When the American team won the Saturday morning foursomes session 3-1, the hosts opened up a commanding 8-4 lead in the 2012 Ryder Cup here at Medinah. European captain Jose Maria Olazabal was left to ruminate that his team simply had to win the afternoon fourballs if they were to stand any chance of retaining the Ryder Cup. “Nothing more, nothing less,” he said.

Europe did not quite manage it, although they fought back bravely to share the afternoon spoils 2-2, for an overall score of 10-6 at the end of the second day. The score means the US team needs four and half points from tomorrow’s 12 singles matches to win back the Ryder Cup. Europe must claim eight points to reach 14 to retain.

Webb Simpson notched seven birdies in the space of 11 holes to keep the momentum swinging in favour of the American team, as he and Bubba Watson disposed of Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari with four holes to spare, 5&4, and Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar edged out Nicolas Colsaerts and Paul Lawrie on the last green, 1-up.

But then the European team finally found some inspiration to take the final two points of the day. Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald combined to hold off a late charge by Tiger Woods, defeating Woods and Steve Stricker 1-up, and then England’s Ian Poulter fashioned the most exhilerating golf of the Ryder Cup so far from a European perspective, by closing his round with five birdies as he and Rory McIlroy came back from behind to beat Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, also 1-up.

“Those last two matches were massive,” said Olazabal as the Illinois sky darkened overhead. “That keeps us just with a chance. It’s been done before, and well, tomorrow is going to be a big day. At one point in this match, I believe that momentum will come our way, and why not tomorrow.”

Article courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, the official car of the 2012 Ryder Cup