Garcia applies steadying influence to march through moments of crisis

Captain's masterly pairing revitalises Westwood's nerve and confidence as world No 1's weakness in matchplay is exposed by Europeans

The sounds of the Ryder Cup make up a sort of bush telegraph that brings good news or bad, according to affiliation; thunderous cheers, groans of disappointment, polite applause; the sounds give you some idea of how things are going elsewhere on the course, form and momentum.

Coming to the 10th tee in yesterday's fourballs, the momentum was with Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods, who had gone one up at the fifth when Westwood coolly stroked in a birdie putt to suggest he was beginning to enjoy himself again after a wretched 12 months that has seen him slip from 20th to 148th in the world rankings.

I set off to follow Garcia and Westwood after consultation with my colleague, Andy Farrell, whose advice I eagerly seek at major golf events. It was in his mind that putting the Spaniard together with the only Englishman in Sam Torrance's team might turn out to be a masterstroke of selection, the beginning of a big relationship; from Seve Ballesteros-Jose Maria Olazabal, Nick Faldo-Ian Woosnam to Garcia-Westwood.

Since being sent out as rookie at Brookline three years ago, playing alongside Jesper Parvenik (whose game has dipped so alarmingly that he only made the Ryder Cup match because the teams were left unchanged following last year's postponement), Garcia has become Europe's leading player, ranked fifth in the world and a big favourite on both sides of the Atlantic.

If Torrance's gamble was taken in the belief that Garcia would be a steadying influence, it also had something to with Westwood's insistence that he had not lost his nerve along with some of his confidence. "This week is not so much about how well you play but how well you handle pressure," Westwood had said under interrogation. That was good enough for Torrance. Immediately, he put Garcia and Westwood together on the first morning's team sheet.

Looking at David Duval and Davis Love III, both with a major championship on their records, you couldn't help feeling that Garcia and Westwood would do extremely well to finish all square. However, the first big roar of the day came from around the first green when Garcia sank a par putt to go one up on the Americans, who both looked extremely disgruntled. Garcia and Westwood looked as happy as Larry.

A reserved sort of guy, Westwood does not normally exhibit signs of emotional disturbance, although of late he has looked to be at odds with himself, driving the ball untidly, wrecking otherwise good rounds of golf with acts of self-destruction. As for Garcia, he has only recently phased out the irritating routine of re-gripping the club so many times at address that the patience of even his best friends was being sorely tested.

Despite finding themselves back at all square after the third hole was completed, all seemed to be going well for the European pair and they were soon back in front thanks to Westwood's birdie at the fourth. The way things were shaping up it looked as though as Garcia was content to be the steadying influence, on hand to see Westwood through moments of crisis.

Then came the 10th, the Belfry's signature hole and the subject of contentious discussion when Torrance's announced preference for the back tee made it risky to go directly for a green tucked away between high trees and alongside water.

The 10th has seen many bold efforts, some successful, some not, and Garcia could not resist the temptation. He'd got there with a three wood in practice, but this time his ball plopped into what I guess we can call a pond. One down at the time, it looked as though Duval and Love were about to draw level after both had taken the option of laying up for a safe par. Garcia shrugged, took a drop, knocked the ball on, watched Westwood make bogey and then sank his putt. Huge roar, still one up.

The further it went, the clearer it became that Garcia and Westwood were having fun, enjoying each other's company, playing as though they did not have a care in the world. Coming into his own, Westwood rattled in a nine-footer to win the 12th and followed it up with a birdie at the next to put the Americans three down.

When Westwood dumped his second to the 15th green into a bunker Garcia produced a shot that had "don't worry" written on it from the moment the ball was in flight. Westwood smiled across at his partner, his thumbs up. Garcia's eagle putt wasn't needed. Westwood got up and down from the bunker, made birdie. Match over, 4 and 3, they jumped into a buggy and headed happily for the clubhouse, Westwood clinging to Garcia's shoulders.

There was more, a lot more, to come. Dismissing from his mind all thoughts of resting either man for the afternoon foursomes, Torrance put their names down again only to discover that they would be coming up against Tiger Woods and Mark Calcavecchia.

It did not seem possible that Garcia and Westwood could improve upon the morning's performance but the partnership continued to flourish, both making scores when the circumstances were critical. They walked off the 17th green winner by 2 and 1. The smiles looked permanent. It's how they played. "The best way to handle pressure," Garcia said. The pressure of playing against Woods? "It isn't who you play, but how you play," Garcia added. He had an arm on Westwood's shoulders.

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker