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Friday, 19 March 2010

Europe bagged another 2 ½ points from the Saturday afternoon Foursomes to establish an overall 10-6 lead over the USA. It was another wonderful performance from Ian Woosnam’s Team, summed up in one perfect shot from Paul Casey, who ended his and David Howell’s match against Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson in outrageous style with a hole in one on the Palmer Course’s par three 14th.

That secured another point for Europe, with Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia adding another with a 2 & 1 win over Phil Mickelson and David Toms before Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood grabbed a half from Chad Campbell and rookie Vaughn Talyor.

The only disappointment of the afternoon session came from the Irish duo of Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, who lost out to Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk 3 & 2 in front of their home crowd.

Casey and Howell’s 5 & 4 victory was the most emphatic of the week so far, and the Englishman’s perfect four iron from 213 yards was a fitting way to end a match the Europeans had dominated from the second hole, where Casey holed a 15 foot birdie putt.

They won the next three in a row and cruised home from there, with the match ending in that wonderful hole in one that was greeted with a distinctive Irish roar around the 14th green.

Minutes before that sensational finish, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia increased their unbeaten Ryder Cup record in the alternate shot format to four matches with an excellent win.

The Spaniard and the Englishman took seven holes to break the deadlock between the two pairs, going one up after Mickelson and Toms double bogeyed the seventh to give the Europeans the edge.

They doubled that advantage when Donald holed a 12 foot birdie putt, but Mickelson and Toms were soon back to all square with back to back birdies on the 12th and 13th.

The Europeans were not to be denied, though, and nudged back in front with a solid par four on the 15th. Both teams played the par five 16th rather messily, but when it came to the crunch Donald holed a great 15 foot putt for a scrappy birdie four before Toms missed the USA’s 12 foot effort.

Mickelson and Toms could then only half the 17th, which was not good enough to allow the match to continue. The USA had ran out of holes, and the Europeans continued their formidable Foursomes partnership to win the first point of the afternoon.

Casey and Howell were the next pair to add to the European points tally, overwhelming Cink and Johnson as the match culminated in that dream finish for Casey.

There was certainly no shame in Harrington and McGinley’s defeat, given the fact that Woods, who had been a huge disappointment up until the start of his second Foursomes match with Furyk, began to find his targets and sink the putts that have elevated him to another golfing stratosphere.

Tiger’s rediscovery of the form that took him to five successive victories over the last three months may inspire his Team for Sunday’s Singles matches, but Europe will know that he can only win more point, and that they need only four from a possible 12 to retain The Ryder Cup.

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