GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson reeled off a record 10 successive birdies to win a fourball encounter against Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar that will go down as one of the greatest games in the competition’s 87-year history on Saturday.
The European duo, who were impressive in winning both their matches on Friday, reached a whole new level in perfect conditions on Saturday to win 3 & 2 on the 16th with another record 12-under par score.
What made the game so memorable is that the Americans played almost as well, as they were two-up after six, level after 11 and played their part in a match total of 21 birdies, another Ryder Cup best.
“From start to finish we played well and they played well but it’s unheard of to finish with 10 birdies in a row,” said Rose, who sunk a series of improbable putts to take his overall Ryder Cup record to an impressive nine wins and three defeats.
“I was forcing myself to stay in the zone, it’s so hard to come by when it gets like that and you just don’t want to burst your bubble.”
It was red on the board to start though as Watson and Kuchar, both beaten with other partners in their solitary Friday appearances, were transformed and set the pace, and the tone of the day, when Kuchar birdied the first with a 10ft putt.
With the wind less blustery than on Friday and the players more used to the greens, the crowd were treated to the quality of golf that had hoped for but when Kuchar nailed another long putt to put the visitors two up after six they were getting worried.
Little did they know that the home duo would birdie the next 10 holes in a row.
“It is amazing,” said Rose, appearing in his third Ryder Cup but first at home.
“I just had the feeling of the anticipation of what it’s going to feel like to make putts. Today is a day it all happened for me.”
The Americans were matching them shot for shot for most of the match and around the turn four successive holes were halved with birdies.
But Europe, particularly Rose, were relentless and forged two clear by the 13th.
Kuchar kept his team in it on 15 when, using a hybrid club, he bunted in a 30-footer from the rough. The U.S. were nine under par after than -- yet staring defeat in the face.
They thought they had a chance on the par-five 16th when both Europeans messed up their long iron approaches but Rose, who had gone deep into the crowd, chipped out to within inches for another birdie to secure the point.
“It was it was one-half Stenson, one-and-a-half part Rose,” said the Swede, who opted to break up the partnership for the afternoon to rest his sore back.
“Justin played phenomenally all week, and luckily I was there to back him up on a couple of occasions.”
Masters champion Watson, who could not land a putt for fun on Friday, was left wondering just what had happened.
”That was wild,“ he said. ”They played great, they made all the key putts. Then 10 in a row, that’s just amazing.
“But we were right there, it wasn’t like we got killed. We played great, they just played better and that was great for the fans.”
Kuchar agreed. “We played some awfully good golf but right now they are the best team,” he said. “I mean, they’re pretty much unstoppable.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar