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  Saturday, 28 September, 2002, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Game rookies fall short
Pierre Fulke and Phillip Price lost on their Ryder Cup debut
Fulke and Price were paired together for the first time

It should not have been a contest.

Ryder Cup rookies Phillip Price and Pierre Fulke could not have expected a tougher debut.

Few gave them a chance to end the unbeaten run of Phil Mickelson and David Toms when Saturday's foursomes were announced.

After all, Mickelson is the world number two and Toms the 2001 USPGA winner, and they had secured 1 points out of a possible two on the opening day.

Their partnership seemed perfect - the steady Toms offering a perfect foil to the inconsistent brilliance of Mickelson.

Some felt Fulke and Price would be Europe's sacrificial lambs on the second day.

But, if the Swede and the Welshman believed they were in for a hiding, they showed no sign of it on the first tee.

Fulke, with the cheers of a group of fans in Swedish ice hockey shirts ringing in his ears, launched his tee shot down the middle of the fairway to get them off to the perfect start.

Phil Mickelson and David Toms
Mickelson and Toms proved too strong
Price, egged on by one fan who yelled "c'mon Pricey, don't let us down," had an equally assured opening shot.

And yet, without making a mistake, they found themselves behind after a Toms birdie.

The fears of a whitewash briefly resurfaced, but is was the wayward Mickelson who cracked first.

Attempting to match Price's booming 250-yard three wood to set up an eagle chance at the third, the American found the water and Europe were back on terms.

They briefly led after Mickelson again found the water, this time on the sixth, but reached the turn all-square.

A 25-foot birdie on the 10th by Price to give them a one-shot lead was greeted with fist pumps and high fives as the two rookies took control.

Suddenly the Americans were scrambling and, had Fulke's birdie putt not lipped out on the 12th, then the pair who were supposed to be for the slaughter appeared capable of avoiding the dagger that hovered over them.

But it was the Americans who gained strength from their escape.

Price's control deserted him and the failure to find the fairways allowed the Americans to seize the initiative, and a one-shot lead with two pars.

Mickelson then almost put the result beyond doubt after his wood came within 18 inches of the hole, and Price again sliced his shot into the trees on the right.

Europe were chasing the game, but finding the Americans had all the answers.

Even when Mickelson seemed to have no chance of extricating himself from a bunker on the 16th, he produced the kind of shot that separates the good from the great.

When Price attempted the miraculous from the bunker on the 17th he could only find water and, despite their game efforts, the rookies were ultimately found wanting.

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28 Sep 02 | Ryder Cup
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