NEWPORT, Wales - What a day for Europe! The home team nearly pulled off a clean sweep Sunday, taking a huge step toward reclaiming the Ryder Cup with a performance that wiped out Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and the rest of America's stars.
The Ryder Cup will be finishing on a Monday for the first time, and it has all the makings of a huge European celebration at soggy Celtic Manor.
Captain Colin Montgomerie's squad kept the scoreboard bathed in blue all day. When it was over, Woods had the worst loss of his Cup career, Mickelson was the losingest U.S. player ever and the defending champs faced a daunting 9½-6½ deficit heading into singles play.
The margin is not insurmountable, however.
The Americans are traditionally stronger in singles play, and they overcame a 10-6 deficit on the final day at Brookline in 1999. But that match was at home, with a raucous crowd cheering them on.
The Europeans will be hearing most of the cheers when they tee off in extra time, the match extended to a fourth day by torrential rains at the first Ryder Cup in Wales. Officials changed the schedule and still hoped to finish by Sunday, but another drenching during the night turned the course into a swamp.
The suspended team matches finally began nearly four hours behind schedule, but that did little to stem the European momentum from the previous evening. They were leading in all six matches at nightfall Saturday, and they were leading in all but one by sundown Sunday.
Even the lone American bright spot - a half-point contributed by Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar - felt like a loss. The U.S. duo led 1 up going to the 18th hole, but Francesco Molinari, playing with his brother Edoardo, stuck a wedge shot to 3 feet and rolled in the birdie putt to win the hole and halve the match.
The crowd roared, serenading the Europeans with chants of "Ole! Ole! Ole!" as they headed off to the clubhouse. The Americans staggered to their team room, wondering if they could come up with another Brookline comeback.