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Fast Fade
Gary Van Sickle
October 06, 1997
The U.S. lost the Cup in a hurry on a historic Saturday
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October 06, 1997

Fast Fade

The U.S. lost the Cup in a hurry on a historic Saturday

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Leonard, seven under on his own ball, and Faxon looked good against Woosnam and Bjorn, apparent sacrificial lambs, but the Europeans' combined seven birdies sank the Americans. "That's match play," Leonard said later. "You can play really well and lose or play mediocre and win. Unfortunately, I was in category A."

Woods and O'Meara seemed a good choice over Westwood and Faldo, who was struggling with his putter, but Westwood birdied the 15th and Faldo the 16th to go 2 up, then on 17 Faldo matched O'Meara's clutch birdie after Woods's 35-foot eagle putt wound up in the pond fronting the green.

Lehman-Mickelson were favored against an overworked José María Olazábal and the untested Garrido. It was a terrific match, Mickelson's missed eagle keeping it even through 17. At the 18th the Europeans drove into the trees and took a long time to play out. Most of the delay was while Olazábal was given a drop from freshly spread wood chips. "I fell asleep waiting for them," Lehman said. "I grabbed a pillow, set my alarm for 30 minutes, and when I woke up, they were still there." Matching pars at the finish resulted in the hard-fought halve.

"I thought we had four really good teams," Mickelson said. "I thought we could get a lot of points. To the Europeans' credit they beat all of us—well, Tom and I were the exception. Three of the four major-championship winners this year were out there playing for us, and the Europeans found a way to beat them. They played some great golf."

The potential was there for a U.S. sweep, but the Euros had the brooms out at the end. "This is probably the best day for European golf ever, and we've had a lot of great days," said Montgomerie, who after winning with Clarke teamed with Bernhard Langer to beat Jim Furyk and Lee Janzen one up in the only foursomes match that was completed. "This is one I'll always remember."

U.S. captain Tom Kite will remember Saturday too. "I'm disappointed, but surprised probably better describes the way I feel," he said. "I came out with outstanding pairings and thought we'd have a great morning. All week the Europeans have been able to right the ship on the back nine, and they severely outputted us."

In Saturday's four-ball play the Europeans made 24 birdies and eagles to the Americans' 21. "I feel my guys played better from tee to green," Kite said, "but the European team pitched and putted significantly better because they knew the course."

The following day that advantage disappeared. "We won eight of 12 points on Sunday," Faxon said. "If we'd done that the first or second day, it would've been a blowout. A lot of our guys are going to look back and think about how we got so far behind."

They won't have to look far. It was Saturday.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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