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The United States will need their own version of the 'Miracle at Medinah' at Gleneagles after another brilliant foursomes performance gave Europe a 10-6 lead heading into the final day of the 40th Ryder Cup.
For the second day running, the home side won a record three-and-a-half points from the afternoon session to move within sight of an eighth victory in the last 10 contests.
"We are not finished. We have a lot of work to do and we have to be on it in the morning," insisted European captain Paul McGinley, who was a vice-captain in Chicago two years ago when Jose Maria Olazabal's side recovered from the same deficit.
And world number one Rory McIlroy, who claimed his first win of the week alongside Sergio Garcia, added: "There is no complacency on our side. We know it's the score it was in Medinah two years ago."Tweets by @rydercupEUROPE
US captain Tom Watson, who left Phil Mickelson out for the entire day for the first time in 10 Ryder Cups, said: "First of all we have come back from 10-6 (at Brookline in 1999). They know it and I'll reiterate it.
"Our rookies played some magnificent golf and tomorrow let's see what happens. We have the players to come back. Credit to the Europeans, they played some great golf. It seems the foursomes is their forte."
With a 5-3 lead overnight, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson had given the home side the perfect start with an amazing 3&2 win over Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar, the home pair making 10 birdies in succession from the seventh to finish 12 under par for 16 holes.
However, that was the only fourball win for McGinley's side as Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan beat Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson 4&3 and rookie pair Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed thrashed Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer 5&3.
And it took some belated heroics from Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter to ensure he and McIlroy claimed half a point against Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler to keep the home side in front by 6 1/2 to 5 1/2.
Poulter holed a pitch from short of the 15th green for birdie to avoid going two down and also birdied the par-five 16th, but by that stage had already been left out of the afternoon foursomes.
McGinley kept faith with Westwood and Donaldson and was rewarded with a hard-fought 2&1 win over Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar, which gave Westwood his 23rd point in the Ryder Cup, half a point more than the late Seve Ballesteros and just two short of the record held by Nick Faldo.
Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson then cruised to a 5&4 win - their second foursomes success - over Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler, with McDowell once again hailing his rookie French partner.
"I can't say enough about how talented this kid is," McDowell said. "He might be the best player I have played with since Rory McIlroy and that's saying a lot."
The other two matches were far closer, with Garcia and McIlroy halving 10 holes in succession against Furyk and Mahan before birdies on the 14th and 16th sealed victory.
"I would love to take credit for it but I think Rory beat three guys today," Garcia said. "I was not at my best but Rory calmed me down a lot."
Rose and Kaymer won the 12th and 15th to get back to all square against Spieth and Reed and were then given an amazing let-off on the 16th, Reed missing from two feet for par after his opponents had made an ugly six.
The US pair won the 17th to take a lead up the last, but found an impossible lie in a greenside bunker and were forced to play away from the pin. Kaymer had a more straightforward shot from the same hazard and, when Spieth missed his birdie attempt, Rose converted from five feet to snatch a half.
"We had our chances but when we were walking up the 18th I said to Justin we deserve at least a half," Kaymer said. "I said let's put it on the green and make three but we had a good up and down instead."
Poulter had been a shadow of the player who usually lights up the Ryder Cup with his passion - and his putting - but finally came good when needed in the latter stages of his match with Rory McIlroy against Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler. With Fowler almost certain to make a birdie on the 15th, Poulter holed his pitch shot from well short of the green to spark a trademark celebration and avoid going two down with three to play. The 38-year-old also birdied the par-five 16th for good measure and eventually claimed half a point to ensure Europe held a one-point lead going into the afternoon session.
Reed and rookie partner Jordan Spieth had not even needed to play the 16th as they claimed fourball wins by 5&4 and 5&3, and maybe it showed as they made a mess of the par-five. Opponents Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer also somehow contrived to take four to get down from left of the green and that left Reed with a par putt from two feet to move one up. It was the kind of putt which would have been conceded in normal circumstances but with the game on the line the 24-year-old was asked to complete the formalities, only to miss it and let the European pair off the hook. Although Spieth's superb tee shot meant the Americans won the 17th, Rose holed from five feet for birdie on the 18th to claim half a point.
United States captain Tom Watson put his faith in his three youngest players to kickstart his side's bid for an unlikely Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles on Sunday.
Trailing 10-6 going into the 12 singles matches, Watson put 21-year-old rookie Jordan Spieth out first, his playing partner thus far and fellow rookie Patrick Reed, 24, out second and 25-year-old Rickie Fowler third.
That meant a third head-to-head battle of the season for Fowler with world number one Rory McIlroy, the American having finished joint second behind McIlroy at the Open Championship and third in the US PGA Championship.
Spieth was up against former US Open champion Graeme McDowell - unbeaten in two foursomes with Victor Dubuisson - with Reed taking on Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who won three games alongside Justin Rose before sitting out the fourth session to rest a sore back.
"I knew Paul was going to put out his best players first," Watson said. "That's typical of what happens with European captains, they put their strongest players out first. I think we have a good line up."
11:36: Graeme McDowell v Jordan Spieth
11:48: Henrik Stenson v Patrick Reed
12:00: Rory McIlroy v Rickie Fowler
12:12: Justin Rose v Hunter Mahan
12:24: Stephen Gallacher v Phil Mickelson
12:36: Martin Kaymer v Bubba Watson
12:48: Thomas Bjorn v Matt Kuchar
13:00: Sergio Garcia v Jim Furyk
13:12: Ian Poulter v Webb Simpson
13:24: Jamie Donaldson v Keegan Bradley
13:36: Lee Westwood v Jimmy Walker
13:48: Victor Dubuisson v Zach Johnson
Impressive American rookie Jordan Spieth refused to concede defeat as his side's Ryder Cup hopes faded on the second afternoon at Gleneagles.
The United States will head into the final day singles trailing 10-6 and needing to replicate Europe's stunning success of Medinah two years ago to reclaim the cup.
Spieth, continuing his impressive partnership with fellow rookie Patrick Reed, claimed the Americans' only half-point of the Saturday foursomes session as they finished all square against Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose.
The 21-year-old said: "Everyone in our team room believes that we can do that.
"They (still) have to win four-and-a-half points out of 12 matches.
"Brookline was 10-6, Medinah was 10-6 the other way. Hopefully we get some good pairings and some guys out early to go make a move.
"There's a lot of guys on our team, a few of the best players in the world, that didn't play a match today and those guys are even more anxious than we are.
"We are going to come out strong as a team and put this afternoon behind us, because as a team it wasn't what we were looking for."
The deficit would have been slightly less had Spieth and Reed not lost their last hole.
The American pair led their match from the sixth to the 14th as both Kaymer and Rose struggled to hole putts.
The Europeans did eventually level, but the Reed missed an opportunity to reclaim the lead when he missed a two-footer at the 16th. They did then win the 17th, but the advantage was not enough to prevent Rose's birdie at the last clawing something back for Europe.
"That was a great putt," said 24-year-old Reed sarcastically. "It's just one of those short putts that if you hit a little timid, you don't really get a good stroke on it. If you don't put a good stroke on it, it's going to tail off, and unfortunately it tailed off."
Spieth tried to take some of the blame for the miss, having missed himself on the previous stroke.
He said: "I shouldn't have hit it that far away on my first putt."
Another American rookie, Jimmy Walker, also retained hope of upsetting the odds.
The 35-year-old, who with Rickie Fowler was beaten in foursomes 5&4 by Victor Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell, said: "We have got guys that are playing well individually, and (it is) just unfortunate that obviously the Europeans have played well in the afternoon session.
"It's really just positioning the first two days for singles.
"We're in a tough position, but I feel like we can dig ourselves out of the hole."
America's other rookie Jimmy Walker believes they can turn things around.
"It's really just positioning the first two days for the singles. We're in a tough position, but I feel like we can dig ourselves out of the hole," he said.
"I like our squad. I like our guys. I've got faith in all of us."
Ireland has punched like a Mike Tyson at the Ryder Cup. When it comes to landing the knockout blow, few countries can match this small island's fabled history.
This proud legacy was built by Eamonn Darcy at Muirfield Village in 1987, Christy O'Connor Jnr at the Belfry in 1989, Philip Walton at Oak Hill in 1995, Paul McGinley at The Belfry in 2002 and Graeme McDowell at Celtic Manor in 2010.
Yet two Irishmen will have an impact on this weekend's 40th Ryder Cup even more profound than anything achieved by their exalted antecedents.
As we approach the end of a year in which Rory McIlroy (25) has developed impressively into the world's most formidable golfer, he is ready now to impose his authority on one of the most mentally challenging and stressful arenas in all sport.
From nervous, uncertain rookie at Celtic Manor in 2010 to support player in Ian Poulter's 'Miracle at Medinah', McIlroy has impressed captain Paul McGinley and everyone in the home camp with his affable, calm self-assurance.
From this morning, amid the butterflies and thunder of Day 1, expect this remarkably composed young man to make Gleneagles his stage, with all the others, Poulter included, mere players upon it.
With respect to McIlroy's renewed best friend, Graeme McDowell, home captain McGinley is the other Irishman who will exert – and, indeed, already has stamped – his influence on this event.
Those who feared McGinley might be overshadowed by his legendary opposite number, Tom Watson (65) didn't know or sorely underestimated the Dubliner. Old Tom is one of golf's greats, a gentleman with steel in his heart and his eyes. Yet, sometimes this week, he appeared close to exasperation with the daily media duties and other demands faced by the modern captain, as opposed to 21 years ago, when he led the US to their most recent victory in Europe, the last Ryder Cup he attended.
Conversely, McGinley gives the impression of a man in his element, with little more to do than push the buttons on the well-oiled machine he has assembled over the past 20 months.
McGinley says he has drawn heavily from experience at five of the past six Ryder Cups, three as player (2002, '04 and '06) and two as vice-captain (2010 and 2012), taking the template left by his predecessors and adding a few embellishments of his own.
In fact, the European players have been taken aback by McGinley's all-embracing efficiency. Perhaps the most-telling compliment was paid by Martin Kaymer when he said: "The way Paul McGinley is when he talks to us, the way he is to every individual on the team, is very, very helpful.
"In fact, I'm a little bit surprised how much he has taken care of every single player. It is very brilliant," added the two-times Major champion, who played at Celtic Manor and, famously, sank the putt that retained the Ryder Cup in Chicago.
While captains can lose Ryder Cups – evidence Mark James at Brookline, hapless Hal Sutton at Oakland Hills and bumbling Nick Faldo in Valhalla – only players can win them.
In that regard, it's difficult, though certainly not impossible, to see McGinley's team not providing him with the victory this weekend his all-embracing efforts so richly deserve.
McGinley also has carefully set the mood of his team to deal with the unfamiliar role of favourites at the Ryder Cup, significantly inviting Alex Ferguson on Tuesday to regale his team with football tales and, pointedly, key factors in the building of 'Fortress Old Trafford'.
Ferguson's contribution was one of a raft of measures employed by McGinley to relate an "attitude of mind" in which players are inspired by being favourites, welcome it as a challenge and harness it to boost confidence, not as a cue for complacency.
Instead of Europe drawing strength and an esprit de corps from being underdogs, Watson and his players can access that siege mentality. We saw an element of it, perhaps, in team leader Phil Mickelson's acid pop at McIlroy, when he said: "Not only are we (Americans) able to play together, we also don't litigate against each other."
"I got a couple of jabs back at Phil at the Gala Dinner (in Glasgow on Wednesday night)," McIlroy said yesterday. "We had a few laughs. He took it well. It's no big deal."
McIlroy is the leader of this team and, indeed, his generation in golf.
"In the team room, I'll be strong, opinionated and make sure my voice is heard," he said, clearly willing and now able to perform to his full potential in an arena which defied even the best effort of Tiger Woods.
As he proved in victory at the Hoylake Open, Bridgestone World Championship and PGA at Valhalla, McIlroy has become 'The Man'.
His prodigiously long and accurate driving, pinpoint iron play and exemplary short game place him head and shoulders above the rest. The Ulsterman was born to lead Europe on the course.
McGinley's Trojan work and the innovative way in which he has girded his team should convert Gleneagles into Fortress Europe.
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