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Casey and Garcia inspire Europeans

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STRAFFAN, Republic of Ireland -- Inspired by an irrepressible Sergio Garcia and a hole-in-one from Paul Casey, Europe surged into a 10-6 lead over the U.S. on Saturday and need only four points from Sunday's singles to retain the Ryder Cup.

Garcia made it four wins from four matches this week and a remarkable eight out of eight in his foursomes career when he and Luke Donald eased past Phil Mickelson and David Toms 2 & 1 at the K Club.

Minutes later Casey used a four-iron to ace the 213-yard 14th and clinch a 5 & 4 win with David Howell over Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson.

It was only the fifth hole-in-one in Ryder Cup history and the first since Englishman Howard Clark achieved the feat at Oak Hill in 1995.

"That's unbelievable, that's my first hole-in-one in a professional tournament," said Casey. "I hit a four-iron very, very hard and watching the replay it only just made it."

Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood halved their match with Chad Campbell and debutant Vaughn Taylor while Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley lost 3 & 2 to Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk.

Europe, needing 14 points to retain the trophy, also won the earlier fourballs. Each of the four sessions this week have ended in a 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 triumph for the home side.

"We are getting closer to our mark but just have to get over that hurdle tomorrow," said captain Ian Woosnam.

"We've worked hard together, we've put out some good pairings.

"In terms of strength in depth its the strongest team we have ever had but don't get too excited too quick - you know how strong the Americans are in the singles."

In 1999 Europe also led 10-6 going into the singles but lost and Woods said that the Brookline comeback would be their inspiration.

"It's imperative we get off to a quick start as we did in 1999," he said.

"We have to play well as a team, the Europeans are playing well as a team but we have to go out and beat them."

Furyk agreed: "It's a long way back but we've done it before," he said.

Buoyed by their team's dominant performance in the morning, Garcia and Donald notched three birdies in the opening nine holes to go two up on Mickelson and Toms in the foursomes.

The Americans refused to lie down, rattling in successive birdies at the 12th and 13th to get back to all square.

But Mickelson and Toms threw away their hard work by bogeying the next two holes.

Pouring salt into American wounds, Donald sank a 12-foot birdie putt at the long 16th after the Europeans had visited the trees and the rough.

They clinched victory at the 17th, their fourth win in four foursomes matches as a Ryder Cup pair.

"Luke and myself make a really good couple," said Garcia. "He drives it down the middle and I somehow get it on the green."

Donald said the atmosphere on the 16th was electric when he sunk his big putt.

"What an arena to make a putt on," he said. "That was probably the loudest roar I've ever heard on a golf course."

The defeat piled on the misery for Mickelson. The world number two has mustered only half a point from his four matches at the K Club and has lost eight, halved one and won only one of his last 10 Ryder Cup matches.

In the morning fourballs, Furyk and an out-of-sorts Woods lost their second successive match when they went down 3 & 2 to Westwood and Darren Clarke.

Jose Maria Olazabal equalled skipper Ian Woosnam's all-time fourballs record of 10 1/2 points after combining with Garcia to defeat Mickelson and Chris DiMarco 3 & 2.

Casey and Robert Karlsson won the last hole to halve with Cink and J.J. Henry while rookie Johnson, the session's outstanding performer, chipped in at the 17th as he and Scott Verplank triumphed 2 & 1 over Harrington and Henrik Stenson.


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