Anal­y­sis in­side from

Paul Hay­ward, James Cor­ri­gan, Oliver Brown and Tom Cary

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - Paul Hay­ward CHIEF SPORTS WRITER at Le Golf Na­tional

Af­ter the Paral­y­sis in Paris, Amer­ica have a chance to match Europe’s Mir­a­cle of Me­d­i­nah six years ago. But it should worry the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons that it took the threat of hu­mil­i­a­tion to shake them from their tor­por.

Too cold, too tired, too spooked by Euro­pean pas­sion. What­ever the cause, Jim Furyk’s team of mul­ti­ple ma­jor cham­pi­onship win­ners col­lapsed from 3-0 up to 8-3 down be­fore fight­ing back in the four­somes to trail 10-6.

No­body on the Amer­i­can side wants a shel­lack­ing back home only two years af­ter they broke a dis­mal run in this com­pe­ti­tion. Europe, though, are not play­ing like a side sus­cep­ti­ble to a Sun­day sensation.

“We’d bet­ter play good,” said Bubba Wat­son, who re­versed his own poor form to stop Ser­gio Gar­cia re­plac­ing Sir Nick Faldo as Europe’s all-time lead­ing scorer, beat­ing Gar­cia and Alex Noren 3&2, in con­cert with Webb Simp­son.

Amer­ica have come back from this kind of pickle be­fore, back in the days of fash­ion crimes. Their no­to­ri­ous post­card shirts at Brook­line in 1999 were no im­ped­i­ment to them win­ning the first six matches on Sun­day to erase Europe’s com­mand­ing lead. That record stood un­til a win for Ian Poul­ter and Rory McIl­roy as evening fell on the sec­ond day near Chicago lit the fuse for an up­set.

This is al­ready a seis­mic Ry­der Cup. So much has changed. Phil Mick­el­son’s strange hold over Amer­i­can cap­tains has been bro­ken. And those ex­pect­ing to see Tiger Woods’s new cud­dli­ness ex­tend to four­balls and four­some golf were dis­abused of that hope. Swear­ing his way round Le Golf Na­tional with mis­fir­ing part­ners – first Patrick Reed, then Bryson DeCham­beau – Woods fell back to earth af­ter his epic tour ti­tle win in At­lanta on Sun­day – his first for five years. Stiff­ness, jet lag and emo­tional dis­ori­en­ta­tion all preyed on Woods, who has not won a match with a part­ner since Celtic Manor in 2010.

Cap­tain Amer­ica (Reed) was court-mar­tialled af­ter the morn­ing ses­sion and dropped. Quite right, too. Go­ing round with Woods, Amer­ica’s crowd-neu­traliser was a lamb, los­ing his game as well as his com­bat­ive edge. It was shock­ing to see Reed en­fee­bled so soon af­ter his Mas­ters win.

Europe’s record run of eight con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries in 24 hours left the Amer­i­cans to­tally be­wil­dered. For them, yes­ter­day’s four­somes were a fight for sal­va­tion – of their own rep­u­ta­tions, more than their stand­ing as bet­ter-team-on-pa­per. We should know by now that Ry­der Cups shred those writ­ten as­sess­ments of the tal­ent ra­tios.

This tour­na­ment will be re­mem­bered as the one where Mick­el­son’s age (48) caught up with him and Tommy Fleet­wood and Francesco Moli­nari be­came one of the great pair­ings. Paul Casey’s come­back

af­ter a 10-year ab­sence, mean­while, was so suc­cess­ful it ren­dered him tem­porar­ily speech­less with plea­sure.

The dou­ble-prece­dent of come­backs from 10-6 down will keep Europe men­tally sharp for to­day’s dozen du­els. Amer­ica showed just enough steel yes­ter­day af­ter­noon for Thomas Bjorn’s men to be wary of tri­umphal­ism. Justin Spi­eth and Justin Thomas were par­tic­u­larly fierce. They played su­perbly to beat Poul­ter and McIl­roy 4 & 3. Later Furyk called Thomas “a feisty guy – a lit­tle spark plug”.

With its vast view­ing stands and el­e­vated van­tage points, Le Golf Na­tional has steered Ry­der Cup golf into the age of mass spec­ta­tor­ship. The ef­fect on play­ers is plain. Ex­pan­sion has raised the cost of play­ing badly and in­creased the re­wards for win­ning.

It was al­ways in­tense, but there is a new am­pli­fi­ca­tion, which even Mick­el­son is pow­er­less to re­sist. “Benched” all day, Mick­el­son rushed out with ski gloves on to sup­port the team. His coach­ing of Thomas sug­gested a fad­ing vet­eran with am­bi­tions to be cap­tain soon.

Furyk’s pair­ing er­rors are un­likely to pro­duce an­other mutiny – al­though Satur­day nights are fer­tile ground for con­flict. See Tom Wat­son’s reign for proof. Yet Amer­ica will head out for the sin­gles know­ing ac­cu­sa­tions can be eas­ily re­vived; that com­fort and money are their mea­sures of suc­cess.

They might re­ply by point­ing out that Justin Rose won $10 mil­lion (£7.7 mil­lion) on Sun­day but has been de­monic again at this Ry­der Cup. Yes, but Rose is from Europe – who are un­de­feated on home turf since 1993.

Cap­tain Amer­ica (Patrick Reed) was court-mar­tialled af­ter the morn­ing ses­sion and dropped

Mass ap­peal: The crowds at this Ry­der Cup have had an ef­fect on the play­ers

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