Ryder Cup Sunday: Europeans rally late to take big lead

October 03, 2010 | Drew Forrester

Is it too late for Ben Crenshaw to catch a flight to Wales?

Not only could he deliver a much-needed stirring speech to a desperate U.S. team, but he could probably do a better job than Captain Corey Pavin has done thus far.

Pavin isn’t the reason the U.S. is losing, but some of his work with the pairings and what not has been questioned by many.

First, though, the golf —

The Europeans put together a splendid display of short game and putting in the final hour or so of Sunday’s conclusion to session 3 to take the lead in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.  Europe leads the USA, 9.5-6.5, after nearly squandering most of an earlier commanding advantage, and will need to win 5 points out of the 12 available in Monday’s Singles event to take the Cup from the American squad.  The US side will need 7.5 points on Monday, as a tie at 14-14 will retain the Cup.

Sunday, after a 5-hour rain delay, the Europeans basically held serve on their overnight advantage, with only the arrogant Molinari Brothers failing to win on “The Blue Side”, as Stewart Cink (by far, the best US player so far) and Matt Kuchar scratched out a half-point with a back-nine surge.

Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker joined forces for the first worst performance by an American duo to date, as they were hammered 6&5 in their alternate shot match by Westwood and Donald.  To say Woods and Stricker played poorly would be kind — Woods drove it all over the map and Stricker couldn’t hit an iron straight to save his life.  And Westwood and Donald were both on their game, which makes it tough when you can’t make a par, like Stricker and Woods couldn’t for most of the front nine.

Saturday night, trying to explain his amazingly poor play, Stricker said:  “It was like I’d never hit a golf ball before.”

I’m glad he said that.  I was thinking it.

Woods was “just OK” in the first two sessions.  He didn’t do anything poorly, but he didn’t do anything like a 14-time major champion either.  He didn’t stink it up like Mickelson, though.  The reigning Masters champ looked disinterested thoughout the weekend and continued his poor play since winning at Augusta in April.

As for Pavin, sending Stricker and Woods out for the Saturday afternoon alternate shot event was downright poor judgment.  Woods wasn’t driving the ball well enough to put the heat on that club in the foursomes match and with Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton unable to get anything going, it would have made sense to give Watson (driving it well, not putting good enough) to Woods and Overton (2nd best US player) to Stricker. And many in Wales were wondering why Pavin stuck with Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson through 2 matches on Fri-Sat when it was obvious to anyone watching that Mickelson wasn’t clicking with the long-hitting Johnson.  Rickie Fowler hasn’t been a liability – other than costing the team a half-point with a bad drop on Saturday morning – but his play hasn’t been up to Ryder Cup standards, so Pavin will be questioned for that pick as well.  Add to that the debacle with the rain suits and Pavin’s ho-hum attitude and a lot of people are putting the diminutive former U.S. Open champion in “Hal Sutton territory”.

If Pavin has Crenshaw’s cell number, maybe he should get him on speaker tonight.