As the sun dropped low over Medinah, so too did the birdies of the Americans. As the temperature cooled, so too did the chances of the Europeans. All right, you get the idea: despite the late charge from Europe, the USA is putting on a clinic at this Ryder Cup, and it's going to take some impressive singles play from the Europeans to stave off defeat. Here's how the afternoon shook out in the Ryder Cup:
Match 13: D. Johnson/Kuchar def. Colsaerts/Lawrie, 1up: This was one of several matches that appeared headed the United States' way until late in the afternoon, when the Europeans regained their touch and very nearly threw a little scare into the Americans. The Europeans squared the match at 16, but on the very next hole, Johnson poured in a putt from somewhere near Wisconsin. On 18, the Europeans were not able to halve, and the USA escaped with its key 10th point.
Match 14: Watson/Simpson def. Rose/Molinari 5 & 4: This was an efficient dismantling of one of the stronger European players of the week in Rose, and Watson/Simpson effectively recovered from their morning foursome loss to Rose. The Europeans never even got on the board, with the Americans taking the first point at hole three and Simpson, in particular, pouring it on the rest of the match. Play ended on 14 when neither Rose nor Molinari could sink a birdie to extend the match.
Match 15: Garcia/Donald def. Woods/Stricker, 1up: This one looked like a total runaway for the Europeans, who were 4up at the turn. But then Tiger Woods remembered that he is, you know, Tiger Woods, and started dropping some key birdies. On 14, however, Luke Donald stopped the bleeding for the Europeans. Woods would close it to within 1, but he and Donald would trade birdies on 17, and the Americans couldn't close the gap and get the halve on the final hole.
Match 16: — McIlroy/Poulter def. Dufner/Johnson, 1up: One of the more surprising matches of the Cup so far, with one of the best finishes in recent Ryder history. Early on, Dufner and Zach Johnson gave two of the toughest golfers around all they could handle. The United States owned the match from the very first hole, and until the end, the Europeans could never close to less than 1 down. But Poulter finished in an unbelievable five-birdie run, putting the Europeans ahead to stay for a stunning last-minute turnaround. That effective two-point swing, along with the concurrent momentum, could be a major element in Sunday's final rounds.
Final score after Saturday: USA 10, Europe 6. The United States needs 4.5 points out of the 12 singles matches to win the Cup, while Europe needs 8 of the 12 to retain it.