First win for Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald as Tiger Woods is beaten again
Last Updated: 30/09/12 8:23am
Luke Donald (left) congratulates Sergio Garcia
Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia held off a back-nine fightback from Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to provide a rare moment of joy for Europe in Saturday's fourballs at the Ryder Cup.
Woods was clearly at odds with his game as the European pair coasted into a four-hole lead by the turn, but the lead was reduced to one at the 13th before Donald birdied 15 and matched Woods' birdie at 17.
Stricker had a great chance to salvage a half on the final green, but his birdie attempt from seven feet lipped out as Donald and Garcia celebrated their first win of the week, while the American pair remained without a point.
Woods and Stricker, benched for the morning foursomes after two defeats on Friday, were up against it early on when Garcia's delightful approach at the first was conceded for a winning birdie.
Stricker's tee shot at the second found water and Woods was unable to save his par, and Garcia drained an unlikely birdie putt from the fringe at the fourth to go three up.
Stricker pulled one back at the next as he rolled in a 10-footer for eagle after a sublime second from over 200 yards, but Donald then found his form with his irons and birdied the eighth and ninth to double the lead.
Woods had endured a torrid front-nine, but he picked himself up to win his first hole with a two-putt birdie at 10, and Stricker got a winning birdie putt to drop from 10 feet at the 12th.
Woods then hit the shot of the match, a towering long-iron to three feet at the 245-yard 13th, and the subsequent putt reduced the arrears to a single hole.
But Donald followed a delicate pitch at 15 with a six-footer for birdie, only for Tiger - a different animal since the turn, to respond with a third straight birdie at the 16th.
Woods applied further pressure when he knocked his tee shot to five feet at 17, but Donald was up to the task as he smote a stunning mid-iron to within three feet.
Both found the centre of the cup and moved to the 18th, where Stricker's approach set up a makeable chance while Garcia went 20 feet beyond the pin.
Garcia and Woods were wide with their putts, and Stricker's did not catch enough of the lip to drop.
Woods insisted he was happy with Davis Love III's decision to leave him out on Saturday morning, the first time he has ever missed a Ryder Cup session while on the team.
"It was nice to be fresh, no doubt," he said.
"This is a long grind to go all five. I've done it before and it's hard. I felt great this morning (Saturday) and it was nice to kind of sleep in and get a little bit of rest.
"I watched the guys on TV and tried to get out here and watch them a little bit (but) captain says, 'Hey, it's cold out here, stay inside, stay warm and be ready for your match'."