MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - After taking a calculated risk by playing his entire 12-man team on Friday, Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal will send out his big guns in Saturday’s foursomes in a bid to wrest back the Ryder Cup momentum.
Holders Europe narrowly avoided a shutout by the United States in Friday afternoon’s fourballs, when Olazabal rested the experienced trio of Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, and they trail the U.S. 5-3 going into the second day.
“I’ve tried to put all the big guns out for tomorrow morning,” Spaniard Olazabal told reporters after watching his players lose Friday’s second session at Medinah Country Club 3-1.
“We do have to change the momentum. We need to have a great day tomorrow, both morning and afternoon sessions. That’s what we are aiming for.”
Europe will send out four Englishmen in the first two matches, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in the first and Lee Westwood and Luke Donald in the second, though they will have to contend with two of the most successful U.S. combinations.
Masters champion Bubba Watson and U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson, who romped to a 5&4 victory in their opening fourballs, will take on Rose and Poulter while Westwood and Donald will face Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, who won both their matches together on Friday.
“Tomorrow, the first two matches are going to be really tough,” said Olazabal, who then defended his decision to bench Donald, Garcia and Poulter for Friday afternoon’s fourballs.
”I wanted to have every player play during the first day,“ he said. ”And obviously in order to do that, you have to drop some of those players that have played in the morning.
“That was the reason behind it. This is a long week, 36 holes today, 36 holes tomorrow, and single matches on Sunday. I don’t want to wear out my top players before Sunday.”
U.S. Cup veteran Mickelson is fully expecting a spirited resurgence by the visiting team on Saturday.
”There’s a lot of golf left,“ said Mickelson, who is competing in his ninth Ryder Cup this week. ”We are going to relish this moment and kind of enjoy today, because we have a two-point lead.
“But we know that tomorrow is a big day. We know the Europeans are going to come out hungry and ready to play. And we know how good they are, so we have got a lot of work to do tonight.”
With Tiger Woods having lost twice on Friday, U.S. captain Davis Love III has decided to bench the former world number one for Saturday’s foursomes, the first time Woods will miss a Cup session.
”There are a lot of guys on our team playing very, very well and it’s hard to sit them out,“ Love said. ”Tiger again has told me he’ll do whatever I want him to do.
”He made some suggestions on how to go with it tomorrow morning, and he and Jim (Furyk) and Steve (Stricker) have been a big part, and Phil (Mickelson).
“Everybody’s happy with where we’re going, because we had a very good day today. We want to have a very good day tomorrow.”
Editing by Nick Mulvenney