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Lee Westwood and Soren Hansen silenced the crowd late in a thrilling fourball match(Getty Images)

Westwood and Hansen: The silent partners

By Michael Gibbons- Europeantour.com

Print News

They may be three points behind after the first days play, but S�ren Hansen and Lee Westwood's silencing of the raucous Kentucky crowd as the sun set over at Valhalla Golf Club has further galvanised Nick Faldo's European Team.

Hansen and Westwood had endured the most vociferous crowd imaginable throughout their Friday afternoon fourball match against hometown boy JB Holmes and crowd favourite Boo Weekley, but they overcame the crowd and outfought the big-hitting, crowd-pleasing American duo to wrestle a vital half point by winning the 18th hole.

The outlook was bleak for Europe after losing the morning foursome session 3-1 and then dropping a further two points in the afternoon as the American players -- Holmes, Weekley, Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson in particular -- whipped the American crowd into frenzy.

Only Ian Poulter and Justin Rose had really managed to silence the locals by securing a vital 4 and 2 win over Ben Curtis and Steve Stricker earlier in the afternoon, but with every other match of the day finished, the focus, attention and intensity was amplified as every Member of both Teams, their Captains wives and girlfriends flocked to last match on the golf course.

With Weekley -- who had performed magnificently all afternoon - producing another stunning approach to three feet on the 16th hole with America one up in the match, Europe needed a minor miracle to stay alive.

Up stepped Hansen, making his Ryder Cup debut against Holmes and Weekley, with a brilliant chip-in from the greenside rough to keep the deficit at one hole with two to play. With the relentless American duo peppering the 17th hole with brilliant approaches, it was Westwood's turn to keep the match alive, the Englishman making a great birdie to take it down the last.

And so came the turning point. Holmes and Weekley made their first real mistakes of the day as they both drove into the water from the tee to open the door for the European pair. Hansen and Westwood made no mistake, both men conjuring birdie fours to silence the crowd and galvanise Team Europe at the end of a quite crazy opening day.

"I think it's a big boost for team spirit," said Westwood. "You know, the crowd were very noisy all day, and I suppose it came as a bit of a shock to them really when their two guys blew it right into the water, and we made pretty simple fours to win the hole.

"When you get off to a good start, as the Americans did today, it swings favouritism the opposite way. We were favourites coming into the match, now they're favourites. They've got a big lead, and the pressure is on them. You don't want to start losing points and giving up a big lead like that in front of a home crowd. You're going to look soft, so the pressure is firmly in the Americans' court now."