NEWPORT, Wales – The United States has the lead, but Europe has the momentum after a day like no other at the Ryder Cup.
When play was called because of darkness, the United States had a 6-4 lead. However, Europe was ahead in all six matches that got started late in the afternoon, marked by blue on the scoreboard and giving the home team an undeniable surge of confidence going into another marathon Sunday.
“Momentum is the key in these matches,” captain Colin Montgomerie said.
Lee Westwood and Luke Donald were an astonishing 4 up through nine holes on Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker – that after the Americans won their first two matches to remain unbeaten as partners in team events. Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy were 3 up through seven holes on Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan, and had marked a short putt that gave the Europeans a chance to extend their advantage when play resumed.
The margins were smaller in the other four matches, but Europe was ahead in all of them in an odd third session that included two fourballs and four alternate-shot matches.
“That was a very important two hours of play, and we came through it with flying colors,” Montgomerie said. “We want to have six blue numbers shining on the board tomorrow morning, and we want them to stay there.”
But, as the Americans were quick to point out, they are actually the guys with the most points. No one in the third session had played more than nine holes, and the margin in all the fourball matches was either one or two holes.
“It’s very close,” U.S. captain Corey Pavin said. “The third session is going pretty nicely for Europe. We’ve just got to go back, rest up tonight and fire at ‘em tomorrow.”
There’s still plenty of golf to be played and that doesn’t even include the 12 singles matches that officials also hope to get in Sunday after rigging the rain-plagued schedule in hopes of avoiding the first Monday finish in Ryder Cup history.
“I’ve never seen points given for matches where you’ve played four, five, six, seven holes,” Pavin said. “We’re going to try to come back and turn the momentum back in our favor.”