United States earn their Ryder Cup stripes in defeat of Europe

Ross McLean
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2016 Ryder Cup - Singles Matches
United States, captained by Davis Love III, defeated Europe 17-11 (Source: Getty)

Europe captain Darren Clarke defended his tactics and insisted there was nothing he would do differently despite seeing his side surrender the Ryder Cup after slumping to a 17-11 defeat to the United States at Hazeltine.

There was to be no repeat of the Miracle at Medinah. Starting the day with a three-point deficit, Europe started purposefully and victories for Henrik Stenson, Thomas Pieters and Rafa Cabrera Bello hinted at another famours comeback.

But the United States ultimately dominated the singles as Patrick Reed beat Rory McIlroy, while Ryan Moore’s defeat of Lee Westwood proved decisive.

United States’ victory was only their second this millennium and first since Valhalla in 2008, while defeat robbed Europe of an unprecedented fourth straight Ryder Cup success.

“I wouldn’t have changed anything,” said Clarke. “I have spoken about this already to my vice-captains and we were confident. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but even with that we wouldn’t have made any changes.

“A putt missed here or a putt holed by your opponent, that makes all the difference. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t quite hole them and the Americans did. I couldn’t have asked for one ounce more.”

American counterpart Davis Love III, who was in the United States hotseat at Medinah, cited a change in mindset for his side’s triumph. He said: “This team had to come together. We’ve been criticised for eight or ten years for not coming together and everybody showed we’ve got heart.

“We’ve been kicked around for so long. You keep losing and you feel like you have to do something differently. There was a shift in attitude. We’re not going to win every one of them but we’re going to go forward with a better attitude.”

Europe clawed a point back when Open champion Stenson beat former world No1 Jordan Spieth 3&2. The American conceded defeat on the 16th after incurring a one-shot penalty.

But while the United States roared back in the blink of an eye as Reed finished 1UP against FedEx Cup winner McIlroy, Belgium’s Pieters returned fire to see off JB Holmes 3&2 and become the first rookie to win four points on his Ryder Cup debut.

A dominant Cabrera Bello dismantled US PGA winner Jimmy Walker 3&2 to continue Europe’s fightback and take the score to 10½-9 ½, although momentum was checked by Rickie Fowler’s defeat of Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose.

United States edged closer to their victory target of 14½ points as Brooks Koepka destroyed Masters champion Danny Willett 5&4, while five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson and Spain’s Sergio Garcia halved a thrilling contest.

The hosts moved to within half a point of victory when Brandt Snedeker dispatched Andy Sullivan 3&1, and the decisive blow was delivered by Moore, who finished 1UP against Ryder Cup veteran Lee Westwood.