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Ryder Cup All Over but the Routing

Europeans pull away in the afternoon for a commanding 11-5 advantage. Woods-Love team gets drubbed.

September 19, 2004|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — They're red, white and blown away.

That's the U.S. Ryder Cup team, which ended its day Saturday by listening to a group of fans wearing Irish green and white serenade countrymen Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, watching Sergio Garcia twirl the flagstick at the 18th green like a drum major and by bearing witness to what is becoming the greatest rout of the United States in the 77-year history of the golf competition.

No, things are not going so well for the home team. The U.S. started the second day of the Ryder Cup trailing Europe by five points and ended it trailing by six, an 11-5 margin, and it doesn't take a math major to figure out it's in a nearly impossible spot.

All Europe needs to do today is win three of the 12 singles matches at Oakland Hills Country Club to tie the U.S. and, as defending champion, retain the Ryder Cup. Europe has won three of the last four meetings and six of the last nine.

"We'll see if we can gather something up," U.S. captain Hal Sutton said. "We'll have to gather up more than anybody's ever gathered up before."

No team has ever come back to win from a deficit of more than four points -- a 10-6 margin that the U.S. overcame to win at Brookline in 1999.

So the U.S. isn't mathematically eliminated, only realistically, if that makes any difference. Sutton said he felt as if he had done all he could.

"I'm not going to whip these guys, they've already been whipped, in terms of how they have played," Sutton said.

Along the way, the U.S. contributed a few memorable moments to the European highlight reel. Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell dropped the last two holes in the four-ball match and lost, 1 up, to Paul Casey and David Howell, who thus became the first Ryder Cup rookies to win their first match in 25 years.

If you have a difficult time figuring out exactly how that could happen, then here's another one: Tiger Woods lost again in the afternoon, teamed with Davis Love in alternate shot, and it was a wipeout, 4 and 3, to Harrington-McGinley.

Woods, who teamed with Chris Riley for one of two U.S. victories in the four-ball format, is 1-3 so far and 6-11-2 in the team play portion of his four Ryder Cups. In a six-hole stretch, Woods and Love lost four holes when Harrington-McGinley needed only to make par to win them.

Needing to summon some momentum in the afternoon foursomes, the U.S. lost three of the four matches. Besides the Woods-Love loss, Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood pinned a 5-and-4 defeat on a weary Jay Haas, who teamed with Chris DiMarco after Riley told Sutton he was too tired to play in the afternoon.

"I backed off, and I just thought, well, if he really doesn't want to go, if he's tired and he just doesn't feel like it, well then I'm not sure he can help us as much as somebody who is really energetic about going out there," Sutton said.

Then Garcia and Luke Donald knocked off Jim Furyk and Fred Funk on the last hole.

The only victory came from David Toms and Phil Mickelson, and neither one of them even played in the morning four-ball because they were having such a tough time.

As far as European captain Bernhard Langer sees it, there is only one danger from the U.S. side once the singles matches begin today.

"That they are under less pressure because they are so far behind, nobody expects them to win anymore, that they might come out blazing," he said.

Meanwhile, extinguished was Colin Montgomerie's unbeaten streak of nine matches. It dated to the Saturday foursomes in 1999 at Brookline but came to an abrupt halt in the morning matches when Cink and Love scored a 3-and-2 victory.

Afterward, Montgomerie asked to sit out the foursomes in favor of McGinley, who teamed with Harrington.

"It was me running out of steam," Montgomerie said.

If so, it was a feeling shared by the U.S. in the morning matches Saturday when what was taking shape as a great day became something less than routine.

At one time or another, the U.S. led in all four-ball matches, but the Americans won only two of them and halved another. And the one that was lost was particularly distressing, a 1-up victory by Casey-Howell over Furyk-Campbell, who led by one hole with two to play.

"To win the last two holes in four-ball doesn't happen very often at all," Montgomerie said. "To do that was huge for the European cause, massive. You know, that last match was bigger than the whole day [Friday]."

Before Howell-Casey, the last rookie Ryder Cup team to win was Andy Bean-Lee Elder in 1979. Howell birdied the difficult par-three 17th to square the match, then Casey made a short putt for par that was good enough to win when the U.S. settled for a bogey from Campbell.

Instead of taking the matches, 3 1/2 - 1/2 , the U.S. had to settle for a 2 1/2 --1 1/2 advantage and made up only a little ground on Europe, which led, 8-4, going into the afternoon alternate-shot matches.

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