Captain Montgomerie and his number one player (Getty Images)
Resurgent Europeans please Monty
Colin Montgomerie was delighted with his team’s fightback early in the third session of The 2010 Ryder Cup but urged caution that the progress must be turned into points.
Europe were 6-4 down at the end of the second session after disappointing results for Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, who lost to Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar, the Molinari brothers, who were beaten by Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan, and Lee Westwood and Ross Fisher, who lost the 18th to halve their match with Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler, having led since the second hole.
But Europe’s fortunes were on an upward spiral in the third session, comprising two foursomes and four fourballs, with all six matches up by the time bad light stopped play.
“Although none of these games is finished this afternoon, we are in a very, very strong position,” said the European Captain. “All we had to do there was come out, and my objective at the start of the session, 6 4 down, was to get into the singles eight all.
“Momentum is key in these matches and we haven't had any yet. We have lost the first two series. This is the third and last series before the singles. And it's been a superb session from the moment that we set off.
“It was a very important two hours of play and we came through it with flying colours. So the job is half done and we have to keep going, and maintain this momentum tomorrow morning. As I say, no match has been won yet. We are going to retire here 6 4 down.”
Montgomerie reserved special praise for Westwood, who led Kaymer to victory in the fourballs this morning and was sublime in the evening with Donald.
“Quite simply, Lee Westwood is my top ranked player and has proved it,” he said. “Simple as that. He's been unbelievable, in the team room, in the locker room, on the range, on the course, some of the shots he hits. He's my best ranked player and has proved it so far.”
Padraig Harrington, who was one up alongside Fisher against Furyk and Dustin Johnson after four holes, gave an equally effusive assessment of Westwood, who now has 18½ Ryder Cup points, the most of any player on either team.
“Lee is going to number two in the world on Monday and in the next two or three events, you can't see him not getting to World Number One. He's a fantastic player and a great player to lead us out. He's proven it so far in his first three matches, he's a great partner for anybody and a great leader on the team and so far this week, our players have trusted in Lee being out in front.
“He's a stalwart. He's a solid guy and he's very dependable.”
Harrington came to life in his partnership with Ross Fisher for the second session foursomes, having not mustered a single birdie alongside Donald in session one. The Irishman praised Montgomerie’s decision to pair him with Fisher, saying: “I think Monty made a great decision last night. He asked me to go with Ross and basically instructed me to look after Ross and take him under my wing and gave me a lot of responsibility. While it helped Ross's game, it certainly helped my own game, as well.
“He was inspirational for me and for Ross last night and his selections were very important coming out this afternoon. He came to me and Ross and was telling us how important it was, that we have to get out there and stick in there and we needed a big session to get that 14½ points.”
American Captain Corey Pavin admitted he was relieved to see bad light stop play, with the European Team making a late afternoon charge in the session three foursomes and fourballs matches.
Despite the momentum shift Pavin, whose Team currently lead by six points to four, is confident of reinvigorating his charges for the challenges which still lie ahead.
He said: “I don’t think it’s a bad thing [that play had to be stopped]. Obviously the Team didn’t get off to a great start this afternoon, but after stopping and resting up, we’re hoping to come back out tomorrow and go at it from the start. Europe are obviously going to get some rest too, and I think both Teams need up.
“Obviously the third session is going pretty nicely for Europe. So we are just going to have to go back to the hotel tonight, rest up, come out and fire at them tomorrow. We’re down in all six matches – but I’ve not seen points awarded for matches which are only through four, five, six or seven holes. So we have to get out there in the morning, and try to turn the momentum back in our favour.”