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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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."