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Ryder Cup ready for thrilling finale

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Rob Hodgetts | 22:55 UK time, Sunday, 3 October 2010

Colin Montgomerie hailed it as one of the truly great days for European golf as his side turned a two-point deficit into a three-point lead at Celtic Manor.

Monty's army trailed the USA 6-4 after Saturdays's third session but were leading in all six rain-affected matches going into Sunday's resumption.

The captain's plea to play with more passion had sparked the turnaround, and after another morning's washout, the European team were able to relight the fire and clinch five-and-half points out of the six to march into Monday's re-scheduled singles leading 9.5-6.5.

The crowd played their part, implored by Montgomerie to be their 13th man, and the great snakes of humanity slithering, literally at times, around the Usk Valley, were treated to a tenacious front-running display by Europe and a spirited attempt at a fightback by America.

Of all his players Montgomerie saved a "special mention" for Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, who imbued the fighting spirit by scraping a half after trailing by one on the 18th tee.

"It gave us a big difference. They are going to walk very tall after what they achieved," he said.

But Montgomerie said the "amazing" day would count for nothing if Europe don't reach the decisive 14.5 points they need to win back the Ryder Cup.

The USA overhauled a 10-6 deficit to win the infamous Brookline event in 1999 after an inspired resurgence that will always be remembered for the invasion and celebrations on the 17th green after Justin Leonard's huge putt dropped.

And Montgomerie, who suffered horrendous vocal abuse by the charged-up crowd that day, insisted his team were braced for a US reaction on Monday.

"There's no resting for our team," he said. "We are going here as if it's tied to try to win the singles. If we do that we'll win. There will be nobody backing down from that goal."

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US skipper Corey Pavin has opted not to recreate the sort of rabble-rousing employed by counterpart Ben Crenshaw, who invited then Governor George Bush to recite a text from the Alamo before the singles in 1999.

Pavin says his team don't need any extra motivation, despite not having the advantage of a rowdy home crowd behind them.

"When you have the crowd going crazy, it's easier to show more emotion and you can egg them on a little bit and it's fun," he agreed.

"I don't think these guys need encouragement. They have all the motivation in the world to come out and play their best and try their hardest. They are playing with pride and passion and will do that again on Monday.

"Is Europe ahead? Absolutely. It's nice to have a cushion. Can you come back from it? Absolutely."

The players from both sides will now be exposed, alone against the opposition without the comfort of a partner. Characters will be tested to the full. Reputations made and broken.

Lee Westwood will lead off for Europe against Steve Stricker on the same day that he takes over from Phil Mickelson as world number two.

The Englishman has won two and lost four of his Ryder Cup singles but is now being asked to take on the crucial lead-off role performed twice by his captain.

Montgomerie, unbeaten in his six singles matches, is employing the old tactic of trying to get off to a fast start, to get blue on the board, engage the crowd and build the momentum.

He's chosen Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald in the next two slots but Pavin has matched strength with strength with world number four Stricker, the in-form Stewart Cink and recent Fed Ex Cup winner Jim Furyk.

Montgomerie insists he has strength throughout and has opted to play three-time major champion Padraig Harrington and US Open champion Graeme McDowell last should things get sticky.

Pavin has raised eyebrows by picking Tiger Woods in the eighth spot against Francesco Molinari and Mickelson 10th against Peter Hanson. Some suggest they are being "hidden". No-one can hide.

Despite the two Americans' relatively poor Ryder Cup records, and their less-than-convincing performances this week (Woods has two wins and a 6&5 defeat, Mickelson three defeats), the world rankings would suggest comfortable wins.

Pavin, though, knows that it doesn't work like that in matchplay. And Woods's only defeat in five Ryder Cup singles was against another Italian, Costantino Rocca, in 1997.

"I've seen great players lose matches that you never think they would. I've seen players that you wouldn't give much chance do some amazing things," he said.

They know all about that in these parts. Local hero Phil Price took out the mighty Mickelson in the famous win at the Belfry in 2002.

Europe need five points to win, and how fitting it would be that the inspiring Ian Poulter could be the man to sink the winning putt in his first event on home soil.

It's unlikely to go to script, though. And that's what makes the Ryder Cup truly great.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Exactly how fitting would it be if Ian Poulter holes the winning putt? Hopefully we'll get it done that early, but Poulter has not exactly been playing his best, certainly not up to his own expectations.
    I think this has so far been the consummate team effort and one's hope would be that any winning putt is holed by a relative Phillip Price, an undersung but vital member of the team.
    Great blogs throughout, Rob; hope you were nice to Mr.Remy - his hometown got at least twice the rainfall suffered by CM these past few days, trust he was gracious about CM's misfortune.











  • Comment number 2.

    This is my favorite sporting event EVER!! So far, this year has been awesome as well!!

    It would be even more fitting if Harrington put in the last putt. I didn't agree with the pick and I still say Casey would probably have been a better pick, but I am a fan of Harrington and it was great to see him come into his own yesterday.

    I don't really feel he played bad in the 2nd game, but more Fisher was on fire!!!

    GO EUROPE!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm a bit worried about the European team's putting.Lots of putts missed yesterday.We should have won those matches a lot easier,many putts to win missed.Holes halved,that should have been won.I hope I'm wrong,c'mon Europe,let's take the trophy back.

  • Comment number 4.

    It looks as if Europe will have to overcome the Americans with far less support that they enjoyed yesterday. I was one of the unfortunates who paid a fortune for tickets for fridays play and due to the seven hour suspension of play we managed to see less than 1 hours golf for the huge outlay.

    I am outraged that I cannot use the tickets for Mondays held over singles competition. I have emailed Rob Waddelow, the Financial controller of the Ryder Cup, to inform him of the damage this decision will have done to the European tour. Those who feel the same way as me can contact him at rwaddelow@europeantour.com






  • Comment number 5.

    It sounds very wrong that you don't get even a partial refund for such a small amount of play, being that at the Test Matches in cricket, you get scaleable refunds up to a certain amount of play. Sounds like they don't look after their paying public in golf.

    Very frustrating to not be able to watch any today with it being carried over. Was hoping for a rain delay to make it finish a bit later but it sounds like the weather is meant to be pretty good.

  • Comment number 6.

    Pavin has raised eyebrows by picking Tiger Woods in the eighth spot against Francesco Molinari and Mickelson 10th against Peter Hanson. Some suggest they are being "hidden".
    ---------

    What a stupid idea. If USA are to win they will need to get results in at least 8 matches, thus if they are to win or even be close then they will have to rely in those playing in 8th-12th just as much as 1st-4th.




    Shayhay - Sorry for your outlay and everything but realistically they can not honor both shortened days worth of tickets for the monday due to safety issues, hopefully once eveythign shakes out those who lost out will get some sort of rebate.

  • Comment number 7.

    I agree that your blogs have been the best of the BBC team of bloggers. Feel sorry for Shayhay and all like him. It is a shame that foresight can't be used instead of hindsight in these instances.

    I agree that there is no hiding place but it must be a bit irksome for Pavin that #1 and #2 in the world have contributed so little. Tiger has 2 points but Stricker was the strongman. He'll be jealous of Monty having Westwood....#3 and leading by example.

    For those complaining about the weather and rain delays.....being an expat, I got up at 2am every day to watch Europe take on the US......I wouldn't change this RC for anything, let's hope we can finish it off in style.

    Congratulations to Celtic Manor, Montgomerie and all involved, it really has been a special effort from everyone.



  • Comment number 8.

    Quick question.....does anyone know why practice putting has been curtailed to finishing out?

  • Comment number 9.

    Does anybody know when BBC2 will show the highlights today?
    I cannot find it listed anywhere.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 10.

    @GB someone said it would be on BBC2 at 7.20pm (John Inverdale - Match of the Day) but I can't find any confirmation. Surprised the BBC website hasn't been updated! I'm sure there are many people like us who need this information.

  • Comment number 11.

    Thanks for that. Maybe they are still bickering about which show gets dropped....

  • Comment number 12.

    God, the bloke doing the interviewing on Sky is awful. He was asking Pavin about his decision on putting Woods in the middle, and said how surprised people were, including him... as if anyone is going to care what the interviewer's opinion is! Thank goodness for the 5live coverage.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Sir Colin".... If I ever hear those words I shall cancel my subscription to 'The Lady'.

  • Comment number 14.

    Well done and more excitement than I could bear. How anyone could have left out Paul Casey is beyond me and you were very lucky here Monty. I guess the fact Padraig did so well in the practice games gets quietly left behind here. The most important aspect of the Captains job is getting those picks right, something that nearly cost us.

  • Comment number 15.

    Why wasn't on the BBC. I have been so disappointed at not being able to see it live.

  • Comment number 16.

    Is anyone else as disappointed as I am that the BBC are only giving us 70 minutes of Ryder Cup highlights tonight??

 

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