KOHLER, WISCONSIN (REUTERS) – The United States, led by a new generation, reclaimed the Ryder Cup on Sunday (Sept 26), reaching the 14-1/2 points required to beat holders Europe and heralding what could be an era of domination by the Americans at the biennial competition.
Having romped to a commanding 11-5 advantage after the foursome and fourball sessions, the Americans entered the singles needing just 3-1/2 points to get to the target needed to hoist the little gold trophy.
Collin Morikawa ended European hopes when he birdied the 17th to go 1Up in his match with Viktor Hovland, guaranteeing the US a deciding half-point.
The 24-year-old Ryder Cup rookie would make it official a few minutes later with a par on 18 to end the match in a tie, sending a thundering chant of “USA, USA” rumbling across Whistling Straits.
“To clinch this and bring it back on home soil feels so good,” said Morikawa, one of six rookies on the 12-man US team. “The guys pulled through; we didn’t let up.” It was just the second time in six competitions and third in 10 that the US had claimed golf’s most coveted team title.
Never before in 42 previous Ryder Cups had a team come back from more than a four-point deficit on the final day and Padraig Harrington’s men, while defiant, never threatened to make history.
Whistling Straits provided a stunning backdrop and perfect party spot for 40,000 mostly flag-waving American fans who flooded into the links-style Pete Dye jewel on the Lake Michigan shoreline on Sunday, ready to celebrate.
Morikawa sent the party into overdrive but it would be some time before all his team mates could join in with seven matches still out on the course to be completed and the only thing left to be decided the margin of victory.
Given their commanding lead, there were worries about a lack of intensity by the US players but a raucous crowd on the first tee assured their batteries were fully charged heading out.
Needing something magical, Harrington turned to a player who had so far provided little of it at Whistling Straits, tasking a winless Rory McIlroy with sparking a European fightback.
McIlroy, who laboured so badly in the foursome and fourballs that Harrington stood down the Northern Irishman for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, was first out against Olympic champion Xander Schauffele and found a spark, going 2up after four holes and never trailing in a 3&2 win.
But behind McIlroy an American red wave was forming on the scoreboard as Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry, who had accounted for most of the European points in the foursome and fourballs, failed to fire.
Patrick Cantlay defeated Lowry 4&2 and Scottie Scheffler slayed Europe’s best Rahm 4&3.
Scheffler, a captain’s pick still without a PGA Tour win, was handed the daunting task of taking on the world number one and did not wilt from the challenge, going 4up on the Spaniard after four holes and never letting him back into the match.
Big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau, the crowd favourite with his monster drives, pounded Garcia into submission 3&2 to leave the US a half-point from mission accomplished.
Who would get that crucial point was a toss-up between several matches but Morikawa got the honour when he nearly aced the 17th, leaving a short tap-in that secured nothing short of a draw.