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Tour Report: Saturday a.m. Foursomes previews

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

MEDINAH, Ill. – The United States takes a 5-3 lead into Saturday morning’s Foursome matches. Following are previews of each match.

Match 1: Match 9 (8:20 a.m. ET) : Webb Simpson & Bubba Watson (U.S.) vs. Justin Rose & Ian Poulter (Europe)

U.S. RECORDS: Simpson (1-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 Foursomes); Watson (2-3-0 overall, 1-1-0 Foursomes)
EUROPE RECORDS: Rose (3-2-0 overall, 3-0-0 Foursomes); Poulter (9-3-0 overall, 3-1-0 Foursomes)

QUICK LOOK: The Americans were at their best on Friday afternoon — making 10 birdies between them in their Four-ball victory over Peter Hanson and Paul Lawrie. Foursomes is a different animal but the two close friends have history together after winning two alternate shot matches at the Presidents Cup in Australia last November. That said, so do Poulter and Rose, who are now 2-1 in Foursomes after taking down Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods on Friday morning. Poulter and Watson share a similar passionate side while Simpson and Rose will be the steadying influence if need be. This match should provide plenty of fireworks.\

QUOTABLE: "If you say, we’re going to putt Webb and Bubba off first, doesn’t bother me. They are perfect for that role. Get them out ahead and let them run." — Davis Love III …

“For tomorrow, well, again, we are going to have the first two matches are going to be really tough.  We have, again, Webb and Bubba, and Keegan and Phil in those first two matches.  I’ve tried to, you know, put all the guns for tomorrow morning.  We do have to, you know, change the momentum.  We need to have a great day tomorrow, both morning and afternoon sessions.  And that’s what we are aiming for.” – Jose Maria Olazabal

PREDICTION:  U.S. wins, 1 up

Match 10 (8:35 a.m.): Keegan Bradley & Phil Mickelson (U.S.) vs. Lee Westwood & Luke Donald (Europe)

U.S. RECORDS: Bradley (2-0-0 overall, 1-0-0 Foursomes); Mickelson (13-17-6 overall, 3-5-4 Foursomes)
EUROPE RECORDS: Donald (8-3-1 overall, 6-1-0 Foursomes); Westwood (17-12-6 overall, 7-3-4 Foursomes)

QUICK LOOK: When Mickelson tees off on Saturday morning, he will be playing in his 37th Ryder Cup match which ties Billy Casper for the most by an American player. He has a long way to go to match Casper’s leading point total of 23 1/2 — Mickelson has 16 now — but he’s certainly found a sympatico partner in Bradley. The two steamrolled the previously unbeaten Donald and Sergio Garcia 4 and 3 in Foursomes on Friday morning, winning the final four holes, and then took down Europe’s top par of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in Four-balls Friday afternoon, starting fast by winning the first three holes. Donald and Westwood have a Four-ball victory together, beating Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in 2010. Both are solid tee-to-green and Donald’s short game is beyond compare. So the two figure to make a potent team, as well. Westwood was a part of Europe’s only win on Friday afternoon but rookie Nicolas Colsaerts carried the team, shooting 10 under on his own ball.

QUOTABLE: "I’m not concerned about Lee in the sense that knowing Lee, obviously any good player might have a bad day. But I don’t think we’re going to see a couple of bad days in a row from Lee. He’s a very consistent player. As I said, foursomes format is difficult, and in the afternoon session, I mean, he didn’t have many options to contribute. You know, when you have a playing partner that shoots eight birdies and an eagle, well, there is not many holes left for you to really, you know, do something about it." — Jose Maria Olazabal …
"Keegan played great.  Phil is a smart guy; he picks good partners." — Davis Love III

PREDICTION:  U.S. wins, 2 and 1

Match 11 (8:50 a.m.): Jason Dufner & Zach Johnson(U.S.) vs. Nicolas Colsaearts & Sergio Garcia (Europe)

U.S. RECORDS: Dufner (1-0-0 overall, 1-0-0 Foursomes); Johnson (4-3-1 overall, 2-2-1 Foursomes)
EUROPE RECORDS: Colsaerts (1-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 Foursomes); Garcia (14-7-4 overall, 8-1-1 Foursomes

QUICK LOOK: Dufner and Johnson are two peas in a pod. They have grown close this year, playing together frequently during the FedExCup Playoffs, and their steady fairways-and-greens game assures that neither will hang the other out to dry. The Americans never trailed more than 1 down on the front nine of their Foursomes match with Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari and they took control on the back, winning the 10th, 15th and 16th to grab the victory, a first for the rookie Dufner. Colsaerts was a putting machine on Friday afternoon as he got his first taste of Ryder Cup competition. The 29-year-old from Belgium made eight birdies and an eagle on his own ball as he and Westwood beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to give Europe its only point in Four-balls. Colsaerts will be Garcia’s fourth different Foursomes partner and his experience will be invaluable. But so will Colsaerts putting.

QUOTABLE: "Well, Nicolas, the way he played today, he was very impressive. Obviously you have to use that kind of momentum on a player. And Sergio, he’s a consistent player. He has the experience. I think character wise, they are pretty much similar, and that’s the reason behind it." — Jose Maria Olazabal …

"I think we’re just a good match. Games are similar. One good thing is we play a golf ball that’s very similar, not the exact golf ball, but for alternate shot it’s not an issue for either one of us to use the other’s golf ball out there." — Jason Dufner 

PREDICTION: U.S. wins 3 and 2

Match 12 (9:05 a.m.): Jim Furyk & Brandt Snedeker  (U.S.) vs. Rory McIlroy & Graeme McDowell (Europe)

U.S. RECORDS: Furyk (8-16-4 overall, 3-6-2 Foursomes); Snedeker (0-1-0 overall, 0-1-0 Foursomes)
EUROPE RECORDS: McIlroy (4-3-2 overall, 2-1-1 Foursomes); McDowell (5-3-2 overall, 2-1-1 Foursomes)

QUICK LOOK: This is a rematch of Friday’s opener that the Europeans won on the final hole after Brandt Snedeker hit his drive into the trees. The Americans only led for two holes but they staged a comeback on the back nine that saw the U.S. birdie three straight and square the match at the 16th hole after Europe had gone 3 up through 12. Snedeker will need to shake off the disappointment of that final drive but the two did plenty of good things to focus on. And Sneds is one of the best putters in the game, ranking first in strokes-gained putting on TOUR. While Friday’s Foursomes match was a squeaker, McIlroy and McDowell was soundly beaten in Four-ball by Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson in the afternooon. The Northern Irishmen trailed 3-down after three holes and by four after eight before mounting a slight comeback. They’ll need to get some rest – the Americans sat out the afternoon session so they’ll be ready.

PREDICTION: U.S. wins, 2 and 1 

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