Spanish Armada Ties United States : Golf: Ballesteros and Olazabal have 3 1/2 points and the rest of Europe 4 1/2 to send event down to head-to-head play.
The Americans had a good morning, the Europeans a great afternoon and as darkness fell over the Ocean Course Saturday night, the Ryder Cup had another great match to add to its 64-year history.
In a dramatic finish to more than 11 hours of golf, Europeans Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal and Americans Fred Couples and Payne Stewart made superb putts and clutch shots over the final four holes to end their better-ball match in a tie and even the score, 8-8, going into today’s final matches.
Couples called the match nerve-wracking, and Ballesteros said he and Olazabal almost had a heart attack. But for the United States, the tie provided the only light in an afternoon that again saw the Europeans dominate the better-ball matches.
The good news for Ballesteros and Olazabal, who have won three matches and tied one here, playing 68 holes, is that the rest of the Europeans finally helped. Their score is Spain 3 1/2, the rest of Europe, 4 1/2.
“Jose and I played 11 hours yesterday and 10 hours today. I think we should be in the Guinness Book of Records,” Ballesteros said.
The United States again dominated the morning alternate-shot matches, winning three and losing one--Ballesteros and Olazabal beat Couples and Raymond Floyd, 3 and 2. But the Europeans have traditionally dominated the better-ball matches, which are played in the afternoon.
“The Spaniards have held us together until this afternoon, so I am glad the rest came into the game today,” European captain Bernard Gallacher said.
“I still don’t understand it,” Dave Stockton, the U.S. captain said.
What was understood by the 12,000 spectators who stayed until the end of the day, braving the stiff wind, is how different the Ryder Cup is from other tournaments. By the time the final foursome was on the 16th hole, the other three matches had been won by the Europeans, who, along with the American players, became part of a screaming gallery that was evenly divided in support.
“I don’t think the Americans are used to yelling at golf tournaments,” Stockton said. “At the other tournaments, anywhere else in this country, they get a hush card stuck up their nose. But this isn’t any other tournament.”
Also understood was the ability of Couples to play in the clutch. Paired with Stewart, Couples made key shots to keep his team alive.
“I told Freddy that in 10 years he will be helping other players along in the Ryder Cup,” Stockton said. “I knew he had a bad Ryder Cup last time, and I wanted it to be different for him this time. He is a better player now then he was two years ago or one year ago, and I think his clutch putt at 17 demonstrated how far he has come since last year.”
Down by two holes, Ballesteros sank an 18-foot putt on the 13th hole and a 10-footer for birdie on the 15th to square the match. But before Ballesteros putted on 15, Couples made a shot that counted only in momentum for his team.
Off the 15th tee, Couples drove left into sand, then punched out and hit sand again. By then, Stewart had picked up his ball and was on his way to the 16th tee along with most of the gallery. As they left, Couples hit from the trap and into the hole from about 40 feet.
The teams halved the 16th hole. On the 17th, Olazabal hit his tee shot six feet from the hole, but missed the putt. Couples halved the hole with a six-footer.
By then, darkness fell on the 18th hole. But it was bright enough for Olazabal and Stewart, who made three-foot pars to tie the match.
American Steve Pate was paired with Corey Pavin in an afternoon match, which they lost to Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie, 2 and 1. Pate won the only two holes he and Pavin captured in his first match since he was injured in a Wednesday car accident.
Pate said that his bruised abdominal muscle hurt quite a bit. He drew the blind pairing to play singles against Ballesteros today. If Pate cannot play, Gallacher has picked a player to sit out and all the pairings would be adjusted accordingly.
But you can be sure, Gallacher said, “that the player sitting out will not be Ballesteros.”
American Rocco Mediate didn’t make the team, so he is working as a photography assistant to longtime friend Steve Wilson to stay close to the action. Mediate carries equipment and is even shooting some pictures for Wilson, who is a renowned independent photographer who used to work for Time and Newsweek. Mediate said that Thursday he was talking with a couple of the players and took off walking with them down the fairway, a place where photographers are prohibited. “I forgot,” Mediate said. “He’s going to get our credentials pulled,” Wilson said. U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Dick Stockton, however, is so happy to have Mediate cheering on his fellow golfers from the sidelines that he told him he could have anything he wants. . . . Pete Dye, who designed the Ocean Course, has this answer to complaints that it isn’t a spectator course: “I didn’t build it for spectators.” . . . John Daly, the ball-cruncher who won the PGA Championship and whom many wanted to see picked for the Ryder Cup team, sent a telegram to the U.S. team that is pinned to the dressing room wall: “Good Luck and Kick Butt.”
Singles matches in the final round of the Ryder Cup. Player representing the United States listed first. Ray Floyd vs. Nick Faldo Payne Stewart vs. David Feherty Mark Calcavecchia vs. Colin Montgomerie Paul Azinger vs. Jose Maria Olazabal Corey Pavin vs. Steve Richardson Wayne Levi vs. David Gilford Steve Pate vs. Seve Ballesteros Chip Beck vs. Ian Woosnam Mark O’Meara vs. Paul Broadhurst Fred Couples vs. Sam Torrance Lanny Wadkins vs. Mark James Hale Irwin vs. Bernhard Langer