Brandt Snedeker will be thinking about his Friday morning tee shot on No. 18 for a long, long time. Certainly until tomorrow, at least, since he’s been benched for the afternoon fourball matches, with the United States and Europe tied at 2-2.
After the American duo of Snedeker and Jim Furyk came all the way back from 3-down through 12 to all-square after 16, Snedeker stood at the 18th tee still tied with the Europeans’ marquee pairing of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. But Snedeker hit an awful tee shot, deep into the woods, leaving Furyk with no shot at the green. McDowell calmly sank a 5-footer for par to win the hole and the match 1-up, getting the Europeans on the board following the win by Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson over Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia.
“You know, fortunately for us, Brandt didn’t hit the best tee shot on the last and we took advantage,” McIlroy said.
McDowell had some iffy shots down the stretch — including a water ball on the always-exciting driveable 15th — but as he always seems to, he came through with the clutch putts when he needed to.
“That match to me just personifies the Ryder Cup,” McDowell said. “Myself and Rory played some great golf to go 3-up, and then you’re playing against two very gutsy players who clawed their way back to all-square coming down the last two holes.”
That match tied the score at 1-1, but the Americans quickly retook the lead 2-1 when Jason Dufner holed out a short par putt on 16 as he and Zach Johnson closed out a struggling Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari 3 & 2.
The Europeans led every match after seven holes, but the Americans turned it on during the back nine.
“I noticed the board, I’m not going to lie to you,” Johnson said. “I also noticed it was early in the match. This is not a sprint by any means, it’s a marathon.”
In the final match of the morning, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose knocked off the Americans’ familiar pairing of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, 2 & 1. The Americans bogeyed four holes between Nos. 6 and 12, and Woods struggled all morning. He got a big break on No. 15 — yep, that hole again — when his tee shot caromed off a tree and nearly up to the green, allowing the Americans to birdie and get within two holes with three to go. But both teams parred 16 and 17, giving Europe the win and a 2-2 tie heading into the afternoon fourball matches.