Monty inspires Ryder fightback
Newport - Europe roared back into contention at the Ryder Cup here Saturday, staging a dramatic late rally after the United States opened up a two-point lead on a gripping second day.
Leading by one point after completion of the rain-delayed opening fourballs earlier Saturday, the ice-cool Americans kept their nerve to take a 6-4 lead over Colin Montgomerie's men following the foursomes at Celtic Manor.
But after receiving a rallying cry from a furious Montgomerie - who accused his players of lacking passion - the Europeans came blasting out of the blocks as the third session got under way at Celtic Manor.
When play was finally halted just before 7:00pm, Europe led in all six matches - in some matches by margins of several holes - a potentially decisive shift in momentum that sets up a thrilling finale on Sunday.
Leading the European fightback were English duo Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, who were four up after nine holes against the unbeaten American partnership of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in their foursome.
In the other foursome, Northern Irish duo Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy had raced into a three hole lead against Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan when play was halted after seven holes.
Montgomerie later revealed he had given his players a severe dressing down after watching helplessly as the Americans seized the initiative.
"I felt there wasn't enough passion on the golf course. we have plenty of other ways of winning this but passion we didn't have," Montgomerie said.
"I felt that with the team. I felt that with the spectators. It wasn't going so well earlier. It was a bit stale."
After watching his players respond so emphatically, Montgomerie admitted he would now try to ensure they maintain the momentum when play resumes at 07:45 local time (06:45 GMT) on Sunday.
"You know none of these games are finished but we're in a very strong position suddenly," Montgomerie said.
"My objective was to get into the singles with the scores at 8-8. I felt we had to win a minimum of four matches in the third session."
The European blitzkrieg left US captain Corey Pavin shell shocked - and relieved that poor light had halted what was in danger of becoming a rout.
"It wasn't a bad thing that it got dark," Pavin said. "Obviously the team didn't get off to a great start tonight."
"But we are just going to have to go back tonight, rest up, come out and fire at them tomorrow. 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 to go out and try to turn those around and try to turn the momentum back in our favour."
While Europe led both foursomes by big margins, the fourballs were slightly tighter. Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher were one up after eight holes against Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson, as were brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari in their match against Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar.
However Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez were two up against Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton. Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer led Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler by the same margin.
Twelve singles matches will following the six fourballs and foursomes matches on Sunday. However with more heavy rain forecast, play could run into Monday according to organisers.
The European fightback took the gloss of what had been shaping up as a good day at the office for Pavin as he attempts to guide America to their first Ryder Cup win on foreign soil since 1993.
Pavin had watched his players win both sessions as they appeared to handle the pressure better than their European counterparts.
Woods and Stricker wrapped up a comfortable four-up win over Hanson and Jimenez as Johnson and Mahan downed the Molinaris.
Furyk and Fowler meanwhile snatched a vital half point from Westwood and Kaymer with some magnificent pressure golf.
Europe stayed in touch courtesy of a three up victory by Fisher and Harrington before Donald and Poulter defeated Overton and Watson two and one.
But a late collapse by McDowell and McIlroy saw them squander a probable victory over Cink and Kuchar. Montgomerie revealed he had later sought out McDowell and McIlroy to give them a pep talk ahead of the third session.
"They were the two I was concerned about, to be honest - the way that that match had finished, and it was disappointing for both of them," he said. "All credit to them for coming out and playing the way they have tonight."
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