Europe were all smiles at the end of day (Getty Images)

Momentum swings in Europe's favour

The Ryder Cup is all about momentum and the pendulum swung in Europe's favour late on Saturday evening.

Sarah Gwynn, European Tour Editorial Staff

What a difference a few hours can make.

The mood at the end of the second session was verging on subdued after Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell somehow conspired to lose to Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar late on, and Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood halved with Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler having led since the second hole. Not to mention Miguel Angel Jiménez and Peter Hanson’s 4&3 defeat to Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

But a few holes later and the pendulum had firmly swung back towards Europe. Ross Fisher was holing putts from everywhere, the Molinari brothers had found their confidence and Luke Donald and Lee Westwood were five up after seven against Woods and Stricker, who were as leaky as the Americans’ waterproofs.

The USA Team probably couldn’t wait to resume play after the session second ended, such was their confidence and control. Instead, they could not wait to get off the course early in session three as Europe threatened to gallop clear, ending the day up in all six matches.

The momentum was gathering; the quality golf was infectious. Every roar from the galleries instilled more confidence, more belief in the Europeans. Captain Colin Montgomerie just needs this to continue in the morning and keep the leaderboards blue.

A good putt from Stricker brought Westwood and Donald back to four up after nine, and in the other foursomes McDowell and McIlroy were three up after seven. The Molinaris and the fourball pairing of Padraig Harrington and Fisher were both one up, while Ian Poulter and Kaymer and Jiménez and Hanson were both two up.

“Momentum is key in these matches, and we haven't had any yet,” said Montgomerie. “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.

“We were allowing the Americans to get momentum here, and we had to start off better than we did - and very early on.

“Although none of these games is finished this afternoon, obviously, and we are in a very, very strong position.

“We are playing at home and we probably started out a little bit favourites, so of course there's pressure on them.  There's pressure and expectation.  I think they are expected to do well, this group I have.
Sometimes expectation is difficult to live up to, but they are living up to it now.  It ebbs and flows.”

The extent of the momentum enjoyed by Europe in the afternoon session could perhaps be attributed to Westwood and Donald surging into a lead against Woods and Stricker, ranked number one and four in the world respectively.

Westwood in particular was superb in the morning, leading Kaymer to victory over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, equally impressive in the second session and unlucky to halve his match, and simply sublime in the evening alongside his compatriot.

“Quite simply, Lee Westwood is my top ranked player and has proved it,” said Montgomerie. “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.”

 Westwood and the rest of his team-mates will need to continue in the same vein tomorrow to have any chance of levelling this contest. And if the momentum continues to spiral, we might dare to dream of heading into the singles matches in front.

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