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Mickelson jumped to Love’s defense Sunday night when the captain was asked whether he should have played Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in fourballs Saturday.

“You cannot put that on him,” Mickelson said. “If anything, it was me.”

Mickelson and Bradley had won their first three matches handily, providing the spark as the Americans piled up the points early. Their 7-and-6 thrashing of Lee Westwood and Luke Donald in Saturday morning’s foursome tied the largest margin of victory in an 18-hole team match.

But Love gave them a rest in the afternoon, and Europe managed to snatch wins in the final two matches. That momentum shift fueled Europe’s improbable comeback Sunday.

“Keegan and I knew going in that we were not playing in the afternoon and we said on the first tee, `We’re going to put everything we have into this one match because we’re not playing the afternoon,’” Mickelson said. “And when we got to 10, I went to Davis and said, `Listen, you’re seeing our best. You cannot put us in the afternoon because we emotionally and mentally are not prepared for it.’”


SNEAKING A PEEK: Englishman Luke Donald did. American Dustin Johnson tried not to. Phil Mickelson didn’t like what he saw when he finally got around to doing it.

Only the Europeans were glad they did at the end.

Scoreboard-watching at the Ryder Cup turned into a competition of its own Sunday. Some players avoided even one glance, admitting they were afraid of the added pressure it might pile on their match.

“I tried not to look all day,” Johnson said after beating Nicolas Colsaerts 3 and 2. “I had a tough match as it is.”

“Now I look up,” Mickelson said after losing 1-up to Justin Rose at the 18th, “and I’m obviously a little worried.”

He had good reason.

Donald, who went off in the opening match against Bubba Watson, knew he’d be the first one finished and that he’d have plenty of time to get a sense of how things were going for the Europeans. Still, he couldn’t resist.

“I had a sneak peek at the board,” he conceded, “a couple of times.”

He could afford to. The Englishman built a lead at the second hole that he never relinquished before winning 2 and 1.

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