Team USA cruise to victory at Hazeltine – Ryder Cup
Ryder Cup: Team USA 17 Europe 11
Team USA reclaimed the Ryder Cup for the first time in eight years after coasting to a comfortable 17-11 victory over Europe on the final day at Hazeltine National.
Patrick Reed set the tone for the day with an inspired win over a jaded Rory McIlroy in an enthralling top singles match, and although Europe won three of the next four, the remainder of the scoreboard was a sea of red.
Darren Clarke had top-loaded his order in the hope of making early inroads in an overnight three-point deficit, but crucial last-hole wins for Reed as well as Rickie Fowler over Justin Rose kept the home side comfortably ahead.
Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia made a combined 19 birdies in match of astonishing quality which deservedly ended all square, and after big wins for Brooks Koepka and Brandt Snedeker, rookie Ryan Moore had the honour of securing the winning point.
Moore fought back from two down to win the last three holes against the luckless Lee Westwood as Davis Love’s team tasted victory for only the third time in the last 11 contests. And for Love, it was atonement for being denied victory in his first stint as captain by Europe’s miraculous comeback at Medinah in 2012.
McIlroy needed a fast start to give his team-mates a lift further down the order, and he was one up on Reed until the fiery American drove the green at the fifth and buried the putt for eagle, and the next three holes were halved in birdies amid a fervent atmosphere with both players pumped up to the hilt.
But McIlroy looked a spent force after the turn and failed at add another birdie, with Reed fittingly sealing a one-up win with a great putt for a three at the closing hole.
Henrik Stenson got off to a slow start against Spieth before he turned the match around with birdies at eight and nine, sealing a 3&2 win in bizarre circumstances as the American pondered trying to splash out of the hazard at 16, stepped in the water and caused his ball to move, forcing him to concede and shake hands in bare feet.
Thomas Pieters capped a memorable debut with his fourth consecutive win, the Belgian recovering from losing the opening two holes against JB Holmes to power his way to a 3&2 win which made him the top-scoring player for the competition.
But Fowler clawed a vital point back when he pipped an out-of-sorts Justin Rose at the last, although Europe’s fading hopes were lifted in match five as Rafa Cabrera Bello outplayed PGA champion Jimmy Walker to finish an impressive debut unbeaten in his three matches.
Mickelson’s encounter with Garcia was one of the best in recent Ryder Cup memory, with the Spaniard forced to birdie the last four holes to avoid defeat against the fan-favourite whose only blemish on a 10-birdie card was a bogey six at the 11th.
Westwood looked like endinh a tough week with a win until Moore eagled the 16th and birdied the next before a solid par at the last was enough to take his side past the winning line, and Sullivan could not build on going two up after three against Snedeker in a 3&1 defeat.
US Open champion Dustin Johnson held off a valiant last fightback from Chris Wood to put another red point on the board at the last, while Danny Willett’s turbulent debut ended with a 5&4 hammering at the hands of Koepka.
Martin Kaymer salvaged some pride as he avoided a fourth straight defeat with a brilliant back-nine against Matt Kuchar, the German coming back from three down after eight to clinch a one up win, and the contest was already done and dusted when a forlorn Matt Fitzpatrick shook hands with Zach Johnson on the 14th green having been outclassed 4&3.