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Page last updated at 23:18 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 00:18 UK

US lead Europe after dramatic day

37th Ryder Cup - USA v Europe
Venue: Valhalla, Kentucky Date: 19-21 September Coverage: Daily highlights on BBC TV and BBC Sport website, Live on BBC Radio 5 Live and Sky Sports and updates/commentary on Red Button and BBC Sport website

By Mark Orlovac

Boo Weekley and JB Holmes celebrate their win over Lee Westwood and Soren Hansen

Report: Ryder Cup finely poised after day two

The United States will take a 9-7 lead into the Ryder Cup singles after a thrilling second day at Valhalla.

Holders Europe were 5½-2½ down going into Saturday's foursomes but hit back to reduce the deficit to two points.

Three of the four fourball matches went to the 18th as both sides battled to claim two points each.

Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell claimed a vital win for Europe while Boo Weekley and JB Holmes defeated Lee Westwood and Soren Hansen at the 17th.

The final day is now intriguingly poised with Europe needing seven points from Sunday's singles to claim their fourth straight Ryder Cup triumph while the US need 5½ points for victory.

GOLF BLOG
Rob Hodgetts - BBC Sport

"It was an incredible day," said European skipper Nick Faldo. "It was classic Ryder Cup stuff, the Americans had their day on Friday and we had ours today."

American counterpart Paul Azinger meanwhile was satisfied with the cushion his side takes into the final day, as they chase their first victory since 1999.

"We took some blows today, they played great and we only lost one point," he said. "We're happy about that.

"The golf has been incredible, my stomach is just churning."

Europe's performance will give Faldo plenty of satisfaction especially as he rested Sergio Garcia and Westwood in the morning and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington in the afternoon fourballs.

And he will feel especially vindicated after Poulter, his much-criticised wildcard pick, headed Europe's charge on day two.

After teaming up with Justin Rose to defeat Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell in the foursomes, Poulter then paired up with Northern Ireland's impressive debutant McDowell in the fourballs.

The European duo were never behind against Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk but McDowell had to sink two nervy putts at 15 and 16 to keep them one in front.

RYDER CUP BLOG
BBC Sport's Rob Hodgetts

Poulter then converted a 14-footer for birdie to halve the 17th before knocking in a decisive three-footer to guarantee the half that won the match at the last after Furyk had holed from nine feet to keep the match alive.

"Sinking that putt at the last was a special moment," said Poulter. "What a day - G-Mac played awesome. I was struggling at times, but managed to hang in there and came up with a couple of birdies.

"To play as well as I have played I'm speechless. I am so proud to be here as one of Nick's picks. I felt I had to do something this week."

The United States drew first blood in the afternoon, Boo Weekley and JB Holmes edging Westwood and Dane Hansen 2&1.

The same pairings halved the Friday fourballs with Westwood criticising Weekley for his role in whipping up the crowd, but there was little controversy this time as the American duo seemed to tone down their behaviour.

Victory was sealed when Westwood and Hansen both missed birdie putts at 17, the result ending Westwood's impressive unbeaten run in the competition.

On Friday, Westwood tied Arnold Palmer's record of 12 consecutive Ryder Cup matches without defeat - his last loss coming in 2002.

England's Paul Casey and Spaniard Garcia had a tense battle with 2003 Open winner Ben Curtis and Steve Stricker - with the quartet halving 16 of the 18 holes.

Ian Poulter celebrates holing his vital putt at the last
Poulter has shone so far this week, winning three of his four matches

Unsurprisingly the match went to the last and when Stricker and Curtis, who struggled in their partnership on the opening day, found the rough with their approach Europe were favourites to sneak a point.

But Stricker secured a fine up-and-down with an 18-foot birdie putt and the out-of-sorts Casey held his nerve to sink a 10 footer which gave Europe a half in a match in which they never led.

"One of those putts had to go in, I felt I was letting down my partner," said Casey. "Sergio and I made a great team, he played stellar golf and the least I could do was roll that putt in there.

"They played really well and never gave us anything. We would have wanted a full point but we did well to get a half from a fantastic match."

Sweden's Robert Karlsson hit four birdies in the closing seven holes to secure a half with compatriot Henrik Stenson in their match with Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan.

Mickelson, who with Anthony Kim had let slip a four hole lead to lose to Stenson and debutant Oliver Wilson in the morning foursomes, carded three birdies and an eagle to put the American duo 2 up.

But Karlsson led the fightback and with the light fading, he equalled Mahan's birdie to make the score 9-7.

"There was so much going on, you want to make it so bad, you don't want to force it," said Mahan. "I don't think I hit it quite firm enough but it got a four and made them at least get a four."


Saturday's fourballs results:

Weekley/Holmes beat Westwood/Hansen2&1
Curtis/Stricker halved Garcia/Casey
Perry/Furyk lose to Poulter/McDowell 1 up
Mickelson/Mahan halved Stenson/Karlsson

Saturday's foursomes results:

Cink/Campbell lost to Poulter/Rose 4&3
Leonard/Mahan halved Jimenez/McDowell
Mickelson/Kim lost to Stenson/Wilson 2&1
Furyk/Perry beat Harrington/Karlsson 3&1



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see also
Faldo names bold singles line-up
21 Sep 08 |  Golf
Europe launch Ryder Cup fightback
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Off-form Harrington 'needed' rest
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup day two as it happened
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup day two photos
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Louisville Lip
17 Sep 08 |  Golf
Faldo omits Garcia and Westwood
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Westwood upset at Weekley antics
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
US surge clear as Europe struggle
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
US hit back to snatch Ryder lead
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
What makes a good Cup pairing?
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
Valhalla in good voice
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup explained
16 Sep 08 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf


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