CHASKA, Minnesota, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Europe, who won the morning foursomes at the 41st Ryder Cup, continued to ride the crest of a golfing wave in the afternoon fourballs against the United States on Saturday.
Darren Clarke’s team trailed 5-3 at the start of the day but narrowed the deficit to 6 1/2 - 5 1/2 after winning two and a half points out of four in the morning.
The Europeans, buoyed by the irrepressible Rory McIlroy, then took control of the fourballs, leading in two of the matches and all-square in one more on a glorious day at Hazeltine National.
In a long-hitting duel in the top game, McIlroy and Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters marched 4-up on Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson after nine holes of breathtaking golf featuring six European birdies.
Northern Irishman McIlroy, all high-fives, fist pumps and eye-bulging reaction, was as animated as he has ever been in the biennial team event.
England’s Danny Willett and Lee Westwood, seeking their first victory of the week, were also 1-up on JB Holmes and Ryan Moore after eight.
Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar were flying the Stars and Stripes for the Americans in match three, 1-up through seven on German Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia of Spain.
Bringing up the rear, U.S. heavyweights Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed were all square with England’s Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson of Sweden after five holes. (Editing by Andrew Both)