PARIS • An emotional Paul Casey fought to hold back tears yesterday after claiming his first Ryder Cup win since 2008, saying he had "desperately" wanted to return to the matchplay showdown.
After being persuaded to retake a European Tour card by captain Thomas Bjorn in order to be eligible for this year's event in France, the Englishman sealed an impressive 3 and 2 victory over Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler alongside compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, who labelled his display as the "Casey Express Train".
"Ask him (Hatton) a question. Let me get my breath," stammered the 41-year-old Casey after securing Europe's seventh of eight straight wins at Le Golf National.
That run put the hosts 8-4 up before the United States recovered in the afternoon, splitting the foursome matches to leave the scores at 10-6 going into today's final day.
Casey was dropped by Colin Montgomerie in 2010 despite being world No. 7, before slipping down the rankings after struggling with injuries. But he has regained his form over the last four years, and was in fine fettle in yesterday's morning four-ball, reeling off five birdies in the first six holes.
"It has been 10 years. Desperately wanted to be back on this team because I know how good it is," he said. He has now won six points from 11 matches. "All these guys are amazing, and once you're a Ryder Cupper, you're always a Ryder Cupper. I can't tell you how proud I am."
He and Hatton were not the only heroes in Bjorn's team. Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia withstood a late fightback in a 2 and 1 win over Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau to trigger a sustained European charge in the four-balls as Europe matched a 1967 Ryder Cup record with eight straight match wins.
EUROPE 10 USA 6
YESTERDAY'S FOUR-BALL: EUROPE 3 USA 1
Rory McIlroy (Nir)/Sergio Garcia (Esp) bt Brooks Koepka/ Tony Finau (USA) 2 and 1 Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) bt Rickie Fowler/Dustin Johnson 3 and 2 Francesco Molinari (Ita)/ Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) bt Patrick Reed/Tiger Woods 4 and 3 Ian Poulter (Eng)/Jon Rahm (Esp) lost to Justin Thomas/ Jordan Spieth 2 and 1
FOURSOME: EUROPE 2 USA 2
Justin Rose (Eng)/Henrik Stenson (Swe) bt Dustin Johnson/Brooks Koepka 2 and 1 Garcia/Alex Noren (Swe) lost to Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson 3 and 2 Molinari/Fleetwood bt Woods/Bryson DeChambeau 5 and 4 Ian Poulter (Eng)/McIlroy lost to Spieth/Thomas 4 and 3
FRIDAY: EUROPE 5 USA 3
Four-ball: Europe 1 USA 3 Foursome: Europe 4 USA 0
McIlroy looked a shadow of himself in Friday's opening four-balls, but he carded four birdies on the front nine to lift Garcia. The Spaniard drained a long birdie putt on the 17th to seal victory and became the second-highest points scorer in Ryder Cup history with 24.5, behind former European captain Nick Faldo (25).
A flurry of back-nine birdies by Francesco Molinari enabled the Italian and England's Tommy Fleetwood, the first European rookie to win two points on the first day of a Ryder Cup since Garcia in 1999, to beat Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed for the second time in as many days, condemning them to a 4 and 3 defeat in the third match.
Bjorn's team were denied a first four-balls whitewash since 1989 only by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. They beat Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm 2 and 1 to prevent Europe from setting an outright record for most successive match wins.
Day 3: StarHub Ch204, 6pm