His victory over Mahan helps clinch the trophy as Europe hold off a gripping fightback by United States in Monday's last-day singles.
Magical McDowell bags Ryder Cup for Europe
NEWPORT, WALES // Europe, led early on by Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, regained the Ryder Cup after fending off a brilliant fightback by the United States in Monday's last-day singles. Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell earned the winning point, beating Hunter Mahan 3&1 in the final match to give the home team victory by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2.
Poulter crushed Matt Kuchar 5&4 and Donald beat Jim Furyk one-up before the Americans clawed their way back, rookie Rickie Fowler stealing a valuable half after brilliantly birdying the last four holes against Italian Edoardo Molinari.
With the overall score level at 13-1/2 13-1/2, McDowell sank a curling birdie putt from 12 feet on the 16th green to go two up on Mahan before securing the win with a conceded par at the 17th. Crowds of just over 35,000 at a sun-splashed Celtic Manor were treated to one of the most riveting last days at a Ryder Cup in recent memory as Europe won the trophy for the fourth time in five editions. The home team had led by three points going into the event's first-ever Monday finish but the Americans cut the deficit to just one when Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker claimed the first two points.
Johnson routed Martin Kaymer 6&4 before world number four Stricker beat second-ranked Lee Westwood 2&1 seconds later to give the U.S. hope of retaining the trophy they won in 2008. Poulter, who screamed in delight after draining a 25-footer to birdie the third, then notched Europe's first point of the day by rolling in a six-foot birdie putt on the 14th green. "It was always going to be a tough game against Kuch," said a beaming Poulter who had chipped in from off the green to eagle the 11th.
"He'd won all his matches so far so I knew I had to come out and play real strong today." Donald, playing in the third match, was three up on Furyk after 13 holes but had to hold off a late surge by the American before sealing the win with a two-putt par at the last. "I knew Jim was going to be a really tough opponent," said Donald. "He's a very similar player to me, he grinds it out. "He put some pressure on me at the end but I was glad to get a point."
Pony-tailed Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez never trailed in his match against U.S. rookie Bubba Watson before winning 4&3 to give Europe a commanding 13-9 lead. However, the US edged closer as rookie Jeff Overton came from two down to beat Ross Fisher 3&2 after the Briton bogeyed four of his last five holes. World No 1 Tiger Woods added more red for the US with a sizzling display of golf as he overwhelmed Italy's Francesco Molinari 4&3.
Woods had gone two down after two before covering his last seven holes in seven under, the highlight a hole-out from the fairway to eagle the par-four 12th. "Francesco got off to a quick start but I just stayed patient," Woods said after winning his third point this week out of a possible four. "I just felt, 'Stay calm, stay patient, stay within myself and keep doing what I know I can do'. It all turned, and I did."
Phil Mickelson, who had charged four up after four holes against Swede Peter Hanson, put the US just one point behind at 13-12 with a 4&2 win. Cup rookie Fowler then produced his late birdie blitz, sinking a curling 15-footer at the last, to earn a half. Moments later Zach Johnson completed a 3&2 triumph over Irishman Padraig Harrington to level the score at 13-1/2 points all before McDowell gave European fans a day to remember in the bottom match.