Former Jackets tough to beat

Matt Kuchar (left) gets a congratulatory pat on the back from Stewart Cink during Sunday's Ryder Cup play. The former Georgia Tech golfers were unbeaten (1-0-2) as teammates.



NEWPORT, Wales --- Stewart Cink asked to have Matt Kuchar as a partner.

Good thing their captain, Corey Pavin, went along.

The Georgia Tech alums and good friends were the most successful pairing for the Americans during team play, winning one match and halving two others.

Without them, the Americans would be facing an even more daunting deficit than the three-point margin they'll have to overcome in singles today.

Cink's putter has been hot, while Kuchar has steadily improved since a shaky start.

"Certainly, there's been some good play," Kuchar said. "I've been pleased I've kind of gotten better every day. I'm pleased with Stewart and we paired up pretty well together, took two of three points, and I feel like it's been a good performance I put in. I feel like it's been getting stronger."

They won't be able to lean on each other anymore. Cink will go out in the second match, facing Rory McIlroy , while Kuchar was placed in the fifth slot against Ian Poulter .

"We have to continue to do well in the singles," Kuchar said.

KEY POINT: Every point in the Ryder Cup counts the same. Some just matter more than others.

There's no way to know until the singles wrap up today whether finally taking a point off Tiger Woods on Sunday was the game-changing moment for the European side.

But after handing Woods his worst defeat ever at the Ryder Cup -- ending his unbeaten partnership with U.S. teammate Steve Stricker in the bargain -- Englishmen Lee Westwood and Luke Donald put their 6-and-5 victory in the conversation.

Their foursomes (alternate-shot) win was the first result posted Sunday, unleashing a tidal wave of blue that swept over the scoreboard and carried Europe from a 6-4 deficit at the start of the session to a 91 to 61 lead heading into the final day.

"When you're playing Tiger, you just seem to up your game a little bit," said Westwood, who has squared off against Woods seven times in team matches since 1997 and has won six.

"I suppose he's got nothing to win, apart from the point, but he's got a big reputation," Westwood added, "and it seems like you go out with nothing to lose."

SUNDAY TICKETS HONORED: Colin Montgomerie wants all those European fans to take another day off.

The Ryder Cup was supposed to end Sunday, but two long rain delays forced the competition into today for the first time. Fearful of overcrowding, officials decided to only allow those with final-day tickets to return for the deciding matches at water-logged Celtic Manor.

Of course, some of those 40,000 ticket-holders surely had to be at work or had travel plans that couldn't be changed.That is sure to mean smaller crowds cheering on the home team when it needs them most, a prospect that seemed a bit troubling to the European captain.

"Quite a few of them might need a sick note," Montgomerie quipped. "We do hope that as many people as possible with Sunday tickets will turn up."

TEAM PLAY: The depth of the European team is evident: All 12 players helped score at least a half-point in team matches. Westwood (2-0-1) and Martin Kaymer (2-0-1) lead the way, while Poulter, Ross Fisher and Donald have been in on two wins apiece. Woods and Stricker are the only Americans with two wins, and even that mark is tarred by their 6-and-5 blowout loss to Westwood and Donald on Sunday.