For just the second time since 1999, the Ryder Cup is coming home to the United States. And, sure enough, it was the last player to make the American roster to clinch the title.
After barely inching onto the US roster as the final selection just one week ago, Ryan Moore won three consecutive holes for the Americans on the 16th, 17th, and 18th to vault the U.S. to its first title in the event since 2008. With a putt on the final hole to defeat Lee Westwood, Moore clinched victory.
In front of a wild home Minnesota crowd, it was a wild afternoon at Hazeltine. The Americans entered the day with 9.5 points and a 3-point lead on the European team -- needing only 5 points from the 12 Sunday matches to bring the Ryder Cup back home to the United States for the first time since 1999. Knowing the Americans could clinch early, both Davis Love III and Darren Clarke sent out the stars in the early pairings -- and the fireworks came shortly thereafter.
Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed played the first match of the day, punching back and forth during a wild front nine that resembled more WWE heavyweight bout than golf match. Reed took down the golf world's Alpha Dog in a match that will be remembered for decades -- and it set the tone for the Americans for the rest of the day. But that Reed win hardly sealed things up.
Europe's Henrik Stenson and breakout star Thomas Pieters dispatched Jordan Spieth and JB Holmes in a pair of 3&2 decisions rather easily, but the Americans punched right back afterward. A gutty performance from Rickie Fowler, who's struggled through 2016, helped him upset Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose on the 18th hole. That put the Americans to 11.5 points -- two ahead of the Euros. Brooks Koepka routed struggling Danny Willett 5&4 a few minutes later, putting the US two points away from clinching while standing way back on the 14th green.
And it cleared the stage for the match of the day between two longtime Ryder Cup stars.
Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson came to the 18th tee tied, making a combined 19 (!!!) birdies over the previous 17 holes. Each had a reasonable birdie putt to give their side a point if the other missed. That didn't happen. Phil went first and dropped in a bomb from 20-plus feet. Sergio answered. They each shot 63, with a best-ball combined score of 58. It was an amazing display of golf. You will forget it happened because the match was halved -- but you shouldn't.
But Mickelson's half point just left the USA a point and a half away. Brandt Snedeker quickly took advantage and added a full point to the board before Moore finished things up at the 18th.
Here’s the full results sheet from all 12 matches at Hazeltine.
|United States (17 points)||def.||Europe (11 points)|
|Patrick Reed (USA)||def.||Rory McIlroy (EUR)||1up|
|Henrik Stenson (EUR)||def.||Jordan Spieth (USA)||3&2|
|Thomas Pieters (EUR)||def.||JB Holmes (USA)||3&2|
|Rickie Fowler (USA)||def.||Justin Rose (EUR)||1up|
|Rafa Cabrera-Bello (EUR)||def.||Jimmy Walker (USA)||3&2|
|Phil Mickelson (USA)||vs.||Sergio Garcia (USA)||halved|
|Ryan Moore (USA)||def.||Lee Westwood (EUR)||1up|
|Brandt Snedeker (USA)||def.||Andy Sullivan (EUR)||3&1|
|Dustin Johnson (USA)||def.||Chris Wood (EUR)||1up|
|Brooks Koepka (USA)||def.||Danny Willett (EUR)||5&4|
|Martin Kaymer (EUR)||def.||Matt Kuchar (USA)||1up|
|Zach Johnson (USA)||vs.||Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR)||4&3|