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Ryder Cup: U.S. still up after tense day

American Boo Weekley, above, and teammate J.B. Holmes earn a 2-and-1 win over Europeans Lee Westwood and Soren Hansen.

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American Boo Weekley, above, and teammate J.B. Holmes earn a 2-and-1 win over Europeans Lee Westwood and Soren Hansen.

Time Today's pairings
12:03 p.m. Anthony Kim (USA) vs. Sergio Garcia (Europe)
12:14 p.m. Hunter Mahan (USA) vs. Paul Casey (Europe)
12:25 p.m. Justin Leonard (USA) vs. Robert Karlsson (Europe)
12:36 p.m. Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. Justin Rose (Europe)
12:47 p.m. Kenny Perry (USA) vs. Henrik Stenson (Europe)
12:58 p.m. Boo Weekley (USA) vs. Oliver Wilson (Europe)
1:09 p.m. J.B. Holmes (USA) vs. Soren Hansen (Europe)
1:20 p.m. Jim Furyk (USA) vs. Miguel Angel Jimenez (Europe)
1:31 p.m. Stewart Cink (USA) vs. Graeme McDowell (Europe)
1:42 p.m. Steve Stricker (USA) vs. Ian Poulter (Europe)
1:53 p.m. Ben Curtis (USA) vs. Lee Westwood (Europe)
2:04 p.m. Chad Campbell (USA) vs. Padraig Harrington (Europe)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Birdie putts fell one after another, almost too quickly to keep up. Fist pumps charged up the crowd, often accompanied by players screaming over the din to celebrate.

Eight matches, 138 holes, 86 birdies, all of it crammed into 10 hours Saturday at the Ryder Cup.

When a gripping day at Valhalla ended, with both teams huddled on the grassy banks surrounding the 18th green to watch yet another match go the distance, the Americans clung to a 9-7 lead, ahead going into the last round for the first time since 1995.

"Anything could have happened," U.S. captain Paul Azinger said.

"The golf has been incredible," he added. "My stomach is just churning."

The Americans need only 5½ points from 12 singles matches today to win the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1999, but even with a two-point lead, this Ryder Cup could go either way.

The last hour Saturday defined the pressure and passion of the event, so intense that players on both teams were emotionally exhausted.

Robert Karlsson concluded the day with his seventh birdie in 10 holes as he and fellow Swede Henrik Stenson scratched out a halve against Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan.

Ian Poulter's eyes nearly popped out of his sockets after making a 30-inch birdie putt that looked like 30 feet. Poulter arrived as a controversial captain's pick, but he was the only European to play all four matches, and he delivered three vital points.

Steve Stricker showed why his selection for his first Ryder Cup was a no-brainer. His match looked like a lost cause until he escaped from the weeds and sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a halve.

One minute the Americans looked as if they might build their largest lead in nearly 30 years. The next minute, it looked as though they might not have the lead at all.

"It's a bumpy road at times, isn't it, to get to a victory," European captain Nick Faldo said. "So you come off the road a bit, and we're back on the road again now."

Meanwhile, Boo Weekley toned down his celebration until after his great shots, and there were plenty. Kentucky native J.B. Holmes delivered a putt that put the U.S. team up over Lee Westwood and Soren Hansen, but Weekley stole the show.

He holed a 25-foot putt off the back of the 14th green for a 2-up lead then hit a bunker shot to 2 feet on the next hole. Asked where he would rank that shot among the top 10 of his career, Weekley replied, "I reckon No. 9. I done had eight holes-in-one."

They won on the 17th hole when Westwood failed to extend the match with a 15-foot birdie.

Tiger's presence felt: Michael Jordan took a little pity on Faldo on Friday, playfully giving the European captain a neck massage. Jordan admitted Saturday that the move didn't sit well with at least one Ryder Cup regular: Tiger Woods. The world's No. 1 golfer, watching on TV while recuperating from knee surgery, sent a text to Jordan telling him to cut it out. "He texted me when I was massaging (Faldo)," Jordan said. "He said, 'Get your hands off him and choke him instead of massage him.' "

PGA: Will MacKenzie lost three strokes — two for a rules infraction — on the final hole to give the Viking Classic lead back to Mark Turnesa in Madison, Miss. MacKenzie's 8 on the par-5 18th left him tied for second, two strokes behind Turnesa, who shot 6-under 66 to finish at 17-under 199. MacKenzie (67) was penalized for moving impediments in the hazard while his ball was in the hazard.

When/where: Today; Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Ky. TV: Noon, Ch. 8

Weather: A 20 percent chance for rain, with high 84, low 62.

Format/scoring: In 12 singles matches, one point is awarded for each victory. If a match ends in a tie, each player gets a half-point. As the defending champion, Europe needs only 14 points to retain the Cup.

Ryder Cup: U.S. still up after tense day 09/20/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 5:43pm]
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