The European team needed to play well Saturday afternoon to narrow the deficit to the U.S. and procure any chance of victory heading into the final round of the 2012 Ryder Cup. Despite some late-match heroics from the team of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, Euro captain Jose Maria Olazabal's crew is officially in crisis mode.
The Americans now hold a 10-6 lead over the Europeans heading into Sunday's singles matches, after winning two of their four matches Saturday afternoon. The U.S. has traditionally played their best in singles and will only need 4.5 points out of a possible 12 to win the cup.
After an impressive showing by the U.S. in the morning, when they won three matches to reach nine points overall, both teams split their matches in the afternoon thanks to some creative team pairings by Olazabal. While the Donald/Garcia team returned to action and defeated the team of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker -- who fell to 0-3 for the tournament -- other first-time pairings included Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts/Paul Lawrie.
The McIlroy and Poulter pairing came back from as many as three down at one point in their match against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, however they would come roaring back to win the match 1-up. Their impressive comeback included three consecutive birdies on holes nos. 16, 17 and 18 to seal the match victory.
In the other two afternoon matches, the teams of Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson and Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar both won their second points of this Ryder Cup.
While the afternoon session was by far the most life the Europeans have shown to this point, the U.S. team are in prime position to capture their first Ryder Cup since 2008. Both captains now have up to one hour to decide when their respective 12-man teams will play individual matches Sunday, and the potential featured groups and storylines are virtually endless.
All golf fans would love to see a Tiger Woods vs. Rory McIlroy singles match, which would pit the highest ranked players in the world against one another. It will also be interesting to see who Keegan Bradley will be facing Sunday afternoon, especially since he has been the most valuable player for his squad through the first two days.
From a personal standpoint, the most interesting potential match-up would be Europe's Ian Poulter against Bubba Watson of the U.S. Both players electrified the crowds during the opening two rounds of play, even to the point of taking a playful jab at one another by having the first-tee gallery cheer while hitting their opening tee-shots.