Ian Poulter's nerve holds again to give Europe a fighting chance of retaining the Ryder Cup
Ian Poulter produced an incredible display of clutch putting as Europe ended the second day of the Ryder Cup on a high
Last Updated: 30/09/12 8:21am
Poulter claimed an astonishing 11th win in 14 matches in the competition after he birdied the last five holes to earn him and Rory McIlroy a morale-lifting one-up win over Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson in the final fourball of the day.
Jose Maria Olazabal's decision to pair Poulter with the world No 1 looked in danger of backfiring early on when Johnson birdied the first, and his par at the second was enough to go two up.
Poulter nailed the first of many 15-footers to pull one back at the fifth, but Dufner's birdie at the long seventh restored the American pair's two-hole advantage.
The next five holes were halved before McIlroy got a putt to drop at the 13th, and Poulter held his nerve to match Dufner's four at the next.
Poulter's sublime bunker escape set up a winning birdie at 15, and he curled in another nerveless putt at 16 to put the British pair into the lead for the first time in the match.
Johnson looked set to restore parity when his tee shot to 17 nestled five feet away, but Poulter's steely nerve held yet again as he rapped in a 10-footer for his two.
And when Dufner converted a smooth approach to five feet at the last, Poulter stood over a 12-foot putt for his three in fast-fading light.
But he was again up to the task, letting out another trademark roar as his ball found the middle of the cup to ensure Europe have a fighting chance to retain the trophy on Sunday.
"We needed to get something going," said a jubilant Poulter. "We had to make birdies and wow - five in a row. It was awesome.
"I had the world No 1 backing me up and it allowed me to hit some shots.
"Match play, I love the fight of it. You get to stare your opponent straight in the face, and sometimes that's what you need to do.
"The Ryder Cup means an awful lot to every one of us. You know, there's a lot of passion in that team room and there's reasons why we want to keep that trophy as long as possible."
McIlroy added: "At least I had a little bit to do with it, making birdie at 13, but when Ian gets that look in his eyes it's really impressive.
"It was incredible making that run like we did."