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Date added: 19 September 2004

Howell stars on Ryder Cup debut 

Standing ovation from teammates for Swindon pro wins crucial fourball match and Europe triumph

Swindon's golfing star David Howell was hailed a "massive hero" by his fellow teammates tonight after Europe successfully defended the Ryder Cup in emphatic style at Oakland Hills, USA.
 
Decisive point:
David Howell
After Howell's sensational debut appearance in the Saturday fourball matches alongside fellow rookie Paul Casey, in which the Broome Manor member birdied two of the last four holes to secure a valuable point for his team, Bernhard Langer's squad only needed 3 points from 12 last-day singles to complete victory.
 
That they did in dominating fashion, eventually running out winners by a record margin of 18 to 9, although Howell did succumb to some sublime golf by former US Open champion Jim Furyk to lose his singles match 6&4.
 
"It's been such a great team performance," an emotional Howell said while celebrating alongside his teammates.
 
"The whole week has been the most amazing seven days of my career. Being applauded back in the team room by the other players after winning on Saturday was a moment I will never forget.
 
"I've already spoken to some of the members back at Broome Manor, which I hear is hosting quite a party already!" Howell added.

Crucial victory
 
Described as '...a staggering performance that changed the whole complex of the match' by captain Bernhard Langer, Howell and Casey's brilliant, last-hole victory on the second day of the biennial clash proved to be one of the most decisive games in Ryder Cup history.
 
Up against Cup veteran Jim Furyk and Tour winner Chad Campbell in the third match out, the two Cup debutants played some majestic golf under the most extreme pressure, with Howell proving his mettle by birdieing the 15th and 17th to set up a nail-biting finish on the 18th green.
 
That ended with Casey coolly slotting home a five foot putt for par to register an unexpected point for the European team, and to silence the vocal US crowd who had cheered on an American fightback after Europe dominated the opening day.
 
"I've played golf under pressure before," Howell said after being congratulated by his teammates, "but that was something else!"
 
"Myself and Paul knew that this result was an important one for the team momentum, and I'm delighted that we holed the important putts when we needed to. It's a great feeling to know you've contributed to a real team effort," Howell added.
 
Last hole drama
 
After a tight opening in the match, where Howell and Casey shared the first five holes with their much-fancied opponents, the all-English pair opened up a two hole lead after ten holes only to be pegged back by a three birdie blitz by Jim Furyk as the teams entered the back-nine.

Ryder Cup 2004
USA 9.5 Europe 18.5 
17-19 September 2004
One down on the 15th tee, with the eyes of the golfing world upon them and the partisan crowd already celebrating two wins for the US in the first two matches, Howell rose to the challenge in gritty fashion by hitting an eight iron to three feet and birdieing the hole.
 
His effort made it all-square before he then repeated the feat again on the tough 17th to peg back the Amercians once more after Campbell had restored their lead on the 16th.
 
With it all to play for down the last, Howell's teammate Casey then stepped up to the plate to play his part in proceedings by securing the par that brought victory Europe's way.
 
The win restored Europe's four point advantage and halted a US recovery that had threated to overturn Europe's commanding five point overnight lead.
 
Congratulated by his teammates (Howell and Casey were given a standing ovation by the other members of the European squad back at the team room), Swindon's best was given the afternoon off to prepare for the last day finale - the Sunday singles, where Howell ended up facing Jim Furyk in the fourth match of the day.

The rest, as they say, is Ryder Cup history - and Swindon's finest golfer couldn't have played a bigger part.
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