Sunday, 26 September 1999
A courageous European side, containing seven rookies and written off in many quarters, conjured up another magnificent day's golf to take a 10-6 lead into the final day of the 33rd Ryder Cup at The Country Club, Brookline.

Europe and the United States shared the second day 4-4 to make a mockery of predictions that the home side would walk off with the trophy.

Instead, four points from the dozen Sunday singles would be enough to retain the famous old trophy, and a further half point would secure an historic hat-trick of victories for the European side.

It was an electrifying day in Boston as the drama unfolded, once again offering a reminder that the Ryder Cup delivers three of the greatest days in sport. From a rainy morning foursomes, which were shared 2-2, to the sunny afternoon fourballs, the excitement was positively breath-taking.

Not for the first time this year, the dramatics centred on two colossal performers - Colin Montgomerie and Sergio Garcia. In particular, the latter, just 19 but mature beyond his years, showed that he is not just a star of the future but a star of the present.

In the morning foursomes, Garcia and the brilliant 'guiding hand' - Jesper Parnevik - took care of Payne Stewart and Justin Leonard 3 and 2, but the real fun was reserved for the afternoon.

Facing David Duval and Davis Love, the Europeans were two down after five and - despite a superb chip in by Parnevik at the 12th which got the animated Garcia even more excited - they were one down playing the last.

However a towering eight iron approach by the teenager landed about eight feet from the hole and the youngster rolled it in for an absolutely critical halved match.

That left the stage for Montgomerie and Lawrie to step in. The pairing had lost to Hal Sutton and Jeff Maggert in the morning, but Montgomerie in particular played a monumental role in helping the pair beat Tiger Woods and Steve Pate in the bottom fourball.

Time after time, Montgomerie holed hugely important putts, none more so than his birdie effort at the 15th. Then Lawrie drew inspiration from his partner to knock his tee shot at the 16th to a foot from the hole. Those shots helped close out the game 2 and 1.

Then, with Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke losing to Phil Mickelson and Tom Lehman, it was left to another rookie, Miguel Angel Jimenez, to make certain of another valuable half.

With his partner, Jose Maria Olazabal not reaching his usual heights, Jimenez carried the partnership supremely well and made a brilliant par at the last hole to claim a half against Justin Leonard and Hal Sutton.

Parnevik, who has three and a half points out of four, commented: "We knew we needed as big a lead as possible for the singles. We are playing very good golf and had luck on our side. I was very, very tired last night but felt a lot better today.

"The adrenalin is flowing everywhere and you can see that. The atmosphere is unbelievable. I knew it was a big thing to win the last hole. Most of us were pretty well down all day and we let a few chances slip away on 15 and 17 but what can I say about Sergio?

"I felt confident he would hole his, even though it was me to putt first for birdie. It was a much easier and shorter putt and I thought he would be comfortable hitting it first. He just looked at me before the ball reached the hole. He knew it was in. A very important afternoon to get those points because it will be hard tomorrow."

Garcia, the young hero of the second day, commented: "I knew we had to do well to show the guys behind that we were hanging in there. It was a tough afternoon. That putt at the last is the biggest I've made so far in my professional career but I hope to make a bigger one tomorrow.

"I had 155 yards to the hole and I hit an eight iron. I knew from a foot and a half from the hole that it was in. Now I'm hoarse from shouting for the rest of the team. I can hardly speak. It was a great, great feeling and I think it was a very important half.

"We needed to tie and give us maybe two points more than it looked that we would get this afternoon. Everyone has come through really well."

Montgomerie pointed out: "On that back nine we played some great golf and I holed some key putts when I had to hole them and Paul's tee shot on the 16th finished things off. Tiger's key putt that he missed was on the 14th. I couldn't reach with two drivers and he got up there with a four iron. A hell of an advantage.

"He missed and gave me confidence and from then on I thought we were going to win. To be 10-6 - level today - is a great day to be 10-6 and that needs four points from the singles. We know it will be tough but we have a great lead right now."

Jimenez said: " I feel very emotional. That was an important half. We knew it was tight all afternoon and I thought Jose Maria and I might need to get something from the game. I am very tired but now I think I could play twice tomorrow I feel so good from getting that half."

A satisfied European team captain Mark James said: "We've had a pretty good day. A lot of close matches. Everyone came through under pressure and I'm pleased with that.

"Monty and Lawrie's win was huge. The USA had thrown a lot of golf at us and we were at a point of putting a wall up and trying to stop them breaking through. That was an integral factor in our success so far.

"I saw some really great play from the US players today. We both have good teams playing well under pressure. I think we'll be disappointed if we don't win, but we know the US are going to fight back hard tomorrow. We know we have a huge amount of work to do yet."

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