Europeans create slim hope

As dusk closed in on the Medinah Country Club in the outer suburbs of Chicago, Ian Poulter kept Europe's faint hopes of an improbable Ryder Cup victory alive with a stunning display of putting over the final few holes of he and Rory McIlory's Four-ball match-up against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.

The victory by the Europeans has the Americans four points ahead and with twelve points available from tomorrow's Singles matches then the equation is simple. In order for the Europeans to win this encounter they will need to win 8½ points if they are to claim one of the great Ryder Cup victories.

The chances are slim but at least the door is still open after earlier on in the day appearing as if the contest might have realistically been over before the final day.

Poulter capped off his amazing stretch of pressure putting with a 14 foot birdie putt at the final hole to hold the Americans at bay after Dufner's birdie ahead of him threatened to grab half a point from the Europeans.

After slipping two holes behind with just six holes to play, Poulter birdied the 13th to halve the deficit, then birdied the 15th and 16th to take his team ahead by one. He halved the 17th with yet another birdie and again at the 18th with the aforementioned putt.

It gave the Europeans the all important point to keep them just four back of the Americans, the afternoon Four-ball matches having been tied at 2 all.

"I don't know," said Poulter when asked about his birdie stretch and how he managed to do it in that situation. "I mean, it comes from within. And you know, if we can do anything to get this trophy in this position, and Seve is looking down on us, then you've got to do what you've got to do."

McIlroy was glowing in praise for his partner. "It's unbelievable. We needed something to happen, some sort of a spark and I think the birdie on 13 sort of sparked us and gave us a bit of momentum. Then Ian sort of took over from there. It was good to be a part of; he was incredible on the way in. All the credit needs to be put on this man."

The other European point on Saturday afternoon went to Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia despite Tiger Woods leading a USA comeback after he and Stricker had fallen 4 holes down through nine holes.
Woods birdied the 10th, 13th, 14th, 16th and 17th holes and with Stricker producing a birdie at the 13th the Americans were just one down playing the last.

After Donald had missed the green, Garcia had a 16 foot downhill putt for birdie to secure the win but it missed, leaving the door open for Stricker to hole from 8 feet for par and halve the match. The putt missed and the point went to the Europeans.

The morning Foursome matches went the way of the Americans 3-1, giving them an 8-4 lead heading into the afternoon Foursome matches.

So as Sunday's Singles matches await, the Americans lead by four points over the Europeans and while a huge task lies ahead for Olazabal's side, their sterling last hour of golf has at least given them some hope.

In 1999 America faced a similar deficit against the Europeans at Brookline. They got home after winning 8½ points from Sunday's Singles. So they have proven it is not impossible but against such a red hot US side and a partisan home crowd it is nigh on impossible. If it were to happen it would be one of the great victories in sport anywhere.

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