United States Completes Record Ryder Cup Victory
THIS time there was to be no miracle. It turned out that America’s Ryder Cup team were not only better on paper after all. The world rankings don’t lie.
Steve Stricker’s magnificent team duly regained the trophy with a record 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits in front of a passionate gallery.
The honour of holing the winning putt went to Collin Morikawa, but the result was a foregone conclusion as they went into the final day leading 11-5, needing just 3.5 points for victory.
Europe had a mountain to climb and it was beyond them, with only Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter winning their singles matches.
Around them, American players celebrated, with Brooks Koepka downing a beer thrown to him from the fans after he completed a 2&1 victory on the 17th green to booming chants of "U-S-A" from a 40,000-strong home crowd.
There had already been big wins for Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau amid a carnival atmosphere by Lake Michigan, while Dustin Johnson became the first American to win all five matches at a Ryder Cup since 1979.
Koepka and DeChambeau, who have been involved in a long-running feud, briefly embraced in the post-match media conference, with US captain Steve Stricker saying they had "wanted to play together".
"This is a special day for everyone here involved," added Stricker, who struggled to keep his emotions in check as a Wisconsinite. "The Ryder Cup means a lot to everybody, your side and our side. We finally put in a dominant performance. This is a new era right here, they are young, motivated, they came here determined to win.
"I never won a major. But this is my major."
Europe captain Padraig Harrington conceded: "It's a tough loss, but they were better than us. They were a strong team and played on their best form. They had momentum the whole time."
The margin of victory eclipses the 18.5-9.5 successes enjoyed by Europe in 2004 and 2006 and America's own triumph in 1981.
The USA led 6-2 after Friday's foursomes and fourballs sessions, and extended that to a record 11-5 on Saturday to leave themselves needing to win just 3.5 points out of the 12 available in the singles.
Harrington spoke on Saturday evening of calling upon the spirit of 2012, when the visitors came from 10-6 down to win the 'Miracle of Medinah' to inspire his side.
He put McIlroy, who had lost all three of his matches, out first and the Northern Irishman immediately put European blue on the scoreboard by winning the first hole against Olympic champion Xander Schauffele.
And when Harrington's fellow Irishman Shane Lowry went ahead on the second in the second match, the few European fans who had managed to make it to Whistling Straits this week started to believe.
However, Cantlay, who won the PGA Tour's season-long FedEx Cup and its $15m prize earlier this month, won the next four holes to take control of that match.
Behind him, Scheffler birdied the first four holes as he put world number one Jon Rahm under early pressure.
And then the big-hitting DeChambeau hit his tee shot on the par-four first onto the green and holed the 40-foot eagle putt to stun Sergio Garcia.
They were leads the Americans would keep throughout their matches against the Spaniards, who had combined for three points from three matches in Friday and Saturday's fourballs and foursomes.
"Unfortunately they were a little better than we were," said Garcia, who extended his points record to 28.5 at his 10th Ryder Cup. "We've got to accept that and we've got to get ready for Rome and try to get it back."
The victory was clinched with seven matches still out on the course, underlining the vast superiority of the home side.
Justin Thomas beat Tyrrell Hatton 4&3, Koepka saw off Bernd Wiesberger 2&1 and Daniel Berger beat Matt Fitzpatrick on the last as the US won seven of the singles matches.
The US team featured eight of the top 10 in the world rankings and eight of their team are in their 20s, with the oldest being 37-year-old world number two Johnson, who rounded off a terrific week with a one-hole victory over Paul Casey.
Three of the six rookies in the team, Cantlay, Morikawa and Scheffler, remained unbeaten throughout the week as every US player contributed at least one point.
By contrast, several of the European players must be close to the end of their Ryder Cup careers, although 48-year-old Lee Westwood, who qualified for the team, and 45-year-old Ian Poulter, one of Harrington's three wildcard selections, were victorious in singles.
Both of their triumphs came long after the cup had been lost, but both won their opening holes when European blue was lacking on the scoreboards.
Westwood, who trailed by two holes with five to play, eventually beat Harris English on the 18th, while Poulter, a captain's pick for the fifth time in seven appearances, never trailed against Tony Finau, winning 3&2.
"Sticking a point on the board is nice from a personal feeling, but it's no consolation," said Poulter after keeping up his fine record of having never lost a singles match, winning six and halving the other.
"We'll saddle up and see if we can go again in Italy. You don't think it's a complete runaway like this. When you look at the scoreboard it looks extremely lopsided, but it didn't feel that way."
The next Ryder Cup is scheduled to be held in Rome in 2023, which will be 30 years since the US last won an away match.
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