Europe scent victory after phenomenal fightback

EUROPE will take a commanding 9 ½-6 ½ lead into today’s historic final session after turning this Ryder Cup on its head with an irrepressible charge yesterday at Celtic Manor.

Trailing the United States 6-4 overnight, Colin Montgomerie’s men signalled their determination to reclaim the trophy by winning all but one of the six matches and halving the other.

The English pairing of Lee Westwood and Luke Donald and the Northern Irish duo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell both completed foursomes victories, over Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods, and Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan.

And there were further triumphs when the fourballs were concluded for Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Peter Hanson, and Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer.

Brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari halved their fourball against Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar, but even that was tinged with defeat for the beleaguered Americans after Francesco holed a decisive birdie at the last.

“That’s incredible what happened there,” said Montgomerie. “All credit to every one of them. This is what the word momentum is all about. When Woods loses 6&5 that is a serious defeat for the rest of the American team. He is their No1 guy – he’s No1 in the world. But for him to lose, not just lose but to lose that convincingly, helped us through today. The best I thought we could do was 8-8.”

It was day of ominous milestones for US captain Corey Pavin. The defeat Woods suffered at the hands of the outstanding Westwood and Donald was the heaviest of the 14-time major winner’s matchplay career. World No2 Phil Mickelson, who alongside youngster Rickie Fowler lost 2&1 to Poulter and Kaymer, has now lost more Ryder Cup matches than any American in history: 17 from 33. Pavin said: “I am really proud of the guys because they fought hard and hopefully we can figure out how to do it.”

Heavy rain, the like of which wiped out much of Friday’s play, again delayed yesterday’s action and means the competition will be decided on a Monday for the first time in its 83-year history. When play did eventually begin, the two foursomes matches were the first to be wrapped up, with McDowell and McIlroy earning their first win together at the third attempt.

In the fourballs, Fisher then excelled alongside Harrington to help see off a dangerous American pairing of Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson, prompting his Irish playing partner to call the rookie’s display “the best golf anybody’s seen at the Ryder Cup”.

Casting an eye to today, Harrington quipped: “It is the Sunday we have probably all dreamt about. Unfortunately there is a Monday.”

SESSION 3 RESULTS
FOURSOMES
L Donald / L Westwood won 6&5
against S Stricker / T Woods

G McDowell / R McIlroy won 3&1
against Z Johnson / H Mahan

FOURBALLS
P Harrington / R Fisher won 6&1
against J Furyk / D Johnson

P Hanson / MA Jimenez won 2Up
against B Watson / J Overton

E Molinari / F Molinari halved
against S Cink / M Kuchar

I Poulter / M Kaymer won 2&1
against P Mickelson / R Fowler

OVERALL RESULTS
SESSION 1: FOURBALLS
EUROPE 1 1/2
UNITED STATES 2 1/2

SESSION 2: FOURSOMES
EUROPE 2 1/2
UNITED STATES 3 1/2

SESSION 3:
FOURSOMES & FOURBALLS
EUROPE 5 1/2
UNITED STATES 1/2

TOTAL
EUROPE 9 1/2
UNITED STATES 6 1/2