Captain America roared, and the Ryder Cup is back in American hands.
Following the emotional lead of Patrick Reed, who took down Rory McIlroy in an epic match that wasn’t decided until a birdie putt on 18, the United States finally put the Europeans away to win its first Ryder Cup since 2008.
The U.S. held a three-point lead going into the final day of play, which consisted of 12 singles matches. Knowing they needed to get off to a quick start, European captain Darren Clarke frontloaded his lineup, leading off with McIlroy, who since play began Friday has been a man on a mission to quiet the partisan U.S. crowd.
McIlroy did everything he could to do just that on Sunday. The only problem for him was, he was playing Reed, who had an answer for everything. The two traded birdies early, with the signature moment of the entire competition coming on the eighth. That’s where McIlroy drained a long (outside 50 feet) putt, then turned to the crowd and yelled, “I can’t hear you!”
Unfazed, Reed promptly responded by knocking down his own 30-footer for birdie, turning McIlroy’s heroics into dust.
The fire McIlroy had showed to that point had suddenly been extinguished, and the Americans had something to build on.
Clarke’s plan to frontload his lineup otherwise paid off; Europe won three of the first five matches to cut into the U.S. lead. But the American depth proved too much. On the back end, U.S. captain Davis Love had Brandt Snedeker (2-0 heading into Sunday’s match), Brooks Koepka (2-1 heading into Sunday) and Ryan Moore, the last man on the team via a captain’s pick. It was Moore’s win over Lee Westwood that clinched the victory for the United States, which wound up winning 17-11 .
Match 1: Patrick Reed (USA) def. Rory McIlroy (EUR) 1 UP
Match note: Reed never cracked, not even in the face of the 50-foot-ish putt McIlroy drained on eight. This served as a tone setter, something the U.S. side needed given their woes in singles at the Ryder Cup.
Match note: Spieth finished the Ryder Cup with a 2-2-1 record, but the reality is Patrick Reed carried him much of the way. Stenson was never in trouble in this match, one Europe needed to win as they front-loaded the singles matches.
Match 3: Thomas Pieters (EUR) def. J.B. Holmes 3&2
Match note: Pieters arrived at Hazeltine a relative unknown on this side of the pond. No more. The Ryder Cup rookie went 4-1, providing the most points of anyone on the European side.
Match note: Maybe the biggest upset of the day. Rose played extremely well throughout the competition; Fowler had been up and down. Rose had a short putt on 18 to halve the match but left it short.
Match 5: Rafa Cabrera Bello (EUR) def. Jimmy Walker 3&2
Match note: Cabrera Bello jumped out to an early 2-up lead and never trailed.
Match 6: Phil Mickelson (USA) halved Sergio Garcia (EUR)
Match note: Mickelson carded 10 birdies; Garcia had nine. An epic match that ended, fittingly, with both draining lengthy birdie putts on 18.
Match 7: Ryan Moore (USA) def. Lee Westwood 1 UP
Match note: Moore was the last man picked for the U.S. squad and ends up clinching the victory.
Match 8: Brandt Snedeker (USA) def. Andy Sullivan 3&1
Match note: Snedeker was quietly one of the MVPs for the American side, going 3-0, including providing the U.S. it’s only point in the drubbing the team took in the afternoon session on Friday.
Match 9: Dustin Johnson (USA) def. Chris Wood 1 UP
Match note: While Patrick Reed was yelling and screaming his way to victory, DJ was calmly knocking down a few birdies, casually pumping (if you can call it that) his fist. Guess there is more than one path to victory.
Match 10: Brookes Koepka (USA) def. Danny Willett 5&4
Match note: Koepka capped a stellar Ryder Cup with a six-hole barrage that included three birdies and an eagle that won him five holes and essentially put away the reigning Maters champ.
Match 11: Martin Kaymer (EUR) def. Matt Kuchar 1 UP
Match note: Kuchar seemingly had this match in hand, holding a 3 UP lead heading to the ninth. From there he parred out and par wasn’t good enough.
Match 12: Zach Johnson (USA) def. Matthew Fitzpatrick 4&3
Match note: The U.S. had clinched the victory by this point, as Johnson continues the domination by the back half of the American lineup.