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Ex-Gator, veteran provide only U.S. high

Published Aug. 28, 2005

Chris DiMarco was doing his best to pump up the crowd and give the U.S. team a spark. But in the end, all he could do was take care of business with Jay Haas. And that turned out to be the lone bright spot for the Americans on Friday at Oakland Hills Country Club.

DiMarco, a former Florida Gator who lives in Orlando, and Haas, 50, the second-oldest player ever on the U.S. team, scored a 3-and-2 foursomes victory over Europeans Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Levet.

It was the only match won by the Americans.

"It's pretty awesome," said DiMarco, who qualified for his first Ryder Cup team and sat out the morning matches. "We just made some putts. We finally made some putts. We hit it pretty solid all day and just happened to be on top."

DiMarco tried to spark the crowd into making some noise as he walked off the 16th green victorious, hoping to send a message as the point went up on the board. DiMarco and Haas were in the first group of the afternoon.

"They need to hear. I want to see this point posted so they can see it and get some momentum," DiMarco said.

CLUTCH PUTT: The Americans were looking at being shut out in a session for the first time since 1989 when Chris Riley stood over a 7-foot par putt on the 18th green. Miss, and the Americans lose all four morning matches. Make, and at least the United States would salvage a tie.

"There was no way I was going to miss that last putt because we played our hearts out all day," said Riley, who salvaged a tie with partner Stewart Cink against Paul McGinley and Luke Donald to give the United States a half point. "I just buckled down and didn't even think about missing it.

"Just thought about putting a good stroke on it and, you know, it went in the hole. Thank goodness."

OUCH: Two-time major champion and NBC analyst Johnny Miller didn't mince words when he saw the lackluster play of Davis Love and Chad Campbell in the morning fourballs. Love and Campbell didn't make birdie until the 12th hole, a two-putt effort by Love. In fact, that was the only birdie among the two, who were routed by Darren Clarke and Jimenez 5 and 4.

U.S. captain Hal Sutton had referred to the duo as "tougher than new rope." To which Miller quipped: "That new rope looks like it's around their necks."

NO PEEKING: Lee Westwood probably didn't need to look at a scoreboard during the morning action. The lack of cheering said it all. The Americans were losing, and the Europeans were having their way.

"We were told not to watch the boards and not to look at it unless it was all blue. Mind you, how we were supposed to know that without sneaking a look I don't know," Westwood said. "But once I knew that (Clarke and Colin Montgomerie) had both won their matches, it was all right to have a peek."

AROUND OAKLAND HILLS: Riley's par-saving putt on the 18th green kept the Americans from getting swept for the first time since 1989, when Europe swept the four afternoon matches. It has happened just seven times overall in Ryder Cup competition. Haas, 50, became the 11th player in U.S. Ryder Cup history and 21st overall to compete in three or more decades. Haas played in 1983 and 1995. Raymond Floyd leads the U.S. list with appearances in four decades (1969, '75, '77, '81, '83, '85, '91, '93). Europe's Dai Rees also competed in four decades (1937, '47, '49, '51, '53, '55, '57, '59, '61). Europeans Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and David Howell sat out both matches Friday, but all three are playing this morning. The Americans used all 12 players.

_ BOB HARIG, Times staff writer