but after that the European pair struggled to make many birdies and the big hitting Koepka was showing just why so many tip him as a future Major champion.

The American pair were totally dominant and winning that point meant that the US team would go into the second day with a two point advantage. Another 5&4 victory.

Finally, in the anchor match Thomas Pieters looked a different player from the naive rookie who was playing alongside Lee Westwood in the foursomes.

He was paired with Rory McIlroy and come up against Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar. The young European pair were on fire and took an early lead of 4 up through the first 7 holes.

DJ and Kuchar threatened a comeback with a birdie on the 11th hole to get back to 3 down. The fightback continued as Johnson birdied the 15th to get to within 2 with 3 to play.

But a vintage McIlroy eagle at the par 5 16th gave Europe another valuable point.

After a shaky start Darren Clarke will be relatively pleased to find his team only two points behind. With his plans blown apart by that whirlwind start, the rookies Fitzpatrick & Wood yet to play, and at least two of his senior players in Westwood & Kaymer looking chronically out of form, he now has a huge task to find the right balance with his Saturday pairings.

Advantage USA, just.

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