Restored passion helps European charge
NEWPORT, Wales – Passion! European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie finally is getting it from his European team.
That intangible just might help him regain the Ryder Cup.
Passion was the message Montgomerie hammered into his team after losing both opening sessions to trail 6-4 heading into the third leg of the 38th Ryder Cup.
“We didn’t have the passion,” Montgomerie said. “I felt that with the team, I felt that with the spectators.”
The Scotsman couldn’t have asked for a better response from his side. There seemed to be only one team on the golf course as darkness descended on Celtic Manor. Europe.
The leaderboard was a sea of blue when play was suspended at 6:45 p.m. Europe held the lead in every four-ball match and both foursomes contests.
Ryder Cup: Europe rallies back
Team Europe made a charge before Ryder Cup play was suspended on Saturday.
“Momentum is key in these matches, and we haven’t had any yet,” Montgomerie said. “We lost the first two series. This is the third and last series before the singles. It’s been a superb session from the moment that we set off.”
That’s an understatement.
The home team has dominated the 39 holes played in the penultimate session. Europe has won 18 holes and the U.S. just four; Europe has 15 birdies and the U.S. eight; Europe has not made a bogey while the U.S. has made seven; finally, Europe won the opening hole in four of the six matches.
Lee Westwood and Luke Donald signified Europe’s dominance by charging to a 5-up lead over the top U.S. pairing of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker after seven holes in foursomes. Stricker holed a birdie putt on the ninth hole to get back to 4 down with nine to play.
In the other foursomes match, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy hold a three-hole lead over Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan on the eighth green.
Things are going just as well for Europe in the quartet of four-ball matches. Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher are 1 up on Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson after eight holes. Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez lead Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton by two holes through six and the Molinari brothers bounced back from losing their foursomes match to lead Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar by one hole after five. Meanwhile, Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer are 2 up on Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler on the fifth hole.
“It was a very important two hours of play, and we came through it with flying colors. So the job is half done. We have to keep going, and maintain this momentum tomorrow morning.”
If Europe can hold on to the lead, then history is on its side. Only four times out of the last 37 matches has the team trailing going into the singles won the cup.
Monty fired up his team by unconventional methods. He abandoned the old-fashioned pep talk. Instead, he gave them what the British would call “a bloody good roasting.”
“The Americans were silencing the crowd through their good play. That’s what was happening today in the first couple of sessions,” he said. “We had to try and get that crowd as our 13th man back on our side by good play. And I was just trying to inform them of that state; get up early, and that’s what we did. But I can’t repeat what I said.”
No one was happier than Pavin that the 38th Ryder Cup ran out of daylight. “I’d say it wasn’t a bad thing that it got dark.”
Monty might have agreed to play on into the night with spotlights and pith helmets, his team was performing so well. He’ll be hoping the suspension of play doesn’t dampen his team’s passion. He needs his 12 players to maintain it if Europe is to win this Ryder Cup.