Thomas Bjorn's men stay strong to win The Ryder Cup back for Europe - 17.5-10.5, with Francesco Molinari securing the winning point
Europe Regain Ryder Cup After Holding Off US Fightback To Run Out 17.5-10.5 Winners
Molinari defeated a hapless Phil Mickelson 4&2 to secure the winning point and spark jubilant celebrations, a result that also gave him five points from five matches – an incredible end to the season for the Open champion.The damage was done for the US over the first two days, when they struggled to find fairways, handing hole after hole to the Europeans – and Bjorn’s men were able to hold off a spirited final-day fightback.
Friday afternoon’s clean sweep was Europe’s first ever in foursomes, and it stunned the visiting team, as Europe took a 5-3 lead. That advantage was stretched on Saturday as some inspired partnerships, most notably Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, kept the US under the pump.
Heading into Sunday, Europe led 10-6, and it wasn’t long before the board started turning blue, one of the few exceptions being Fleetwood, who fell five down to Tony Finau at the turn, and looked tired after his heroics over the first two days.
But as the top match reached a tense finale, and Dustin Johnson edged ahead against Ian Poulter, the scoreboard started to turn red – and Bjorn began to look a little concerned.
That worry intensified not long later when Rory McIlroy, heading down the final hole all square with Justin Thomas, found the bunker with his tee shot and water with his second when trying to lay up. A handshake followed and gave the US the first singles point, which closed the gap to 10-7.Tiger Woods continued to look out of sorts for much of his encounter with Jon Rahm, until a eagle-three on the par-5 9th clawed a hole back, and a birdie on 12 levelled the match.
However, the fist-pumps, missing from the first two days, were short-lived when the Spaniard re-established a two-hole advantage after Woods missed from close range for bogey at the par-5 14th.
One minute the American comeback was on, the next it was scuppered, with Paul Casey earning a huge half in match two against US Open champion Brooks Koepka, narrowly missing a putt for the win at what was becoming a louder 18th with every minute.
Elsewhere, rookie Thorbjørn Olesen, one of only two players not to secure a point for Europe heading into the singles, was busy disposing of three-time Major winner, Jordan Spieth, surging into a four-hole lead after just eight holes.
Up ahead, though, Justin Rose went down 3&2 to an impressive Webb Simpson, and Finau denied Fleetwood five wins from five when he finished their match on the 14th for a comprehensive 6&4 victory.
It brought the US side to within half a point, and all eyes turned to the later matches, many of which were nip-and-tuck affairs.
Bjorn needn’t have worried with Poulter starting to take control of world number one, Johnson, who, after splitting the fairway at 15, dunked his approach into the water to gift the hole to the Englishman.
When Olesen wrapped up a fine 5&4 win over world number ten Spieth, and Rahm saw off Woods with a timely birdie on the difficult 17th for a 2&1 win, the game was virtually up for the US.
However, this being The Ryder Cup, Johnson atoned for his mess on 15 with a 50-footer for birdie on the 16th, forcing Poulter to regroup. It only delayed the celebrations, especially with Sergio Garcia, Molinari and Henrik Stenson all on top in their matches.
Predictably, Poulter held his nerve for a 2UP win, shortly before Molinari claimed the point that regained The Ryder Cup for Europe.
It was then a question of how damaging the scoreline would become for the US, as Garcia beat Rickie Fowler 2&1 to pass Nick Faldo and become Europe’s leading Ryder Cup points scorer.
Patrick Reed added a point to America’s tally with a 3&2 win over Tyrrell Hatton, but Stenson put another point on the board for Europe with a 5&4 victory over Bubba Watson.
It left one match on the course, but it wasn’t long before the crowd could enjoy one last huge roar, as Alex Noren holed a monster putt on the 18th to defeat a dejected Bryson DeChambeau.
Whilst Bjorn will look back on the contest with fondness, opposite number, Furyk will ponder where it all went wrong. A number of his senior players were unable to inspire his side, with Woods and Mickelson ending the week pointless.
Next up and it’s Whistling Straits in 2020.