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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 September, 2004, 23:06 GMT 00:06 UK
Ryder rookies do Langer proud
By John Mathews
BBC Sport at Oakland Hills

David Howell and Paul Casey

If the players are to be believed, there is no greater test of character in sport than your very first Ryder Cup match.

Facing unique, previously-unknown pressures, it is not uncommon for a rookie to be physically sick before going onto the first tee.

Small wonder then that skippers lean so heavily on the more senior members of the team to carry the burden, but Europe's newcomers have certainly done their bit for the cause this time.

None more so than the all-English pairing of Paul Casey and David Howell who can boast a 100% Ryder Cup points record going into the singles.

OK, so they may have only played one match, but what a performance they gave.

Paired together in a decision that surprised even themelves, they trailed Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell by one with two to play on Saturday.

Paul Casey:
Won 1, Lost 0, Halved 0
Luke Donald: W2; L0; H1
David Howell: W1, L0, H0
Thomas Levet: W0, L1, H0
Ian Poulter: W0, L1, H0

They won both of the closing holes to perform a stunning turn-around and captain Bernhard Langer was moved to call it "some of the best golf you will ever see" from Ryder Cup first-timers.

Colin Montgomerie hailed their victory as symbolically more significant than the entire first day.

Theirs was the first full point ever secured by an all-rookie combination for Europe.

Casey and Howell must be feeling pretty pleased with themselves after all that.

Elsewhere among those making debuts, Luke Donald emerged unbeaten from three matches, claiming two victories in partnership with Sergio Garcia and a half after teaming up with Paul McGinley.

Luke Donald with Sergio Garcia

If Donald was keen to justify his selection as one of Langer's wild card choices, he could scarcely have done anything more.

Only Ian Poulter and Thomas Levet are yet to contribute to Europe's points tally, the Frenchman struggling somewhat with his putter.

But they will get their chance again in the singles.

Come the final reckoning, with Europe so far ahead, it may be the case that their contribution will not be required, but try telling them that.

If there is one personal ambition on their minds right now, it will be a Ryder Cup victory all of their own.

What an experience that would be.

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