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Donald strikes early blow.

LUKE DONALD struck a potentially crucial first blow for Europe today as the rain-delayed Ryder Cup resumed at Celtic Manor. Donald chose not to attempt a five-foot birdie putt to halve the ninth hole against American rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton as darkness fell yesterday evening.

"Tomorrow is going to be fresh greens and it was getting dark so I didn't feel comfortable taking it," Donald explained at the time.

And it looked like the right decision when play restarted at 8am and Donald calmly rolled in the putt to keep himself and Padraig Harrington just one down in the bottom fourballs match.

The US pairing of Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar were still two up on Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy after 11 holes, Cink having made five birdies with a number of lengthy putts yesterday.

Europe's only lead was courtesy of Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer in the opening match, the Anglo-German pairing one up on Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson after 13 holes.

The remaining clash between Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher and Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker was all square after 10 thanks to Poulter's birdie on the 10th last night.

The good news did not last long, however, Overton continuing his impressive debut with a birdie from 10ft on the 10th to restore a two-hole lead.

Westwood also thought he had gone two ahead on the 13th, only to see his birdie putt from 12 feet horseshoe around the hole and stay out.

McIlroy did manage a birdie on that hole in the group behind, however, getting him and McDowell back to just one down to Cink and Kuchar.

Poulter and Fisher suffered a body blow on the 12th when Stricker chipped in from short of the green for a birdie to go one up, with the Americans now ahead in three of the four matches.

That meant the top match was becoming ever more important for Europe and Westwood thankfully drove the green on the 15th and two-putted for a winning birdie to go two up with three to play.

Donald was having to carry Harrington in the final match, with the Irishman yet to make a single birdie.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 2, 2010
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