The 35th edition of golf’s very own unofficial team world championships got underway at Oakland Hills last week. Europe, captained by Bernhard Langer, flew to America without any major star of the calibre of Faldo, Ballesteros or Lyle in their line-up, to attempt to defend the title they won at The Belfry in 2002.
The teams – (world rankings in brackets)
Captain Bernhard Langer Captain Hal Sutton
Paul Casey (28) Tiger Woods (2)
Darren Clarke (16) Chad Campbell (15)
Luke Donald (35) Stewart Cink (12)
Sergio Garcia (11) Chris DiMarco (57)
Padraig Harrington (8) Fred Funk (57)
David Howell (66) Jim Furyk (10)
Miguel Angel Jiminez (21) Jay Haas (23)
Thomas Levet (43) Davis Love III (5)
Paul McGinley (64) Phil Mickelson (4)
Colin Montgomerie (60) Kenny Perry (14)
Ian Poulter (58) Chris Riley (39)
Lee Westwood (42) David Toms (22)
Day One – Fourballs
Europe stormed into the lead, 6.5 – 1.5 ahead at the close of play, to record their best ever first day score. Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington set the tone for the session, defeating superstars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson by two and one in the first pairing. This was the third time in a row that Woods has lost both opening matches and his partner Mickelson was replaced on Day Two. Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jiminez destroyed Davis Love III and Chad Campbell by five and four as Europe went on the rampage – only Di Marco and Haas salvaged a point from the disaster. Chris Riley and Stewart Cink managed to stay with Luke Donald and Paul McGinley to the 18th, earning the US half a point.
Day Two – Foursomes
The Americans staged a strong fight-back in the morning, with Tiger Woods and Chris Riley mauling Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter four and three. But Europe rallied bravely – rookies Paul Casey and David Howell overcame Furyk and Campbell by one hole. Clarke and Westwood massacred DiMarco and Haas by five and four, and Harrington and McGinley following suit with a four and three victory over Woods and Love III. At the end of the day, Europe had established an 10.5 – 5.5 lead and only needed threeand a half from the possible 12 points available from Sunday’s singles to retain the trophy on American soil.
Day Three – Singles
Again the US attempted a comeback, starting strongly. But Bernhard Langer’s beautifully balanced team showed resistance, confidence and ultimately the greater will to win. Wild card Colin Montgomerie sank the decisive putt as Europe humiliated the US by going on to romp to a record nine point winning margin, retaining the trophy with ease.