Walker juggle does trick

Andy Farrell discusses a captain's decision to split up her winning pairs
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The Independent Online
THE fight-back went on. It needed to. The autumnal breeze retained its chillsomeness yesterday morning but if the Europeans wanted to regain the Solheim Cup, they needed to warm up earlier than they had done the day before.

"I can't imagine a similar thing happening in the foursomes again," Mickey Walker, the home team's captain, had said. Without Friday afternoon's recovery, losing the first series of foursomes 31/2-1/2 would have been calamitous. It could not happen again.

A small, but highly enthusiastic, gallery ringed the first tee at 8am. As Walker had hoped, they cheered the Americans, but they cheered for the Europeans infinitely more loudly. Laura Davies and Trish Johnson, as they had the previous afternoon, led the way again.

As Judy Rankin, Walker's opposite number, has noticed, Davies is Europe's pathfinder. Burying her down the order reduces the effect on her team- mates of seeing the world No 1 giving the opposition a good tonking. Johnson pitched to four feet at the first and Davies rolled in the putt. One up, and victory followed as green follows fairway. "That's the thing to do in foursomes, get your blow in first," said Davies.

There would be no double for Patty Sheehan and Rosie Jones after they ended Davies and Alison Nicholas's unbeaten foursomes record on Friday. "It is always nice to get one back," Davies said, "but that was no extra motivation. It would be the same as playing against anyone." More European points followed, and they even loosened the visitors' grip on the 18th.

Walker still had to juggle her pack. Rankin had played all her team on Friday, but Lisa Hackney and Joanne Morley needed to be introduced. In the Ryder Cup at The Belfry in 1993, Tom Watson sent the unused Chip Beck and John Cook out together on the second afternoon. In beating Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie, they helped turn the tide America's way. Walker took the brave decision to split up her winners from Friday.

Was it a gamble? Davies dominated the top match again, and Hackney enjoyed the trip on the coat-tails of the Superwoman outfit Davies was wearing under her official M & S uniform. More surprising was the resting of Kathryn Marshall. The Scot was a revelation, responsible as much as Davies for changing the depressed mood of Friday lunch.

All the while she was egging on the crowd as if born to play Solheim Cup golf. "You could look pretty stupid doing it every week," Marshall said, "but you have to get the crowd going. It's a lot of fun. I'm really enjoying it, as you can probably see." The beaming smile said it all.

Marshall added: "I am surprised not to be playing again, but I respect Mickey's decision. When we pick up the trophy tomorrow, it won't matter." With that she went out to lead the cheerleading.

Yesterday's scores

Morning foursomes (Europe first): L Davies & T Johnson bt P Sheehan & R Jones 4 & 3; A Sorenstam & C Nilsmark bt D Pepper & B Burton 1 hole; L Neumann & K Marshall halved with M Mallon & J Geddes; M L De Lorenzi & H Alfredsson bt K Robbins & M McGann 4 & 3. Foursomes result: Europe 31/2 United States 1/2.

Afternoon fourballs: L Davies & L Hackney bt B Daniel & V Skinner 6 & 5; A Sorenstam and T Johnson halved with M McGann and M Mallon; M L De Lorenzi and J Morley lost to K Robbins and B King 2 & 1; C Nilsmark and L Neumann bt P Sheehan and J Geddes 2 & 1. Fourballs result: Europe 21/2 US11/2.. Match standing: Europe 9 US 7.

Today's singles: 8.48 P Bradley v A Sorenstam; 9.00 V Skinner v K Marshall; 9.12 M McGann v L Davies; 9.24 B Daniel v L Neumann; 9.36 B Burton v L Hackney; 9.48 D Pepper v T Johnson; 10.00 K Robbins v A Nicholas; 10.12 B King v M L De Lorenzi; 10.24 R Jones v J Morley; 10.36 J Geddes v D Reid; 10.48 P Sheehan v C Nilsmark; 11.00 M Mallon v H Alfredsson.