Tue, Sep 30, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Europe captures the Ryder Cup again

‘THEY KICKED OUR BUTTS’:Europe won by 16.5-11.5, leading Phil Mickelson to venture that US captain Tom Watson had strayed from the winning formula of 2008

AP, GLENEAGLES, Scotland

Team Europe captain Paul McGinley of Ireland, right, is sprayed with champagne by Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, left, after Europe won the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland, on Sunday against the US.

Warning: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage your health

Photo: AFP

The tone was set by Rory McIlroy, the best player in the world. The winning shot came from Jamie Donaldson, a Ryder Cup rookie.

Europe added another layer to its Ryder Cup dominance by leaving no doubt who had the best team, if not the best players. Behind two early comebacks that showed its resolve, Europe clinched the cup with four matches still on the course on Sunday.

With a 16.5-11.5 victory, Europe kept that gold trophy for the eighth time in the last 10 tries.

McIlroy played some of his best golf this year — even for a guy who won the last two majors — by trouncing Rickie Fowler to put the first point on the board. Donaldson finished off the Americans with a 9-iron that settled 18 inches from the cup on the 15th hole at Gleneagles and set off the celebration.

“It came down to me to close it out,” Donaldson said. “But it’s all about the team.”

That concept appeared lost on the US.

Not long after the closing ceremony, Phil Mickelson said the US have strayed from the winning formula at Valhalla in 2008 under Paul Azinger — their only victory in these matches dating to 1999.

Even with US captain Tom Watson sitting six seats away, Mickelson said that US team were invested in each other, which was different from Watson’s style of doing it his way.

It was an awkward way to end another bad week for the US in the Ryder Cup.

Watson defended his philosophy, though he conceded he might have erred in using some players who were too tired, leading to a 10-6 deficit going into Sunday singles.

“The bottom line is they kicked our butts,” Watson said. “They were better players this week.”

Watson said he had a pit in his stomach watching the US blow a 10-6 lead two years ago at Medinah. The US PGA brought him back as captain — at age 65, the oldest in Ryder Cup history — hopeful he could repeat some history. Watson was the last captain, in 1993, to win on European soil.

It might not have mattered where this was played.

Graeme McDowell rallied from three down after five holes to close out his match against Jordan Spieth on the 17th hole. Justin Rose was four down after six holes when he won four straight holes with birdies against Hunter Mahan, and got up-and-down for birdie on the 18th to give Europe a half-point.

Rose went unbeaten for the week at 3-0-2.

That set the stage for Donaldson, a 38-year-old from Wales playing in his first Ryder Cup. He seized control over Keegan Bradley at the turn, and then it was a matter of when Europe could pop the champagne. Donaldson was so locked in on his task that he was unaware that he had retained the cup for Europe when he was four up with four holes to play. From 146 yards in fairway, he fired a 9-iron at the flag and let the club twirl through his hands.

It was close to perfect.

Watson walked over and shook his hand, and then put his arm around McGinley as they headed to the green. Bradley got onto the putting surface, and as soon as he saw Donaldson’s ball next to the cup, he removed his cap and shook hands.

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