Ryder Cup 2012: U.S. looks to deliver the dagger to Europeans in afternoon session

Ross Kinnaird - Getty Images

The United States has a huge 8 - 4 lead over Europe heading into Saturday afternoon's fourball matches. Can Europe close the gap with another pairings mix-up?

The American team continued their tournament dominance during Saturday morning's foursome matches, winning three of their matches against the Europeans. With an 8-4 lead heading into today's afternoon fourball session, the Ryder Cup trophy is well within the sites of the U.S.

The pairing of Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson continued to be the premier team for the U.S., completely destroying Europe's team of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell 7 & 6. Bradley has grown to be the most valuable player to this point, winning his first three career Ryder Cup matches in impressive form.

U.S. captain Davis Love III has decided to stick with his original gameplan, because hell, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar return to action in the first match after having won their afternoon contest Friday in impressive fashion. The second match offering from the Americans is the team of Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, just an hour removed from losing their morning foursomes match.

The cold team of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker are also back in action in the afternoon's third match; however this team format seems to be more of Woods' liking. Rumor has it that Tiger's golf ball - which is a NIKE prototype not used by any other player on Tour - was a cause of concern for partner Stricker during Friday's morning pairing. Their team will look to avoid falling to 0 - 3 for the tournament.

Finally, the successful pairing of Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson anchor the afternoon for the U.S. The pairing proved to be successful in the morning session having won their match soundly.

Love's decision to sit the red-hot team of Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson may seem questionable, however Mickelson believed that getting a rest before Sunday's singles matches will prove to be the right decision.

"We have to be ready for tomorrow afternoon," Mickelson said following his round. "So Davis [Love] is making a smart decision here."

For the European team, captain Jose Maria Olazabal is undoubtedly concerned with his team's position heading into the afternoon. His risk of splitting up the Luke Donald/Sergio Garcia pairing Saturday morning proved unfruitful as the Donald/Lee Westwood and Garcia/Nicolas Colsaerts teams both lost.

Olazabal has decided to mix many of his pairings up again for the afternoon fourball matches. Colsaerts will play with his third partner of the tournament in Paul Lawrie as they take on the Johnson/Kuchar team. Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari are next for Europe in the second match against a struggling Watson/Simpson opponent.

The Garcia/Donald team returns, however, as they will face the Woods/Stricker pairing in what is sure to be the highlight match of the afternoon. Finally, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter will take on the Dufner/Johnson pairing to close out Friday.

The United States need only 6.5 points over the next two sessions to recapture the Ryder Cup while the Euros require 10 more points to retain it.

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