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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Tiger Woods defends his form as Europe claim 10-6 lead at the Ryder Cup

World No 1 has lost every match he has been involved in at the tournament so far, but the American feels he 'didn't play poorly'

Tiger Woods and the United States have had a tough first two days at the Ryder Cup in France. AFP
Tiger Woods and the United States have had a tough first two days at the Ryder Cup in France. AFP

Tiger Woods said that he “didn’t play poorly” despite sliding to his third straight defeat of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National as Europe grabbed a 10-6 lead over the United States yesterday to take into today’s singles matches.

The 14-time major champion and Patrick Reed suffered a second fourballs loss to Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, four and three, in the morning before Woods was brushed aside by the same pairing alongside Bryson DeChambeau in the foursomes, five and four.

Woods had arrived in France for the competition full of confidence after capping an incredible comeback season after injury with his first title since 2013 last weekend.

But even at his imperious best, he was never a strong Ryder Cup player when in a pairing, and he has now won only nine, lost 19 and halved one of his 29 fourballs and foursomes matches in the event.

Woods was unlucky in some respects - being partnered with a totally out-of-sorts Reed, and also being drawn against the red-hot Molinari and Fleetwood duo three times.

Woods admitted he was frustrated and he said it was at “the fact that I lost three matches, and didn’t feel like I played poorly”.

He added: “That’s the frustrating thing about match play. We can play well and nothing can happen. We ran against two guys that were both playing well and when one was out of the hole, especially in best-ball, the other one made birdie and vice versa.

“They did that a lot to us. At one point, they made six out of eight birdies on the back nine, and only one person was in the hole at a time. That’s the nature of match play.”

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The United States will need to equal the record Ryder Cup comeback if they are to retain the trophy today, after their thrilling win in the 1999 “Battle of Brookline” and Europe’s triumph at Medinah six years ago.

But Woods has a far better record in singles play, having only lost one of seven matches, while also lifting the WGC World Matchplay title three times.

“We’ve got some work to do tomorrow,” said Woods. “Hopefully we can get off to a quick start and get up in some of these matches, and turn the tide a little bit.”

Reed badly let down the former world No 1 in the fourballs on both days.

The US Masters champion endured a nightmare round yesterday, hitting multiple balls into the water, spending much of his time in the rough, and even hitting one tee shot out of bounds and almost into a spectator shopping area.

Woods played down his teammate’s horror show, though, admitting that it was a similar story to 24 hours before, when they lost three and one to Molinari and Fleetwood.

“We fought back from 2-down to get it to all-square,” he said. “And then we didn’t do anything from there. They made a bunch of birdies, and we didn’t answer.”

Molinari and Fleetwood have proven to be key to Europe’s success, winning all four matches they have played.

Thomas Bjorn, Europe’s captain, said of the pair: “They were phenomenal. It was something that came a while ago. They spend a lot of time together and get on really well off the golf course.

“And they really want to be on the golf course together, they have fun together, they work hard and they are very serious with their golf. It has been tremendous to watch them play.”

Despite their strong position Bjorn said he is not taking anything granted going into the final day.

I’ve seen too many times what the singles does,” the Dane said.

“They have been great at refocusing and going out and delivering. I really thought 2-2 this afternoon would be a good place for us to be.

“We need every single man on the course to do their bit, go out there and play hard, determined to win this back.”