Despite a strong surge by Europe, who won five of eight singles matches - including the first four of the day, the United States holds a 9-7 advantage entering the final round in the Palmer Cup at Royal Portrush Golf Club. The Americans would need 3 1/2 points to win their first Palmer Cup on European soil since 2002 while a victory by Europe would mark the first time either side claimed three-straight matches.
"I would have to give credit where credit's due yesterday," said Europe Head Coach Dean Robertson, "and the USA team took full advantage of very calm conditions on one of the finest links golf courses in the world. By sweeping us 4-0 in the afternoon foursomes really left us with a huge uphill battle. However, today the weather was again benign making our 5-3 victory in the singles massive. We loaded the top with players I knew were going to deliver."
Charlotte Corey Nagy lost his singles match to Europe's Pontus Widegren, 3 & 2. The two will face off again tomorrow in another singles match.
Europe claimed the first four matches of the day. Henrik Norlander of Sweden started the run, downing Daniel Miernicki, 1-up. The match was all square until Miernicki went 1-up after five. He extended his lead to 2-up after No. 8 but would lose three-straight holes from Nos. 11-13. Norlander would move the match to dormie after winning on No. 16 but a Miernicki birdied No. 17 to extend play. Norlander went right of the fairway on his tee shot on the par 4 18th, punched into the fairway on his second and hit his third to within eight feet. The hole was considered halved after Norlander made his putt with Miernicki's par putt seven feet away.
Andrea Pavan collected Europe's second win with a 5 and 4 victory against Scott Langley. Langley won the first hole, but Pavan won both the third and fourth holes to take the lead. He pushed his advantage to two holes after No. 8. Pavan then proceeded recorded back-to-back birdies on No. 11 and 12 to push the lead to four holes. He closed the match after winning the 14th.
A third-straight win for Europe by Pontus Widegren over Corey Nagy, 3 and 2, cut the team lead to one point. Widegren won both the second and third holes and pushed his lead to 4-up after claiming Nos. 8 and 9. Nagy would respond by taking both the 10th and 11th. Widegren moved the lead back to 3-up after a birdie on No. 15 and closed the match after both players parred No. 16.
David Lingmerth pulled the Euros even in the team standings after 2 and 1 victory against John Chin. Lingmerth birdied No. 2 to take 1-up and never trailed. He would push his advantage to 3-up after nine and would lead by as many as four holes after 12. Chin would cut the lead in half after winning both 13 and 14 but Lingmerth would respond with a birdie at No. 15 to move the match to dormie. Chin claimed No. 16 but the pair halved No. 17 to end the match.
Jonathan Randolph would put the United States back in the lead after claiming his match 4 and 3 against James Byrne. Randolph won the first hole but Byrne would even the match after No. 4. Randolph birdied both seven and eight to move 2-up and moved to 3-up after a birdie on No. 10. Byrne would claim No. 11 but back-to-back hole wins by Randolph would push his lead to 4-up after 13.
David Chung would give the Americans their second singles victory after he downed Rhys Enoch, 4 and 3. An Enoch birdie on No. 2 gave him a brief lead, but Chung responded with birdies of his own on the following to holes two move ahead. Chung would win three-straight holes from Nos. 6-8 to go 4-up. Enoch would claim No. 10 to cut the lead to 3-down. Chung would go on to take the next two holes for a 5-up lead before settling for the 4 and 3 victory.
Team USA would claim its third and final singles victory of the day with Tyson Alexander's 2 and 1 triumph against Patrick Spraggs. Spraggs took an early lead after claiming Nos. 2 and 3. Alexander would win the fifth, seventh and eighth to take a 1-up advantage. Spraggs would even the match after a birdie on No. 12 and retake the lead after No. 14. Alexander would win the next three holes for the 2 and 1 win.
'The Alexander match was pivotal to make sure that we kept our lead," said United States Head Coach Chris Zambri. "Tyson was 1-down going into the 15th tee. For him to get a full point was crucial for us. Today was interesting only because it seemed like we were down quite a bit most of the day. I feel fortunate that we picked up three points. It looks like there is a lot of good golf being played, so even though we had some guys that didn't win their matches everybody is playing pretty well. I think that's a testament to the tournament and college golf that there are so many good players."
Europe would win the final match of the day after Jesper Kennegard downed Russell Henley, 2 and 1. Kennegard took the second, fourth, eighth and ninth holes with birdie to take a commanding four-up lead. Henley would battle back, winning three-straight holes to trim the lead to 1-up. Kennegard would move the match to dormie after claiming both Nos. 14 and 15. Henley extended the duel with a birdie on No. 16 but birdies by both players at No. 17 would bring the round to a close.
"Going into tomorrow we set our lineup with a few alterations, but not many," commented Zambri. "We're just hoping that everyone goes out and has a good day and competes really hard. I think it should be fun and interesting. I don't know how much weather is coming in, but we're looking forward to it. Everybody is. As I said yesterday, we have a lot of competitive kids. As a coach, we came here to win this match and that's all I really want and any coach would want is for guys that will compete hard. "
"I'm looking forward to tomorrow," echoed Robertson. "There are some players that are going to have to stand up and be counted on my team. The lineup is posted and we are looking forward to it. We still have a mountain to climb. Those two points are huge. We came close today to actually squeezing an extra point. As it stands, if somebody would have asked if I would have taken 5-3 before it started I would have said yes. Lady Luck's shown on Team USA with the weather and if there is a little but of a sea breeze tomorrow it's going right to the wire"
Saturday's final round will consist of singles matches and begin at 10 a.m.
Royal Portrush Golf Club
United States 9, Europe 7
Day Two Singles Matches Results
Henrik Norlander, Europe def. Daniel Miernicki, United States, 1-up
David Lingmerth, Europe def. John Chin, United States, 2 and 1
Pontus Widegren, Europe def. Corey Nagy, United States, 3 and 2
Andrea Pavan, Europe def. Scott Langley, Unites States, 5 and 4
Jonathan Randolph, United States def. James Byrne, Europe, 4 and 3
David Chung, United States def. Rhys Enoch, Europe, 4 and 3
Tyson Alexander, United States def. Patrick Spraggs, Europe, 2 and 1
Jesper Kennegard, Europe def. Russell Henley, United States, 2 and 1
United States leads Europe, 9-7
Day Three Singles Matches Pairings
James Byrne, Europe vs. Daniel Miernicki, United States
Henrik Norlander, Europe vs. David Chung, United States
David Lingmerth, Europe vs. Jonathan Randolph, United States
Pontus Widegren, Europe vs. Corey Nagy, United States
Patrick Spraggs, Europe vs. John Chin, United States
Rhys Enoch, Europe vs. Scott Langley, United States
Andrea Pavan, Europe vs. Tyson Alexander, United States
Jesper Kennegard, Europe vs. Russell Henley, United States