Europe stretch lead at Ryder Cup

World number one Tiger Woods lost his second successive match as holders Europe grabbed a 7,5-3,5 lead after three of the four morning fourballs of the Ryder Cup on Saturday.

Woods was well below his best on Friday and again sprayed the ball all over the K Club course on the second day as he and Jim Furyk were beaten 3 and 2 by wildcards Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.

Sergio Garcia and Jose Olazabal combined brilliantly again to beat Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco 3 and 2 while Paul Casey and Robert Karlson won the last hole to halve with Stewart Cink and JJ Henry.

“Lee played great today,” Clarke told reporters after sealing victory by chipping in at the 16th. “If we had putted better we would have been more under par than we were.

“People said we were a wildcard gamble and the people who were sure it wasn’t a gamble were the two of us.
We enjoy playing with each other”

Europe began the session with a 5-3 lead on another day of sharply contrasting weather, torrential rain mixed with spells of bright sunshine.

Westwood produced a hat-trick of magical approach shots early on. He holed from three feet at the first but spurned birdie chances from seven feet at the second and five feet at the third.

Clarke came to the party at the fourth and fifth, holing from four and three feet for consecutive birdies.

Woods missed from four feet at the eighth, three feet at the ninth and eight feet at the 13th before reaching a new low by finding the water at the 15th.

Four down with four to play, Furyk came to the rescue by holing a six-footer to win the US pair’s first hole of the day but it was too little too late.

Woods’s lacklustre performance in the opening three sessions of the biennial team competition sparked speculation that he might even be dropped from the afternoon foursomes. But that temptation was resisted by US captain Tom Lehman who paired him with Furyk for the fourth successive session.

European skipper Ian Woosnam provided his own unique brand of leadership, planting a kiss on the cheeks of Garcia and Olazabal before they took on the heavyweight pair of Mickelson and DiMarco.

The Spanish duo, suitably inspired by their skipper, grabbed two birdies in the first four holes to go one up.

Garcia was inches away from finding the water at the eighth before his partner sank a 12-foot birdie putt to extend their advantage.

The 26-year-old Garcia sank a 10-footer for another birdie at the ninth and Olazabal birdied the 10th to put the Europeans four up.

The writing was on the wall for the Americans when DiMarco found water at the 13th and the Spaniards coasted home.

Cink and Henry, who came from three down on Friday to halve their match with Casey and Karlsson, produced a similar performance to claim another half.

Karlsson chipped in for a birdie at the second and World Match Play champion Casey added further birdies at the fourth and eighth to go two up, the latter after rolling in an 18-foot putt.

Cink birdied the 10th to reduce the deficit and rookie Henry eagled the 16th and birdied the 17th to turn the match around but Casey birdied the last to earn a half that ensured Europe would get the better of the morning scoring.

Rookie Zach Johnson was the outstanding performer of the session, reeling off six birdies to help himself and Scott Verplank go two up on Henrik Stenson and Padraig Harrington through 15.

The match began with an early flurry of birdies from both teams, including four in five holes from Johnson.

But Swede Stenson also prompted wild cheers from the Irish gallery when he chipped in for a birdie at the second.

Vaughn Taylor, the only player not to feature in the first three sessions, will get his first taste of Ryder Cup golf in the afternoon foursomes when he partners Chad Campbell against Colin Montgomerie and Westwood. - Reuters

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