Ryder Cup 2016: Saturday's Memorable Moments
After holing a monster putt, Mickelson curtsied - or something close. Kuchar busted out a shimmy shake. Garcia raised hands in mock disbelief. McIlroy and Reed roared, primal and true.
Fist pumps, air punches, back pats, fanny slaps, handshakes, high fives, whathaveyou.
Celebrations came in all expressions on a rollicking Ryder Cup Saturday at Hazeltine. Birdies and eagles flew in flurries amid a world class display of electric, fearless golf. Echoes roared off the lake as players handled their nerves, channeled emotions, attacked pins and putts. Great golf wasn’t always good enough. Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka made nine birdies in 17 holes - and lost.
There were countless memorable moments.
Here are some of the best:
McIlroy and Pieters, Europe's stars
The entire day was a memorable moment for veteran Rory McIlroy - who played the best and reacted with the most enthusiasm. He and rock-solid rookie partner 24-year-old Thomas Pieters of Belgium had a Saturday for the ages.
Where to begin?
They dismantled Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in foursomes in the morning.
They shot 11-under for 17 holes (nine birdies, one eagle) to defeat Johnson and Koepka in the afternoon.
They improved to 3-0 together and never trailed in any match.
It was an inspired performance by McIlroy, who once called the Ryder Cup an exhibition but knows differently now. He thrived, to the dismay of some U.S. fans.
“It fueled me a lot,” he said. “The more they shouted the better we played, so I hope they shout all day tomorrow.”
McIlroy, who has won more holes in the Ryder Cup than any player since 2010, was terrific, doing ridiculous things like hitting 383-yard drives. Pieters had the hole of the day, driving the 311-yard, par-4 No. 5 and draining the eagle putt.
Patrick Reed on fire
The wedge shot Reed hit on No. 6 in the afternoon fourballs will be remembered forever. Reed flew his ball behind the hole, spun it back 10 feet and into the cup for an eagle. He slapped hands with partner Jordan Spieth, marshals, caddies, spectators, officials, even opponent Henrik Stenson.
He yelled, “C’mon! C’mon! C’mon!” toward the gallery. He strutted toward the green.
What might be forgotten soon enough is the shot’s timing and importance. It ignited a 5-under-in-four-hole run that propelled Reed & Spieth from 1-down to 3-up. The roars also seemed to inject excitement into teammates scuffling early in matches around the course.
Reed and Spieth, playing in the anchor match for the second consecutive session, didn’t lose another hole until No. 12.
After Rose and Stenson won two of three to trim the deficit to 1-down, Reed halted their comeback with winning birdies on 14 and 15. He improved to 4-1-1 in the Ryder Cup.
Garcia & Cabrera-Bello’s incredible comeback
What an improbable half point earned by the Spanish sensations Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera-Bello in Saturday morning’s anchor match against U.S. powerhouse pair Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, who entered 3-1-0 as teammates.
The Americans were cruising. They played spectacular alternate-shot golf, 6-under for 12 holes. Reed’s short birdie putt pushed the Americans lead to 4-up. The Europeans hadn’t won a hole, appeared buried.
Garcia fought back like a man who has lost only six of 28 Ryder cup team matches and carried his his rookie teammate along. The Spaniards capitalized on U.S. mistakes at 13, 14 and 15. Garcia buried a 10-footer for birdie at 16 to cut the deficit to 1-down. And, after Spieth’s long birdie putt slid over the right edge on the par-3 17, Cabrera-Bello drained a 15-footer for the fringe to square the match.
Reed and Garcia sank clutch par putts at 18 to halve the hole and the match. It was an appropriate result for a thrilling match.
The U.S. team dropped to 1-1-1 in this Ryder Cup. What happened?
“We just hit a few sloppy shots, Spieth said, “and made a bad decision on 15. The way we played wins most matches. They stayed steady with it and made the shots they had to make.”
Snedeker and Koepka’s back-nine putting run
Brandt Snedeker is one of the emotional leaders of the U.S. team, straddling the fence between firing up the home fans and remaining calm enough to perform his best. U.S. captain Davis Love III paired the fiery Snedeker with laid back 26-year-old Brooks Koepka and their blend of fire and ice, putting and power produced a 2-0 record.
On Saturday morning, a Koepka shank kickstarted the Americans in their foursomes match against European stud Henrik Stenson and 22-year-old rookie Matt Fitzpatrick, playing his first match of the weekend.
Koepka shanked a 4-iron from the rough on 12 and the teams halved the hole with bogeys to remain all square. Koepka’s next 4-iron swing produced a better result. Snedeker rolled in a nine-footer for birdie at 13, a 12-footer for birdie at 14 and Koepka joined the fun on 15, making his first lengthy putt of the day for yet another birdie, pushing the lead to 2-up.
On the par-5 No. 16, Fitzpatrick splashed his second shot, giving the U.S. its only full point of the morning session.
A five-minute stretch around 9:15 central time
On a morning filled with remarkable shotmaking and massive momentum swings, there was a five-minute stretch around 9:15 central time that reminded all of us why the Ryder Cup is such a special event.
First, in the anchor match of the morning foursomes, featuring Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello against Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, Garcia’s errant tee shot at No. 5 landed in a marshal’s pocket. (He did not play it as it lies, of course).
Ahead, in the first match of the day Phil Mickelson rattled in a 40-foot snake to save par for he and teammate Rickie Fowler, who appeared headed for a 4-down deficit against Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters. It produced perhaps the loudest roar of the weekend from the huge Hazeltine gallery.
Back in the anchor match, Reed chipped in from the rough behind the fifth green for birdie, the team’s fourth in the first five holes. Then, Garcia, as he has done throughout his eight Ryder Cup appearances, buried a six-footer for the halve.
Over at No. 8, McIlroy rolled in a six-foot par putt to halve the hole and maintain a 3-up lead for his team.
Two matches, four clutch shots, no blood on the scorecard.