Captain uses hairdryer treatment to lift troops

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie is starting to sound like a cross between Winston Churchill and Sir Alex Ferguson. On the eve of the final day of the Ryder Cup he put out a rallying call demanding more passion from the crowd – and admitted he gave his players the hairdryer treatment. "I can't repeat what I said," he grinned. Something that rhymes with "rollicking" would be close, apparently.

After losing the second session yesterday Europe fell behind 6-4 and drastic action was needed. "We didn't have passion. I felt that with the team, I felt that with the spectators," he said. The Glastonbury conditions weren't helping either. It's a mud festival. "The spectators have done a hell of a job," Montgomerie said. "For those of you who haven't been out, you've made the right decision. The crowd weren't getting involved enough because we weren't helping them get involved."

But yesterday afternoon, the mood began to change. European blue outpunched American red for the first time. In the six matches that will finish this morning before the final 12 singles head out at Celtic Manor, Europe are ahead in all six.

"We are suddenly in a strong position," Montgomerie said. "It wasn't going so well after the second session. It was a bit stale. We had to get that 13th man, the crowd, back on side," he said. "I want to see those six blue numbers shining bright in the morning and stay there."

Leading the European fightback is Lee Westwood partnered by Luke Donald. They headed to dinner last night four-up on Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker. "Lee Westwood is my top ranked player and he has proved it," Montgomerie said. "Simple as that. He's been unbelievable, in the team room, in the locker room, on the range, on the course, with some of the shots he hits."

And all the worry he had about Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell has evaporated, too. "I was concerned about them," he said after they lost to Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar. "But they came out in the next foursomes and won the first hole. People expect that from them. All credit to them for doing it."

Italy's Edoardo and Francesco Molinari finally made their Ryder Cup debuts yesterday in the alternate shot foursomes. They are the first brothers to be paired since Charles and Ernest Whitcombe in 1935. But they had nothing to show on the scoreboard for the huge support they received at Celtic Manor.

"I think we played great from the 11th," Edoardo said. Trouble is they played the front nine in 40 without a single birdie and were dumped by two late birdies from Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson. "We had a lot of chances for birdies," Edoardo said. "We deserved a half point the way we played onthe back nine."

Better news for Europe was a 2&1 victory for Luke Donald and Ian Poulter over Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton. That's now five wins out of five for Donald in Ryder Cup foursomes. The secret to his success? "You know, I think it's just keeping it in play," he said. "And we made them work for their wins. That's the key to foursomes." Simple, then. "Seeing all that blue on the board motivated all of us," Donald said.

Poulter paid tribute to the crowd. "When there's 40,000 fans out there and every time you approach a tee or a green they are just giving you a standing ovation, that's just awesome," he said. "To get some electricity from these guys is truly amazing. At one point the board looked a little bit red. But these fans have come out here and they have certainly picked us up in the afternoon."

Padraig Harrington was one who badly needed some positive momentum. The crowd helped him to an impressive 3&2 victory with Ross Fisher against Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. It was the Irishman's first victory in 11 matches. "It was nice that Ross got to hole the putt on 16 and got the glory of winning his first Ryder Cup point," Harrington said.

Fisher could barely contain his delight. "I am loving this. Colin showed a lot of passion to put Paddy with myself. His experience really helped me. Delighted to take out Mickelson and DJ."

"Momentum is the key," Montgomerie said. "We need to come out fighting quickly and strong," Westwood said. "Because we know the American team will."

Montgomerie's plan has always been to go into the singles on equal terms with the Americans. "If we can get to eight all, God, what a day we have got ahead of us," he said.