NEWPORT, Wales – The Europeans won 5 1/2 points in the bifurcated third session of the Ryder Cup and took the lead going into Sunday singles.
That’s the headline, but the truth was that the U.S. was schooled by rookies Ross Fisher, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIllroy, Edoardo Molinari and Francesco Molinari – not to mention an old man, Miguel Angel Jimenez, and a guy who hadn’t played competitive golf for over a month, Lee Westwood.
In turn, four of the top five players in the World Rankings – Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk – lost their matches for a U.S. team that entered the third session with a two-point lead and left three points down. The Europeans need only five wins from the 12 singles matches to be played Monday to capture the Ryder Cup.
At the end of the third session, Colin Montgomerie said Woods’ 6-and-5 loss was devastating for the U.S. team. Monty may have been right, but the U.S. struggled mightily across the board. In 100 holes played in the session, the Americans only led for five.
The only U.S. team to score any points in the third session was the due of Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar, and they only took a half point. Cink and Kuchar were 1 up entering the final hole, but Francesco Molinari, paired with his brother Edoardo, brought the match back to all square when he rolled in a 3-footer for birdie.
What will Corey Pavin do? Well, Colin Montgomerie is not concerned with his counterpart’s plan. Thinking his team could end the third session at best tied with the Americans at eight points apiece, Montgomerie had a plan of his own in place. With a 9 1/2 to 6 1/2 lead, however, Montgomerie likely will front-load his lineup in an attempt to capture the Ryder Cup early.