Golf: Europe boosted by Yorkshire grit

31st Ryder Cup: Struggling Seve survives for longer than he had any right to. Ken Jones reports
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Nobody imagined that Howard Clark and Mark James would give Europe the chance of recording a famous victory. Dropped after a 4 and 3 trouncing by Davis Love and Jeff Maggert in the foursomes last Friday they could not be counted on in the singles. In looking for potential winners you were not looking at the two taciturn Yorkshiremen.

However, that was not quite how Clark and James saw it. They have been around golf long enough to know that anything can happen especially under the pressure of a Ryder Cup singles. More often than not it is what goes on in the mind of a player, and having been there before Clark and James were not intimidated by the occasion. "The pressure in these things doesn't get any easier to handle and this was the toughest yet," James said. "I was nervous on every shot but that's good - it gets the adrenalin going and that's a bonus."

A huge bonus for Clark was a hole in one to draw level with Peter Jacobsen at the 11th. He fell behind again at the 13th but came back battling to follow James in with a point. James had proved even more effective. After a half at the first he stayed ahead of Maggert winning 4 and 3 to the delight of his captain, Bernard Gallacher, who had seen inspiration come from an unlikely quarter.

Predictably, in view of his miserable form, it had not come from Seve Ballesteros. The golf Ballesteros played when losing 3 and 2 against Tom Lehman evoked both sadness and astonishment.

All the Spaniard had left was his immense will and remarkable imagination and it was never going to be enough against the tall and powerful American. To reach the turn only one down was a feat of escapology. He got there without hitting a fairway. From the tee he was hopeless, a hacker. It wasn't a yardage chart Ballesteros needed to get around Oak Hill but a map and a compass. He visited parts of the course that are merely for decoration and probably unknown to the members. But this was not the Ballesteros of fond memory, Houdini in golf shoes. The miraculous recoveries were to stay alive in the match, not to win holes with spectacular birdies. The gift has gone from him, perhaps for ever. "I cannot drive the ball," he said.

Ballesteros hooked his first tee shot into the rough beneath a young cedar tree and strode down the fairway grimly. Because he is admired on both sides of the Atlantic even the home supporters yelled out enouragement. If they didn't want Ballesteros to win they wanted to be reminded of his greatness.

One down immediately, Ballesteros drove into the right rough at the second but then conjured up a shot of pure genius, chipping in from below the green to draw level.

Much to the astonishment of Lehman, who played immaculate golf, they were still all square after the seventh. This was because anyone but Ballesteros would have then been out of it. He had to come in from all sorts of angles, shaping shots around trees and shooting through avenues of people. It was as though Ballesteros on waking yesterday decided to invent another game. Actually it was the old game with an important difference.

Incredibly, after striking a tree, Ballesteros had to play his second shot at the fourth no more than 75 yards forward of the tee. From there he went into the rough. His recovery to the left side of the green was magnificent and he almost made birdie.

Ballesteros could not continue like this and Lehman didn't falter. After losing, Ballesteros managed a smile but inside there could only have been the bleakest of feelings.