Woods, U.S. struggle; Europe leads 10-6 before singles

Joann Johnston
September 29, 2018

The tandem of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood continued to be prolific.

McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen had won just one hole in a 4&2 loss to Johnson and Fowler, while Rose and Jon Rahm twice enjoyed a two-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau in the opening match but eventually lost on the 18th. Team USA's players averaged more birdies per round and fewer putts per round than their European counterparts - but Team Europe is markedly more accurate off the tee.

The US came into this Ryder Cup as holders and favourites.

Paul Casey and Tyrell Hatton battled back from three down against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas after seven holes only for Thomas to birdie the 15th to apply the pressure. All three wins have come against Woods. McIlroy's chip from the fringes lipped out yet Garcia banged in his putt from range, piling pressure on the U.S. rookie that made him push his attempt left - back to four up when it could so easily have been two.

And it was McIlroy that hit one of the shots of the day. After Woods and Reed squared the match on the 10th hole, Molinari, an Italian who won the British Open in July, reeled off birdies on the next three holes.

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There have been two previous instances of teams erasing four-point deficits on Sunday, the United States of America famously snatching victory at Brookline in 1999 before Europe returned the favour in the "Miracle of Medinah" six years ago. The two will be pitted against Molinari and Fleetwood, who may have scored another point by the time this sentence is complete.

Early on in the session they were the only USA duo with a lead, only for Thomas to push a short putt right on the fifth to bring their match level too.

Halfway through the third session, a repeat of Friday's 4-0 foursomes sweep by Europe looked possible before Jim Furyk's side joined the fight.

Woods hasn't played on a winning Ryder Cup team since 1999. But after being whitewashed so dominantly and entering the trailing 5-3, the Americans desperately needed to create some early momentum to climb back into the match.

McIlroy added: "I think a big thing for us this week is resilience and persistence".

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