NEWPORT, Wales – Four down through 12 holes and 3 down with four to play, Rickie Fowler made four consecutive birdies to halve his match with Edoardo Molinari and force the 38th Ryder Cup matches on the shoulders of Hunter Mahan.
Only three non-conceded birdies were made on the 18th hole all week, and two belonged to Fowler. The most dramatic was the 15-footer Fowler made Monday to gain a crucial half-point to give Team USA a chance to win the Cup.
“He’s always been kind of a clutch player, he always feeds off the pressure,” said Rod Fowler, Rickie’s father, after Graeme McDowell clinched the winning point for Europe. “Unbelievable, I don’t know how he does it.”
Fowler wasn’t close to Molinari, especially after a bogey-birdie exchange on the 12th hole put the Oklahoma State product 4 down. Molinari bogeyed the 13th hole and the pair halved the 14th, putting Fowler dormie with little room for error.
The captain’s pick would not disappoint, making birdies of varying lengths, including a sliding 20-footer on the difficult 17th hole.
“Seventeen was a huge putt, that downhill slider, I about hit the ground,” Rod Fowler said of the putt. “It was amazing that he made that, then the one on 18, it was indescribable.”
Jim Furyk played with Fowler in second session foursomes and was impressed with Fowler’s magic. Fowler made a crucial birdie putt on the 18th hole to halve the match with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.
“Proud of him,” Furyk said. “When I played with him in alternate shot, he showed a lot of guts and a lot of grit. He was hitting against Lee Westwood and played him shot for shot. I promise you he had Lee sweating a little bit.
“To see what he did on 17 and 18 today, incredible. The kid’s got a lot of guts. I’m really proud of him and what a wonderful pick for the team.”