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RESULTS BOX

USA
13,5

 

EUROPE
14,5


Day 3 and final
Europeans reign in Spain

Rain fell heavily on Europe's parade to victory at Valderrama but in the end it all turned to tears of joy as the United States was left tantalisingly short of what would have been an extraordinary victory. The Americans' cause seemed hopeless when they began the final day's singles at Valderrama - though not to those who had studied the form book. With the exception of 1995 at Oak Hill, when the Europeans came from behind to win 15-13, the United States had generally proved superior in the singles. And, on this latest occasion, when Fred Couples thrashed Ian Woosnam 8 & 7 in the opening singles match, the initiative was monentarily with the Americans, who began the final day (after the conclusion of three postponed foursomes matches) a seemingly hopeless five points adrift (10 1/2 to 5 1/2). Costantino Rocca soon restored Europe's momentum, however, beating Tiger Woods 4 & 2 as, in the second match ahead, Marbella-based Per-Ulrik Johansson was on the way to an equally vital victory against reigning US PGA champion Davis Love III. That left Europe needing just one and a half points more to tie the Cup and thus retain the trophy and another half a point to achieve it in winning style. Throughout much of the rest of the afternoon, the Americans held slight advantages in most of the matches, before Cup rookie Thomas Bjorn, playing in the fourth match, hoisted Denmark's colours to the main mast of Europe's challenge, taking the lead for the first time against 1997 British Open champion Justin Leonard. Up ahead only Jose Maria Olazabal against Lee Janzen and Bernhard Langer against Brad Faxon, were leading for Europe, Mark O'Meara by then having easily accounted for Jesper Parnevik 5 & 4. Bjorn subsequently lost the final hole to halve his match as Phil Mickelson beat Darren Clarke 2 & 1. For a time it seemed as though Olazabal would be the appropriate hero of the first Ryder Cup to be held outside Britain or the United States, and with the first "continental" European captain, Severiano Ballesteros, at the helm. Lee Janzen had other ideas, though, and sank a four-metre birdie putt on the 17th that put him level with Olazabal before going on to win the 18th - but by then, playing behind, Bernhard Langer (the man who missed a final-hole putt at Kiawah Island in 1991 that gave the Americans victory) had parred the 17th for a 2 & 1 win and, most important, the key 14th point that assured Europe at least of drawing the Cup and thus retaining the trophy. As drizzle turned to downpour, there was just one further individual honour to be decided for posterity - winning the half-point that would give Europe victory on the day. With Jeff Maggert, Jim Furyk and Tom Lehman completing victories against Lee Westwood, Nick Faldo and Ignacio Garrido, respectively, it was all up to Colin Montgomerie against Scott Hoch in the third last pairing (though last one out on the course). The American birdied the 17th to pull back to level for the day and the match came down to the wire. Montgomerie split the fairway and hit his approach to within five metres while Hoch was in the trees then short of the green in the rough. At 5.47 pm central European time, Montgomerie put his putt for birdie to within half a metre, Hoch conceded the par and the Scot reciprocated by not requiring the American to attempt his own four-metre putt for par. That meant a halved match and a final score of 14 1/2 to 13 1/2, the Americans gaining scant consolation by winning seven of the singles, with two halved.

So Europe consolidated its overall edge since winning the 1985 Cup in what was a first triumph since the then Great Britain team ("continental" Europeans became eligible in 1979) won in 1957 - the year of Ballesteros' birth. The records now show that the United States has won 23 times since the Cup was launched 70 years ago, with two matches tied and Great Britain winning just three - but four of the past seven have gone to Europe (one being drawn, though this meant the US retained the trophy). Battle will resume in Masachusetts in September 1999.





MORNING MATCHES:

Match 17 ---
Woosnam
vs
Couples

Match 19 ---
Roccca
vs
Woods

Match 21 ---
Clarke
vs
Mickelson
  Match 18 ---
Johansson
vs

Love

Match 20 ---
Bjorn
vs
Leonard

Match 22 ---
Parnevik
vs
O'Meara





AFTERNOON MATCHES:

Match 23 ---
Olazabal
vs
Janzen

Match 25 ---
Westwood
vs
Maggert

Match 27 ---
Faldo
vs
Furyk
  Match 24 ---
Langer
vs

Faxon

Match 26 ---
Montgomerie
vs
Hoch

Match 28 ---
Garrido
vs
Lehman




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