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  Friday, 27 September, 2002, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Garcia the sole gambler
Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia in action at The Belfry
Westwood and Garcia dovetailed beautifully on Friday

One of the main talking points in the lead-up to the 34th Ryder Cup was whether anyone would be gutsy enough to attempt to drive the 10th green off the tee.

The likelihood of anyone gambling on the shot, which gives a player the chance of a putt for an eagle, was diminished by European captain Sam Torrance's decision to play from the hole's back tee.

It was judged too risky to attempt to reach the green on the 311-yard hole and on Friday only one player was game enough to take it on.


We've already decided that it's better to have two putts at a birdie than one putt at a par
Curtis Strange
Sergio Garcia, as he had done in practice, took up the challenge in his fourball match with partner Lee Westwood.

The 22-year-old Spaniard came up inches short of landing on the edge of the green, but found the water instead.

He recovered to save his par, and judging by his reaction when his tee shot only just failed to make the green, will continue to gamble off the tee.

Every other player in the morning fourballs and everyone off the tee in the afternoon decided discretion was the better part of valour and opted to lay-up and use a wedge to set up a birdie chance.

The American team have been vocal in their criticism of the move to lengthen the hole with Paul Azinger estimating that only 20% of the players will take on the green over the weekend.

Team captain Curtis Strange has left the decision whether to attack the green in the hands of his players, but hinted that they would be advised to play it safe.

"There will be very, very few shots to the green," he said. "We've already decided that it's better to have two putts at a birdie than one putt at a par."

Even Tiger Woods, for whom 311 yards is well within his reach, opted to play it safe on Friday morning in keeping with his pre-match assertion: "I'll lay up every day," he said.

Ballesteros brilliance

The decision to play it safe may rankle with Severino Ballesteros, the quintessential risk-taker, who pulled off one of the most famous tee shorts at the 10th in 1993.

The Spaniard, who is watching the competition from his home, had seen Nick Faldo lay-up short of the water during their match between Great Britain and Ireland and the rest of Europe in 1978.

Undaunted, he reached for his driver and blasted the ball over the trees and water to finish eight feet from the hole.

For the fans gathered around the green in the hope of seeing anyone take on the hole in the afternoon foursomes it was to be an exercise in futility.

The closest they came to seeing an eagle was Padraig Harrington escorting four ducks off the fairway to allow his partner Paul McGinley to play.

Their best chance of some drama for the gallery may well lie with Garcia in Saturday afternoon's fourballs.

With the luxury of having the shot of partner Lee Westwood to rely on the Spaniard may well try to make his mark on The Belfy's signature hole.

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BBC Five Live
Highlights from Friday's action at The Belfry
Europe's Sergio Garcia
"I perform best under pressure"
News, reports and features on golf's big team event

Europe 15-12 USA

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