Kohler, Wisconsin – The United States crushed Europe 19-9 on Sunday to recapture the Ryder Cup with a performance captain Steve Stricker called the “greatest of all time.”
Collin Morikawa, the 24-year-old world No. 3, delivered the winning half-point when he tied his match with Viktor Hovland at Whistling Straits.
He was one of eight 20-somethings on a U.S. team that featured nine players in the world’s top 11 — all gunning to regain the coveted trophy Europe won in France three years ago.
“Speechless,” U.S. captain Steve Stricker said, tearing up as he spoke of the commitment that resulted in a dominant victory.
The Americans became the first team to record 19 points, beating the previous record of 18½, which each team has achieved twice in in the past.
“This is the greatest team of all time right here,” Stricker said. “These guys are unbelievable.
“They come with a lot of passion, a lot of energy, a lot of game. They are just so good.”
World No. 2 Dustin Johnson, the oldest member of the team at 37, provided a template for his younger colleagues with his 1-up singles victory over Paul Casey, which gave him a perfect 5-0 record in a maximum five matches.
He became the first American since Larry Nelson in 1979 — and just the fifth player ever — to go 5-for-5 when he prevailed in a tightly contested battle with Casey that saw them tie the first five holes.
Johnson took the lead for good at the eighth, but never led by more than two and couldn’t put Casey away until the bitter end.
Johnson said he shared a key trait with his young teammates that fueled their bid to prevent Europe from winning a fifth Ryder Cup in six editions.
“We do not like to lose,” he said. “We had a lot of rookies on the Ryder Cup, but it didn’t feel like they were rookies … and they didn’t play like they were rookies. They stepped up to the plate and they all wanted it.”
They made that clear from the start and took an 11-5 lead into Sunday’s 12 singles matches. The six-point gap was more than either team has ever overcome on the final day to lift the trophy.
It meant the Americans needed just 3½ points to win the Cup.
Padraig Harrington’s Europe needed nine to retain it, and it was clear when the U.S. powered to the lead in most of the early matches that they wouldn’t do it.
Morikawa, who won his second major title at the British Open this year, assured the U.S. of victory with a brilliant birdie at the par-three 17th, where he blasted his tee shot to three feet to 1-up with one to play.
He missed a six-footer at 18 to win the match outright, but the American celebrations were already underway thanks to his half-point.
Scottie Scheffler, a Ryder Cup newcomer with the lowest ranking among the U.S. players at No. 21 in the world, opened the floodgates when he took out world No. 1 Jon Rahm 4-and-3.
Rahm, who had excelled all week amid Europe’s overall struggles, became just the third world No. 1 to lose a Ryder Cup singles match.
“We all saw it, we knew it was happening,” Jordan Spieth said of Scheffler’s convincing victory, which Johnson called “one thing that could really push the U.S. team.”
Rory McIlroy gained the first point of the day with a victory over Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, but his first win of the week was no cause for celebration as he contemplated the flood of red on the scoreboard.
“(I’m) incredibly proud to be a part of this team,” McIlroy said, his voice cracking. “I’ve been extremely disappointed that I haven’t contributed more for the team.”
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