Tuesday 23 January 2018

European players start well

Europe's Ryder Cup stars appeared to be on a relentless victory march against the United States at Celtic Manor today.

Colin Montgomerie's team needed just five points to regain the trophy lost in Louisville, Kentucky two years ago after dominating yesterday's action.

With all 12 singles matches on the course, Europe led in eight, threatening to make it a 'Magnificent Monday' and ensure the crowning moment of Montgomerie's golfing career.

Ryder Cup history was made with the first Monday action, necessary after heavy rain on Friday and Sunday meant 13 hours of play were lost. And huge crowds thronged the course as bright sunshine replaced early-morning mist, with the European players responding in scintillating fashion.

European pathfinder Lee Westwood, who rose to world number two for the first time in his career before play started, was one up on Steve Stricker after 10 holes of a tight encounter.

Behind him, Luke Donald - Westwood's foursomes partner when they inflicted a career match play record defeat on Tiger Woods yesterday - led £7million FedEx Cup winner Jim Furyk by two shots after 10, while Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher were two up on respective opponents Matt Kuchar and Jeff Overton.

The Molinari brothers also showed their appetite for battle, with Francesco one up on Woods after four and Edoardo leading American rookie Rickie Fowler.

Any glimmer of hope for United States captain Corey Pavin was provided by Phil Mickelson, three up after three holes against Peter Hanson.

But given that Mickelson was America's 10th player on the course - and how well Europe had started - his performance could ultimately prove irrelevant.

Mickelson's colleagues Stewart Cink, Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson were also ahead, yet it had been Europe's morning so far, with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Graeme McDowell also leading their matches.

© Press Association

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