Day of drama ends with nerveless Montgomerie putting Europe clear

Is this 2004 all over again, a Detroit remix, or does this American team have soul? At 5-3 down they will have to summon the iron in it if Ian Woosnam's rampant Europeans are to be denied their third unprecedented Ryder Cup in a row here tomorrow evening.

But then, anything seems possible after a first day when the emotions fluctuated just as much as the balance did of this already remarkable game. As ever, the hero of the final hour, which began by the promise of a four-point cushion but then threatened to whittle it down to one, was one Colin Montgomerie.

The Scot's ice-cool five-footer for half a point with Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco was nerve, experience and sheer Monty combined. "How many times have we seen him do that?" said a clearly overjoyed Ian Woosnam, having watched all 12 of his players contribute at least half a point and Lehman's two crack pairings limited to one-and-a-half out of a possible five. "What a fantastic day for my team. My boys performed tremendously. "

Sergio Garcia was the pick of them, absolutely brilliant in the morning by establishing himself as the new Seve Ballesteros with Jose Maria Olazabal and absolutely impervious in the afternoon to give Woods the defeat his overall play had deserved. "Sergio just lifted his game unbelievably, which he always seems to do in the Cup," said Woosnam. "He has that Spanish spirit. He is on top form."

In contrast, it was another largely forgettable Ryder experience for Woods, despite winning a point on the opening day for the first time since 1997. In truth, he played dreadfully in beating Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington in the foursomes and not too badly in defeat in the fourballs. "I struggled in the first six or seven holes this morning but got it turned around and this afternoon I actually hit it pretty good," he said. No, the Ryder Cup does not make much sense to this increasingly baffled man.

It sure does to this 45,000-strong crowd who made this, as Montgomerie said, "the greatest opening day's atmosphere in the Cup's history". After Ireland's 79-year wait, the weather was not going to put them off whatever it did, but the sun shone and within a few shots there was so much to get excited about. First Woods duck-hooked his opening drive into the water and half an hour later Darren Clarke fought back the tears to pierce the fairway and any number of hearts. Game on, wait over.

It began with the bizarre sight of Woods hacking, but still winning. Jim Furyk picked up the might of the world's best golfer on his shoulders and carried him to victory over Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington. The European duo did not go quietly, though ­ that would have been impossible, anyway, in this cacophony ­ and Lehman's main men only scraped through on the last after being three up with six remaining. It was to buck the trend of the day as in all seven of the eight match-ups went down the 18th, but only Woods and Furyk secured the full point. It was a similar story at Oakland Hills two years ago, so cannot be put down to luck, and America ­ and Lehman in particular ­ must stop bemoaning fortune if they are to prevail. Europe simply make things happen for them.

Nobody did so yesterday more courageously or more welcomely as Clarke. Six weeks ago he lost his wife, Heather, to cancer and after linking up with his great compadre, Lee Westwood, to inch a thrilling battle against Lehman's second guard in DiMarco and Mickelson, the Ulsterman stood by the clubhouse hugging anyone within arm length. Asked later what emotions he has been feeling, he said "emotions that I hope you never have to feel", his eyes still red, his mind momentarily off the competition.

But a competitor he is and out he went to support the foursomes with the tie nicely poised at 2 1/2-1 1/2 after Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson had been pegged back to a half by Stewart Cink and the impressive rookie, J J Henry, and Garcia and Olazabal had clinically dismantled David Toms and Brett Wetterich 3 and 2. Clarke would have been enthralled by what he saw.

First his two close friends, Harrington and Paul McGinley, let slip a two-hole lead with three to go to tie with Zach Johnson and Chad Campbell and then David Howell and Henrik Stenson fumbled a one-hole lead with five to go to halve with Cink and Toms. It really did feel like a whole point wasted. Until Garcia and Luke Donald did the business.

Woods had righted his waywardness somewhat but still could not live with his young nemesis's effervescence. He did do most to claw back the two-hole deficit to make it level with five remaining, but then on the 17th came the definitive moment. Garcia hit it stiff from the fairway, Woods struck to about 10 feet away and when Furyk's well of belligerence eventually ran dry as he hooked one into the water on the 18th it was over. Garcia outplayed Woods spectacularly and was the day's main star.

Montgomerie, naturally, tried his utmost to steal the spotlight when standing over that tricky left-to-right to win the hole for he and Westwood and gain the invaluable half. He held it, of course he did, and so Mickelson and DiMarco have only half a point to their supposedly ominous names and instead of one the gap between the teams is two. America must hit hard in this morning's fourball. And they must do it quickly.

Lehman appreciates that and was saying as much in their hotel last night. He could have done so at the course, but Woods and Furyk had gone off in the sulk that still hints at a lack of team spirit. Woosnam has no such worries and has never looked more at ease in his two-year reign. Unsuited to the build-up, but eminently suited to the action, he was even willing to hold himself up to ridicule as he oozed confidence. "I gave one piece of advice out there and then that player ended up on a TV tower," he said. "After that, I thought it better to keep my mouth shut."

He was referring to an incident on the treacherous seventh, when he persuaded Karlsson to take a club more for his approach and the Swede flew the green and somehow came to land ­ and rest ­ 20ft in the sky next to a startled cameraman. No matter, Karlsson still contrived to make par and take the hole. It was just one of those days. Again.

Monty to sit out fourballs

Ian Woosnam will continue his rotation policy by leaving Colin Montgomerie out of this morning's fourballs along with Luke Donald, David Howell and Paul McGinley.

The Scot's fourball partner yesterday, Padraig Harrington, teams up with the Swede Henrik Stenson instead, while Woosnam keeps three other pairings intact.

Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood take on Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk in the third game. Woods and Clarke are great friends, of course, this will provide one of the week's most intriguing, and emotional, contests.

Tom Lehman, the American captain, brings in Scott Verplank for the first time, but the debutant Vaughn Taylor has still to play, although he should figure in this afternoon's foursomes after Lehman reiterated his plan to play all his team before tomorrow's singles.

Woosnam already has, and so it will come as no shock to Monty to sit out the session, just as he did at Oakland Hills on the Saturday two years ago. The Welshman's tactics worked yesterday as Donald, Howell and McGinley all sat out the first session, but then came into the foursomes. They surely will again today.

James Corrigan: Pairings for this morning

* Tee-off times and pairings (Europe names first):

08.00: Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson v Stewart Cink and J J Henry

08.15: Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal v Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco

08.30: Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood v Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk

08.45: Henrik Stenson and Padraig Harrington v Scott Verplank and Zach Johnson

Postcard from the Emerald Isle Highlights of day one at the K Club

* SHOT OF THE DAY Darren Clarke - first shot, first hole. He hit the ball 320 yards, straight down the middle, with his eyes full of tears, moments after both of his opponents hugged him and the crowd had given him the biggest welcome in golf's history.

* FLUFF OF THE DAY Tiger Woods - first shot, first hole. Golf expected a statement when Tiger hit his first drive. It got one, a four-lettered one when Tiger watched his three wood duck hook into the water, some 40 yards wide of his target.

* BIZARRE MOMENT OF THE DAY Robert Karlsson won a hole via the top of a television tower. The Swede's second to the seventh flew over the green on to the 15ft platform coming to rest next to a bemused cameraman.

* QUOTE OF THE DAY "What is the Spaniards' secret? There is no secret. First it was Seve, now it is Sergio." Jose Maria Olazabal.

First day's results

* MORNING FOURBALLS (Europe first) Colin Montgomerie & Padraig Harrington

lost to Tiger Woods & Jim Furyk 1 up

Paul Casey & Robert Karlsson

halved with Stewart Cink & JJ Henry halved

Sergio Garcia & Jose Maria Olazabal

beat David Toms & Brett Wetterich 3 and 2

Darren Clarke & Lee Westwood

beat Phil Mickelson & Chris DiMarco 1 up

Score after fourballs: Europe 2½ US 1½

* AFTERNOON FOURSOMES (Europe first) Padraig Harrington & Paul McGinley

halved with Chad Campbell & Zach Johnson halved

Luke Donald & Sergio Garcia

beat Tiger Woods & Jim Furyk 2 holes

David Howell & Henrik Stenson

halved Stewart Cink & David Toms halved

Lee Westwood & Colin Montgomerie

halved with Phil Mickelson & Chris DiMarco halved

Score after foursomes: Europe 2½ US 1½

Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried