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  Friday, 27 September, 2002, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Americans deny Bjorn and Clarke
Hal Sutton and Scott Verplank
Comeback Kings Sutton and Verplank prove their mettle
Clarke/Bjorn v Sutton/Verplank
(USA won 2&1)

Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn squandered a two-hole lead to lose a valuable point to Americans Scott Verplank and Hal Sutton in the opening foursomes clash at the Ryder Cup.

Having been two down after the 12th, the resurgent American pair battled back in a desperately tight contest to beat their European opponents 2&1.

It was a disappointing conclusion for Clarke and Bjorn, who had started the day with a sensational one-hole win against Tiger Woods and Paul Azinger in the fourballs.

Sutton, along with his wild card partner Verplank, were naturally pleased with the result, especially as so many of their holes were won with par.

"We're happy to get a win," said Sutton, who was America's top scorer at Brookline three years ago.

"With fairways as tight as they are and the rough as heavy as it is, we knew in foursomes that errant tee-shots were going to be bad.

"Fortunately for me and Scott, we had somewhat decent lines when we did go into the rough."

Fresh from their epic victory in the morning, Bjorn and Clarke again led the European charge in the first of the afternoon matches

Thomas Bjorn and Darren Clarke
Bjorn and Clarke stuttered over the back nine
But it was a far from dream start as Bjorn's wayward tee shot contributed to the pair making a bogey to go one down on the opening hole.

The 31-year-old Dane soon made amends with a monster putt two holes later to land the first eagle of the Ryder Cup.

His effort from off the fringe of the green was reckoned to be 60 feet from the cup and a tumultuous cheer rang out as it disappeared into the par-five hole to square things up.

The American pair's disappointment was then compounded when a usually steady Sutton somehow missed a two-foot birdie putt on the fourth, allowing the Europeans to stay level.

The deadlock remained unbroken until the eighth where Clarke rolled in a 15-foot putt after an excellent approach shot by Bjorn and left Sutton ruing another missed birdie opportunity.

Clarke helped extend the dynamic European duo to two up with another fine display of putting on the 10th.

Placed worryingly close to the water on the par-four hole by his team-mate, the Northern Irish player hit the target from 12 feet out on the edge of the green.

But the leaders could not take anything for granted as their American opponents kept up the pressure to take three of the next four holes - their progress only temporarily halted by Bjorn's hole-winning putt on the 14th.

With the door now open, Sutton and Verplank moved ahead on the 16th, despite a valiant 25-feet putting effort from Clarke.

When Bjorn failed to convert a six-foot putt on the long 17th hole for a half, the game was over for Europe.


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USA's Hal Sutton
"We're happy to get a win"
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Europe 15-12 USA

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