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Europe fights back, US still leads 9-7

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-12-10

Europe's reaction finally came with Nick Faldo's men shrinking the score against the US to 9-7. All 24 players will face each other in singles to decide the winning team of the Ryder Cup's 37th edition.

The Ryder Cup was set for a thrilling finish following Saturday's play which saw the United States holding on to a 9-7 lead.

That meant that Nick Faldo's men had reduced their overnight deficit by one point as they won the morning foursomes 2.5 to 1.5 and the afternoon fourballs were shared two apiece.

The heavyweight US pairing of Boo Weekley and JB Holmes won the first point of the afternoon fourballs for their country with a 2 and 1 win over Lee Westwood and Soren Hansen.

That followed the drama of Friday when the Americans let slip a two hole lead with two holes to play against the same opponents.

Weekley and Holmes took the lead at the sixth and were three up by the 10th. The Europeans got it back to one hole at the 13th, but a Weekley putt from the fringe at the par-three 14th gave the Americans a winning cushion.

It put an end to Westwood's 12-match unbeaten streak in the Ryder Cup - the all-time record held equally with US legend Arnold Palmer.

The next match to conclude was a classic which ended in a halve between Americans Steve Stricker and Ben Curtis and Europeans Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey.

It was tight contest throughout with Garcia and Casey one up until the 10th hole when Stricker and Curtis drew level.

It stayed that way until the 18th when Stricker sunk a 15-foot pressure putt for a birdie four only for Casey to follow suit with an eight-footer to tie the score.

Another epic followed with Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell producing a string of clutch putts on the back nine to hold off a fierce challenge from Americans Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk.

The Europeans held on to one shot lead from the 14th and at the last it was Poulter who supplied the final winning touch with a nerve-jangling two and a half foot putt for birdie and a 1 up triumph.

The final tie of the four to finish also reached the par-five 18th with level pegging between home hopes Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan and the Swedish duo of Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson.

Both Karlsson and Mahan had eagle putts but both failed to sink them as they settled for a share of the spoils.

Date created : 2008-09-21