U.S. team captain Ben Crenshaw will front-load his lineup for Sunday's singles matches with his best players in an attempt to create some early momentum against the Europeans in what may be a futile effort to keep the Ryder Cup in the United States for the next two years.
With the Americans trailing, 10-6, after the first two days, Crenshaw is hoping his first six can get his team back in contention and prevent the Europeans from clinching the Cup early in the day.
He will send Tom Lehman out as his leadoff man to play England's Lee Westwood, followed by Hal Sutton against Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, Phil Mickelson against Sweden's Jarmo Sandelin, Davis Love III against France's Jean Van de Velde, Tiger Woods against Scotland's Andrew Coltart and David Duval against Sweden's Jesper Parnevik.
Three of Europe's first six players off Sunday--Sandelin, Van de Velde and Coltart--have not played in a match as captain Mark James used three of the same teams in partners competition in each of the first four rounds.
James has back-loaded his lineup with some of his best players, just in case the American strategy does pay off. Knowing he needs only four singles victories or any combination of four points, he is placing Colin Montgomerie, his strongest player, in the No. 10 slot. At No. 11, he's got Spain's Sergio Garcia, undefeated after four rounds (3-0-1) as Parnevik's playing partner.
And if it all goes down to the final pairing, James will throw Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the recently crowned British Open champion, against Jeff Maggert, who won the first World Golf Championship match-play title earlier in the spring.
Crenshaw insisted he felt good about his team's chances Sunday because of the record of previous American teams in singles. In 1997, the United States got eight points in singles, but still lost the Cup in Spain, 14 1/2-13 1/2.
"I'm a big believer in faith," he said. "I have a good feeling about this."
Ready and Rested
James was asked tonight about the three players who sat out the first two days, and he said they all understood going into the competition that was a possibility.
"I think they're all keen to play," he said. "And I think they'll play well. They've had plenty of practice, and I think they're going to feel comfortable out there. They've got a great idea of the pressure they're going to be under from watching. They're going to be under no illusions as to what it's going to be like, and I think they'll be ready to compete."
A Different Titlist
Volunteer marshals on duty this week have been vigilant in keeping media members inside the ropes from straying too far. On Friday, one marshal shooed a tall, dapper fellow in a blue blazer back outside the ropes.
His name was Prince Andrew, and his title is Duke of York. He complied, according to witnesses.