Colin Montgomerie is looking to win the Ryder Cup early on Sunday afternoon at Celtic Manor, naming arguably his strongest five players in the top matches as he looks to complete a comprehensive victory over the USA. Montgomerie will be lifted by the draw as Corey Pavin, who has become a peripheral figure in comparison to the captaincy style of Monty, has decided to gamble and leave Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the bottom half of the draw.
Europe snatched back the lead after dominating a dramatic third session, dropping only half a point to put themselves in prime position to win on home soil and reclaim the Ryder Cup, which will run into Monday for the first time in the history of the tournament after the inclement weather rendered the course unplayable and unsafe for spectators in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Leading in all of the third session matches as darkness halted play on Saturday, Team Europe were buoyed by a raucous Celtic Manor crowd who have patiently waited to play their part in spurring a European fightback. Almost fittingly, Europe’s top players led from the front; Lee Westwood and Luke Donald embarrassing Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker 6&5, the result doubling up as a catalyst for team mates and crowd alike as the scoreboards began to ooze blue. Ian Poutler and Martin Kaymer found another gear to defeat the combination of Rickie Fowler and a resilient Phil Mickelson, who might finally be regaining his touch on the greens after enduring a torrid first two days, but Leftie can have no complaints as their counterparts ground out the result.
While Europe will be overwhelming favourites to win, they will need to remember history as they look put America to the sword – they have been here before, most famously at Brookline in 1999, where America won eight of the final day singles on the way to a come from behind victory. They will need the same number of wins to do the same at Celtic Manor after watching their good work in the first two sessions, which saw them lead 6-4 going into today, go to waste as they offered very little resistance to a European team who were ebbing with confidence and poise. America’s best player this week has been Stewart Cink and he was again instrumental in grinding out a point alongside Matt Kuchar – the Alabama natives sensational form on the greens continuing, but the Molinari partnership dug in and played the dramatic 18th to perfection to win their first points, Francesco stiffing his approach to five feet to make a birdie and half the match.
Cink will have to be at his very best to overcome Rory McIlroy in the singles, after the Northern Irishman grabbed his first win as a Ryder Cup player along side Graeme McDowell after stroking home for birdie on seventeen. Further down the list, Francesco Molinari will have the unenviable task of playing Tiger, who will be at his most dangerous – Woods has not lost a Ryder Cup singles game since his debut back in 1997. The glory of holing the winning putt and sending the Welsh crowd into a frenzy could ironically fall to an Englishman as Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher go in matches five and six, Poulter facing Mr Consistency in Matt Kuchar and Fisher looking to overcome fellow rookie Jeff Overton.
The first Monday in Ryder Cup history is certain to be dramatic, whether it rains or shines. You can follow all the action from Celtic Manor LIVE with us on www.twitter.com/nousesport and on www.nouse.co.uk
MONDAY SINGLES (SESSION FOUR)
LEE WESTWOOD vs STEVE STRICKER
RORY MCILROY vs STEWART CINK
LUKE DONALD vs JIM FURYK
MARTIN KAYMER vs DUSTIN JOHNSON
IAN POULTER vs MATT KUCHAR
ROSS FISHER vs JEFF OVERTON
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ vs BUBBA WATSON
FRANCESCO MOLINARI vs TIGER WOODS
EDOARDO MOLINARI vs RICKIE FOWLER
PETER HANSON vs PHIL MICKELSON
PADRAIG HARRINGTON vs ZACH JOHNSON
GRAEME MCDOWELL vs HUNTER MAHAN