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Ian Poulter was pumped after he and fellow Englishman Luke Donald picked up a big point on Saturday. (Getty Images)

Fortunes change in the final hours, giving Europe some much-needed hope

Team USA had a solid hold on Ryder Cup – until the third session began and Europe caught fire. The U.S. will sleep on the lead but, Steve Eubanks notes, the Europeans can't wait to wake up on Sunday.

By Steve Eubanks, Special to RYDERCUP.com

NEWPORT, Wales -- Three sessions in a day was one too many for the Americans. Leading 6-4 after the early-morning conclusion of the fourballs and early afternoon foursomes session, all 24 players headed out again. Given the time on the range this morning, that made it a 12-hour golf day in conditions that only an alligator or mudfish could love.  That was too much for Team USA. 

The Europeans pounced quickly and took commanding leads in the two late-afternoon foursome matches. Luke Donald and Lee Westwood birdied the first two holes against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, and then piled on. By the time they got to the eighth tee, Woods and Stricker became the first team in these matches to go 5 down. 

The other European foursomes team, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, received a firm talking-to from Captain Colin Montgomerie after their heartbreaking loss to Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar earlier.

“I felt there wasn't enough passion on the golf course,” Monty said. “We have plenty of other ways of winning this, but passion, we didn't have.”

He relayed that message to everyone, but took special care in speaking with the McDowell and McIlroy.

“They were the two I was concerned about, to be honest,” Montgomerie said. “The way that (afternoon) match had finished, it was disappointing for both of them.”  

The two Irish friends responded, winning the first, sixth and eighth holes in the late foursomes session to take a 3-up lead over Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan to bed with them.  

On the fourball side, things are only marginally better for U.S. Captain Corey Pavin. Europe leads in all four fourball matches, but the leads aren’t as great. Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher are 1 up over Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson; Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez are 2 up on Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton; the Flying Molinari Brothers continue their thrilling high-wire act, leading 1 up over Cink and Kuchar; and Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler are 2 down to Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer. 

Mickelson played 36 holes on Saturday and only led his matches on two of them, making him the biggest disappointment for Team USA. 

“Just didn't get it going and sometimes that happens,” Pavin said of Mickelson’s play. “Why?  You've got me.” 

Despite the bad news, the U.S. will sleep on a lead. And Captain Pavin will tell them that as long as there are holes to be played, there is still hope. 

“We are just going to have to go back tonight, rest up, come out and fire at them tomorrow,” Pavin said. “We are down in all six matches, but I have not seen points given for matches that are through four, five, six or seven holes. So, we are going to go out and try to turn those around and try to turn momentum back in our favor.” 

 

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