x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Scandinavians take shine from Mickelson's campaign

Phil Mickelson could hardly believe the way the Ryder Cup had come back to bite him on a dramatic second day at Valhalla.

Phil Mickelson could hardly believe the way the Ryder Cup had come back to bite him on a dramatic second day at Valhalla. The top-ranked American in the absence of Tiger Woods was beginning to think that a miserable personal record in golf's principal matchplay event was about to be enhanced big style after two outstanding performances were amply rewarded on Friday. Six holes into his next engagement against the Europeans on Saturday morning a third precious point looked guaranteed as he and his gifted young partner Anthony Kim raced into a commanding four-up lead against the Swede Henrik Stenson and the Danish rookie Soren Hansen. Thirteen holes later the Scandinavian pairing had overturned the situation so markedly that they were able to shake hands victoriously on the 17th green, leaving a dejected Mickelson to regroup and prepare to face a rejuvenated Stenson again in the afternoon fourballs, this time with different partners.

Again Mickelson looked in control, he and Hunter Mahan leading Stenson and his fellow Swede Robert Karlsson to two up with seven to play, but again the left-handed American failed to celebrate victory in the face of an amazing birdie blitz by Karlsson. Karlsson, who had been used only once previously by his captain Nick Faldo, was the individual star of the fourth series of matches as he made six birdies on the inward nine to knock the stuffing out of Mickelson who was in the end grateful for a share of the spoils.

"It was a great match," said Mickelson. "Hunter and I played some good golf. We hung tough as Karlsson birdied those six holes on the back nine. "That run made things very difficult for us but we were able to withstand that and hang in there." @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae