Americans Fight Back Still Trail

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04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- The Americans finally showed up at the Ryder Cup.
 
Playing with passion and pride that was missing the first day, the United States sent Oakland Hills into a 'USA! USA!' frenzy by rallying against the Europeans on Saturday.
 
Europe collected 6 1/2 points from eight matches Friday, the most overwhelming margin by either team after the opening day since the current format was put in place a quarter-century ago.
 
It was a different story on Day 2.
 
The Americans won a couple of better-ball matches and halved another before losing to the most unheralded European team in the final match of the morning. Paul Casey sank a 3-footer for par at the 18th, giving him and David Howell a 1-up victory over Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell.
 
Europe still held an 8-4 lead heading to alternate-shot matches in the afternoon.
 
'I feel great,' U.S. captain Hal Sutton said. 'We let it slip away a little bit at the end, but we played great and I'm proud of them.'
 
At least the U.S. team stemmed the tide of what appeared to be a European rout.
 
'It was either put up or shut up today,' American Chris DiMarco said.
 
Tiger Woods, smiling more in the first couple of holes than he did all day on Friday, was clearly more comfortable with Chris Riley as a partner than Phil Mickelson. The Woods-Riley pairing cruised to a 4-and-3 win over Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter.
 
The Americans salvaged another half-point when DiMarco and 50-year-old Jay Haas halved their match with Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood. The Europeans had two chances to win, but Garcia missed an 8-footer for birdie at the 17th and Westwood watched a 12-footer slide by at the final hole.
 
'To get a half-point is great,' DiMarco said. 'That's their two powerhouses. I think they were figuring they had that one.'
 
Speaking of powerhouses, Europe's Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington were dealt their first defeat of this Ryder Cup after winning two matches on Friday -- including a tone-setting victory over Woods and Mickelson.
 
Davis Love III and Stewart Cink knocked off the European juggernaut, 3 and 2. Cink clinched it by sinking a 25-foot birdie from the fringe at No. 16.
 
Montgomerie sat out the afternoon, ending his record streak of 30 straight Ryder Cup matches that began in 1991.
 
Everything was different at Oakland Hills.
 
It was warm and sunny, the sky a brilliant blue -- a striking contrast to the chill, wind and clouds of the first day. The crowd of 38,000 was much more boisterous than it was on Friday, spurring on the American team.
 
'Sergio had to step away three or four times,' DiMarco said, urging the crowd to 'keep it up' in the afternoon.
 
Sutton chastised his team Friday night, taking blame for the pairings -- 'there was no karma' -- but telling his players that they had to take responsibility for their timid play.
 
As if to drive his point home, Sutton benched Mickelson for the morning matches, choosing to rely instead on Ryder Cup rookies DiMarco, Riley and Campbell.
 
Mickelson was already a target for changing equipment last week and then not playing the course the final two days of practice. He sure didn't help himself by hitting one tee shot that nearly struck his wife, then blowing any chance of gaining a crucial point with his final drive that struck an out-of-bounds fence, forcing Woods to take a one-stroke penalty.
 
Mickelson was reduced to the role of spectator in the morning, cheering on his teammates as they chopped into the European lead. Lefty came over to hug the Haas after the 50-year-old sank a birdie putt at No. 5.
 
'This is sure making me feel good,' Mickelson said.
 
He wasn't feeling so good after Friday's debacle.
 
'I didn't sleep. It was brutal,' Mickelson said. 'I looked at some of the pictures and I was so tight.'
 
Mickelson was back on the course in the afternoon, teaming with David Toms for a match against Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Levet. The rest of the lineup: Clarke and Westwood vs. Haas and DiMarco; Garcia and Luke Donald vs. Furyk and Fred Funk; and Harrington and Paul McGinley vs. Love and Woods.
 
European captain Bernhard Langer decided to rest the 41-year-old Montgomerie, whose career record dropped to 18-8-5 -- still the best winning percentage of any European.
 
'It doesn't matter who gets the points as long as we get them,' Monty said. 'Individual Ryder Cup records mean nothing to me at all. It's a team event.'
 
Montgomerie had warned that his team couldn't rest easy. He brought up 1999, when the Europeans led 6-2 after the first day and 10-6 after the second, only to fall victim to the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history.
 
'We got off to a good start,' Montgomerie cautioned. 'That's all it is.'
 
The Americans were making that point on Day 2.
 
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