After the second day’s play at the Ryder Cup, the European team made up precious ground on the American’s and trail 7 points to the US team’s 9 points.
Both teams were led by unlikely heroes.
The star of the European comeback was undoubtedly, Ian Poulter. A controversial, Captains’ pick by Nick Faldo, Poulter more than rewarded his Captain’s faith in him by winning both of his Saturday matches. Playing with passion and sheer determination, Poulter has inspired his teammates.
Considering the pressure of his selection being questioned by one and all combined with the heat of playing in the world’s most nerve wracking stage, Poulter was magnificent. Poulter was the only European player to play all four of the team matches and his 3-1 record accounts for almost half of Europe’s total points.
Ian Poulter has ascended to star status in the last two days. Up until now, he may have been best known for his flamboyant outfits; which have included an all pink ensemble (yes, shoes as well), a Union Jack number at last years’ British Open and assortment of plaids and paisleys come readily to mind but this young Englishman can really golf his ball.
Perhaps even more unlikely has been the consistent and clutch play of Hunter Mahan for the US team.
After winning both of his matches on Friday with Justin Leonard, he gained a valuable half point in his morning match on Saturday (again with Leonard as his partner), and then in a thrilling back and forth match, paired with Phil Mickelson, earned another precious half point, as the anchor team for the US in the afternoon.
Mickelson and Mahan withstood a barrage of 6 back nine birdies by Robert Karlsson and Mahan more than held his own with his partner out of the hole on the 18th hole by hitting a superb 3 iron onto the green and two putting for his birdie. This is from the player who created a storm of controversy a few months back by saying that being on the Ryder Cup team was not important to him and was more of a pain than a pleasure. It would seem that Mahan’s attitude has changed somewhat.
These two superb young players have come to the forefront at a time when their teams needed them the most. To do so in this crucible of pressure, is remarkable.
Who will Sunday’s heroes be?