World Golf Number One Rory McIlroy led by example as Europe won The 2014 Ryder Cup after being given an early scare at Gleneagles.
The home side were overwhelming favourites with a 10-6 overnight lead, but saw Graeme McDowell three down after five to Jordan Spieth in the opening match and the unbeaten Justin Rose four down after six to Hunter Mahan.
At one point the United States were ahead in six early matches but McIlroy was an approximate eight under par in thrashing Rickie Fowler 5&4 to put the first European point on the board and fellow Northern Irishman McDowell won five out of six holes from the tenth to complete a remarkable 2&1 victory.
American rookie Patrick Reed reduced the deficit by beating Henrik Stenson on the 18th, but US Open champion Martin Kaymer chipped in for an eagle on the 16th to complete a comfortable win over Bubba Watson and make the score 13-7.
Victories for Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar over Stephen Gallacher and Thomas Bjorn respectively kept the contest alive before Rose claimed an unlikely half against Mahan thanks to eight birdies from the seventh, the last of which was conceded after Mahan made a hash of the 18th.
That put the home side one point away from outright victory – an eighth in the last 10 contests – and the honour of sealing it fell to Welshman Jamie Donaldson, who was already four up with four to play when he hit his approach to the 15th to within inches of the hole to beat Keegan Bradley.
“I hit the wedge shot of my life to close the game out. I can’t really put words to it. It is unbelievable,” Donaldson told Sky Sports.
“I knew it was getting tight there at the end and everyone was building on my group. I just tried not to spend too much time looking at the scoreboard.
“I was able to do it well enough to close it out.
“The lads have got on so well all week. There has been a great craic in there, it is an incredible week. It is hard to describe how good it is – there is nothing else like it in golf.
“It has been amazing to be a part of it.”
On victorious captain Paul McGinley, he added: “He’s been sensational, incredible. It’s been a hell of a week.”
McGinley paid tribute not only to his players, but everyone who had contributed to the win,
“It has been a real honour to captain these 12 players, our backroom team, it has been a huge team effort,” he said.
“We had three or four big ideas which we kept feeding back to and they came off.
“I have a great sense of pride giving happiness to everyone.”
Europe’s players were quick to praise McGinley, who received public support from the likes of McIlroy, Poulter and Luke Donald when the post was being decided in January 2013.
Sergio Garcia, who beat Jim Furyk on the 18th, said: “He has been so methodical. Every single aspect he needed to touch on, he did. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great captains but Paul did things a little bit differently but with great style.
“He has been a little bit more of a modern captain, taking care of every single detail. He knew what we had was good and working but improved it without changing it.”
McIlroy added: “I can’t say enough about the captain. Paul McGinley has been absolutely immense this week. He has left no stone unturned. He has given this week a lot of thought over the last two years. I am just glad it worked out for him.”
Rory McIlroy beat Rickie Fowler 5&4.
The world number one took a stranglehold on his game by going three up in as many holes with two birdies and an eagle. Two more birdies took him five clear through six and although he handed one back with a bogey at the seventh he was never in any real danger and closed out the match with two birdies in his last three holes as he finished approximately eight under par for 14 holes.
Europe 11 USA 6
Graeme McDowell beat Jordan Spieth 2&1
The Northern Irishman got off to a slow start after his birdie putt on the first horse-shoed out and he found himself three down after five holes. Spieth missed a putt and the chance to go four up on the seventh and McDowell responded with five birdies in eight holes, and eventually holed a clutch eight-foot par putt on the 17th to win 2&1.
Europe 12 USA 6
Henrik Stenson lost to Patrick Reed 1 hole
Reed got off to a nervy start when he chipped into a bunker to lose the second, but birdied the sixth and seventh and signalled for the crowd to keep quiet after the latter. The American rookie moved two up with birdies on the 11th and 12th but lost a ball after a wild drive on the 15th as Stenson drew level. Reed had the last laugh, however, hitting a superb iron shot into the 18th and although he narrowly missed for an eagle, Stenson then missed from four feet for a matching birdie.
Europe 12 USA 7
Martin Kaymer bt Bubba Watson 4&2
Kaymer was always in command against the two-time Masters champion, who had not won a point from his two fourball matches this week. The US Open champion was four up after six and although Watson briefly threatened to set up a nervous finish when he won the 15th, Kaymer ended the match in style by chipping in for an eagle on the 16th.
Europe 13 USA 7
Stephen Gallacher lost to Phil Mickelson 3&1
The rookie Scot led by one after four holes, only for his opponent to rattle off three birdies in four holes to get ahead. Gallacher responded with birdies at the 10th and 11th to get back to all square but Mickelson came back again to win the 15th, 16th and 17th.
Europe 13 USA 8
Thomas Bjorn lost to Matt Kuchar 4&3
Kuchar was one up through six holes, but after a birdie at the seventh he stunned the veteran Dane by holing his second to the next for an eagle to move three ahead, extended to four with a birdie at the 10th. A bogey five at the 15th sealed Bjorn’s fate as Kuchar birdied for a comfortable win.
Europe 13 USA 9
Justin Rose halved with Hunter Mahan
Rose had won three and a half points from four matches but looked to have run out of steam as he fell four down to Mahan after six holes, albeit to four birdies from the American. However, it was then Rose’s turn to start making birdies and five in succession from the seventh got him back to all square before a bogey on the 12th. The next two holes were swapped with birdies and two more on the 16th left Mahan one up playing the last, but the man who lost the decisive singles at Celtic Manor in 2010 again cracked under the pressure, making an ugly six and conceding the hole.
Europe 13.5 USA 9.5
Jamie Donaldson bt Keegan Bradley 4&3
Donaldson took an early grip when he won the fourth hole with a par. The Welshman soon doubled his advantage and although Bradley briefly hit back with a birdie at the eighth, the American could not find a spark. Donaldson was four up after 12 and did not relinquish his grip. His par at the 14th effectively ensured the cup would be retained by Europe but he completed the job in style after a superb approach to the 15th led to a concession.
Match score: Europe 14.5 United States 9.5
Jamie Donaldson bt Keegan Bradley 4&3
Donaldson claimed two foursomes wins alongside Lee Westwood and took that form into the singles. Birdies at the seventh and ninth took the Welshman two ahead and further birdies on the 11th and 12th put the rookie in complete command. A par on the 14th left Donaldson four up with four to play and made sure Europe would retain the cup, but the 38-year-old secured outright victory in style with a brilliant approach to within inches of the hole on the 15th.
Europe 14.5 USA 9.5
Sergio Garcia beat Jim Furyk 1 hole
Garcia and Furyk had met twice before, Furyk winning as the US came from 10-6 down to win at Brookline in 1999 and Garcia getting his revenge when Europe recovered from the same position at Medinah in 2012. It was therefore no surprise that they fought to the end, even after the result was decided, Garcia finishing with three birdies and an eagle in the last five holes after going behind with a bogey on the 13th.
Europe 15.5 USA 9.5
Ian Poulter halved with Webb Simpson
Poulter made an unsatisfactory start with a bogey at the first but he squared the match as Simpson missed a short putt on the second. The standard of approach from both players was high and the pair took their turns to lead. Poulter seemed in command until Simpson squared it at the 14th and then went ahead with a birdie on 17. That left Poulter with work to do at the last to preserve his unbeaten Ryder Cup singles record but he came through.
Match score: Europe 16 United States 10
Lee Westwood lost to Jimmy Walker 3&2
Westwood will have to wait for another tournament to score his 24th Ryder Cup point after he failed to get going against the impressive Walker. Westwood fell behind after Walker birdied the third and he never got back into the contest. He won just one hole all afternoon, but in the wider context the contest was academic as Europe had done the business elsewhere.
Match score: Europe 16 United States 11
Victor Dubuisson halved with Zach Johnson
Dubuisson’s fireworks were not required as match 12 never looked likely to have a bearing on the result. That was perhaps why it proved such a slow-burner, with both players halving the first 10 holes in pars. A birdie then briefly gave Johnson the lead but Dubuisson quickly replied. Dubuisson held the edge at the 18th but over-chipped the green and allowed Johnson to claim a consolation half-point.
Match score: Europe 16.5 United States 11.5
European Golf Team Work
“It’s been a huge team effort”, declared European Ryder Cup Team Captain Paul McGinley, as Europe played its way to an emphatic 16 1/2 -11 1/2 victory over the USA in the 40th Ryder Cup Matches at Gleneagles in Scotland on Sunday.
The “most European” team ever, represented by players from Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Sweden and Wales worked together in an unprecedented display of teamwork over the first two days of fourball and foursomes matches to set up a 10-6 lead going into final day’s singles matches. Team Europe also won the singles session 6 1/2 -5 1/2, with Welshman Jamie Donaldson stroking the winning blow over American Keegan Bradley.
This week, some 250,000 fans witnessed the biggest Ryder Cup ever staged on European soil, which was broadcast by worldwide by 50 broadcasters to over 180 territories.
As the only mainstream sport that Europe plays together as a team, the Ryder Cup transcends golf, uniting the nations of Europe in a very unique way. Mairead McGuinness MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament, who represented the Parliament at the Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony on Thursday commented: “It has been inspiring to see the spirit of sport unite our continent as spectators and fans chanted “Europe, Europe” over the three days, willing the team to victory.
“To see the European team play under the European flag whilst also respecting their national identities is a very unique and powerful symbol of unity in diversity and the power of teamwork.”
Source: European Tour