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Friday, 27 September 2002
Sam Torrance's European Team will head into the second day of The 34th Ryder Cup Matches with a slender one point lead.

Europe won the morning fourballs 3-1 but then lost the foursomes 2 ½ -1 ½ to end a wonderful first day with a narrow 4 ½ - 3 ½ advantage,

The Ryder Cup is renowned for producing high drama but it is hard to recall a more intense first day than was produced here. The Matches ebbed and flowed throughout the morning and afternoon sessions with both sides in ascendancy at different times.

The home side had its most successful first morning since the Great Britain and Ireland team won the opening fourballs 3 –1 in 1971. Thomas Björn and Darren Clarke set the tone when they defeated Tiger Woods and Paul Azinger by one hole in the top match and Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood added another point when they produced a thoroughly impressive performance during their 4 and 3 victory over David Duval and Davis Love III.

Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer were also in magnificent form as they conquered Scott Hoch and Jim Furyk 3 and 2 but America's final pairing of Phil Mickelson and David Toms repaired some of the damage when they defeated Padraig Harrington and Niclas Fasth by one hole.

The European supporters were in ecstatic mood at lunchtime but the home side was unable to increase its advantage during an afternoon when the American side won its first foursomes series since 1991.

Hal Sutton and Scott Verplank were the first US pairing to shine when they came from two down after 12 holes to defeat Clarke and Björn 2 and 1. The European camp were invigorated when Garcia and Westwood won by a similar margin against Woods and Mark Calcavecchia but from then on the Americans started to fight back.

Any doubts that Woods's two losses in his opening two matches would affect the Americans detrimentally were cast aside during a splendid last hour in which Curtis Strange's side showed just how formidable opponents they will be over the weekend. They might have been battered and bruised in the morning but then fought back after lunch in a manner reminiscent of their charge in the singles three years ago at Brookline.

Furyk and Stewart Cink always looked as if they had the upper hand on Harrington and Paul McGinley and their victory was duly confirmed on the 16th green before Mickelson and Toms forced an unlikely tie with Montgomerie and Langer.

The Scot and the German were three to the good when they stepped aboard the 15th tee but by the time they left the 17th green they were back to square. The match moved to the last, concluding in an extraordinary manner with the two teams swapping bogey fives for a half.

Mickelson holed a three foot putt for that precious half point and once he had succeeded it was clear the Americans believed it was a moral victory for their camp. Langer's consolation was that the half point he earned took him above Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros as the highest foursomes points earner in Ryder Cup history. He has now accumulated 10 ½ points, half a point more than the Englishman and the Spaniard.

"This morning once again proved that we weren't up to the fourball matches," said Strange. "I refuse to believe the European team are better at fourballs than us but they did suggest they were today.

"We had to come back fast this afternoon and that's exactly what we did. I was proud of all of the guys, and particularly pleased with the half point we got from Phil and David.

"They dug in there real good. They were behind but they just kept plugging away. It's a huge half point. Not just from the numbers perspective, but also from our psyche.

"If things go well on Sunday, we might look back on that match and say that was the one that turned it round. But there's a long way to go. I said it before, and I will say it again. Over the last seven matches the two teams are 98 points all. That's how close it is. It's dead even."

Torrance remained upbeat. “If the last two days are rained off, we'll win," he joked.

"No, seriously, I'm just pleased we got a half in that match. When you lose the momentum in foursomes, it's hard to get it back. So the guys did well to get a half after what they had been through."

Torrance went on to pay tribute to the galleries. "They were fantastic," he said. “It's been a great day all round. We're delighted to go into tomorrow with a one point lead. I can assure you we all would have settled for that before we started this morning."

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