Europe plummeted to a record 19-9 Ryder Cup defeat as they were routed in the Sunday singles at Whistling Straits.
Only Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter – ironically given how poorly they played on the first two days – won their singles for Europe against the US onslaught. Padraig Harrington’s gamble to play McIlroy in the top match paid off, but nothing else did on the final day for the Irish captain.
The post-mortems will no doubt be long and arduous, but after 20 years of barely interrupted success in this event, the Europeans were perhaps due a humbling like this.
This was the best ranked US team in history, a young side without the baggage of recent losing teams, and they had the unbridled backing of a hostile home crowd. Covid restrictions prevented all but a handful of European supporters attending.
Harrington’s reliables run out of steam
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 26, 2021
European captain Padraig Harrington said he was content in the knowledge that he believed there was nothing more he could have done.
“That’s a small consolation,” he said. “The team did everything you could ask of them. It was always going to be a tall order, this is a strong US team and they got a good start as well.
“The US had momentum all the time, holing putts all the time. You wonder if the crowds are part of that. When we holed putts there was silence. But the bottom line is that they just played better than us.”
Harrington must also have hoped for a better return from his more experienced team. Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia did him proud as a partnership on the first two days but predictably ran out of steam on Sunday.
McIlroy beat Xander Schauffele in the top match 3&2. He won the first hole and was never hauled back to square thereafter. At the end the emotions were all too evident.
“Incredibly proud to be a part of this team, to be a teammates of all these guys, the captain, the vice captains,” he said. “I’ve been extremely disappointed that I haven’t contributed for more the team. I’m glad I got a point on the board today for them.
“The American team have been total class in terms of how they played. They have been dominant. They have been really, really good. We haven’t been able to put up as much of a fight as we wanted.
“I don’t think there’s any greater privilege in golf to be a part of one of these teams, European or American. I’ve done this six times. They have always been my greatest experiences of my career.”
McIlroy emotionally looking forward to Rome
McIlroy was on the verge of tears as he said what playing in the Ryder Cup meant to him.
“I have never really cried or got emotional over what I’ve done as an individual,” he said. “But this team, and what it feels like to be a part of…it’s phenomenal and I’m so happy to be a part of it.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t contribute more this week. But you know, in Rome in two years’ time, we’ll go again and try to win it back.”
Shane Lowry, like Rahm and Garcia, looked spent by his emotional efforts on previous days. He lost the second game 3&2 to Patrick Cantlay, while Rahm was never in the hunt after Scottie Scheffler birdied the first four holes.
Bryson DeChambeau took the third match 3&2 over Garcia. That left it only a question of who would break past the winning 14 and a half point barrier for the US.
Morikawa breaks the barrier as records tumble
— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) September 26, 2021
Open champion Collin Morikawa was the man to confirm it when he birdied the 17th against Viktor Hovland. That put him one-up with one to play and secured the necessary half-point.
The Norwegian rookie won the 18th in par to get a fighting half. But the US victory was confirmed and it was all about the records.
Poulter showed his customary defiance in maintaining his unbeaten record in singles in what will surely be his final match, beating Tony Finau 3&2.
Dustin Johnson completed a 5-0 record beating Paul Casey, the Englishman missing a chance on the final green to get a half. Justin Thomas was always in front beating Tyrrell Hatton 4&3, while Brooks Koepka had eight birdies beating Bernd Wiesberger 2&1.
“This is a special day for everyone here,” said US captain Steve Stricker. “It means a lot to everyone and to finally put in a dominant performance. The guys were fired up to be here and it showed all week.
“I feel like it is a new era for us. We all talked about how young this group in and they came in here with a lot of fire. They’re willing to do anything they can to get it done.
“We just took away a lot of the fluff and let them enjoy it.”
The remaining matches on the course predictably fizzled out, Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood halving on the 18th. Matt Fitzpatrick hit his second at 18 into the brook against Daniel Berger and allowed the US through the record 19 point barrier.