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The biggest, of course, was at Brookline, where the U.S. rode the wave of early wins on the final day after being down 10-6 to win one of the wildest Ryder Cups ever. At Brookline, though, the European team was so weak that three players were benched until the final day and a raucous crowd helped fuel the Yanks’ charge.

Here, the Euro team was favored to begin with and is playing with tremendous confidence on its home turf. The fans will cheer wildly every good iron shot, and roar on every made putt.

It doesn’t help that this U.S. team is captained by a man who now seems to be winging it as he goes along. Pavin couldn’t explain why he thought the No. 8 pairing was such an important slot for Woods, just as he couldn’t explain why his players kept leaving putts short all day while the Europeans made sure the ones they hit got to the hole.

And how can you explain a captain claiming to be happy to see steady progress by his team when there’s just one day to go in this, the longest Ryder Cup ever?

Don’t bother asking the U.S. players, as if you can find them. They got off the course as fast as they could and hid in the team room, safe from inquiring minds of reporters who wanted to know.

“I left it up to the players to do whatever they would like to do,” Pavin said. “It’s their choice to talk or not to talk.”

The choice was an easy one. From the safety of the team room they issued a few quotes talking about battling hard and trying to win on Monday, but there was no insight into why they thought they could start playing better or how they planned to do it.

Not that it really matters. They’re being outplayed, Pavin is being outcoached, and it won’t be long before the Americans are out watching the Euros celebrate on the balcony of the Celtic Manor clubhouse.

Montgomerie seems to be in a hurry to get it over. He penciled in his powerhouse trio of Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald to lead off, clearly hoping to stop any whiff of an American comeback before it even begins.

It’s a good move, and Monty has the better players. It’s a tough combination to beat.

Especially tough for a team that doesn’t seem to have a plan.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)