Europe defeated the U.S. 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 to regain golf’s Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales.
The event came down to the final match, which Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell won over Hunter Mahan by three holes with one to go, or 3-and-1. Supporters rushed the green, embracing the player when the match ended on the 17th.
“Graeme McDowell was put there for a reason,” Europe captain Colin Montgomerie said. “He’s the U.S. Open champion. He’s full of confidence and it showed.”
The U.S. started the day down three points after gaining only a half-point yesterday, and clawed back into a tie as Rickie Fowler birdied his last four holes and Zach Johnson defeated Padraig Harrington. Europe needed 14 1/2 points to win back the trophy. The U.S. hasn’t won abroad since 1993, when it beat Europe 15-13 at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England.
“They came back extremely well,” Montgomerie said of the U.S. team. “There were some fantastic performances by the American team. The three-point deficit is why we won.”
McDowell sank a long putt for a birdie on the par-4 16th hole to go 2 up. He called it “the best putt I’ve hit in my life.”
“The U.S. Open felt like a back nine with my dad back at Portrush compared to that,” said the 31-year-old native of that Northern Ireland town. “I was really nervous. It’s just so much pressure.”
The putt gave McDowell control, and Mahan conceded on the 17th.
Nothing to Lose
The Americans made it tight with Fowler and Zach Johnson pushing the team on. Fowler was down three holes with three to play to Italy’s Edoardo Molinari before his run.
“I was in a position where I had nothing to lose,” Fowler said.
Johnson beat Ireland’s Harrington 3-and-2. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson won their singles matches to cut Europe’s lead to a point.
Woods came back from two holes down to beat Italy’s Francesco Molinari 4-and-3, and Mickelson defeated Peter Hanson 4-and-2.
“We went out strong, with experience,” U.S. captain Corey Pavin said. “I wanted experience up front, and experience at the back, and it nearly worked out.”
Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez defeated Bubba Watson 4-and-3. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy tied Stewart Cink to earn a half-point, and Luke Donald defeated Jim Furyk by one hole. The U.S. started the day with victories from Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson to close the gap. American Jeff Overton defeated Ross Fisher 3-and-2.
Stricker beat England’s Lee Westwood 2-and-1. Johnson defeated Germany’s Martin Kaymer 6-and-4. Ian Poulter got Europe’s first win of the day, beating Matt Kuchar 5-and-4.
Montgomerie’s European team won five matches and tied the sixth yesterday to take control of the event. The Europeans wiped out a 6-4 American lead going into the final session, which took place on a fourth day for the first time in the event’s 83-year history.
“I kept applying the pressure,” Stricker said on Sky Sports. “With the deficit we have, we all have to come out and play great golf to have any chance.”