Amer­i­cans roll in sin­gles to win back Cup

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Doug Fer­gu­son

CHASKA, MINN. >> This wasn’t about being maybe the best team ever as­sem­bled. The Amer­i­cans were sim­ply a team, and they fi­nally won back the Ryder Cup.

Phil Mick­el­son led the Amer­i­cans be­hind the scenes. Pa­trick Reed pow­ered them with his pas­sion on the golf course. And it was Ryan Moore, the fi­nal cap­tain’s pick who wasn’t even on the team un­til a week ago Sun­day, who de­liv­ered the cup-clinch­ing point at Hazel­tine.

Moore fin­ished ea­gle-birdiepar for a 1-up vic­tory over Lee West­wood, and the cel­e­bra­tion was on.

“When put in the right environment, the U.S. team brought out some amaz­ing golf,” Mick­el­son said. “And we’re bring­ing back the Ryder Cup be­cause of it.”

There was no melt­down like Me­d­i­nah four years ago, when the Amer­i­cans blew a 10-6 lead un­der cap­tain Davis Love III.

Europe never re­ally had a chance.

Reed out­du­eled and out­shouted Rory McIl­roy for a 1-up vic­tory, and by then the back end of the score­board was filled with Amer­i­can red.

The fi­nal score was 1711, the big­gest rout for the United States since 1981. That U.S. team is con­sid­ered the best team ever as­sem­bled with 11 ma­jor cham­pi­ons. In a ra­dio in­ter­view go­ing into the Ryder Cup, Love was try­ing to ex­plain that the Amer­i­cans didn’t have to do any­thing “su­per hu­man” when he said, “This is the best team maybe ever as­sem­bled.”

Ul­ti­mately, this wasn’t about mea­sur­ing against the past as much as it was build­ing to the fu­ture.

The Amer­i­cans lost for the third straight time in 2014 at Gle­nea­gles, and it was team di­vided over ev­ery­thing from how the cap­tain was se­lected to how the team should be built. Mick­el­son put his im­age on the line by pub­licly chal­leng­ing cap­tain Tom Wat­son at the clos­ing press con­fer­ence in Scot­land, and he was the strong­est voice among five play­ers on a task force that was as­sem­bled to fig­ure out why the Amer­i­cans couldn’t seem to win.

Mick­el­son was un­der pres­sure all week and de­liv­ered 2½ points, in­clud­ing a halve with Ser­gio Gar­cia in which both birdied the fi­nal two holes.

“You keep los­ing, you feel like you have to do some­thing dif­fer­ent,” said Love, who avoided be­com­ing the first U.S. cap­tain to lose the Ryder Cup twice. “They had a lot of pres­sure on them for the last two years. And ev­ery time we picked a guy, there was more and more pres­sure on the team and more and more ques­tions. And I’m just proud the way ev­ery one of them played. It was a great team ef­fort.”

The golf was equally great.

Reed faced the tallest or­der in the lead­off match with Rory McIl­roy, and the qual­ity of golf was as high as it gets. Reed squared the match by driv­ing the fifth green to 8 feet for ea­gle, and he kept the tee un­til the 18th. Reed matched McIl­roy’s birdie on No. 6, McIl­roy matched Reed’s birdie on No. 7 and the par-3 eighth hole was as sen­sa­tional as it gets in a Ryder Cup.

McIl­roy holed a 60-foot birdie putt, leapt into the air and cupped his hand to his ear, mock­ing the Amer­i­can crowd to yell even louder. Reed then holed a birdie putt from 35 feet, charg­ing the crowd be­fore turn­ing to wag his fin­ger at McIl­roy. They bumped fists and pat­ted each other on the back, both 5 un­der through eight holes.

Their stan­dard of gold dipped af­ter that, per­haps be­cause they spent so much en­ergy pump­ing fists, and Reed fi­nally took his first lead when McIl­roy bo­geyed the 12th hole. McIl­roy’s put­ter went cold, and Reed closed him out with a 7-foot birdie on the 18th.

Mick­el­son made 10 birdies, and Gar­cia made nine birdies against no bo­geys in their match.

Among the lone bright spots for Europe was Thomas Pi­eters, the Bel­gian rookie who had the best de­but of any Euro­pean rookie by go­ing 4-1. He took down J.B. Holmes in the third match, right af­ter Hen­rik Sten­son dis­man­tled Jor­dan Spi­eth. By then, it was omi­nous.

There would be no come­back like Me­d­i­nah. There would be no cel­e­brat­ing for Europe, which it had done eight of the last 10 times.

The Amer­i­cans stood atop a bridge to the left of the 18th green and sprayed cham­pagne on them­selves and the crowd, an enor­mous gath­er­ing that sent end­less cheers of “U-S-A” and “Red, white, blue” across Hazel­tine for three straight days.

Ev­ery U.S. player con­trib­uted a point.

For Europe, West­wood was among four play­ers who ended the week with­out a point.

The Ryder Cup Task Force was dis­man­tled af­ter Love was named cap­tain for the sec­ond time, though Mick­el­son and Tiger Woods re­main on a com­mit­tee for the next Ryder Cup in 2018 in France. Europe has not lost con­sec­u­tive Ryder Cups since 1993.


United States’ Brandt Snedeker re­acts on the 16th hole dur­ing a sin­gles match at the Ryder Cup golf tour­na­ment Sun­day at Hazel­tine Na­tional Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.

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