- Associated Press - Sunday, October 3, 2010

NEWPORT, WALES (AP) - Europe could only dream of a Sunday like this at the Ryder Cup. It gave Tiger Woods his worst beating ever, hit all the right shots to spur on its foot-stomping, flag-waving crowd and kept the Americans from winning a single match.

Too bad this one won’t end until Monday.

The Europeans already had reason to be in a festive mood amid the rain and muck of Celtic Manor.

Bolstered by the sight of blue on every leaderboard, they won five matches and halved the last one when Francesco Molinari knocked in a 3-foot birdie putt and celebrated with his brother, Edoardo. That stretched their lead to 9 1/2-6 1/2.

Europe needs to win only five of the 12 singles match to reclaim the gold trophy.

“In my time _ 20 years since I’ve been playing Ryder Cup _ this is one of the greatest days for European golf we’ve ever had,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said. “To run a two-point deficit into a three-point lead was quite amazing. To stop America from winning a match, just fantastic.”

Lee Westwood, Europe’s leader in the team room and on the golf course, inspired from the start. He teamed with Luke Donald to demoralize Woods and Steve Stricker, who had never lost in six previous matches. Europe was 4 up when the matches resumed, and Westwood promptly knocked in a 30-foot birdie putt to win the hole. The cheer was heard by every match on the course.

More big putts followed until they had a 6-and-5 victory, the biggest rout of the week.

“When you’re playing Tiger, you just seem to up your game a little bit,” said Westwood, who is 6-1 in team matches against Woods. “I supposed he’s got nothing to win _ apart from the point _ but he’s got a big reputation.”

PGA champion Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter held off a rally to beat Phil Mickelson and 21-year-old Rickie Fowler. Mickelson set an American record with his 17th loss and headed into singles without having contributed a point.

Rain again soaked the course, forcing a five-hour delay and pushing the Ryder Cup into Monday for the first time in its 83-year history.

Europe was leading in all six matches when play resumed, and Montgomerie walked along the practice range repeating the same message he had delivered the night before.

“We know the Americans are going to come out fast,” he said. “But we are going to go out faster.”

What gave Europe such a big lead is that it finished stronger.

Even with Westwood and Donald making quick work in the opening match, and with Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy winning their first match against Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan in alternate shot, the remaining fourballs matches could have gone either way.

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