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Day Two Features
Sergio out jumps the Americans
Monty answers the hecklers in the best way
Europeans on top, 4 points clear into last day
Saturday Fourballs matches shared, Europe 8-4

Europeans on top, 4 points clear into last day

These underdogs from Europe sure have some bite. Under the suffocating pressure of the Ryder Cup, with wild and swift momentum changes at every turn, Europe ignored the jeers and turned back an American threat Saturday to take a 10-6 lead into the final day at The Country Club.

Led by the magic of Jesper Parnevik, more clutch putting from Colin Montgomerie and dramatic shots by Sergio Garcia and Paul Lawrie _ two of its seven rookies _ Europe may shed that underdog label for good.

Only five teams have trailed going into the final day of singles matches and won the Ryder Cup, but all faced only a two-point deficit. The Americans have double that margin to deal with on Sunday, and no guarantee that Europe is about to quit.

"The Americans are playing great," Parnevik said."It's just that we have done some special things."

In the last Ryder Cup at Valderrama two years ago, Europe led 10{-5{ after the first two days. The Americans rallied hard, winning eight of 12 points, but wound up a loser once again.

Even on home soil, this has a familiar ring.

No matter how hard the Americans tried, how much emotion they showed or how many putts they made, it still wasn't enough.

Parnevik holed another chip from out of the rough and over a mound, and Garcia salvaged an unlikely halve against Davis Love III and David Duval by making a 7-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. To take a one-hole lead on the 15th.

Lawrie, the British Open champion who never got his due, polished off Tiger Woods and Steve Pate by hitting his tee shot on the par-3 16th to within 2 feet.

"No matter what we do, they do us one better, it seems," Love said.

But the Americans' strength has always been in singles. They have lost them only five times in the history of the Ryder Cup, just twice since 1957, and their most dominant showing was 8{-3{ in 1979.

That's about what it's going to take.

"It's not too big of a hole," said Hal Sutton, who nearly made an ace on No. 16 to help salvage a split."We've got 12 great players on this team. We've shown a lot of fight this week, and we've got a lot of fight left in us."

Europe always seems to have a little more.

The only other chance is that captain Mark James' decision to stick with the hot hand leads to fatigue among the seven players who have gone all four matches, and rust among the three players who have yet to strike a ball in Ryder Cup competition.

"I'm just hoping we've worn those guys out," Love said."Hopefully, some guys got rusty and some got tired. That's our only hope."

The partisan gallery did its part. Cheers of"U-S-A! U-S-A!" echoed throughout The Country Club. At times it got a little nasty, especially when Montgomerie was involved. Three times he backed off putts because of the noise, and he accused Sutton and Jeff Maggert of stirring them up.

"They need pumping up because they're losing, and they're losing heavily," Montgomerie snapped after his alternate-shot loss Saturday morning.

Parnevik and Garcia are now 3-0-1 after two days, the best record by a Ryder Cup tandem since Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros were 3-0-1 in 1991.

The same can't be said for America's best, the team with no player ranked lower than 28th in the world ranking, the team that once again was heavily favored _ on paper.

Throughout the closing holes, Europe shredded that up.

Woods, who won his first match in the morning with Pate, missed an 8-foot eagle putt on the 14th that could have given the United States control. Moments later, Love missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th that would have scratched out a victory.

Just like that, Europe had the advantage once again.

The Americans had to scramble to salvage a split in the morning alternate-shot matches, thanks to an eagle putt by Woods in one match and two crucial putts and a 7-iron from Maggert in another that kept them within four points at 8-4.

But the only victory they managed in the afternoon came from Phil Mickelson. A day after he missed crucial putts in both his matches, Mickelson showed up with a new putter and got a putting tip from Ben Crenshaw.

It worked. He knocked in a 20-footer for birdie on No. 3, and they never were challenged in a 2 and 1 victory.

"I told Phil to trust his putting stroke," Crenshaw said."All he needs to do is for one or two to go down and he's off."

Desperate to catch up, the Americans were lucky to have some hope left after morning alternate-shot matches that were interrupted for 22 minutes by rain.

Garcia and Parnevik continued to roll. No, they didn't make eagles from the fairway, but they didn't have to against an American team of Justin Leonard and Payne Stewart that chopped it around The Country Club, managing only one birdie in a 3 and 2 loss.

Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, coming off their conquest of Woods and Duval, kept on sailing. They blistered Jim Furyk and Mark O'Meara, who was playing his first match of the Ryder Cup.

"Beating No. 1 and No. 2 in the world certainly let us think we can play with anybody," Westwood said.

Woods finally won his first match. He and Pate never trailed, but the match was tied early on the back nine until Pate hit his second shot in the par-5 14th to 20 feet, and Woods made the eagle putt for a 1-up advantage that they maintained the rest of the match.

"I've been playing well this entire week," Woods said."Eventually, things will start going your way."

The United States can only hope it heads that way pretty quick.


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