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Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters
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Europe

Clarke retains Pieters/McIlroy pairing for Saturday fourballs

Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters will go for three points from as many matches together after European captain Darren Clarke elected to keep the pair together for the Saturday afternoon fourballs session at Hazeltine National.

The European duo, who defeated Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson 4 and 2 in the opening match of the second day’s play at The 2016 Ryder Cup, will aim to retain their 100 per cent record as they lead off in the fourth session against rookie Brooks Koepka and big-hitting Dustin Johnson from 1230 local time.

Elsewhere, in the second match out at 1245, Danny Willett returns to the action alongside stablemate and compatriot Lee Westwood in a match against Ryan Moore and JB Holmes. All four were rested on Saturday morning.

After losing out 4 and 2 together in the morning foursomes on Friday, Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia will be reunited for the third match as the European pair take on Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar from 1300.

In a re-run of their first-day afternoon fourballs clash, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose will again face Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed in the anchor match from 1315 as the Europeans hope to recapture the sort of form that saw them beat the Texans 5 and 4 on Friday.

Twenty-four hours ago, Team Europe trailed 4-0 after suffering their first whitewash in the opening session of a Ryder Cup for 41 years. The deficit was reduced to two points overnight after the Europeans won the Friday afternoon fourballs session 3-1. Now, after Saturday morning foursomes wins for Pieters and McIlroy, Rose and Wood and a heroic half from Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello, who fought back from four down with six to play against Spieth and Reed, the gap is just one and Captain Clarke is aiming to maintain the momentum.

"They're strong," said Clarke on his afternoon pairings. "You take a look down that list of guys that are out there, the majority of them are very experienced players and they're out there and they want to play.

"For a lot of them, I know this is the fourth game in a row but they are ready to go

"It's something [playing five matches] I spoke to all of them about before. They were all comfortable if asked to do so and that's what they've done."