October 1st , 2012 8:28 am Leave a comment

U.S. takes 9-4 lead on Europe

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MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) — This Ryder Cup is turning into a rout.

Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson trounced Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari 5 and 4 Saturday afternoon, giving the Americans the first of what is sure to be several points from the fourball matches. They lead 9-4, and are ahead in two other matches.

Even Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker are showing some life after three ugly performances.

“I keep telling the guys we’re not even halfway over with this tournament so far,” captain Davis Love III said after the morning matches. “There’s a lot of points left. Let’s keep doing what we’re doing. They’re buying into it. They’re playing great.”

The Americans need 14 1⁄2 points to regain the Ryder Cup. The largest comeback in Ryder Cup history was at Brookline in 1999, when the U.S. erased a 10-6 deficit on the final day.

The biggest lead going into the singles matches was 11-5 by Europe in 2004; the Europeans went on to win 18 1⁄2 to 9 1⁄2.

Watson and Simpson had the only U.S. loss Saturday morning, falling to Rose and Ian Poulter, 1 up. The Americans barely had time to catch their breath before coming out to face Rose and Molinari, but whatever they did during the break worked. Simpson, who struggled all morning, was unflappable, making seven birdies.

He gave them a big boost on the par-3 No. 8. Rose had put his tee shot a few feet from the pin, and the Americans immediately conceded the birdie. Watson’s putt to halve the hole trickled long, but Simpson drained a 15-footer, raising his fist as the ball dropped.

He made another birdie on 10 to put the Americans 3 up, and the Europeans were scrambling simply to extend the match. But Simpson put his tee shot to 10 feet on the par-3 13th, and the Americans closed out the match on the next hole when Rose’s birdie putt rolled around the edge of the cup but refused to drop.

Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson — who else? — kick-started the Americans’ big day in record-tying fashion, thrashing Lee Westwood and Luke Donald 7 and 6. The two are on such a roll they didn’t even have to putt to win their first two holes. The Europeans conceded No. 1 when Mickelson put his second within 2 feet of the pin, and they gave the Americans No. 2 after Westwood put his tee shot in the water and missed the bogey putt.

Mickelson’s gorgeous wedge set up Bradley with an 8-footer for birdie on No. 4, and he knocked it in easily, letting out a roar when the ball dropped into the cup. The Americans went 6 up when Donald had another putt lip out on 10, and the Europeans might as well have conceded then, the result was so inevitable.

Sure enough, two holes later, Mickelson played a perfect wedge from the rough, hitting the green about 20 feet left of the pin and trickling down a slope within a foot of the cup.

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