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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 September 2006, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Johnson fires US to vital victory
Stenson/Harrington v Verplank/Johnson (USA won 2&1)

Scott Verplank and Zach Johnson
Verplank and Johnson's win was a rare bright spot for the US
Zach Johnson's seven birdies helped he and team-mate Scott Verplank to a vital point with a 2&1 fourballs win over Padraig Harrington and Henrik Stenson.

The Americans were never behind after the Ryder Cup rookie rolled in his first birdie putt on the opening hole.

Harrington gave the Europeans hope when he chipped in at the 15th, but Johnson responded with a putt to keep the lead.

The Irishman's birdie at the 16th again gave Europe hope but Johnson replied at 17 with another birdie to seal the win.

Johnson and Verplank were only not ahead for two holes of the match after Stenson got a par on the sixth.

And for the Americans lining the fairways, Johnson's performance was a rare bright spot on a gloomy morning at the K Club.

Johnson had four birdies by the turn and the seven he had collected by the time the game was up was more than double the number Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk notched in their defeat.

RYDER CUP BLOG
Our blogger Matt Slater from the course

His fifth secured the cushion of a two-hole lead on the 10th.

And his next, with a putt from 15 feet on the 15th, proved crucial as it quelled European dreams of an unlikely comeback after Harrington had chipped in.

Backed by fervent home crowds despite the incessant rain, the Irishman again gave the hosts hope with a birdie on 16 before Johnson struck yet again on 17.

The 30-year-old chipped in off the fringe after Harrington and Stenson had left their birdie putts agonisingly short.

Verplank, in his first appearance of the weekend, gave little to a win which was crucial to the Americans.

It drew them to within three points of Europe, when a halved match would have left Tom Lehmann's team four adrift of their hosts.

EUROPEAN RYDER CUP TEAM

 

US RYDER CUP TEAM

 

SEE ALSO
Ryder Cup: Saturday photos
23 Sep 06 |  Golf


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