Rose, Stenson rack up record birdie count
Duo makes 10 straight birdies to defeat Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson in Four-balls
September 27, 2014
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson turned in an incredible performance Saturday morning at Gleneagles. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
GLENEAGLES, Scotland -- Justin Rose had just missed a short birdie putt that would have decreased Europe’s deficit in their Saturday Four-balls match. His partner, Henrik Stenson, atoned for his mistake, though, holing what he called a “very important” 7-footer to win the seventh hole.
Stenson’s birdie wasn’t just a moment that made Rose happy to have one of the world’s best players on his side. It was the start of a historic Ryder Cup run. Stenson’s birdie put the pair 1 down to Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson.
It was the first of 10 consecutive birdies for Rose and Stenson, who have emerged as Europe’s dream team this week. Their unprecedented display gave them their third consecutive victory. Rose and Stenson were a Ryder Cup-record 12 under through 16 holes to beat Kuchar and Watson, 3 and 2. The Americans lost despite being 9 under. The foursome’s combined 21-under total also was a tournament record.
“It might be a highlight to put on the big screen with the grandkids one day,” Stenson said.
Rose squared the match with a birdie on No. 8. The next three holes were halved with birdies before the Europeans’ birdies on 12 and 13 were good enough for wins. Birdies halved the next two holes before Rose pitched close and closed out the match with a birdie at the par-5 16th.
“It was definitely him that was the backbone in our team today and I was lucky enough to be there and backing up on a couple of occasions,” Stenson said of his partner.
Rose and Stenson each contributed five birdies to the team’s streak. Half of their birdies only halved holes, though, as Kuchar and Watson also played well.
“You hate to get beat, but the way they played, they beat us,” Watson said. “It wasn’t like we gave it to them. They beat us.”
Stenson and Rose were the only Europeans to win a match in Saturday’s morning session. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter also collected a half-point, as the United States won the session, 2.5-1.5, to pull within a point of Europe.
Stenson sat out Saturday’s afternoon session because of a stiff back while Rose partnered with Martin Kaymer in the Foursomes.
McIlroy, the world’s No. 1 player, was winless through the first three sessions, going 0-1-2. Stenson and Rose are No. 5 and 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking, respectively. The 2013 FedExCup and U.S. Open champions have been Europe’s best pairing this week.
Both Rose and Stenson are making their third Ryder Cup appearance, but Stenson is playing his first Cup since 2008 and Rose is making his first appearance in Europe and has starred in his first appearance at home.
“It's just the anticipation of what it's going to feel like to make putts and then getting zeroed into it and getting really focused,” Rose said. “We have those rare moments in the game and I think Ryder Cup is amazing because the pressure is so much that you have one choice, you either focus or you struggle.”
Europe’s star tandem certainly chose the latter.