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Ryder Cup 2023: Team Europe regain trophy as Tommy Fleetwood provides winning point on nervy final day

Ryder Cup 2023: Team Europe regain trophy as Tommy Fleetwood provides winning point on nervy final day

Europe regained the Ryder Cup after Tommy Fleetwood’s birdie on the 16th ensured at least a half-point to guarantee the team could get the 14.5 points for victory.

It felt far more nervy than perhaps was anticipated or the eventual scoreline of 16.5-11.5 suggested, as Luke Donald’s side began the day requiring four points having dominated the opening two days.

It was apt that some standout-out players this weekend - Viktor Hovland, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton and Fleetwood – should be among those to give them the singles points needed for victory.

Fleetwood’s match with Rickie Fowler went on another hole but he won that to take Europe to 15 points and spark wild celebrations at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

It set up a seventh consecutive win on home soil for Europe, with a new-look side devoid of many of its past established stars and yet gelling when it mattered.

The day began to the backdrop of drama after a row on the 18th hole last night, when McIlroy clashed with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava, which spilled out into a car park.

Following his singles win over World Matchplay champion Sam Burns, McIlroy said the issue had not just galvanised him, but his 11 team-mates too.

“I needed that to fuel me today,” he said. “I felt like I used it to my advantage. I came out here with a different level of focus and determination. I think in a way it… lit fire for the team.”

McIlroy broke down in tears on the 17th, as did his captain Donald in an emotional finale in Rome. Donald added: “The US put up a fight today, they really did. We kept looking at the board and thinking where are we going to find 14.5pts.”

There were times the scoreboard looked alarmingly red in colour for the hosts, with Europe up in just four matches as Donald and his support staff watched on nervously.

Donald had always made it clear it was about Europe being the sum of their parts, and so they proved. McIlroy shone with an eight-under par round, while Hovland was only marginally less imperious in winning 4&3 over Collin Morikawa.

Rory McIlroy picked up his fourth point of the week with a dominant win over Sam Burns (REUTERS)
Rory McIlroy picked up his fourth point of the week with a dominant win over Sam Burns (REUTERS)

Rahm was no less impressive with a half against world No1 Scottie Scheffler, at a point when the US looked to be shifting the momentum.

The Spaniard had a chance for a second eagle of the weekend on the 18th, in the end, a birdie was enough for a half that felt very much like a win in that moment.

Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay and Brooks Koepka sealed crucial wins for the US to give them a glimmer of hope of pulling off a Ryder Cup record comeback in the singles, one that would have exceeded what was achieved in Brookline or the Miracle in Medinah.

When Hatton won 3&2 over Open champion Brian Harman, Europe were up to 14 but it was unclear where the crucial point for the win would come from.

The answer came from Fleetwood, who had just missed a birdie putt to go two up at the 16. But unfazed he followed with successive birdies as Fowler found the water on the 16th and the match trickled away from the US.

Further points followed as Shane Lowry fought back for a half and Bob McIntyre held his nerve to beat Wyndham Clark 2&1, as Europe finished five points clear.