If the Americans were to have any chance of producing a historic upset at the 35th Ryder Cup matches, they needed to sweep at least the first four singles matches yesterday at Oakland Hills Country Club.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - If the Americans were to have any chance of producing a historic upset at the 35th Ryder Cup matches, they needed to sweep at least the first four singles matches yesterday at Oakland Hills Country Club.
Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk did their parts and Davis Love escaped with one-half point, but Spanish ace Sergio Garcia refused to let the U.S. follow its script.
He beat Phil Mickelson 3 and 2 to finish unbeaten in five matches.
For all the criticism heaped on Mickelson this week, Garcia won this one moreso than Mickelson lost it, although the lefty did contribute another head-scratching shot on the final hole.
But Garcia played splendid golf.
"I was a little bit shaky on a couple holes there on the front nine, but I really felt like I hit a lot of quality shots and made some nice putts when I had to," Garcia said.
The Spaniard, who improved his career Ryder Cup record to 9-3-2 by going 3-0-1 in foursomes and four-ball play on Friday and Saturday, filled in the only blank on his record with his singles win over Mickelson. He had been 0-2 in previous singles play.
He did it with some torrid golf after falling two holes behind following a birdie by Mickelson at No. 8.
"I didn't get off to the best of starts, but I fought back," Garcia said. "I was trying hard and I got on a great run. I hit three really good shots and put some good rolls on it."
Two holes down, Garcia answered with three consecutive birdies, hitting it close on the ninth and 11th holes and running in a 25-foot birdie putt on the hole in between.
That put him 1-up and, after missing a 10-footer that would have produced a fourth straight birdie at No. 12, Garcia went 2-up with a par 3 on the 13th hole when Mickelson struggled from a back bunker.
Garcia was still 2-up with three to play when he missed the fairway badly despite hitting an iron off the tee at No. 16. He played his second shot left of the water and short of the green.
Mickelson was in the first cut of rough on the left and tried to hit a low-running draw, but it came up thin and short, kicked right and plopped into the water, all but deciding the match.
"That's a total nut shot," commentator Johnny Miller said on NBC-TV.
"As firm as the green was, I didn't think I could fly it in and have it hold," Mickelson said. "But I had to win the hole.
"So I hit a bit of a risky shot trying to get it close and it didn't work."
Garcia finished with 4 1/2 points out of a possible five.