Europe Dominates US to Win Ryder Cup

By Sports NetworkSeptember 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- When Luke Donald rolled in a 3-foot putt at the 17th to win his match against Chad Campbell Sunday, that gave Europe 14 1/2 points, the number needed to win the Ryder Cup -- again.
The European side captured the Ryder Cup by a final score of 18 1/2 - 9 1/2, which matched the largest margin of victory by its side that was established the last time around in 2004 at Oakland Hills.
European Ryder Cup Team
The victorious European team poses with the Ryder Cup trophy.
All totaled, Europe pounded the Americans in singles, winning 8 1/2 - 3 1/2, the largest margin of victory in singles ever for a European team. The European side captured all five sessions, a feat accomplished for the first time by either team since the inception of the current format in 1979.
This was another historic for victory for the Europeans. It was the third straight win for that team, which is the first time that happened for the European side. They won two in a row in 1985 and 1987, then tied to retain the Cup in 1989.
'I've been working on this for 18 months now,' said victorious captain Ian Woosnam. 'We had a fantastic team spirit all week. I had a very strong team. To be a captain, is incredible.'
For the Americans, it was a dreadful Sunday with the Europeans seemingly holing every putt. The U.S. team only won six matches out of the 28 played this week.
'I know our guys played with heart, but it wasn't enough,' acknowledged American captain Tom Lehman.
Perhaps the most emotional moment for the European side occurred on the 16th hole Sunday at The K Club.
Darren Clarke, playing a little more than a month after the death of his wife, Heather, had a chance to close out his match against Zach Johnson and strode up to the 16th green to a thunderous ovation from the huge gallery at the par-5 hole.
Clarke missed his birdie putt and lagged it up to three feet. Johnson's birdie also failed to fall and Johnson conceded Clarke's par putt, giving Clarke a 3-and-2 victory.
After a handshake with Johnson, Clarke hugged his caddy as tears streamed down his face. He received hugs from Woosnam, along with several players from both teams, and began to celebrate with his team.
'I was trying to keep my emotions in check from midway through the back nine,' admitted Clarke, who went 3-0 this week. 'I had a lucky day and Zach had an unlucky day. Things went for me.
'I was trying hard not to get ahead of myself about what all this week means to me. Heather would have wanted me to play here and I feel like I played well. I missed her.'
Europe held a 10-6 lead heading into the singles and tried to avoid the debacle of 1999 when the American team overcame that same deficit on Sunday en route to its last victory.
That did not happen on Sunday as Colin Montgomerie started things off with a 1-up victory over David Toms in the opening match. That ran Montgomerie's singles record to 6-0-2.
Paul Casey continued his strong run as he toppled world No. 3, Jim Furyk, 2 and 1. That was a rematch of last week's HSBC World Match Play Championship first- round battle that saw the same winner.
Paul McGinley provided an extremely classy moment in his match against J.J. Henry. With the Cup already decided, he conceded a long birdie putt at the 18th to halve his match after a naked patron caused a disruption.
In the middle of the singles, the European team showed its depth.
Clarke won the seventh match, rookie Henrik Stenson hammered fellow first- timer Vaughn Taylor, 4 and 3 and David Howell knocked off Brett Wetterich, 5 and 4 in the ninth match.
Jose Maria Olazabal compounded what was an awful week for Phil Mickelson. The Spaniard defeated Mickelson, 2 and 1 and went 3-0 for the Ryder Cup. The American went 0-4-1 this week.
Lee Westwood, Woosnam's other captain's pick with Clarke, polished off five straight wins for the European side as he bested Chris DiMarco, 2-up in the penultimate match.
Westwood completed an undefeated week with a 3-0-2 mark. He has not lost a match in his last two Ryder Cups.
There were very few bright spots for the American team, although Stewart Cink did prevent the Americans from putting Sergio Garcia's name in the Ryder Cup history books.
Garcia had a chance to become the second player, joining Larry Nelson, to go a perfect 5-0 in a Ryder Cup. Cink, one of Lehman's captain's picks, destroyed the Spaniard Sunday, 4 and 3.
Tiger Woods lost his first hole, but took command from there. He dispatched Swedish rookie Robert Karlsson, 4 and 3. Woods finished as the Americans' leading point earner with a 3-2 record, his first winning record at a Ryder Cup in his fifth appearance.
On a day when the Europeans holed almost everything they looked at, American Scott Verplank holed the longest shot on Sunday. The captain's pick, who was unhappy Lehman played him in only one session before Sunday, aced the 14th hole en route to a 4 and 3 victory over Padraig Harrington in the anchor match.
It was the second ace of the competition after Casey holed a four-iron at the same hole in Saturday's foursomes. Verplank's ace was the sixth in the competition's history, but the first by an American.
'It was a perfect yardage for a 3-iron and it dribbled in,' said Verplank.
Harrington finished winless in his home country with an 0-4-1 record.
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