Europe has officially reclaimed the Ryder Cup. Winning 16.5 to 11.5, it leaned on star players and a sensational team effort across the first two days to win the competition for the eighth time in the last 11 editions and seventh straight when hosting the event dating back to 1997.
Tommy Fleetwood won the key half point in the 11th match against Rickie Fowler. Heading to the par-4 16th with a one-hole lead, Fleetwood hit his tee shot to 23 feet after Fowler found the water. After Fleetwood missed an eagle putt, Fowler conceded a 2-foot, 8-inch birdie putt — and Europe’s victory. Fleetwood’s win on the hole secured at worse a tie for Europe, putting them over the required point total.
“I’m relieved to be honest,” said Fleetwood. “I didn’t think it would come down to the backend. Just to be able to play a part in this week, particularly today, I wasn’t planning on it coming down to us, but I always had it in my mind, ‘Just get your point and whatever happens, happens.’ It was pretty nervy coming down the last few.”
The home team put its horses out early in Sunday singles, and the Euros delivered with 2.5 points between Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy. Entering the day up 10.5 to 5.5, Europe fended off an early U.S. charge and needed only 1.5 points through the other nine matches.
Any thought of a new era of American dominance following their 19 to 9 win at Whistling Straits in 2021 has been put to bed thanks in part to the play of McIlroy. Collecting a 4-1-0 record across the five sessions, the four-time major champion garnered the best record of his Ryder Cup career and the best of any player at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.
Hovland got in on the action with a 3-1-1 record, and Rahm once again thrived on this stage with a 2-0-2. Tyrrell Hatton claimed his first Sunday singles victory to put Europe 0.5 points away from winning the cup and put a bow on a stellar 3-0-1 performance.
“It’s been a rollercoaster since I got the job 14 months ago,” said Europe captain Luke Donald. “Something I always dreamed about. These are the times, I have had so many special moments on golf courses. It was just an honor and privilege to captain these 12 guys, incredible guys. They played their hearts out.”
Meanwhile, despite a Sunday surge to get within four points, the American stars were outplayed by their European counterparts. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler went 0-2-2 without a match victory to his name. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele all had losing records with the lone bright spot coming from U.S. rookie Max Homa and his 3-1-1 mark.
“The European team played some phenomenal golf,” said U.S. captain Zach Johnson through tears. “It really is quite that simple. My guys showed true heart, true grit. A lot of character. They played for each other. I love them. Hats off to Luke.”
The weekend in Rome brought fireworks both on and off the golf course, but make no mistake, Europe won this Ryder Cup on Friday. Racing out to a record 5.5 to 1.5 advantage highlighted by a 4 to 0 sweep in the opening session with heroics from Rahm, Hovland and Justin Rose late, Europe was ready for the fight from the word go.
U.S. was sluggish and lacking energy only to be ignited by a hat, or lack thereof, winning Saturday afternoon’s four-ball session to cut the lead to 10.5 to 5.5 heading into Sunday singles. It was the only session the Europeans lost as Sunday was split down the middle 6 to 6.
Donald could do no wrong for his European side. He inspired them, brought them together, placed them in the correct positions and made Marco Simone a home-course advantage. Donald’s 12 responded with massive efforts rallying around each other and delivering a true team victory in true European fashion.