A breath-taking second day in The 35th Ryder Cup Matches, packed full of drama and tension, ended with Europe extending their lead to a record six point advantage heading into the final day singles in a bid to win Sam Ryder’s golden chalice for a fourth time in five meetings.
The European Ryder Cup Team once again dominated the foursomes to build an impressive 11-5 lead. No team in the history of The Ryder Cup has ever overcome such a deficit.
Europe may have come off second best in the morning fourballs in terms of points by 2 ½ to 1 ½ but theirs was the moral victory as rookies Paul Casey and David Howell overturned a US lead with two holes to go to win their match on the 18th to turn the tide in Europe’s favour.
While Hal Sutton was relying on his big guns to lead from the front, Bernhard Langer had 12 leaders over the first two days as every member of the European Team put their heart and soul into building a substantial lead.
But it was Casey and Howell’s 18th hole victory over Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell that changed the face of the match. As expected the American Team launched a fierce onslaught from the outset and looked as if they might take all four matches in the opening session. But Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia held off a rampaging Jay Haas and Chris DiMarco to secure a valuable half before the two English rookies turned the tables in their match. They are the first rookie pairing in 25 years to win their first Ryder Cup Match, a fact that further underlines their monumental achievement.
It was worth more than a mere point as Europe were suddenly on the up and came charging out in the foursomes winning three out of four matches to move a step closer to winning The Ryder Cup for the fourth time in five meetings.
Paul McGinley was one of the many more established players to pay glowing tribute to the English pair. “Casey and Howell turned the match for us,” he said moments after claiming his first victory in The Ryder Cup Matches with a convincing foursomes win with Padraig Harrington over Tiger Woods and Davis Love III. “I cannot speak highly enough of them. To win those last two holes both Casey and Howell stood up to be counted. They were magnificent. They changed the whole momentum for us.”
Lee Westwood said: “That was the biggest part of the week. It made a massive difference. I think we owe Paul Casey and David Howell a beer. One down and two to play and to turn it around. Sergio and I did it at The Belfry and morale-wise, it’s a crushing blow for the people that lose the match on the team”
The biggest final day comeback in Ryder Cup history took place five years ago when a fired up US Team came from four points behind to win at The Country Club, Brookline. Sutton’s men now have to do more than any team has ever done before.
“I believe in my heart they can win,” said Sutton. “Whether they will or not is a whole different story. These guys are capable. And I can tell you one thing about match play, once it starts swinging, it seems to swing for a while. So we’ll just see what happens.”
Langer’s European Team need just three wins to retain The Ryder Cup, three and a half to win.
“I’m very proud of my Team,” said Langer. “They played tremendously well. All of them. I do want to mention two guys who won the foursome match this morning, Casey and Howell. To win the last two holes and gain a huge point for us that gave us the momentum swing that we were hoping for after a fairly dull morning for us was huge. So we are obviously extremely happy where we are at the moment, but we still have another tough day to go and need 3 ½ more points.”