Europe holds on to win 38th Ryder Cup

By Doug FergusonOctober 4, 2010, 6:31 pm

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – The pressure was more than Graeme McDowell wanted.

The heartbreak was more than Hunter Mahan could handle.

The longest Ryder Cup in history came down to the very last match Monday at Celtic Manor, exposing the rawest emotions found in golf and delivering a moment that defines a career – even for a U.S. Open champion.

Clinging to a 1-up lead with three holes to play, with Europe needing his match to reclaim the precious gold trophy, McDowell gently sent his 15-foot putt toward the cup and set off a ground-shaking roar when it dropped for birdie.

Colin Montgomerie
Captain Colin Montgomerie led the Europeans to victory at the 38th Ryder Cup. (Getty Images)

“The best putt I’ve hit in my life,” McDowell said.

One hole later, Mahan was well short on the par-3 17th, flubbed a chip and conceded a par to McDowell that gave Europe the 14 1/2 points it needed to take back the cup.

It was the first time since 1991 that the Ryder Cup was decided by the final singles match, a thriller made possible by the Americans getting big wins from their best players, and a stunning comeback by 21-year-old rookie Rickie Fowler.

Leave it to McDowell to cap off a great year – for himself in the U.S. Open, for all of Europe in the Ryder Cup.

Under far greater pressure than he felt at Pebble Beach, McDowell could barely keep his hands steady on his 6-iron from 181 yards to hit the shot in the 16th hole. And he couldn’t hold back his emotions on the 17th, when the match ended with his 3-and-1 victory.

Neither could Mahan.

“That birdie on 16 was huge,” Mahan said, fighting back tears. “He beat me.”

That was all he could say before bowing his head. This, from the player who delivered the most crucial putt two years ago Valhalla in a U.S. victory.

Such a heart-stopping finish salvaged what had been a drab week at the Ryder Cup, with two big rain delays that forced a revamped schedule and led to the first Monday finish in Ryder Cup history.

Under a beautiful blue sky in Wales, all was forgotten.

Memories of mud and umbrellas were replaced by Fowler winning the last three holes with birdies to escape with a half-point, Tiger Woods holing out from the fairway for eagle and not even knowing it, Miguel Angel Jimenez finally playing a Ryder Cup on home soil and winning a singles match for the first time.

Ultimately, this was about team – and Europe was the best again.

“We’ve won nine of the last 13,” Luke Donald said. “We’re starting to get down to that word ‘dominance.”’

The Americans have not won the Ryder Cup away from home since 1993, although this was their best effort since then. For the longest time, it didn’t look as though it would come down to the McDowell and Mahan, the anchors of this singles session.

“Graeme McDowell was put there for a good reason – he’s full of confidence and that showed,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said. “That birdie on 16 was just quite unbelievable. Quite unbelievable.”

McDowell saw mostly European blue on the boards and figured his match wouldn’t matter. Then came a swift switch to red, and as he glanced at a leaderboard off the 10th green, he had a sick feeling.

“I hoped that I wasn’t going to be needed,” McDowell said. “At that point, I got extremely nervous, and coming down the stretch there, I’ve never felt nerves like it in my life.

“The U.S. Open felt like a back nine with my dad back at Portrush compared to that.”

That was due to a resurgence by the Americans. Woods holed out for eagle during a seven-hole stretch that he played in 7-under par. Steve Stricker won the opening match and Phil Mickelson built a big lead to win late. Jeff Overton, the first American to make the Ryder Cup team without a tour victory, won three straight holes to beat Ross Fisher.

Then came Fowler, the first PGA Tour rookie to play in the Ryder Cup, making 15-foot birdie putts on the 17th and 18th holes to scratch out a half-point against Edoardo Molinari and making the Americans believe for the first time all day they could win.

That gave them 13 1/2 points, and they only needed a halve in the last match to retain the cup. Just as Fowler was being mobbed by his teammates, Mahan made a nervy birdie putt on the 15th to cut McDowell’s lead to 1 up.

That’s when McDowell channeled his nerves into a putt he won’t forget. What soon followed were more showers – only these came from bottles of champagne sprayed in every direction.

“It’s been the best week of my life,” said Rory McIlroy, who holed a 5-foot par putt on the 18th hole to earn a half-point against Stewart Cink that turned out to be crucial.

Montgomerie is renowned for a career missing only a major. This felt like one, maybe even better.

“This is one of the finest moments of my golfing – wait a minute – this IS the greatest moment of my golfing career,” he said.

Europe thrives on winning the Ryder Cup, yet this year went beyond the matches. McDowell won the U.S. Open, and Martin Kaymer of Germany won the PGA Championship, the first time two Europeans have won majors in the same year since 1999.

For U.S. captain Corey Pavin, it was a week where everything seemed to go wrong, from forgetting to introduce to Cink at the opening ceremony to rain suits that malfunctioned to pairings that blew up on him.

That changed in a two-hour window that shifted momentum, and almost the Ryder Cup, to his side.

“We nearly got there today,” he said. “We started off a little slow. We came back hard. We almost got there. I’m very proud of their resolve, of their sportsmanship and their fine play. I can only say it’s been an honor and a privilege to call them teammates.”

His voice breaking, he walked over to each of them at the closing ceremony to shake hands.

The Europeans were inspired by a phone call earlier in the week from Seve Ballesteros, the catalyst for European dominance in the Ryder Cup. He is battling brain cancer and could not travel to Celtic Manor. They kept a poster of Ballesteros in the team room, then displayed it for the crowd at closing ceremonies.

McDowell got the loudest cheer when Montgomerie called out his 12 players one by one. They know him well in these parts. In his final tournament before winning the U.S. Open, McDowell won the Wales Open at Celtic Manor.

Mahan made a mess of the 17th, memorable because it was the last match. The bigger blow might have been Cink. He was 1 up on McIlroy and drove the par-4 15th green, only to three-putt for par and lose the hole.

Cink had a chance to go 1-up on the 17th when he missed a 5-foot birdie putt. McIlroy scratched out a critical half-point on the 18th when he hit into a bunker going for the green in two, left his first shot in the bunker, and made a 5-foot par putt.

Luke Donald, who along with Poulter won three matches this week, twice made 20-foot birdie putts when Jim Furyk was inside 4 feet to halve the holes and keep the lead, and keep Celtic Manor humming with cheers of “Luuuuuuuuuke!”

Poulter led the team in passion, pumping his fists and screaming above the din with every birdie.

“We have played from the heart today,” Poulter said, his face soaked with champagne. “And do you know what? We brought back this trophy. This is a special day.”

Woods had his best Ryder Cup, winning his opening two matches with Stricker and bouncing back from his worst defeat to overwhelm Francesco Molinari on the back nine for a 4-and-3 victory.

The Americans put up a bigger fight than expected, but left Europe with a familiar feeling – and without the cup.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.