Europe seize Ryder Cup lead
The Molinari brothers (AP)
Newport - Europe took a stranglehold on a weather-disrupted Ryder Cup on Sunday, seizing a potentially decisive three-point lead over the United States to set up a historic Monday finale.
The Europeans crushed the Americans in the third session, winning five and a half points out of the six on offer to turn a two-point overnight deficit into a comfortable lead heading into Monday's climactic singles.
Europe, leading 9 1/2 to 6 1/2, now need only five points from the 12 available on Monday to win back the trophy they lost at Valhalla in 2008.
Play will go into a fourth day for the first time in the biennial showpiece's 83-year history after torrential rain deluged Celtic Manor earlier on Sunday, wiping out six hours of playing time.
When play finally resumed at 13:30 (12:30GMT), Europe immediately managed to regenerate the momentum that had swept them into leads in all six matches on Saturday, rapidly overhauling the Americans' overnight lead.
Lee Westwood and Luke Donald produced some superb golf to beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker six and five, a one-sided rout of the star American pair that had watching skipper Montgomerie beaming with delight.
The European duo, starting the day at four up, reeled off three consecutive birdies - including one extraordinary 40ft putt from Westwood - before closing out comfortably to win the foursome.
"We wanted to get off to a quick start," said Westwood, citing his superb monster putt - his first shot of the day - as decisive.
"It's a 40-footer... it was good for us as a pairing to go from four up to five up immediately. But it was good for the team as well."
Woods and Stricker - unbeaten in six previous matches together - were left to reflect on the heaviest Ryder Cup defeat in foursomes for 15 years.
In the other foursomes match, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy hung on to defeat Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan three and one to give Europe their second point of the day and level the overall scoreboard at 6-6.
McIlroy wrapped up the win by draining a birdie putt on the par three 17th to deafening roars from the gallery.
The four fourballs ended up being tighter affairs but Europe held their nerve to win three out of four.
Irishman Padraig Harrington and rookie Ross Fisher beat Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson three and one.
Sweden's Peter Hanson and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez defeated Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton by two up in their fourball to give Europe an 8-6 lead.
The decisive moment came on the 16th, when Jimenez sank a 20-foot birdie putt to pile the pressure on Overton, who promptly missed a 15ft to halve, which left the home team one up.
The Europeans then held their nerve to halve the 17th before winning the 18th to give Montgomerie's team a vital point.
Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer then defeated Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler two and one to extend the lead to 9-6.
It appeared for a while that the Americans would be able to register at least one victory when Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar led by one hole going down the 18th against Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari.
However, Francesco Molinari hit an astonishing approach to set up a birdie four and grab an unlikely half for the Europeans.
Draw for singles matches (European names first):
Lee Westwood (ENG) v Steve Stricker
Rory McIlroy (NIR) v Stewart Cink
Luke Donald (ENG) v Jim Furyk
Martin Kaymer (GER) v Dustin Johnson
Ian Poulter (ENG) v Matt Kuchar
Ross Fisher (ENG) v Jeff Overton
Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) v Bubba Watson
Francesco Molinari (ITA) v Tiger Woods
Edoardo Molinari (ITA) v Rickie Fowler
Peter Hanson (SWE) v Phil Mickelson
Padraig Harrington (IRL) v Zach Johnson
Graeme McDowell (NIR) v Hunter Mahan