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

Europe are right back in the hunt going into The Ryder Cup singles after trimming a point off the United States lead on a breathtaking day at Valhalla.

Trailing by three points after the first day, Nick Faldo's side remain behind, but 9-7 gives them real hope of making it an unprecedented fourth successive victory with 12 games to come.

They need seven points to retain the trophy, while the Americans require 5 1/2 points.

Both teams played inspired golf with vital contributions throughout the European Team but Ian Poulter stood out, playing like a man possessed as he has won three of his four games and is joint top-scorer with American debutant Hunter Mahan.

After partnering Justin Rose to a second successive victory Poulter was given Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell for the afternoon fourballs.

Never behind against Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk, Poulter converted a 14 footer to maintain a one hole lead on the 17th - Furyk holed from nine feet to stay alive - and then got down in a pitch and three foot putt on the last to clinch the point.

Asked how highly he rated the putt the ecstatic Englishman said: "It's right up there.

"That was a special moment. What a day - G Mac played awesome. I was struggling at times, but managed to hang in there and came up with a couple of birdies.

“It's been an awesome two days and to have three round with Justin, good friend, it was pretty special.  And to go out with G Mac this afternoon and bring another point was incredible.  G Mac played awesome, holed putts at the right time.  I managed to chip in on the holes I needed to and holed the putts at the right time. It was an incredible day."

McDowell was equally ecstatic. “My first Ryder Cup I have to say it's exceeded all my expectations from a lot of points of view.
 
“My play, obviously, the atmosphere, the way 12 guys can pull for each other in a team room, how good Nick has been in the team room; Ollie.  It's been just so much fun on the golf course, and to play with Poults this afternoon was an unbelievable match.  I've just had three incredible games, and this afternoon was no different.

“I've been down 18 all three times.  I've just really enjoyed every match right to the very end.  It was great to put some points on the board at last today, though.”

Just before that Paul Casey had made a ten footer to give him and Sergio Garcia a half with Ben Curtis and Steve Stricker, whose 18 foot putt denied the Europeans victory in a match where they had never led.

The day's play ended with a third match heading to the 18th hole and Robert Karlsson narrowly missing an eagle chance that would have given him and fellow Swede Henrik Stenson victory over Phil Mickelson and Mahan.

But what the half meant was that the session had been shared 2-2 and, with the foursomes won 2 1/2-1 1/2, Europe had got the better of the day.

“We had a good game and it was enjoyable to play with Robert, he played great,” said Stenson.

“Hopefully put some blue up on the board early tomorrow.”

The one afternoon loss saw an end to Westwood's record equalling 12 match unbeaten run in the event.

Again partnering Danish debutant Søren Hansen they went down two and one to Boo Weekley and big-hitting Kentuckian JB Holmes, the pair they had halved with on the opening day.

“It was more about winning points for the team than an individual record,” said Westwood.  “You know, The Ryder Cup is not about individuals.  It's about the team. While it's nice to be tied with Arnold, it's disappointing to have not won a point.”

The biggest hero of the morning was the player who sat out the entire first day.

England's Oliver Wilson came in for a debut alongside Stenson and a 28 foot birdie putt on the 17th completed a quite stunning two and one victory over Mickelson and Anthony Kim.

The two American stars had charged into a four hole lead after only six holes, but as they fell apart at the seams with five bogeys in the next 11 the unfancied European pair seized their chance
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 Poulter and Rose had already got Europe off to a winning start to the day and McDowell and Miguel Angel Jiménez then birdied the 547 yard last to halve with Justin Leonard and Mahan, double winners on the opening day.

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

Into the fourballs then without the Open and US PGA Champion Padraig Harrington, Poulter, justifying Faldo's faith in him, was going to be the only member of the side to play all five games.

He and Rose had had their second win in three games, beating Chad Campbell and Stewart Cink four and three to avenge their first day defeat.

"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."

 

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