Woods, Stricker rally back after rain delay
NEWPORT, Wales – There was just one thing Ian Poulter wanted to know when he and Tiger Woods arrived at Celtic Manor’s fourth hole to resume their four-ball match: what was the deal with the United States’ rain gear.
Almost immediately, Poulter asked Woods about the team’s failed waterproofs.
Ryder Cup: Friday four-ball matches
Rain soaked the first round of the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Woods laughed and described the situation as “unbelievable.”
Good thing for captain Corey Pavin, Woods and partner Steve Stricker rallied after returning to the Twenty Ten Course after a delay of more than seven hours.
Woods and Stricker, arguably the United States’ strongest pairing, were all square through 10 holes with Englishmen Poulter and Ross Fisher when play was halted Friday evening. Woods and Stricker, 4-0 at last year’s Presidents Cup, were 1 down through three holes when the rain delay began.
They weren’t the only ones. When rain stopped play at 9:47 a.m. Friday, the U.S. led just one match. It trailed in the other three. The United States was leading in two matches and tied in another when play was halted for darkness.
“Obviously pleased with the way the U.S. team came back and performed this afternoon,” Pavin said. “I was very proud of the guys.”
He should be. Pavin’s error in apparel easily could have distracted his team, and cause it to lose confidence in him. Instead, the team rallied.
If the United States can lead after this opening session, it will soften Water(proofs)gate’s impact on Pavin’s legacy as Ryder Cup captain.
If these results hold when the opening four-ball session ends Saturday morning, it will be a huge confidence boost for the U.S., and not just because they’re leading on foreign soil.
They’ll be leading despite a combined half-point from Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and two points earned by the underdog pairings of Matt Kuchar-Stewart Cink and Bubba Watson-Jeff Overton.
Poulter dealt the day’s last blow, though. He clenched his fist and raised it in the air after making a 20-foot birdie putt in near-darkness. Stricker barely missed a similar length putt that would’ve halved the hole. It was the last stroke of the day for that four-ball match.
Stricker’s near-miss was one of several over the seven holes played after the delay. He missed birdie putts of 20, 20 and 8 feet on Nos. 5-7. But he made a 30-foot birdie putt on the next hole to square the match. Woods followed with a conceded birdie for victory on the par-5 ninth that gave the U.S. a 1-up lead.
The day’s play ended with Poulter’s birdie putt, but the United States can go to sleep happy with what it accomplished Friday afternoon.