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Europe pushes back against U.S. Ryder Cup rout

MEDINAH, Ill. — Just as the Ryder Cup was turning into a U.S. rout, up stepped Ian Poulter.

After taking a commanding 8-4 lead with a near-sweep Saturday morning in the foursomes, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson powered their way to 5 & 3 win over Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari in the afternoon fourball matches, further dampening the European spirits. Leading 10-4 after Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar surivived 1-up against Nicolas Colsaerts and Paul Lawrie, the Europeans began their fight back led by the emotionally charged Poulter.

Poulter and Rory McIlroy closed with six-straight birdies as they rallied to beat Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson 1-up. That victory coming shortly after Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald held off a spirited comeback from Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, who lost for the third straight time.

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The Americans go into Sunday's singles matches with 10-6 lead and need just 4 1/2  points to regain the Ryder Cup. The largest comeback in Ryder Cup history was at Brookline in 1999, when the U.S. erased a 10-6 deficit on the final day.

Major winners Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson avenged a morning loss to Justin Rose by beating the Europeans 5 and 4 in Ryder Cup afternoon fourballs on Saturday at Medinah Country Club.

USA's Simpson had the hot putter as he birdied five of six holes beginning at the No. 8. en route to the victory over Rose and his afternoon partner Francesco Molinari. Rose and Ian Poulter beat Watson and Simpson 1-up in the morning session.

Masters champion Watson started his Saturday afternoon round in the same fashion as the morning session, teeing off amid deafening roars after he urged the partisan USA crowd to make as much noise as possible.

Watching was former US president George W. Bush who was on the first tee box at the Medinah Country Club course to meet and talk to players from both teams.

Simpson rolled his birdie putt dead centre in the hole to give the USA a 1-up lead after three holes of the fourballs.

Simpson, who struggled with his putter in the morning, has been on a steady rise to stardom. He picked up his first two victories in the 2011 season, winning the Wyndham Championship and the Deutsche Bank Championship.

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Simpson then notched his first major victory in June, by claiming the US Open at the Olympic Club.

Watson made a short birdie putt on the par-five seventh to allow the Americans to go 2-up. Watson hit his approach into the greenside bunker but got out of trouble by rolling his ball right up next to the hole.

The Americans won the 10th, 13th and 14th holes on the back side.

Americans Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar defeated Nicolas Colsaerts and Paul Lawrie of Europe 1 up in a Ryder Cup fourballs match on Saturday.

Kuchar gave the Americans the early command with birdies at the second and fourth thanks to superb putts from 15 and 20 feet.

He almost made it 3 up at the next, but out of the blue Lawrie, with a par at the sixth, and Colsaerts, with a birdie at the next, quickly bounced back into contention.

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It stayed that way through the turn, but Kuchar it was who struck again at the 10th with his fourth birdie of the round.

The Americans held on to their slight advantage through the next five holes but they both made a mess of the sharp dogleg 16th and Lawrie's par was enough to win the hole and level the match.

Johnson crucially regained the lead for the United States at the par-three 17th where he sunk a 20-foot par for birdie and the home duo held on at the last with Colsaerts' putt to win the hole missing by a fraction.

Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia defeated Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker 1 up in a Ryder Cup fourballs match on Saturday.

Donald and Garcia were both left empty handed after two games and desperate to make their respective marks, and it was the Spaniard who made the first move with an opening birdie.

The Americans failed to bag a par between them at the par-three second to fall two down and the task before them became even more complicated when Garcia sunk a 15-footer for birdie at the fourth to put the Europeans 3 up.

Stricker sunk his putt from 12 feet at the next to win a first hole for the Americans, but Donald stretched the lead back out to three with a short putt for birdie at the eighth.

The Englishman struck again at the ninth with a short birdie putt to reach the turn at 4 up for Europe.

A first birdie of the day for Woods at 10 gave some hope to the American pair, and when Stricker dropped another birdie at the 12th, the margin was back to two.

Minutes later Woods almost aced the tough 13th and his ensuing birdie was enough to win the hole, but Donald birdied the next to put Europe back to 2 up.

A suddenly revived Woods made it four birdies in eight holes to win the 16th leaving Europe 1 up with two holes to play.

Woods hit to four feet from the pin at the par-three 17th but Donald bettered him to two feet and the hole was halved.

Stricker missed an eight-footer birdie putt at the last at the last to win the hole as Donald and Garcia got away with a 1 up win.

Ian Poulter closed with five-straight birdies as he and Rory McIlroy rallied to beat the Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, of the US, 1-up in Ryder Cup fourballs on Saturday.

Ryder Cup hero Poulter improved to 11-3 in career matches as he posted six birdies on the back nine and five straight beginning at the 14th at the Medinah Country Club course to give Europe their second win of the afternoon session.

Team Europe was two down heading into the par-three 13th but they stormed back with six consecutive birdies on the final half dozen holes.

It also marked the first loss for the Americans at the 2012 Ryder Cup after they won a pair of morning foursome matches.

The Americans got off to a fast start as the 2007 Masters champion Johnson made birdie on No. 1 and parred No. 2 to give them a 2-up lead.

Johnson sank his birdie putt on the par-four No. 1 as the US duo continued their solid play together at the Medinah Country Club course.

Europe got into trouble with the water on the par-three second as world number one McIlroy put his tee shot into the drink and Poulter's shot barely cleared the lake, landing on a slope in front of the green.

All Johnson -- who has two victories in 2012 on the PGA Tour -- needed to do was par the hole to win the point and he did.

Poulter, a wild card pick by captain Jose Maria Olazabal, put Europe just 1-down by making a 15-footer for birdie at the fourth hole. It was the first of seven birdies in the round for Poulter.

Dufner hit his approach on the green on the par-five seventh from 115 yards out. Not to be outdone, Johnson hit a superb 80 yard shot out of the left side bunker and onto the green near the hole.

Kucher putted first and drained his six foot putt to restore the USA's 2-up lead.

Both McIlroy's and Poulter's bunker shots left them with difficult long putts on the seventh.

World No. 26 Poulter had the stare going again on 16, sinking a long putt for a birdie which allowed Europe to take their first lead of the match with just two holes to play.

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