United States took a giant step towards regaining the Ryder Cup after taking a decisive three-point lead over Europe heading into the final day of singles at Hazeltine. Davis Love III's men won a nerve-racking fourballs session in convincing fashion to leave them just five points away from winning golf's premier team prize.
Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters had initially continued their 100% record as a pair by claiming a 3&1 victory over Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson. The European duo led by four through 14 holes, and though the match was taken to the 17th a birdie from Belgian Pieters temporarily levelled the contest - but it would be a rare positive during an otherwise harrowing afternoon session.
Phil Mickelson returned to his very best to inspire a 2&1 victory alongside Matt Kuchar over Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia. The five-time major winner made three birdies in the final four holes of the match, after Kuchar had nailed a 30-foot putt at the 13th.
Victory for the veteran pair was the first of three points to be delivered in the twilight of the afternoon. J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore were handed victory on a plate as Lee Westwood missed par and birdie putts from less than three feet on the 17th and 18th as he and Danny Willett lost 1UP.
The final match went the way of the dependable Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, after they held off a late fightback from Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose. Reed produced six birdies and an eagle during a magical round to help USA to a 2&1 win, to stretch their lead crucially heading into day three.
"Both teams have been playing very, very well. It's been unbelievable today," Love said. "Both teams
have been playing great. I watched a lot of that first match. Those guys are making so many birdies.
Rory is playing unbelievable this week. Our gays are playing great. I hate to see a few little putts missed. I saw Zach miss a couple and some of our guys, as well. You can tell the pressure is getting to everybody."
Earlier, Europe had furthur reduced the overnight two-point deficit after the morning foursomes. McIlroy and Pieters beat Mickelson and Rickie Fowler 4&2, while Rose and debutant Chris Wood won 1UP in a third match as Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker were overwhelmed.
Brandt Snedeker and Koepka defeated Stenson and Matthew Fitzpatrick after leading virtually from start to finish to complete a 3&2 win. USA then looked set to square the session through Spieth and Reed in match four, with the pair ominously four ahead with six holes remaining.
But Rafa Cabrera Bello and Garcia had other ideas and after the former holed from off the green at the 17th, a halve on the last ensured the match was squared. Yet Europe were unable to build on that momentum and their fourballs troubles leave USA five points away from their first Ryder Cup victory since 2008.