CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) - Vice-captain Tiger Woods played an integral role as the United States withstood a Ryder Cup charge from holders Europe to lead by 9 1/2 - 6 1/2 points, skipper Davis Love III said on Saturday.
Love was thinking of giving Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth a rest for the afternoon fourballs after Europe had won the morning foursomes 2 1/2 - 1 1/2.
The two American strongmen, however, made the most of their reprieve by squeezing past Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson 2 and 1 in the pivotal last match of the day.
”I said to Tiger, ‘Are we playing them or are we sitting them?'“ explained Love. ”He said, ‘No, you have to send them back out there, they are playing so well’.
“I told Ian Poulter in 2012 that Patrick was built for the Ryder Cup, he’s got that attitude.”
Reed was the central figure in match four, making up for a lacklustre display by twice major winner Spieth by reeling off seven birdies in the opening 15 holes including a run of four in a row on the front nine.
Love has been leaning heavily on deputies Woods, Steve Stricker, Tom Lehman, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson all week and Saturday was no different.
“I keep relying on them, we have a lot of guys out there supporting,” he said.
“I‘m just kind of filling holes and making pairings. That was my big job and it was a hard job.”
Love, who was also captain at Medinah in Illinois four years ago when a Poulter-inspired Europe came storming back to win from 10-4 down, said he was taking nothing for granted as the U.S. bid to capture the trophy for the first time since 2008.
The U.S. need five points from the 11 on offer on Sunday to win the Cup.
“It’s nice to go into Sunday’s singles on a high but we know the deal, tomorrow is extremely important,” he added.
“There are still 12 points to be played for and you can’t get away from the game plan, you’ve just got to keep grinding it out for one more day.”
Editing by Andrew Both