Three-In-A-Row For McGinley’s Men
Europe started the day needing just four points to retain the Ryder Cup and with four of their best players leading the way, the intention was clearly to crush the USA spirit early on and end all prospect of a Medinah-style comeback.
But things didn’t go to plan early on. In the first match, Graeme McDowell found himself three down after five against Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose was four down after six against Hunter Mahan and Henrik Stenson was struggling against Patrick Reed.
Then the fight-back began. Rory McIlroy finished off Rickie Fowler, McDowell turned the tables on Spieth to win with a hole to spare, and Justin Rose mounted an incredible comeback to halve his match with Reed. Veterans Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar hit back in the middle-order but it was too little too late and it fell to rookie Jamie Donaldson to secure the victory with a superb second shot at the fifteenth.
Margin of Victory
A European win was the strong favourite going into this year’s edition, but thrashings are comparatively rare. Ten of the last twelve Ryder Cups have been decided by three points or fewer, indeed seven of them have been won by a point or less.
But punters’ only chance of getting odds against about a European victory was to back the home side in the handicap, and there were some decent prices on offer, including Europe -2.5 at 5/4. The final margin of victory was five points, the biggest since Valhalla in 2008.
Top Points Scorer
Four players played the maximum of five matches and Justin Rose did best of all, picking up four points to finish as Ryder Cup top points scorer for the first time in his career.
For the USA, it was Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker who were the workhorses, but neither finished as top team scorer. That honour went to rookie Patrick Reed, who scored 3 ½ points from his four matches.
Good Ryder Cup
Reed and fellow Texan Jordan Speith played superbly in their first ever Ryder Cup, and USA captain Tom Watson missed a trick in not sending them out again on Friday afternoon following their dismantling of the Ian Poulter and Steven Gallacher pairing.
Graeme McDowell also deserves a mention, for winning all three of his matches and for partnering the talented but wayward Dubuisson to good effect.
Bad Ryder Cup
A number of high profile USA stars had a bad weekend, most notably Bubba Watson, who never looked happy and finished without even a half point, and Matt Kuchar, one of the team’s match-play bankers who managed just one win out of four. And the big disappointment for Europe was Ian Poulter, top scorer at the last three Ryder Cups, who was unable to leave his poor 2014 form behind him and won just half a point.