MEDINAH, Ill. (CBS) — At four o’clock, the United States and its fans were dreaming of ending the 39th Ryder Cup in the early afternoon Sunday, but Ian Poulter had other plans.
“I’m tough to play against in match play, it’s that simple,” said Poulter, who enters tomorrow’s Ryder Cup singles having never lost in match play on Sunday. “So guys wanna beat me and that’s fine. I wanna beat them just as badly as they wanna beat me, it’s just that simple. I’m not going to roll over. I’m going to go down blazing.”
Poulter and partner Rory McIlroy could’ve rolled over, down two after 12, but the European tandem finished with six straight birdies, the last five coming from Poulter himself.
“The birdie on 13 gave us some momentum that we needed,” McIlroy said of his putt on the long par three. “Then I could’ve just walked into the clubhouse, (because) it was the Poultz (Poulter) show. It was fun to watch.”
As a reporter, I felt the momentum shift as I stood on 18 and watched the Europeans take a 10-4 deficit to a 10-6 deficit heading into Sunday.
After Poulter sunk his birdie on 18, rejuvenation throughout the European crowd was seen and heard. A group of 10 grown men in kilts were singing a song with the lyrics, “We will be back tomorrow.”
Even as No. 1 in the world, McIlroy showed a face of relief after Poulter secured the sixth point for Europe.
His team shares that relief.
“Winning the final two matches was very, very big,” teammate Sergio Garcia said. “We obviously need to play amazing and win at least eight points, but I will take having to win eight points rather than ten.
Americans Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker lost their third match of the Medinah Ryder Cup after Stricker missed a putt inside 10 feet, that would’ve halved the match on 18.
Earlier in the afternoon, Americans Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson won their second match of the Ryder Cup 5 & 4 (5 up with 4 to go) and Dan Johnson and Matt Kuchar held off Europeans Nicolas Colsaerts and Nick Lowrie on 18, winning one up.
The last time a team overcame a 10-6 deficit on a Sunday was the 1999 Ryder Cup at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass, where the United States scored 8 1/2 points to win 14 1/2 to 14.
“That was 13 years ago,” Watson says. “I don’t really think we can compare to it. We are all playing good as a team, and we are going to have to keep playing good as a team. But no, you can’t really compare. It was a different time, a different setting, a different everything.”
Matt Kuchar was a sophomore at Georgia Tech and remembers watching that, and has possibly taken something from it.
“I think we have to know that, that sort of deficit can be overcome,” Kuchar said. “We have to go out and still play some really good golf tomorrow and make sure that we don’t let a comeback like that happen to us.”
The European team will only need eight points to complete a comeback tomorrow.
Follow Adam Harris on Twitter for complete Ryder Cup updates @AHarris670.