x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Magical McDowell bags Ryder Cup for Europe

His victory over Mahan helps clinch the trophy as Europe hold off a gripping fightback by United States in Monday's last-day singles.

Europe Ryder Cup players Graeme McDowell, third from left, celebrates with teammates Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and Peter Hanson (second right) on the balcony of the clubhouse at Celtic Manor golf course in Newport, Wales.
Europe Ryder Cup players Graeme McDowell, third from left, celebrates with teammates Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and Peter Hanson (second right) on the balcony of the clubhouse at Celtic Manor golf course in Newport, Wales.

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.

* Reuters