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Sunday, September 26, 1999 Published at 01:08 GMT 02:08 UK

Europe in sight of Ryder glory

Sergio Garcia is the toast of his Europe teammates

Overall position: USA 6-10 Europe

Europe took a huge step closer to retaining the Ryder Cup after they clung on to their four-shot lead over the USA at the end of a gripping second day in Boston.

The BBC's Russell Fuller: "Europe took everything the United States threw at them"
Mark James' team now need to win just four of the 12 singles matches on Sunday to triumph in the transatlantic competition for the third time in a row.

And the draw for the final day threw up an intriguing contest between Tiger Woods and Scot Andrew Coltart, who has yet to play in the competition.

Colin Montgomerie plays US Open champion Payne Stewart, while Lee Westwood opens against Tom Lehman and Sergio Garcia plays the penultimate game against Jim Furyk.

A thrilling rearguard action late on Saturday ensured that the lead Europe had carved out on day one was kept intact.

Inspirational individual performances from Colin Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez gave Europe two points from the afternoon fourballs - which had looked like slipping away from them after a determined American fightback.

Earlier the foursomes had also been shared two points apiece, as both teams slugged it out on a day of archetypal Ryder Cup drama.

Tension in Boston

At one stage in the fourballs the Americans were up in all four matches on the course - and threatened to claim a whitewash that would have wiped out the European advantage altogether.

And with the home side specialising in singles play, it looked as if James' men were unlikely to earn the cushion they needed going into the third day.

[ image: Woods has yet to find his World No.1 form]
Woods has yet to find his World No.1 form
The American fightback was led by Phil Mickelson and Tom Lehman, who defeated Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke in the first match - which seemed like setting the mood for the rest of the day.

But in the other three matches Europe were not to be denied - even though many of their players were showing signs of tiring after being played virtually unchanged through the first two days.

James chose exactly the same foursomes and fourball pairings for Saturday as he had for Friday - which meant no place for rookies Jean Van de Velde, Andrew Coltart and Jarmo Sandelin, who will all be given their introduction to the competition in the singles.

The captain's selection policy looked like backfiring as players like Westwood, Clarke, Paul Lawrie and Jose Maria Olazabal all struggled with their games in the afternoon.

But the Ryder Cup is about more than just textbook golf - it is about the team ethic at its most intense.

[ image: European captain Mark James plans his strategy in the rain]
European captain Mark James plans his strategy in the rain
And inspired by a brilliant performance from Montgomerie, clearly relishing the chance to bloody the nose of world number one Tiger Woods, Europe hit back.

Montgomerie and a flagging Lawrie beat Woods and Steve Pate in a see-saw final match.

And there were half points for Europe's new "dream team" of Garcia and Jesper Parnevik and the all-Spanish pairing of Jimenez and Olazabal.

Nineteen-year-old Garcia showed he is unfazed by the big occasion when he sank a 10ft putt at the 18th to level his match with Davis Love and David Duval.

Jimenez was equally deadly on the greens and his efforts earned another crucial half against Justin Leonard and Hal Sutton.

Foursomes shared

In an equally close-fought morning session, the foursomes spoils were shared in stormy New England conditions.

Westwood and Clarke beat Mark O'Meara and Jim Furyk 3&2, while Parnevik and Garcia saw off the challenge of Payne Stewart and Leonard by the same score.

But the Americans hit back with two narrow victories to keep alive their own chances of a final day comeback.

[ image: Spectators shelter from the rain before severe storms held up morning play]
Spectators shelter from the rain before severe storms held up morning play
First Jeff Maggert and Sutton put paid to Montgomerie and Lawrie on the final hole.

And then Woods and Pate finally beat Jimenez and Padraig Harrington one-up to take some gloss off the European morning.

Team spirit remains Europe's best hope of success and an emotional Montgomerie, who was subjected to more barracking from the crowds, said: "I've never been part of a team like this before.

"We all want to play, we all want to be there, we all want to win so, so badly for our tour.

"This is fantastic and I really do want to win this thing, I really do."

Saturday's foursomes results:USA first
H Sutton and J Maggert bt C Montgomerie and P Lawrie 1 hole
J Furyk and M O'Meara lost to D Clarke and L Westwood 3&2
P Stewart and J Leonard lost to J Parnevik and S Garcia 3&2
T Woods and S Pate bt MA Jimenez and P Harrington 1 hole

Saturday's fourball results:USA first
P Mickelson and T Lehman bt D Clarke and L Westwood 2&1
D Love and D Duval v J Parnevik and S Garcia - match halved
J Leonard and Hal Sutton v MA Jimenez and JM Olazabal - match halved
S Pate and T Woods lost to C Montgomerie and P Lawrie 2&1

Draw for the concluding singles on Sunday (US first, all times BST)

1538 Tom Lehman v Lee Westwood
1550 Hal Sutton v Darren Clarke
1602 Phil Mickelson v Jarmo Sandelin
1614 Davis Love v Jean Van de Velde
1626 Tiger Woods v Andrew Coltart
1638 David Duval v Jesper Parnevik
1650 Mark O'Meara v Padraig Harrington
1702 Steve Pate v Miguel Angel Jimenez
1714 Justin Leonard v Jose Maria Olazabal
1726 Payne Stewart v Colin Montgomerie
1738 Jim Furyk v Sergio Garcia
1750 Jeff Maggert v Paul Lawrie

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