Euro Rookies Turn Ryder Cup Tide

By Associated PressSeptember 18, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Paul Casey and David Howell sure didn't look like Ryder Cup rookies on Saturday -- judging by the shots they produced under pressure, and by the crucial point they won.
 
The Englishmen were poised and resilient in their first Ryder Cup appearances, delivering a momentum-saving win over Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell in a pivotal better-ball match.
 
'I think we all owe David Howell and Paul Casey a beer,' teammate Lee Westwood said.
 
Casey and Howell were down a hole with two to play, but Howell birdied No. 17 and Casey made a par-saving putt on 18 to snatch the 1-up win.
 
The victory helped stave off an American comeback bid and fueled a dominating performance by the Europeans in alternate-shot play on Saturday afternoon. Europe took three of the four matches, taking an 11-5 lead heading into Sunday's singles matches.
 
'For Paul and David to come through, that was just huge for us,' teammate Darren Clarke said.
 
They also made captain Bernhard Langer's big gamble look like a no-brainer.
 
'Their win was vital because we all know that momentum swings are common in this game,' Langer said. 'Paul and David just played some of the best golf you will ever see from two partners making their debuts together in the Ryder Cup.'
 
It was the first time that rookies paired for their first matches were victorious since Americans Lee Elder and Andy Bean beat Peter Oosterhuis and Nick Faldo in 1979 at Greenbriar.
 
Down 6 1/2-1 1/2 at the start of the day, the Americans raced out of the gates with strong performances by Jay Haas and Chris DiMarco, and Tiger Woods and Chris Riley.
 
And with Europe's big guns -- Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington -- struggling mightily in a loss to Stewart Cink and Davis Love III, Europe was left to rely on two relatively unknown Brits to stem the tide.
 
Against Langer's wishes, Casey did a bit of scoreboard watching, and could see his team's lead slipping away.
 
'Unfortunately we knew what was going on,' Casey said. 'But we knew if we ground it out, we would have a chance.'
 
The two rookies never lost their cool in the pressure-packed match, even as the American crowd started to roar.
 
'We were the light at the end of the tunnel,' Howell said. 'We were 2-up and then all of a sudden our match turns to 1-down, and you could hear the crowd get more and more into it. And to come back from that ... I think we're both delighted.'
 
Howell and Casey did not participate in Europe's rout of the United States on Friday and got off to a shaky start on their first Ryder Cup hole.
 
Howell missed a 5-foot birdie putt that would have been good for a 1-up lead, but the two rookies held firm, even after losing a two-hole lead shortly after the turn.
 
'David and I were pretty calm,' Casey said. 'And I think the most nervous David was the whole day was the 5-footer on the first. But we are very, very happy to get our first Ryder Cup points.'
 
The win gave Europe an 8-4 lead heading into the alternate-shot matches on Saturday afternoon.
 
'I think it's only justice, really,' Casey said. 'We really played our hearts out and we put up with a lot of noise out there. We hung in there and I think we deserved it.'
 
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