GUYANCOURT, France – The Ryder Cup is heading back to Europe.
The home team secured the victory when Phil Mickelson knocked one in the water at the par-3 16th hole, conceding his match to Francesco Molinari right on the tee box. The home team had a 14-9 lead with three matches still on the course at Le Golf National.
Molinari became the first European player to go 5-0 in the competition since the current format was adapted in 1979.
The Americans came into Sunday facing a daunting 10-6 deficit, and there was a glimmer of hope when they closed to within a point midway through the afternoon. But some of their biggest names failed to come through. The final score was 17 1/2-10 1/2.
Tiger Woods lost all four of his matches in France, capped by a 2-and-1 loss to 23-year-old Jon Rahm of Spain, the youngest player in the event. Jordan Spieth was blown out 5 and 4 by lowest-ranked player on the European team, Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark. The world’s top-ranked player, Dustin Johnson, fell 2 and 1 to Ian Poulter of England. And Molinari finished if off by beating Mickelson, who lost both of his matches.
The Americans have not won a Ryder Cup match in Europe since 1993.
Match 1: Justin Thomas, USA def. Rory McIlroy, Europe, 1 up
Holes won: USA 5, Europe 4
Holes led: USA 2, Europe 8
Recap: Thomas finished off the best week of the American players, winning for the fourth time in five matches in his first Ryder Cup appearance. The match was all square going to the final hole. After Thomas found the fairway with his tee shot, McIlroy found trouble, with his tee ball half-buried near the lip of the fairway bunker. Aiming sideways, he tried to blast out, but the ball dribbled back into the bunker. His third shot then hit the lip of the bunker and dribbled into the water across the fairway. After Thomas found the green with his second shot, McIlroy conceded the hole and the match. Before his trouble at the 18th, McIlroy had one birdie and 16 pars, but was undone by missing several makeable putts.
Quote: “It was an extremely unfitting way for that match to end. I’m very happy to get the point for our team, but I didn’t want to get it like I that. I’m sure it helps a little bit I hit a great drive. I told Rory I’ve looked up to him for a long time, and I’ve always respected the way he’s treated me, so it was pretty cool getting thrown out there in the first match and playing against him” – Justin Thomas
Match 2: Brooks Koepka, USA and Paul Casey, Europe, halved
Holes won: USA 4, Europe 4
Holes led: USA 9, Europe 2
Recap: Consecutive birdies on the back nine gave Koepka the lead, but Casey fought back with a birdie on the 17th hole to earn the half-point. Koepka managed to get up-and-down from the greenside bunker at 18 while Casey missed a 20-foot birdie putt that would’ve won the hole. Koepka played bogey-free golf with four birdies.
Quotes: “It was a fun match. Paul played pretty well. It was probably the way it should’ve finished” – Brooks Koepka
“Massive respect for Brooks. … It was a great classic match.” – Paul Casey
“It was absolutely a brilliant match. Maybe the best match-play match I’ve been part of. Brooks is Player of the Year around the world, just unbelievable. The drive he hit down 18 shows what he’s made of, so cool and calm. We threw a lot at each other. It was a really good one” – Paul Casey
Match 3: Webb Simpson, USA def. Justin Rose, Europe, 3 and 2
Holes won: USA 5, Europe 2
Holes led: USA 15, Europe 0
Recap: Simpson never trailed after winning the second hole with a par, as he took control on the front nine to win his first Singles match in three Ryder Cup appearances. Simpson bounced back from a bogey at the par-4 fifth by making three consecutive birdies, the latter two to win holes, as he made the turn 3 up. Rose won just one won on the back nine, and Simpson closed out the match with consecutive birdies.
Quotes: “Justin is their best player and I look up to him as a golfer and he’s been great for a while. What a great player he is. I knew it was going to be tough, and he’s been leading those Europeans for a long time now. So overall, I played well. Made some putts when I need to” – Webb Simpson
Match 4: Jon Rahm, Europe def. Tiger Woods, USA, 2 and 1
Holes won: Europe 5, USA 3
Holes led: Europe 16, USA 0
Recap: Rahm never trailed in finishing his first Ryder Cup in emotional fashion, closing out Woods with a birdie on the 17th hole. It ended a disappointing week for Woods, who failed to produce a point in four matches, and it was just his second Singles loss in eight Ryder Cup appearances. Rahm was 2-up through eight, but Woods fought back. He punched the air after his eagle putt won the ninth, and then he did it again after a birdie putt at 12 squared the match. But he lost the next two holes with bogeys. Rahm missed a short par putt at 16 but bounced back by making a birdie at 17 to close it out.
Quote: “To beat Tiger, one of the all-time greats, if not the greatest … it’s the best feeling of my life” – Jon Rahm
“It’s disappointing because I went 0-4, and that’s four points to the European Team. And I’m one of the contributing factors to why we lost the Cup, and it’s not a lot of fun. It’s frustrating because we came here, I thought we were all playing pretty well, and I just didn’t perform at the level that I had been playing, and just got behind early in the matches and never got back” – Tiger Woods
Match 5: Tony Finau, USA def. Tommy Fleetwood, Europe, 6 and 4
Holes won: USA 9, Europe 3
Holes led: USA 13, Europe 0
Recap: Fleetwood had entered Sunday with an undefeated record with partner Francesco Molinari in team sessions, but the Ryder Cup rookie Finau made quick work of the Englishman. Fleetwood fought back after losing the first two holes by making two birdies to square the match. But from there, Finau won the next five holes to take control, leading 5-up at the turn. The last three of those holes were won with birdies; in fact, Finau birdied five of his last eight holes in a bogey-free round.
Quote: “I knew I was going to be tough to beat today, and when I got off to a good start, I knew it was going to be hard for Tommy to catch me. Just stay out of trouble and make pars when you need to, and force him to make birdies to beat me. I was able to do that, and a really good performance” – Tony Finau
Match 6: Ian Poulter, Europe def. Dustin Johnson, USA, 2 up
Holes won: Europe 7, USA 5
Holes led: Europe 12, USA 2
Recap: Poulter pounded his chest one last time Sunday, then shared a lengthy hug with Captain Thomas Bjorn after knocking off the world’s top-ranked player. The Englishman continued his dominance in Singles, moving to 5-0-1 in his Ryder Cup career. Johnson was 1 down at the turn but won the next two holes to take the lead. But he found trouble at the 13th to square the match, then Poulter won the next two holes with birdies to flip the match. Johnson had one more birdie to close the gap, but Poulter closed out the match on 18 with a birdie.
Quotes: “I knew it was going to be a tough match starting out. I just didn’t hit enough fairways. I needed to hit it closer on 18. I hit a couple poor iron shots but other than that, it was a good match” – Dustin Johnson
Match 7: Thorbjorn Olesen, Europe def. Jordan Spieth, USA, 5 and 4
Holes won: Europe 7, USA 2
Holes led: Europe 12, USA 0
Recap: Spieth had been stellar in team play with Justin Thomas, but he struggled against the Ryder Cup rookie from Denmark, who was fresh after sitting out both sessions Saturday. Spieth’s only birdie, at the par-5 third, squared the match, but then he lost the next three holes with bogeys and could never find any momentum. Olesen made the turn 5 up and cruised from there, closing out the match with a birdie at the par-5 14th. The loss continued Spieth’s struggles in Singles play – he’s now 0-6-0 in Singles in Presidents Cup/Ryder Cup appearances.
Quotes: “It was massive, getting down to the first tee. I just really wanted to win today” – Olesen
“I had some in-between numbers that I didn’t really pick the right shot and I got in trouble, and really, chipping let me down” – Jordan Spieth
Match 8: Sergio Garcia, Europe def. Rickie Fowler, USA, 2 and 1
Holes won: Europe 5, USA 3
Holes led: Europe 17, USA 0
Recap: Garcia becomes Europe’s all-time points winner with his victory. He now has won 25.5 points in his Ryder Cup career, moving ahead of Nick Faldo’s 25 points. Garcia won three points this week and led the entire way against Fowler. A birdie on the opening hole set the tone, but Fowler stayed close throughout until struggling down the stretch, losing two late holes with bogeys.
Quotes: “It means a lot but at the end of the day, I’ve always said it. It’s about the team and I’m happy that I was able to help. I’m happy that I was able to help with some of the points. It’s a bonus. It’s something that I never thought I would have the possibility of doing it, and now that it’s happened, you know, I’m just so happy. I mean, these guys are unbelievable” – Sergio Garcia
“I didn’t have kind of the game I’ve had the last few weeks, and the couple days leading in I felt like I was in a really good spot, and just struggled piecing things together” – Rickie Fowler
Match 9: Francesco Molinari, Europe def. Phil Mickelson, USA, 4 and 2
Holes won: Europe 7, USA 3
Holes led: Europe 16, USA 0
Recap: Fittingly, it was Europe’s hottest player who delivered the winning point, as Molinari put the bow on a historic week. He won all 5 of his matches – the first four with partner Tommy Fleetwood – and became the first European to go undefeated at the Ryder Cup. The Italian, who three months ago won The Open Championship, never trailed in his match against Mickelson, who had sat out both Saturday sessions. Molinari was 3-up through five holes, but Mickelson did fight back and closed the deficit. After a birdie at the 11th, he was 1 down, but Molinari won the next hole with par and then holed a crucial birdie putt to win the 14th. Molinari found the green at the par-3 16th, and when Mickelson followed by hitting into the water, he conceded the decisive Ryder Cup match. Mickelson ends his week with losses in his two matches.
Quotes: “I had an amazing partner in Tommy. Never felt like I had a rookie playing alongside me. It’s been amazing, and today, it was just hard to get the energy. It’s been a long week, playing five matches, but you know, again, I stepped it up when I had to and you know, that putt on 14 was great. Just amazing” – Francesco Molinari
Match 10: Patrick Reed, USA def. Tyrrell Hatton, Europe, 3 and 2
Holes won: USA 4, Europe 2
Holes led: USA 11, Europe 0
Recap: Reed remained undefeated in Ryder Cup Singles, extending his record to 3-0-0 in a match that unfortunately had no bearing on the final outcome. After a tough first two days in which he lost two matches and sat out two sessions, Reed came to life on Sunday with a bogey-free round that included five birdies. Reed birdied the ninth to make the turn 2-up and never stumbled after that.
Match 11: Henrik Stenson, Europe def. Bubba Watson, USA, 5 and 4
Holes won: Europe 6, USA 2
Holes led: Europe 12, USA 0
Recap: Stenson birdied four of his first seven holes and never trailed to make quick work of Watson. The win moved Stenson’s Singles record to 3-2-0 in probably his last Ryder Cup on European soil. Meanwhile, Watson’s struggles in Singles continue, as he dropped to 0-4-0 in his Ryder Cup career.
Quotes: “He just beat me. He made birdie putts. I missed birdie putts. He played fantastic golf. He never made a mistake, and when a guy never makes mistakes, I can’t do anything” – Bubba Watson
Match 12: Alex Noren, Europe def. Bryson DeChambeau, USA, 1 up
Holes won: Europe 3, USA 2
Holes led: Europe 5, USA 6
Recap: In a match left meaningless after Europe had already clinched, Noren provided the final fireworks, rolling in a putt from outside 50 feet for birdie to halve the hole and win the final point for Europe. Both Ryder Cup rookies played well, DeChambeau making five birdies and Noren making four along with an eagle.