Padraig Harrington is praying for “ugly” singles battle today after Europe clawed their way back into the Ryder Cup at sultry Valhalla.
With just half a point from his first three matches, the European No 1 is standing on the brink on another Ryder Cup nightmare.
The Dubliner and foursomes partner Robert Karlsson went down by 3 and 1 to US straight men Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry and was benched by Nick Faldo for last night's fourballs.
But triple major winner Harrington reckons he can still play a massive Ryder Cup role if he is forced to produce the goods under intense pressure today.
With Faldo’s squad seething behind closed doors following his decision to bench Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia in yesterday’s foursomes, Europe put their internal squabbles behind them to take the session 2 1/2 to 1 1/2 and cut the deficit to 7-5.
Exhausted Harrington was left out of the afternoon line up so he could get his game in shape for the singles.
And he believes he can do some serious damage in head to head combat today - providing he is handed the toughest match possible.
Harrington explained: “I have to look forward to tomorrow and hope for a really ugly game. The uglier and tougher the better.
“I need the most intense pressure filled match I can find. I will struggle if I am in the middle of the order. I need something with a lot of tension - a match where it is the guy who handles the tension rather than the guy who plays well will win.
“I am struggling with my alignment this week and that is really hurting me off the tee. I have been fighting it for two days but I have fought it really well.
“I didn’t ask to be rested but I am happy to have an afternoon off to go and practice.
“I am not exactly 100 percent happy with how I am hitting it and another hard afternoon would not have been the best for my game tomorrow.”
Faldo came under pressure for dropping Westwood and Garcia for yesterday morning’s foursomes but came through unscathed as the men in blue won two and halved another of the four matches.
Partnering Miguel Angel Jimenez, Graeme McDowell opened his Ryder Cup account when he holed a pressure-packed five footer on the 18th to grab a half with Hunter Mahan and Justin Leonard.
Controversial Ryder Cup pick Ian Pouter teamed up with pal Justin Rose to crush Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell 4 and 3 in the top match and is now the only European who will play all five matches.
But the other European win was a massive shock with rookie Oliver Wilson and Swede Henrik Stenson coming back from four down after six holes to crush dynamic US duo Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim 2 and 1.
Harrington could not have made a worse start to his 20th Ryder Cup match, hooking his drive into the trees at the 448-yard first from where Karlsson slashed his approach into the crowd on the right.
A bogey left the European duo chasing from the start and they were soon four down as Furyk played steadily and Perry holed vital putts from all angles.
The Kentucky native birdied the second from eight feet to put the Americans two up and then drained a 12 footer at the fourth to extend the American’s advantage with another birdie.
Harrington’s driving has been erratic all week and it cost Europe another hole at the fifth, where he found sand off the tee and Perry fired a superb, 180 yard approach shot to within four feet to putt the Americans four-up.
A winning par at the 500 yard sixth, where Harrington holed a five footer for a winning par, gave the European pair some hope and they won the par five seventh as well when Perry found water with his approach and Karlsson sank a four footer for a winning birdie.
But with the American lead reduced to just two holes, the putts dried up for Europe on the back nine.
Harrington explained: “We lost our match on the 10th, 11th and 12th, when they holed and we didn’t. We should have walked off the 12th one up and instead we were two down.”
McDowell and Jimenez had the upper hand from early doors in their clash with American hard nuts Mahan and Leonard, winning the third in par and the fourth with a birdie to go two up.
But they were dragged back to all square with five to play and then looked on in agony as Leonard birdied the 17th to leave them struggling for a half.
At the 18th, the Americans drove into trouble and McDowell and Jimenez won hole with a birdie four to share the spoils.
“Myself and Miguel played great this morning,” McDowell said. “It was really important to get something out of the match. Miguel was a fantastic partner and I wouldn’t have had a chance to hole that five footer for the half if Miguel hadn’t hit such a great bunker shot.”
With Europe winning the session 2 1/2 to 1 1/2, McDowell believes that the pendulum has swung Nick Faldo’s way.
He said: “That seems to be the way in Ryder Cups. Sometimes it is all red on the board and then it is blue. We have some momentum on our side now and that’s huge.”
Asked if the squad was worried by Faldo’s decision to “rest” Garcia and Westwood, McDowell said: “Of course we were worried. We don’t want those two guys sitting on the bench. It was a pretty brave move from Nick to do that but it has obviously worked in our favour and they are going to be firing on all cylinders this afternoon.”
English pair Poulter and Rose grabbed their second win from three matches to get Europe’s first point of the second day with a comfortable 4 and 3 win over a disappointing Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell.
But no-one could have expected Wilson and Stenson to beat Mickelson and Kim 2 and 1 with one of the great Ryder Cup comeback stories of recent years.
The American duo raced into a four up lead after just six holes but lost the plot completely, losing the seventh, eighth, 10th and 12th to be pegged back to all square.
Worse was to follow at the 15th, where Mickelson carved his five wood tee shot into the trees and Kim compounded the error by slicing an ambitious recovery miles right, where it bounced off an official observer into a creek.
With Europe now one up, rookie Wilson grabbed the glory when he drained a curling, 25-footer for birdie at the 17th to close out the match.