U.S. Loses Ground to Europe in Ryder Cup as Tiger Woods Loses Again

Jose Maria Olazabal made the long birdie putt. His partner, Sergio Garcia, walked to the hole and plucked the ball out.

Yep, those guys take that "team" thing pretty seriously. On Saturday at the Ryder Cup, the team game paid off again for the Europeans — and turned Tiger Woods into a picture of frustration.

Garcia and Olazabal — the "Spanish Armada" — easily beat Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco 3 and 2 in better-ball to open the second-day scoring and put on another team golf clinic.

Woods and Jim Furyk suffered their second straight loss, a 3-and-2 defeat at the hands of Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood that was capped when Clarke chipped in from the rough.

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A bit later, the Americans blew a half point when rookie J.J. Henry three-putted the 18th green to finish tied with Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson. That made Europe's lead 7 1/2-3 1/2 with one better-ball match still on the course in a driving Irish rainstorm at The K Club.

"We got a good start, and that was very important," Olazabal said. "We got a stretch of holes where we made a few crucial putts, and that was the key. They didn't. That was the key to the match."

The Americans led the last match on the course, 1 up with two holes to go. Still, the results had to leave U.S. captain Tom Lehman searching for answers. How can he set things right when his three best players can't get a point in the morning?

Well, it was to be more of the same Saturday afternoon, at least in Woods' case. Lehman paired Woods and Furyk against Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley for the afternoon foursomes match. He put Mickelson, who fell to 1-7-1 in his last nine Ryder Cup matches, with David Toms against Garcia and Luke Donald.

And he benched Henry even though the rookie came through big before his hiccup on 18. He made eagle and birdie on 16 and 17 to turn a 1-down deficit to a 1-up lead. He stuck his second shot on the par-5 18th safely on the green but couldn't convert. When his birdie putt missed, Lehman fell to his knees on the sideline.

The other American bright spot came courtesy of rookie Zach Johnson, who made six birdies over the first 15 holes to maintain a 1-up lead over Harrington and Henrik Stenson.

Europe has won two straight Ryder Cups, four of the last five and seven of the last 10. Watching Olazabal and Garcia — and Westwood and Clarke — smiling, laughing, working together and, most of all, hitting great shots and sinking big putts all week, it has been easy to see why.

Clarke, coming off an emotional win in Friday's better-ball matches, was even better Saturday. He dropped approach shots to within five feet on 4, 5 and 11 to lead the runaway from Woods and Furyk. Then came the capper on 16, the chip-in to secure the win.

Captain Ian Woosnam's two wildcard choices improved to 2-0 as a team.

"People said it was a gamble," Clarke said. "The only people who thought it was not a gamble were the two of us. I enjoy playing with Lee because he's good company, and we enjoy playing with each other."

Though Woods and Furyk combined for the United States' only win on opening day, Woods has struggled all week and nothing changed Saturday.

He couldn't hit the ball straight on the front nine.

Then, he started missing putts by millimeters on the back and his frustration grew — he put his hand on his head and stared at the hole after one brutally close miss, nearly collapsed to his knees after another and stuck his tongue out on another.

All the golf world keeps track of Woods' pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships, but the latest loss put Tiger alone in second place on another list: His 13 Ryder Cup losses are only three fewer than the American record holder, Raymond Floyd.

The opposite of Woods, at least in Ryder Cups, would be Garcia, who improved to 3-0 this year and 13-3-2 over his career.

His match against Mickelson and DiMarco was never in doubt. It was a display of wonderful team golf.

On the par-3 eighth, Garcia hit his tee shot dangerously close to the water, but it stayed up, and he chipped to within tap-in range to guarantee his par. That gave Olazabal the freedom to be aggressive on his 15-foot birdie putt, and he made it to go 2 up on Mickelson and DiMarco. On the next hole, Garcia made a 10 footer to expand the lead to 3 up.

Then came the signature moment, on No. 10, when Olazabal dropped his putt and Garcia saved him the walk to the hole, grabbing it out to celebrate the 4-up lead.