'Great day' has Europe in control

Lead by U.S. is washed away

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NEWPORT, Wales --- Europe could only dream of a Sunday like this at the Ryder Cup. It gave Tiger Woods his worst beating ever, hit all the right shots to spur on its foot-stomping, flag-waving crowd and kept the Americans from winning a single match.

Europe's Francesco Molinari (right) is congratulated by his brother Edoardo after Francesco's birdie halved their match.  Alastair Grant/Associated Press
Alastair Grant/Associated Press
Europe's Francesco Molinari (right) is congratulated by his brother Edoardo after Francesco's birdie halved their match.

Too bad this one won't end until today.

The Europeans already had reason to be in a festive mood amid the rain and muck of Celtic Manor.

Bolstered by the sight of blue on every leaderboard, they won five matches and halved the last one when Francesco Molinari knocked in a 3-foot birdie putt and celebrated with his brother, Edoardo. That stretched their lead to 91/2-61/2.

Europe needs to win only five of the 12 singles match to reclaim the gold trophy.

"In my time -- 20 years since I've been playing Ryder Cup -- this is one of the greatest days for European golf we've ever had," European captain Colin Montgomerie said. "To run a two-point deficit into a three-point lead was quite amazing. To stop America from winning a match, just fantastic."

Lee Westwood, Europe's leader in the team room and on the golf course, inspired from the start. He teamed with Luke Donald to demoralize Woods and Steve Stricker, who had never lost in six previous matches. Europe was 4-up when the matches resumed, and Westwood promptly knocked in a 30-foot birdie putt to win the hole.

The cheer was heard by every match on the course.

More big putts followed until they had a 6-and-5 victory, the biggest rout of the week.

PGA champion Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter held off a rally to beat Phil Mickelson and 21-year-old Rickie Fowler. Mickelson set an American record with his 17th loss and headed into singles without having contributed a point.

Only once since this format began in 1979 has Europe had the lead going into the final round and failed to win.

That was in 1999 at Brookline, when the Americans, captained by Ben Crenshaw, overcame a 10-6 deficit behind a home crowd that was raucous and unruly.

Montgomerie brought up those ugly memories when he met with his squad Sunday night after the matches.

"All this would be pointless today if this isn't continued tomorrow," Montgomerie said.

Montgomerie is leading off with strength -- Westwood against Stricker, and the top part of his lineup today is loaded with some of his best performers at Celtic Manor, with Rory McIlroy, Poulter and Donald at the top.

Pavin has Woods in the eighth spot against Francesco Molinari, while Mickelson is at No. 10 against Peter Hanson.

Today's matches

The pairings for the 12 singles matches in the final session of the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Resort:

4:05 a.m. -- Steve Stricker, USA, vs. Lee Westwood, Europe.

4:17 a.m. -- Stewart Cink, USA, vs. Rory McIlroy, Europe.

4:29 a.m. -- Jim Furyk, USA, vs. Luke Donald, Europe.

4:41 a.m. -- Dustin Johnson, USA, vs. Martin Kaymer, Europe.

4:53 a.m. -- Matt Kuchar, USA, vs. Ian Poulter, Europe.

5:05 a.m. -- Jeff Overton, USA, vs. Ross Fisher, Europe.

5:17 a.m. -- Bubba Watson, USA, vs. Miguel Angel Jimenez, Europe.

5:29 a.m. -- Tiger Woods, USA, vs. Francesco Molinari, Europe.

5:41 a.m. -- Rickie Fowler, USA, vs. Edoardo Molinari, Europe.

5:53 a.m. -- Phil Mickelson, USA, vs. Peter Hanson, Europe.

6:05 a.m. -- Zach Johnson, USA, vs. Padraig Harrington, Europe.

6:17 a.m. -- Hunter Mahan, USA, vs. Graeme McDowell, Europe.

ON TV

4 --11 a.m. (USA)


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