Mon, 04 Dec 2023

Team Europe clinches Ryder Cup victory over U.S.

Field Level Media
02 Oct 2023, 01:19 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Tommy Fleetwood of England drove the green at the par-4 16th hole en route to clinching the winning half-point, and Team Europe finally vanquished the United States team to win the 44th Ryder Cup on Sunday at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club outside Rome.

Team Europe led 10 1/2-5 1/2 entering Sunday's 12 singles matches needing four points to win with the U.S. team required to get 8 1/2 points to retain the cup.

After falling behind 14-7 Sunday, the U.S. had to sweep the final seven matches of the day. Brooks Koepka finished off Swedish rookie Ludvig Aberg 3 and 2 and Max Homa made a massive decision at the 18th hole that paid off to preserve a 1-up win over Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick.

"Proud, proud, proud moment for me. They play for more than themselves, they play together," emotional Team Europe captain Luke Donald said in a post-match TV interview.

Xander Schauffele defeated Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard 3 and 2, but the Americans' faint hopes fell apart when Rickie Fowler, 1 down to Fleetwood, cut his drive into the water at No. 16.

Fleetwood's ensuing drive rolled to 23 feet of the flagstick. His eagle putt was short, but Fowler conceded the birdie, ensuring Europe would gain at least half a point from the match.

Europe has claimed eight of the last 11 Ryder Cups. The Americans failed to end a Ryder Cup road drought that dates to 1993.

The U.S. team needed a record comeback Sunday to retain the cup; the largest Sunday rally in Ryder Cup history belongs to the 1999 U.S. team, from four points down.

Europe's "big three" -- Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Jon Rahm of Spain and Viktor Hovland of Norway -- combined to earn 2 1/2 points early in the day. Tyrrell Hatton of England beat Brian Harman 3 and 2 to bring Europe to 14 points before the Americans found ways to stay afloat.

Homa was 1 up on Fitzpatrick at the par-5 18th when both players missed to the right of the green on their second shots. While Fitzpatrick chipped on, Homa's ball was so buried in the tall, snaking rough that he took an unplayable lie and yielded a penalty stroke.

It was the right decision. Homa chipped it to 7 1/2 feet with his fourth shot, Fitzpatrick missed a birdie putt to win the Ryder Cup and Homa converted the must-have par to preserve the full U.S. point.

"(Caddie) Joe Greiner's the brains, I just swing it," said Homa, who led the U.S. this week with a 3-1-1 record. "That was an awful break. I don't know how (his second shot) didn't get into the bunker, and I was frustrated, my head was spinning. (Greiner) said, 'We're gonna take an unplayable here, you're gonna chip it down to 10 feet and you're gonna make it.'"

McIlroy led all players in the 2023 event, winning four of a possible five points.

--Field Level Media

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