Simpson, Watson bounce back with four-ball win
MEDINAH, Ill. – Proving once again that length is a huge advantage, the U.S. team of Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson not only out-drove but out-putted, Francesco Molinari and Justin Rose for a 5-and-4 victory in Saturday afternoon’s four-balls.
The Americans were still smarting from their 1-up defeat in the morning foursomes, and were eager to atone for their loss. The match started slowly, though, causing the focus to shift on the dignitaries who were following the matches, including former Presidents George Bush 41 and 43, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and LPGA star Morgan Pressel.
The focus returned to the golf when Simpson drained a birdie putt from above the hole on No. 3 to go 1 up. The duo never relinquished that lead.
The 1-up lead became 2 up when Watson made a 4-footer for birdie on the seventh hole that started a string of five consecutive birdies by the American side. They were only 3 up after that run, though, as the Europeans matched three of those birdies.
European captain Jose Maria Olazabal was standing on the ninth tee when Rose was conceded a birdie after his tee shot stopped 2 feet from the hole. “I think the U.S. players are more comfortable with the speed of the greens,” Olazabal said in the heat of the match. “They are making the putts. We saw that on the eighth. Justin Rose just stiffed the tee shot, and Webb Simpson from 15 feet, in, to tie the hole.”
After the teams halved the 12th hole, the U.S. closed out the match with birdies on the long par-3 13th and par-5 14th, giving them seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch. Simpson walked in a downhill 16-footer on the 13th, and Watson finished the Europeans by hitting 7-iron from 222 yards to reach the 14th green in two shots. After Watson’s birdie was conceded, the Europeans had two chances to halve the hole and extend the match. They couldn’t convert.
“I got what I expected,” Love said of the victory. “I didn't expect (the loss) this morning, to be honest with you. They're hot, and they're confident and they were ready to go.”
Watson at times seemed to ride Simpson’s coattails, hitting recovery shots from the trees while the U.S. Open champion was much steadier. In the end, the steady Simpson and the free-spirited Watson ham-and-egged their way to victory.
“He didn't really putt as well as he wanted to in the morning matches,” Watson said of Simpson. “He got in a rhythm. It's so hard to get in a rhythm on alternate‑shot because it's every other shot. He got in a rhythm. He got in a rhythm this afternoon and made his putts and hit his spots. He did everything he wanted to do, and he made a lot of key putts that we needed.”
And it added up to an easy American victory.