Europe win Ryder Cup as the USA fail to impress

Golf Thursday October 5, 2023 By: Harry Howes

Europe have reclaimed the Ryder Cup after masterminding a remarkable victory over the USA at the weekend.

Luke Donald’s side won the prestigious competition at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in style, beating their American opponents 16 ½ – 11 ½. The hosts were in control from the outset and finished both of the first two days with a five-point lead.

With the points shared during Sunday’s singles matches, Europe got their hands on the iconic cup for the first time in five years. The result means that the last five Ryder Cups have been won by the home side and the USA are still without a win on European soil since 1993.

The 2023 Ryder Cup story

With the embarrassment of a 19-9 defeat two years ago still fresh in the memory, Europe were keen to make an impression. And whatever Donald said in his pre-match teamtalk certainly seemed to work.

Europe dominated the foursomes on the morning of day one, going in for lunch 4-0 ahead for the first time in history. In fact, it was the first time Europe had held a lead after the first morning session since 2006 and they had barely broken a sweat, with the USA not leading at any point in any match.

Jon Rahm and Tyrell Hatton set the standard with a 4&3 win over Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns and their team-mates followed suit. Rickie Fowler had a disappointing weekend and a missed putt from eight yards in the third match summed up his experience.

Team USA rallied for the afternoon fourballs and the points were shared in the first three matches. But Matt Fitzpatrick claimed his first Ryder Cup point alongside Rory McIlroy in a 5&3 win over Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele, giving Europe a 6 ½ – 1 ½ advantage.

It seems the USA didn’t learn from their day one mistakes as Europe once again started strongly in the foursomes. Only Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka didn’t claim a point in another dominant session that the hosts claimed 3-1.

But Donald’s side were pegged back after lunch. The USA came out on top in the Saturday fourballs, with Burns and Morikawa claiming the first point of the afternoon. A 3-1 win for the visitors levelled the day but still left them with a lot to do going into the final day, with Europe 10 ½ – 5 ½ ahead.

Sunday’s agenda was 12 singles matches and with Europe needing just four points to win, Rahm went head-to-head with world no.1 Scheffler in the first face-off of the day. It was a battle for the ages as the pair matched one another, continuously swapping the lead.

Scheffler had the chance to claim the point on the 17th but he failed to take it, missing the hole from 15 yards. And as Rahm pulled it back to claim a half point, Europe started to close in on a famous victory.

Viktor Hovland claimed the first win of the day against Morikawa and the points went back and forth for another four matches. With Europe needing just half a point to win, the USA held firm and claimed three consecutive wins through Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Schaffele.

But the stubborn Americans were unable to stop the inevitable and the Ryder Cup was eventually settled. Captain’s pick Tommy Fleetwood went two up against Fowler on the 16th, taking Europe over the magic 14 ½ points.

Fleetwood went on to win, as did Robert MacIntyre, and with Lowry sharing the spoils in his match, Europe eventually ran out 16 ½ – 11 ½ winners. They’ve now won eight of the last 11 Ryder Cups and with the competition heading to New York in two years’ time, they’ll have their sights on a first away victory since 2012.

PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Tommy Fleetwood of England plays a shot on the second hole during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Open Championships

Who shone for Team Europe?

The victory was very much a team effort, with almost everybody on top form. Hatton, MacIntyre and Rahm all finished unbeaten, claiming nine points between them.

McIlroy was Europe’s highest points scorer with four as he won four of his five matches, with his only defeat coming in the Saturday fourballs. Similarly, Hovland more than played his part. The Norwegian secured 3 ½ points in his five matches and set the tone by claiming Europe’s first singles victory on Sunday.

Nicolai Højgaard was a captain’s pick and will have been hoping for a better Ryder Cup debut. The Dane lost two of his three matches, claiming just half a point in Friday’s fourballs.

Where did it go wrong for the USA?

Having dominated the 2021 Ryder Cup, Team USA looked a shadow of their former selves in a limp showing in Italy. Nobody in their team went unbeaten and their main man Scheffler didn’t win any of his four matches. The 27-year-old earned just two half points and set the tone for a forgettable American showing.

In the same vein, Jordan Spieth lost two and halved two of his four matches. Fowler was drafted in as a captain’s pick but failed to justify his selection, losing both of his games and returning zero points.

America’s main bright spark was Max Homa, who secured 3 ½ points from his five matches. Meanwhile, Open champion Brian Harman won twice and lost twice on his Ryder Cup debut.

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