Sensational Europe Regain Ryder Cup in Rome
EUROPE reduced their captain, Luke Donald, to tears as they regained the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.
As expected, there was an American fightback of sorts but it was all too little, too late and the Americans will surely now launch a post mortem. Two years ago, Europe lost 19-9 at Whistling Straits but they led from start to finish in Italy and, in truth, had the match won before the 12 singles matches got under way.
The honour of securing the winning point went to Tommy Fleetwood, who beat an out-of-sorts Rickie Fowler and then broke down in tears in the arms of vice-captain Jose Maria Olazabal.
With Europe needing four points from Sunday's 12 singles matches, Fleetwood won the 11th game to pass the 14½ required
Scotland's Robert MacIntyre added a further point and, with hundreds of fans on the edge of the 18th green, Shane Lowry wrapped up a 16½-11½ win.
Fleetwood said: “I can’t wait to see the rest of the team, the captain, the vice-captains, our families and all the backroom staff. I am so proud to be a part of this team. We have an amazing group of people. The landscape has changed for Team Europe but I couldn’t wish for a greater group of people to do this with. The bonds you make here last a lifetime. I am feeling, relief, pride, joy for everything we have achieved this week. I love them all.
“Luke has been an amazing captain and the way he has been this week has been phenomenal. I am so happy we could get it done for him this week.”
Donald said: “I could not be prouder of this group of guys. We had a plan and they executed to to perfection. This is the best moment of my golfing life. It means so, so much to me and to everybody else who has been involved.
"They trusted me and they delivered for me. I am pretty emotional. It's been a long process, an amazing journey and I have really enjoyed this one.
"It was stressful as the US put up a fight today, so hats off to them. But I am so proud of my 12 guys. We formed a bond from day one and they gave me everything.”
US captain Zach Johnson was gracious in defeat. He said: "Europe and Luke played great and earned it" before shouldering the blame for their defeat, conceding he had "made some poor decisions".
"It's quite simple, we got outplayed," he added. "We showed grit and heart, it got interesting out there. It ebbed and flowed, it had momentum. I'm proud of my guys.”
Donald's mantra all week was about getting off to a "fast start" and his players had delivered on Friday and Saturday, winning both morning sessions 4-0 and 3-1 as Europe built a 10½-5½ lead to take into Sunday.
And the Englishman, who won all four Ryder Cups he contested as a player, stacked the top singles matches with his best players.
World number three Jon Rahm led off against number one ranked American Scottie Scheffler in a heavyweight contest that was the Ryder Cup in microcosm, ebbing and flowing as the momentum switched between the pair.
Rahm was two ahead after five, then Scheffler punched back with three birdies in the next six holes to sneak one ahead after 11.
The intensity increased as Rahm birdied the next two to retake the lead; Scheffler retaliated with successive birdies of his own to claim the next two.
But the American was unable to deliver the knockout blow, missing from 15 feet to win the match on the 17th.
And when Rahm cosied a putt from about 60 feet to six inches on the last, it proved enough to win a half point.
World number two Rory McIlroy and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton added two more points, seeing off Sam Burns and Open champion Brian Harman respectively to take Europe to 14 points and on the brink of regaining the trophy they lost so heavily at Whistling Straits in 2021.
Here is how the final-day singles unfolded:
Jon Rahm halved with Scottie Scheffler
This rollercoaster heavyweight clash went to the 18th where the Spaniard chipped from 90 feet to nine inches for a closing birdie to scramble a half point.
Viktor Hovland beat Collin Morikawa 4&3
The Norwegian put the first European point on the board after never trailing and nailing six birdies in 15 holes.
Patrick Cantlay beat Justin Rose 2&1
The American pantomime villain won the first point for the visitors by surviving Rose making three birdies in four holes before a sealing victory with a birdie on the 15th.
Rory McIlroy beat Sam Burns 3&1
After his rousing reception on the first tee, the Ulsterman made three birdies in the first seven holes before a seventh birdie on the 17th.
Max Homa beat Matt Fitzpatrick one up
The top US points scorer made a great up and down for par on the last - including a knee-jangling seven-foot putt - after taking a penalty drop after his ball was unplayable to win the match.
Tyrrell Hatton beat Brian Harman 3&2
The Englishman birdied three out of the first four holes - including a miracle birdie from the rough on No.3 - to win his first singles match and finish unbeaten.
Brooks Koepka beat Ludvig Aberg 3&2
The USPGA champion birdied the first hole as he outgunned the Swedish rookie to maintain his unbeaten Ryder Cup singles record.
Justin Thomas beat Sepp Straka two up
The American missed an 11-foot putt to win match on 17 but needing to win the last, the Austrian found a greenside bunker.
Xander Schauffele beat Nicolai Hojgaard 3&2
The Dane race to a two-hole lead after three but the Olympic champion powered back to win his first match of the week.
Shane Lowry halved with Jordan Spieth
Rory McIlroy’s bouncer fell three down after five holes and only led for one hole but used the crowd’s energy to come back and half in the last match left on the course.
Tommy Fleetwood beat Rickie Fowler 3&1
The American found water on the driveable par-4 16th and Fleetwood hit the green to go two up with two to play before winning 17 for officially the winning point.
Robert MacIntyre beat Wyndham Clark 2&1
The Scot remained unbeaten on his debut by racing three up after five and surviving a late wobble and missed putts to beat the US Open champion.
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