MEDINAH, Ill. — The Europeans got a much-needed bailout from a most unlikely source.
Nicolas Colsaerts, Europe's lone rookie, single-handedly kept his team from being swept in the second session at the Ryder Cup on Friday. Might have kept Europe's hope of claiming its fifth Ryder Cup in six tries alive, too.
Colsaerts made eight birdies and an eagle to give him and Lee Westwood a 1-up win over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker. The Americans lead Europe 5-3.
"I had the best seat in the house," Westwood said. "I was saying after the match had finished, I knew how vital it was. I wasn't sure if Nicolas did. He said he was looking at the scoreboards, but there's a massive difference between getting a halve and getting a win.
"(Trailing) 5-3, we would have hoped for better at the start of the day, and we need a big day tomorrow," Westwood added. "But we're still within touching distance there if we do have a good day. So it was vital to win that match, yeah."
Colsaerts is the first Belgian to play in the Ryder Cup, and captain Jose Maria Olazabal used his final pick on him for his length off the tee. Medinah is a wide-open course with holes that stretch for miles, and Colsaerts is known as the "Belgian Bomber."
But he's got a nice touch on the greens, too. He made one big putt after another, with Woods calling it "one of the greatest putting rounds I've ever seen."
"He brought me in to read a putt on 15 and I panicked," Westwood cracked." I wondered why he was even asking me because everything he looked at went in. I mean, why ruin it now?"
Colsaerts made the 8-footer, putting the Europeans 2 up. But it was his putt on 17 that Colsaerts will remember.
Woods had made a birdie on 16 to give the Americans a chance to win the match, and stuck his tee shot on the par-3 17th to 4 three feet. Colsaerts barely cleared the water, and had 25 feet for birdie.
He made it, and let loose with a roar that could be heard clear across the Atlantic.
"It's a pretty special moment you can be proud of," Colsaerts said. "It felt wonderful to be able to produce and deliver on such a big stage with a lot of eyes on you and this unbelievable atmosphere."
Even Woods was impressed.
"When somebody like Tiger Woods looks at you and goes, 'Great playing, man,' you understand you've done something pretty good," Colsaerts said.