Smiting Drives - Fist-pumping heroics put Europe on the verge
04 Oct 2010 - 08:03:17
When play finally got started on Sunday lunchtime the galleries were noticeably thinner than you'd expect. The weary and wet trudged through syrupy sludge to find a vantage point and the cheers were few and far between, writes Will Tidey at Celtic Manor.
Five hours is a long time to wait to watch a few players play a few holes. And 'this had better be worth it' was the general mood of the masses as they began summoning a few warm-up hollers to greet the returning players.
There were clearly some who wrote the day off all together. How were they to know they would miss one of Europe's great afternoons in the history of the Ryder Cup?
Monty's men returned with the same sense of purpose they brought to proceedings on Saturday evening - their captain's rallying call for passion answered with a fist-pumping show of dominance that brought the USA to their knees.
Ross Fisher was simply unplayable, prompting his partner Padraig Harrington to label his performance the best he'd ever seen in the Ryder Cup. Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer were a powerhouse production. Rory and G-Mac rode on a wave of hysteria to victory. Miguel Angel Jimenez and Peter Hanson were a curious blend that somehow worked.
And as for Lee Westwood and Luke Donald - they absolutely battered Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker and were done by the 13th.
By the time Francesco Molinari was sizing up a three-footer at the last to salvage a half, Europe had won five from five and turned a 6-4 deficit into a 9-6 lead.
The 18th green was already in festival mood when Molinari junior staked his reputation on a nerve-jangler that could have left the brothers with two losses from two. Meanwhile, the gathered American team were praying for a moment of respite.
True to form, it wasn't to be. Francesco sank his putt and the galleries erupted in a moment to encapsulate everything we love about the Ryder Cup.
Monty's men need five points from 12 to win the Ryder Cup on Monday. If they do it, his dressing room speech on Saturday will afford Europe's captain the revered status he so desperately craves. And he'll deserve every ounce of it.