The U.S. leads Europe in three of the four afternoon fourball matches at the Ryder Cup, golf’s premier international team competition.
The two sides are tied 2-2 after this morning’s foursomes matches. The American pairs of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson won for the host team and European duos of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter and Justin Rose won for the visitors.
In the afternoon fourballs, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson of the U.S. hold a five-hole lead, or 5-up, over Paul Lawrie of Scotland and Peter Hanson of Sweden through 12 holes; Mickelson and Bradley are 3-up on McIlroy and McDowell through 9 holes; Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar of the U.S. lead Rose and Martin Kaymer of Germany 2-up through six holes, and Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods are tied with Lee Westwood of England and Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium through seven.
In fourballs, each golfer in the two-man teams plays his own ball with the lowest individual score winning the hole for the team.
In this morning’s foursomes, in which each two-man team takes alternate shots with the same ball, Mickelson and Bradley gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead when they defeated Luke Donald of England and Sergio Garcia of Spain 4 and 3, meaning they had an insurmountable four-hole lead with three remaining.
McIlroy and McDowell, both of Northern Ireland, tied the matches by defeating Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker 1-up with a par on the final hole.
Dufner and Zach Johnson put the U.S. back on top with a 3-and-2 win over Westwood and Francisco Molinari of Italy before Europe tied it again when Englishmen Poulter and Rose beat Woods and Stricker 2 and 1 to end the morning session.
The U.S. team features five of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, while four of the European golfers are ranked among the top five.
Europe has won three of the past four editions of the Ryder Cup, including a one-point victory in 2010 at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales.
There will be another day of foursomes and fourballs tomorrow before the final 12 singles matches on Sept. 30. The U.S. needs 14 1/2 of the possible 28 points to win back the cup, while Europe needs 14 points to retain it.