The final blow Sunday was a scene all too familiar at Oakland Hills: With the cup already won, Padraig Harrington made a 25-foot par putt on the 18th hole of the last match that only counted in the record books.
Europe 18 1/2, United States 9 1/2.
It was the Americans' worst loss in the 77-year history of the Ryder Cup, and there was no doubt who the underdogs are now.
'We haven't been winning it,' Davis Love III said. 'If they keep bringing the cup back on their airplane, we are the underdog.
'It's a long two years until we get to do it again.'
Lee Westwood ended the slightest suspense with a 4-foot par putt on the 18th to beat Kenny Perry. With Colin Montgomerie 1 up on the 18th hole and assured a half-point, Europe had the 14 points it needed to retain the cup.
Montgomerie also made a 4-foot par putt to beat David Toms and secure outright victory for Europe for the fourth time in the last five Ryder Cup matches.
The Europeans are not only winning, they are winning big.
And there is no doubt who the underdogs are now.
'Obviously, our results would suggest that,' Darren Clarke said. 'We come here with a big heart, full of hopes, full of expectations.'
The Europeans' last blowout was 16 1/2-11 1/2 in 1985 at The Belfry when they won for the first time in 28 years. Since then, they have captured the cup seven out of 10 times with a collection of players not many people know in the States until they are posing with the 19-inch gold trophy.
'We came here again as underdogs. It's amazing how well we do,' Montgomerie said. 'I don't know how it happens.'
The Americans haven't figured it out, either. They have the higher world ranking, more majors, greater star power.
But when it comes to the Ryder Cup, it's no contest.
The Europeans won for the third time on U.S. soil, and they made sure there was no rally like Brookline five years ago when the Americans stormed back from a 10-6 deficit by putting its best players at the top of the lineup and riding a tidal wave of momentum.
Tiger Woods finally did his part, the only player not to lose a single hole in an easy victory over Paul Casey. The Americans had early leads in the first five matches as cheers of 'USA! USA!' rang out across the course, the crowd trying to urge them to pull off another improbable comeback.
But just as it had gone all week, the Americans simply couldn't keep it up.
Sergio Garcia made three straight birdies to quickly turn the tide against Phil Mickelson, then won the match when Lefty tried a peculiar shot at a crucial moment -- a low punch that came up short and rolled into the water on the 16th.
Clarke was two holes behind with three to play when he made an 8-foot birdie on the 16th, chipped in from behind the green on the 17th to square the match and wound up halving his match with Love after both missed par putts.
Westwood also rallied from an early two-hole deficit, winning the 15th with a par to go 1 up, and then holing his cup-clinching putt to seal the victory.
'I had a fair idea the way everyone was biting their nails,' Westwood said when asked whether he knew his putt was for the Ryder Cup.
This was no nail-biter. It was a rout from the start.
Europe led 11-5 going into the 12 singles matches and needed only three points to retain the cup. Five matches were still in progress when it clinched the cup, and the celebration was under way.
Fans began lustily singing 'Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole!' and players swarmed captain Bernhard Langer with hugs. Garcia waved the European flag on the back of a cart, as he sped off to watch the final matches.
Champagne filled the air over the 18th green, and Langer took a sweet sip as his players roared.
'The Europeans are great,' U.S. captain Hal Sutton. 'They played ferociously. There are a lot of great players in America, but we got outplayed this week.'
Fred Funk and Perry, in their first Ryder Cup, were the only players who failed to win a point. Mickelson went 1-3, while Woods had another losing record at 2-3.
Garcia and Westwood were the European stars, each going 4-0-1. And when Thomas Levet beat Funk for his first point of the week, he assured every European player contributed something to this record victory.
It was a disastrous week for Sutton, whose tough talk didn't do the Americans much good on the course.
He said he had a Woods-Mickelson pairing in mind since being appointed captain two years ago because, 'History needed it. ... The fans needed it,' even though it sure looked as if Woods didn't want it: They lost twice on Friday when Europe took a five-point lead.
'We just never got any charisma going that we needed,' he said.
Sutton let Chris Riley skip the Saturday afternoon match, even though Riley was unbeaten in two matches.
Asked if he would do anything differently, Sutton held his ground.
'That will be debated until the day I die,' he said. 'They've debated past and future captains, and I knew it was part of the job. I'm not going to second-guess myself.'
But that's what will happen until the Ryder Cup is next played at The K Club in Ireland in 2006.
Europe should be the clear favorite.
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