And Sigel, 45, of Berwyn, playing in his seventh Walker Cup, needed to birdie the 18th hole to salvage a half-point out of the day that involved 31 grueling holes over the hilly, 7,034-yard Peachtree course.
In the morning foursome match, Sigel and his partner, 20-year-old Greg Lesher of Lebanon, suffered a 6-and-5 thumping at the hands of Peter McEvoy and Eoghan O'Connell.
With the help of two birdies, Sigel won three of the first four holes of his match against Roderick, a 23-year-old Welshman, but lost the next two. Then the putting woes started: a three-foot miss for birdie at No. 8, a 3-putt on No. 11, a six-foot miss for par at No. 12, a pair of 10-foot misses for birdie at Nos. 14 and 15, and a four-foot miss for bogey at No. 17.
"I'd been putting well all week," Sigel said. "But today, I had a lot of birdie putts above the hole or on slopes. There was one putt I just about blew on that went in. The greens were pretty quick out there."
The miss on the par-4 17th, after Sigel missed the green to the left and left a delicate chip short in the rough, gave Roderick a 1-up lead coming up No. 18. But just as the rain started to pour, Sigel hit a 165-yard 7-iron approach four feet from the pin, and had his birdie conceded to him after Roderick missed the green, pitched and missed a long putt for par.
"I was very pleased to hit that shot under the circumstances," said Sigel, who added with a grin, "and I'm glad I didn't have to putt it."
Sigel had a 2-over 74 with four birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys on his card.
Sigel and Lesher were 3 over for the 13 holes of their foursome match earlier in the day. But McEvoy and O'Connell were 3 under, 1-putting eight greens.
"Greg and I just didn't make any putts," Sigel said. "We missed four of about three or four feet. But they were putting well."
In his singles match, Lesher, an all-American from Louisiana State, also carded a 74 but lost to Craig Cassells, 1-up. Lesher was even through 12 holes but lost the 13th and 15th to pars and couldn't quite recover.
The stars of the U.S. team yesterday were Robert Gamez, 21, of Las Vegas, who captured two points, and lefthander Phil Mickelson, 19, of San Diego, who picked up 1 1/2 points.
The Americans, who last trailed after the first day of the biennial competition in 1965 (one of three years they lost), have their work cut out for them on today's final day. Team captain Fred Ridley said he will pair Sigel and Lesher once again in foursomes in the morning and also play them in singles matches in the afternoon.
"There wasn't that much difference in the outcome," Ridley said of yesterday's play. "They made more putts than we did. I think we might have been a little tight in the morning, but that wasn't the case this afternoon. Our guys realize that, to win, we have to play our best, and we've resolved to do that."
As he did yesterday, Sigel will be playing the final singles match of the day for the United States, hopefully the anchor the team can count on during what promises to be a tight finish.
"We had a team meeting and it went well," Sigel said. "I'm excited. I think we're all looking forward to tomorrow."