PARIS (REUTERS) - Europe regained golf's Ryder Cup, as captain Thomas Bjorn's team won 17.5-10.5 against the United States at a packed Le Golf National on Sunday (Sept 30).
Leading 10-6 going into the 12 singles matches, there were some nervous moments on an exciting afternoon as the Americans occasionally threatened a comeback.
But with Ian Pouter taking the total to 13.5 with victory over world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Francesco Molinari, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson all assured of at least a half, the European team could begin to celebrate.
Defeat means the US' long run of failure on European soil in the biennial team competition goes on. The last time they won away was in 1993.
Molinari, Garcia and Stenson eventually all won, with the Italian being the first European to win all five matches in a single competition.
A fatigued former world No. 1 Tiger Woods, who ended an amazing injury return with the Tour Championship the previous week, was beaten 2 and 1 by Spaniard Jon Rahm to lose all his four matches.
Five-time Major champion Phil Mickelson also did not earn a single point.
The three dormie games meant victory was secure but Ryder Cup tradition demands a man who “delivers” the winning point and nobody has delivered like Molinari this week.
After seeing his ball splash into the lake Mickelson, suffering two defeats in what will surely be his last appearance, sportingly removed his cap and offered his hand to spark amazing scenes of celebration on the tee and amid the biggest galleries in the event’s history.
“This means more than majors, more than anything,” said Molinari, who won all four pairs matches with Tommy Fleetwood in another European first.
“The team spirit has been the best I have been a part of, it’s just been an incredible week.”
Moments later Garcia beat Rickie Fowler 2&1 to become the competition’s all-time leading scorer, his three points this week taking his career tally to 25.5 and overhauling Nick Faldo and fully justifying Bjorn’s decision to select him as a wild card.
“I don’t usually cry, but I couldn’t help it, what a week,” said the Spaniard.
“It’s been a rough year, but we fought hard. I’m so thankful to Thomas Bjorn for believing in me.
“It’s unreal. The crowds were amazing – they always are but it was just unbelievable how supportive. I’ve never had so many big cheers like I’ve had this week. It was amazing, and I’m just really happy that they get to celebrate now.”
Stenson duly handed Bubba Watson his fourth defeat in four singles matches, by a thumping 5&4, with only Patrick Reed halting the cascade of blue by beating Tyrrell Hatton.
Alex Noren and Bryson Dechambeau then found themselves alone on the course – but for 70,000 fans – as the final match carried on to decide only the margin of victory.
“You have to tip your cap, they outplayed us,” said Furyk, who has cut a sporting and dignified figure through what turned out to be a tough week.
“Europe did a good job on a golf course they know pretty well. It’s a tight and wonderful golf course and their captain did a better job than me.”