Woods suffers as Europe fight back

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The Independent Online

Tiger Woods today suffered the heaviest match play defeat in his professional career as the rain-delayed Ryder Cup resumed at Celtic Manor.

Woods and Steve Stricker had won both their previous matches this week, and four out of four in last year's Presidents Cup, but were thrashed 6&5 by Lee Westwood and Luke Donald in the first foursomes match.

The European pair resumed this afternoon four up and Westwood effectively ended any faint hopes of an American fightback by immediately holing from 35ft for a winning birdie on the 10th.

"It was good for us to go five up because we lost the last hole last night and the momentum could have swung and it was good for the team as well," Westwood said.

And Donald added: "We felt confident even though we had never played together before. We were both playing well, we felt good and it was a great point to get on the board. We got up early and big and it sent a great message back to the guys."

Woods' previous heaviest defeat was a 5&4 fourball loss with Jim Furyk against Stuart Appleby and Vijay Singh in the Presidents Cup in 2007, but the off-form world number one was too much of a burden for Stricker to carry again.

It was Westwood's sixth win in seven Ryder Cup meetings with Woods, while Donald has now played six foursomes matches in the contest and won all six.

That made the overall score 6-5 to the United States, but Europe continued to lead in all five matches now out on the course.

Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy were three up on Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan in the other foursomes contest after 11 holes, while Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer were also three up after seven on Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.

There was some good news for the Americans however, with impressive rookie Jeff Overton holing his approach to the eighth for an eagle two to get back to one down to Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez, which prompted an ear-splitting bout of screaming and shouting from him and partner Bubba Watson.

Another lengthy rain delay this morning ensured the 12 singles matches would take place on Monday for the first time in the event's 83-year history.

McDowell, the US Open champion, holed a superb 18ft putt for a birdie to halve the 15th and stay three up with three to play, but Johnson then holed from almost twice the distance on the next to keep the match alive.

The sea of European blue on the scoreboard had finally been broken as well, Kuchar's birdie on the 10th getting he and Cink back on level terms with Edoardo and Francesco Molinari.

McDowell and McIlroy must have thought back to yesterday's action when they had victory over Cink and Kuchar snatched from their grasp over the closing stretch, but there was to be no repeat this time.

After a superb tee shot from McDowell on the 17th, McIlroy holed from 20ft for a birdie two to seal a 3&1 victory over Johnson and Mahan, Mahan's first defeat in seven Ryder Cup games.

That made the overall score 6-6, but not everything was going Europe's way as Fowler holed a bunker shot on the 11th for an eagle three to close within one hole of Kaymer and Poulter.

"This session is huge," McIlroy said.

"If we can go 8-8 into the singles that's huge compared to 9-7 down, and after going out 6-4 behind if we can get any sort of lead it would be massive."

As yet more rain fell on the sodden Twenty Ten course, the US went ahead in a match for the first time since Kuchar and Cink won the opening hole yesterday, the same pairing edging one ahead of the Molinari brothers on the 13th.

Harrington and Fisher were gifted the 14th to go two ahead with three to play, while Hanson and Jimenez were still clinging to a narrow lead over Watson and Overton.