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Zach Johnson 'gutted' by loss Saturday, but US keeps lead at Ryder Cup

Singles play begins Sunday

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Garrett Johnston, correspondent

CHASKA, Minn. — On a Saturday at the 41st Ryder Cup that saw the U.S. add to its two-point lead and conclude ahead by three, Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker did not add to the point total. The duo, who won a point Friday morning, could not overcome their deficit as they did Friday and lost their match to Justin Rose and Chris Wood 1 Up.

The teams remained tied through six holes but Europe took a 2 Up lead at the 10th and brought it to 3 Up when Johnson missed a short putt on the 13th.

“I put us in a bigger hole than we needed, especially with my missed putt on 13,” Johnson said.

The miss came on the heels of a clutch eight-foot par make on the 12th to halve that hole.

“That was not a quality stroke at all,” Johnson said. “It was not a misread and it was just a blatantly horrible stroke. That happens.”

As the round unfolded, it seemed as if the putts that were falling for Walker and Johnson Friday didn’t follow suit during Saturday’s match. Johnson said their reads were good but thought they often misjudged the speed of their putts.

“Granted, we hit some good putts that went in (Friday) and not today,” Johnson said.

Johnson still managed to convert a clutch five-foot birdie on the par-5 16th that cut the lead to 1. With a large following of vice captains and players he was then high-fived by Tom Lehman, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, and Rickie Fowler as he and Walker made their way to the 17th tee only 1 down.

The pivotal moment happened on the duo’s second shot on the par-4 18th. After Walker drove into the right rough, Johnson had a 149-yard 8 iron from a fluffy lie. The ball jumped out of there hot upon contact and Johnson immediately yelled “get down!”

It did not, going though the back of the green and into the rough. Needing to chip in to have any chance, Walker could not and the match finished with a European victory.

“We had opportunities,” Johnson said after the match, “my heart is gutted right now.”

Johnson’s record for the week entering Sunday’s singles matches stands at 1-1.

The 40-year-old hit the range for a bit after his match and looks to keep things simple heading into Sunday.

“It’s just another day, another match,” Johnson said. “I’ll work to get loose. The game is fine, it’s just a matter of execution. I’m not going to do anything differently in my preparation.”

Leading 9.5 to 6.5, the U.S. needs to get to 14.5 to win the Ryder Cup back for the first time since 2008. With 12 singles matches Sunday, each worth one point, and needing to only win 4.5 of those 12 available points, it seems a doable proposition.

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