Europe mount stirring charge after trailing 6-4

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

NEWPORT, Wales (Reuters) - Lee Westwood and Luke Donald turned the tide blue as Europe made a storming fightback in the unfinished third session of the weather-hit Ryder Cup to lead in all six matches on Saturday.

Trailing holders the United States 6-4 after the rain-delayed foursomes were completed earlier, Europe rallied superbly in the two foursomes and four fourballs with all the momentum on their side when play was halted in fading light.

Britons Westwood and Donald, in the top foursomes encounter, were four up on American heavyweights Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker after nine holes on Celtic Manor's Twenty Ten course.

Woods and Stricker had won their first two matches of the week but, with the world number one struggling for form on Saturday afternoon, the Americans were four over par with their own ball.

"It's a shame it got dark," world number eight Donald told reporters after he and Westwood had birdied the first two holes before going five up on the Americans after seven.

"It was great to see so much blue (for Europe) on the board. I think it motivated all of us."

European captain Colin Montgomerie gave his team a fiery briefing before they set off for the third session with a specific goal in mind.

"There wasn't enough passion on the golf course," the 47-year-old Scot said. "When the (afternoon) foursomes finished it was a bit stale. My objective at the start of the session, 6-4 down, was to get into the singles at 8-8.

"Although none of these games is finished this afternoon we are in a very strong position. It was a very important two hours of play and we came through it with flying colors.

"The job is half done and we have to keep going and maintain this momentum tomorrow morning," Montgomerie added. "Then we'll see how we're lying going into the singles."


Inspired by Westwood and Donald in the first match, the rest of the Europeans responded and rousing cheers steadily rang out across the course as putts dropped and blue numbers dominated the board.

Northern Irishmen Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, who birdied the par-three seventh after McDowell struck his tee shot to four feet, were three up on Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan after seven holes of their foursomes.

"We have been on the wrong side of it this week but hopefully we'll be on the right side of it tomorrow," said McIlroy, who had earlier lost a tight foursomes match with McDowell against Americans Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar.

The Europeans, cheered on by jubilant fans in the late afternoon, were also in control of the four fourball encounters that were included by organizers in a revamped format for the third session to try to make up for lost time.

Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher were one up on Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson after eight holes while Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez were two up on Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton after six.

Italians Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, the first brothers to be paired together at the Ryder Cup since Charles and Ernest Whitcombe in 1935, were one up on Cink and Kuchar after five holes.

In the bottom fourball match, Britain's Ian Poulter and German Martin Kaymer were two up on Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler after four holes.

Corey Pavin's U.S. team, with Stricker and Cink putting superbly to lead the way, had clinched the afternoon foursomes by 3-1/2 points to 2-1/2 before the late European rally left the 2010 Ryder Cup delicately poised.

"It's very close," said Pavin. "We had a good finish to the first session. The second session went nicely for us and the third session is going pretty nicely for Europe.

"We are just going to have to go back tonight, rest up, come out and fire at them tomorrow. We are down in all six matches ... and we have to try to turn those around, try to turn the momentum back in our favor."

The six unfinished matches will resume at 0745 local time (0645 GMT) Sunday before the 38th Ryder Cup concludes with the 12 singles.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)