Garcia ready to lead the European Challenge(Getty Images)

Garcia leads European singles charge

Garcia first out as Europe aim to retain The Ryder Cup

By Scott Crockett-

Print News

Sergio Garcia will aim to recreate history on American soil when he leads Nick Faldo's European Team into the emotional cauldron that is a Ryder Cup Singles Sunday.

Four years ago at Oakland Hills, the Spaniard was sent out in the second match to quell the threat of Phil Mickelson and the 28 year old from Castellon came up with the goods in spectacular fashion, defeating the World Number Two by 3 and 2, a victory which gave Europe the impetus to go on and record a record breaking 18 � - 9 � victory.

Now Garcia will step up to the plate and go out in the first match against Anthony Kim as the visitors attempt to overturn the 9-7 scoreline which stands after the first two pulsating days play at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky.

That Europe trail is the bad news for Captain Faldo. The good news is that there is a Ryder Cup precedent for recovery, for the score is exactly the same as was at Oak Hill in 1995 when Bernard Gallacher's troops stormed from behind to eventually win 14 � - 13 �.

While the man with excellent Ryder Cup history will head Europe's recovery bid, the man of the 2008 season, Padraig Harrington, will be charged with playing the anchor role should the contest come down to the final match.

The Irishman has been placed at match number 12 against Chad Campbell and will need all his experience of the unique pressure of the biennial contest against the United States should the 2008 version go down to the wire.

Another man of vast Ryder Cup experience, Lee Westwood, has been placed in the penultimate slot against the 2003 Open Champion Ben Curtis while two of Europe's men of the match to date, England's Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, play at number ten and nine respectively, against Steve Stricker and Stewart Cink.

McDowell, who has been in sensational form in this, his rookie appearance, summed up the mood in the European camp.

"We knew we had to come out and put points on the board today and we did that, it was hugely important for us," said the Ulsterman. "Now, with a two point deficit on the board and 12 points up for grabs, it is wide open.

"I have to say, coming out of the team room tonight, everyone is pumped up. Everyone is feeling really, really good and we are 110 per cent up for this tomorrow."

Back at the top of the order, behind Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey is charged with the responsibility of the second match against Hunter Mahan, while Robert Karlsson is up next against Justin Leonard in match three.

Rookie Justin Rose faces a singles baptism of fire in match four against Phil Mickelson while the Englishman will be followed onto the first tee in match five by Henrik Stenson who will be charged with seeing off the challenge of local Kentucky favourite Kenny Perry.

Behind Stenson in match six will be Oliver Wilson who will hope to silence the crowd favourite Boo Weekley while Soren Hansen is charged with taking care of the second Kentuckian in the field, J B Holmes, in match seven, before Miguel Angel Jimenez tackles Jim Furyk in match eight.