Friday, 19 March 2010
2008 Ryder Cup - Day 2  (Getty Images)
2008 Ryder Cup - Day 2 (Getty Images)

Europe roared back into The Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club this morning - and the biggest hero was the player who sat out the entire first day.

England's Oliver Wilson came in for a debut alongside Henrik Stenson and a 28 foot birdie putt on the 17th completed a quite stunning two and one victory over Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim as America's lead was cut to 7-5.

Mickelson and Kim had charged into a four hole lead after only six holes, but as they fell apart at the seams the unfancied European pair sensed a chance and took it magnificently.

After Kim went in the water on the 434 yard 15th - he tried a virtually impossible recovery from being put in the trees by the world number two - Stenson and Wilson led.

And when the putt dropped two holes later, Mickelson could not make his 20 footer to stay alive.

Top foursomes pair Ian Poulter and Justin Rose had already got Europe off to a winning start to the day and Graeme McDowell and Miguel Angel Jiménez then managed to keep the gap at only one when they birdied the 547 yard last to halve with Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan, double winners on the opening day.

However, Jim Furyk and local man Kenny Perry beat Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson on the 17th to restore a two point advantage for Paul Azinger's team.

Europe had taken the session 2 1/2-1 1/2, though, and the hopes of a fourth successive victory had been re-ignited.

Wilson said: "It was amazing on the first tee - not quite as loud as I thought it would be, but awesome.

"It was one of the best feelings. I've been waiting to get out there all week."

Poulter, justifying Faldo's faith in him after all the fuss of him getting a wild card ahead of Darren Clarke, and Rose had their second win in three games.

It was also revenge when they beat Chad Campbell and Stewart Cink four and three. The Americans had come from three down to pip them on the last on the opening morning.

"There was a lot of unfinished business," admitted Poulter. "We saw the pairing and said 'let's get out of there and finish the job off.'

"It was flawless golf. We have said for a while we're a strong pair and it was awesome."

Rose added: "Getting a point in the afternoon was important. It gave us confidence. We had the lead and started to fritter it away again, but the experience of yesterday helped."

This time they charged five clear and were out in 31, allowed it to close to two, but then crucially Poulter made a 15 foot par putt on the 14th.

Cink missed from nine, then went in the water on the next. Game over.

McDowell and Jiménez were two up after four, but then one down when Justin Leonard, having holed a ten footer for a half on the 16th, made an even longer one to win the next.

However, he and Mahan could do no better than a closing par and Jiménez splashed out of a greenside bunker to four feet, from where his partner made no mistake.

The biggest shock of the first day came after play finished when the draw for the second series of foursomes came out and there was no Lee Westwood or Sergio Garcia for the first time in their cup careers.

Westwood had just equalled Arnold Palmer's cup record of 12 games in a row without defeat and had done it with a brilliant comeback alongside Søren Hansen for a half against JB Holmes and Boo Weekley.

In the morning, meanwhile, he and world number five Garcia had won the last two holes for a half against Furyk and Perry, a result which extended the Spanish star's unbeaten record in foursomes to 8 1/2 points out of nine.

Faldo had given his press conference before the pairings were known, so it was only on his return to the course this morning that the questions could be asked of him.

"I think the days of going all five ... well, the fewer guys the better," he said. "I wanted to rest them because it's a brutal week."

Europe's captain, though, said that Garcia, who was on antibiotics last week, was "very tired" and even at lunch was "struggling. He was shot and he needed a rest. He wanted a rest."

As expected, Westwood and Garcia were back for the fourballs, but not together. The former teed off with Hansen again, while Garcia was with Paul Casey, who had been benched from the last two sessions.

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