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Last Updated: Friday, 17 September, 2004, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
Great start for Europe
Score after Friday's matches: USA 1-6 Europe

Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie on good form at the Ryder Cup
Colin Montgomerie starred as Europe secured a 6-1 Ryder Cup lead over the USA with their best first-day display.

Montgomerie won twice with the equally solid Padraig Harrington, outshining Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as they beat them in the fourballs.

The much-heralded Americans then lost a see-saw battle with Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, who each took two points on a fabulous Friday for the holders.

Sergio Garcia also shone, as did Luke Donald on his Ryder Cup debut.

Chris DiMarco and Jay Haas claimed the USA's only full point, winning the first match of the afternoon foursomes.

But that was one of very few bright spots for the hosts - their only point in the foursomes in fact - and they now have it all to do.

By contrast, the visitors could not have made a better start to their defence of the Ryder Cup.

I'm so proud of the boys - they played awesome
Bernhard Langer

Indeed, Bernhard Langer's men fell just one putt short of their first-ever clean sweep in an opening session.

Never allowing their hosts in front in any of the matches, Europe won the morning 3-.

Clarke, playing with cigar-chomping chum Miguel Angel Jimenez, crushed Davis Love and Chad Campbell, while the dynamic duo of Garcia and Lee Westwood secured an equally convincing point over David Toms and Jim Furyk.

The only saving grace for the USA was a half salvaged by new boy Chris Riley, who holed from seven feet after fellow rookie Donald had missed from 20 in the final pairing of the morning.

But once again, the star in so many ways was Montgomerie.

Rising to the occasion brilliantly, the Scot combined with Padraig Harrington to claim the two biggest American scalps, Woods and Mickelson, in Friday's eagerly-anticipated first match.

"It was almost worth two points and very important psychologically," Montgomerie proclaimed of his morning success.

Revelling in his partnership with the Irishman, Montgomerie then earned another point for the holders with a comfortable foursomes win over Davis Love and Fred Funk.

Struggle for Americans

That was his 29th straight Ryder Cup match - a new record - and he has now lost only two of his last 18 games in the event.

"We've had a great day, Europe have had a great day," he concluded.

Following Montgomerie and Harrington's example, Garcia and Donald clung on for a crucial 2&1 win in the last match over Kenny Perry and Stewart Cink - the Spaniard has still to lose a Ryder Cup foursomes match.

And though a fired-up DiMarco and Haas held off Jimenez and his afternoon partner Thomas Levet, USA captain Hal Sutton watched Woods and Mickelson ultimately fail to deliver in the foursomes as well.

Three up on Clarke and Westwood after the first four holes, they were pegged back to all-square after 10, and then slipped behind.

The Europeans, brought together for the foursomes by Langer, justified his move with a determined display, refusing to budge on the closing holes, and taking it on the last with a bogey five.

Tigre Woods and Phil Mickelson
I felt like the world wanted to see them together... but we're going to have to move on
Hal Sutton

While all the Americans got to play on the first day, three of the European team - debutants Paul Casey, David Howell and Ian Poulter - have yet to figure.

But it is Sutton who has all the selection problems, most of which must centre around what to do with Woods.

Mickelson was his ninth Ryder Cup partner - but he was no more successful than anyone else in trying to coax the best from the former world number one.

Langer said afterwards he would split them up if the problem was his.

Luckily for the German, and Europe, it is a dilemma purely for the Americans.

The previous worst opening day ever for them was a 6-2 deficit at both Muirfield Village in 1987 and Brookline five years ago.

Sutton will surely remind his stunned side that they did come back to win the 1999 encounter.

But they will have to play much better to do so at Oakland Hills in 2004.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: European captain Bernhard Langer





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