CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — The Latest on the Ryder Cup:
All four of the afternoon four-ball matches are underway. The Europeans own an early edge in the first match with Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters taking a 2-up lead to the No. 6 hole over Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson.
What happened on the fifth hole was hard to believe.
Koepka hit a drive off the tee that strayed to the left into the rough, bounced once and onto the back of a spectator standing just inside the ropes . The ball astoundingly stayed stuck there, lodging between the man’s back and the top of his backpack.
The story only got stranger from there. The man’s identity? None other than the father of Pieters, according to the NBC announcers.
Koepka had to take a drop, and the Americans were able to make birdie on the par-4.
Team Europe has crept closer on the strength of a furious Spaniard rally to finish foursome play.
Fellow countrymen Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello halved their match with Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, and Team USA has a slim 6½ to 5½ lead entering the afternoon four-ball matches.
The Reed-Spieth tandem took a four-hole lead to the 13th tee box, before posting three straight bogeys. They squared the 18th hole to preserve the tie, but the Europeans won two of the other three matches to put the pressure on the Americans for the next session.
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed will play all five matches for the Americans. That’s a departure from the last time Davis Love III was captain and made sure everyone sat out at least one match.
Love also broke up the Brandt Snedeker-Brooks Koepka tandem after they were undefeated in two matches.
Koepka and Dustin Johnson will take on Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters, who are 2-0 in their matches.
J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore will go up against Danny Willett and Lee Westwood, a match with four players who have yet to contribute a point.
Phil Mickelson is going back out in the afternoon, teaming with Matt Kuchar against Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer.
Spieth and Reed face Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, a rematch from fourballs Friday that the Europeans won.
Rose, Stenson, McIlroy, Pieters and Garcia will be playing all five matches for Europe.
With Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth posting birdies on five of the first seven holes for the Americans in the fourth foursome match of the morning, Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello were forced to play catch-up from the second hole on.
The highlight for the Spaniard duo came on the fifth hole. Garcia’s tee shot sailed into the crowd — and landed square in one of the course marshal’s pockets .
Garcia and his human hazard shared a laugh, and the Europeans still managed to make birdie.
But the Reed-Spieth duo, which vanquished the formidable European pairing of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson with a 3-and-2 victory on Friday, still held a 2-up lead with three holes to go.
Rory McIlroy finally got a victory over Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson had never lost any of three Ryder Cup matches he played against McIlroy, but Lefty didn’t have much of a chance Saturday morning in foursomes. McIlroy and Thomas Pieters won three of the opening five holes. McIlroy said he wanted to win even more because Mickelson had his number.
The American got within 1 down with four holes to play until Fowler missed too many key putts.
McIlroy says he and Pieters were never meant to play foursomes, never practiced together and even flipped to see who would tee off on which holes. It worked. They are undefeated in two matches.
The Americans are leading 2-0 when it comes to shanks.
Rickie Fowler was in a back bunker on the par-3 fourth hole when he shanked it through the green and into the rough. Fowler and Phil Mickelson lost that hole with a bogey and fell 2 down to Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters. Europe was 1 up through 13.
Brooks Koepka shanked one from the left rough across the 11th fairway. He and Brandt Snedeker were all square with Henrik Stenson and Matt Fitzpatrick.
One thing was clear: The foursome sessions were a lot tighter than when the Americans went 4-0 on Friday.
Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters are trying to ride their Ryder Cup momentum.
McIlroy took a bow when the opening day ended Friday, winning a big point that allowed Europe to crawl back to a 5-3 deficit against the Americans. They went right back out Saturday morning against Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson and have led the entire way. They were 1 up through 12 holes.
There probably was not going to be another American sweep in foursomes.
Halfway through the sessions, the Americans were up in one match, trailed two others and were tied in the fourth one. Fourballs in the afternoon were to follow, with everything pointing toward Sunday singles to decide the Ryder Cup.
Sweep, then almost swept.
That describes the U.S. team’s opening day at the Ryder Cup. The Americans won all four of Friday morning’s foursomes matches, then nearly got shut out when they dropped three of four in the afternoon fourballs.
The momentum swing left Europe trailing 5-3, but encouraged captain Darren Clarke enough to shoehorn the last two of his six rookies into Saturday morning’s foursomes sessions. Asked whether he’d rather have a small lead or the momentum, Clarke thought about it for a moment.
“As I’m sitting in my seat right now, in the position we were in at lunchtime (down 4-0), I would definitely say … momentum,” he said. “Because we didn’t have much at lunchtime.”
Here are some things to watch heading into Day 2 at Hazeltine:
CROWD CONTROL: More than 50,000 fans flocked to Hazeltine on Friday, the vast majority of them wearing stars and stripes and cheering for the Americans. They were also cheering hard against the Europeans, imploring them to “hit it in the water!” and taunting rookie Danny Willett, whose brother penned an essay earlier in the week that was critical of American golf fans. The day ended with Rory McIlroy returning the favor, bowing after a 20-foot eagle putt on No. 16 finished off Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar. McIlroy was asked if he thought the gesture would incite even more hostility on Saturday. “No worries on my part,” he said with a grin. “I bowed to them and said, ‘You’re welcome for the show,’ and we move on.”
A LITTLE FAITH: Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed got the Americans off to a rollicking start with a 3-and-2 victory over Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose on Friday morning. They had a rematch in fourball in the afternoon and lost 5 and 4 despite posting six birdies in the first 11 holes. Davis Love III kept them together for a third straight match on Saturday morning, when they will face Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello in the final match of the foursomes.
WESTWOOD RESTS: Lee Westwood is playing in his 10th Ryder Cup and is 2 1/2 points away from breaking Nick Faldo’s career Ryder Cup record. But the Englishman struggled mightily in his morning match with rookie Thomas Pieters, a 5-and-4 loss to Johnson and Kuchar. After the match, Westwood asked Clarke, his close friend and former Ryder Cup partner, to not consider him for play in the afternoon so he could work on his game on the practice range. Westwood is not among the pairings in foursomes on Saturday morning. “Lee’s a standup man and he didn’t have any reservations about telling me the truth, as indeed would any member of my team,” Clarke said. “But his information to me was such that he would prefer to hit some more balls” before playing again.
DEBUT TIME: Love played all 12 members of his team on Friday. Clarke decided to sit rookies Matt Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood the entire day. Both newcomers will make their Ryder Cup debuts on Saturday morning in foursomes. Fitzpatrick is paired with Stenson in the second match against Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka. Wood will play with Rose in the third match against Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson. “They are almost like waiting for Christmas,” Clarke said. “They want to go and play. They didn’t get the opportunity (on Friday) and I didn’t want to hold them back anymore.”
FAN ENGAGEMENT: Snedeker had a scary moment on Friday when his tee shot on No. 9 hit a female fan in the head. The ball hit the woman in the glasses, and she was down for several minutes before Snedeker signed the ball for her. “She said, ‘I’m fine. Just go win this thing,'” Snedeker said. “So when I heard her say that, I’m like, ‘I’m good to go.'” Snedeker also sent a warning to fans who will be watching him on Saturday. “Unfortunately, when you drive it as crooked as I do sometimes, you get to know a lot of the fans that way,” he said with a sheepish smile. “Hopefully she understands.”
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