GRAEME McDOWELL clinched the Ryder Cup for Europe after a Celtic Manor classic that crowned captain Colin Montgomerie’s golfing career.
US Open champion McDowell’s 3&1 victory over Hunter Mahan gave the hosts a dramatic 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 triumph over the United States to regain the trophy.
Not since 1991 at Kiawah Island had the Ryder Cup been decided in such breathtaking fashion by the last of 12 singles matches.
A brilliant putt by McDowell on 16 left Mahan needing to win the last two holes for a half that would have denied Europe.
But the American scuffed his second shot after firing short of the green off the tee on the par-three 17th.
That meant that at worst McDowell needed to get down in two from the edge of the green under unbearable pressure in front of 35,000 fans.
But Mahan then missed his putt, conceded the match, and Europe began wild celebrations.
For a tearful Montgomerie, the most remarkable of Ryder Cup wins arguably compensated for the Major title he failed to win during an otherwise title-laden career.
But Corey Pavin’s United States team pushed Europe to the limit, taking the singles by a 7-5 scoreline after trailing 9-1/2 – 6-1/2 overnight.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson — world No1 and No2 players — finally found their form to claim emphatic victories over Francesco Molinari and Peter Hanson, respectively.
But Europe prevailed thanks to wins by McDowell, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Miguel Angel Jimenez, plus the priceless halves gained by Rory McIlroy and Edoardo Molinari.
McDowell was immediately submerged by his team-mates, captain and assistant captains on the 18th green, while a bumper crowd that had gathered for the Ryder Cup’s first Monday conclusion began taking it all in.
HOW THE DAY UNFOLDED
EUROPE 14 1/2 UNITED STATES 13 1/2
GRAEME McDOWELL held his nerve to produce a match-winning performance with a 3 & 1 victory over Hunter Mahan. Final score: Europe 14 1/2 US 13 1/2
ZACH JOHNSON held back Europe’s tide by beating Padraig Harrington 3 & 2 to square the match. Latest match score: Europe 13 1/2 US 13 1/2
RICKIE FOWLER won the last four holes of his game to finish all square with Edoardo Molinari to keep US in touch. Latest match score: Europe 13 1/2 US 12 1/2
PHIL MICKELSON brought the US to within a point of Europe by defeating Peter Hanson 4 & 2. Latest match score: Europe 13 US 12
TIGER WOODS clawed back the difference further after strolling to a 4 & 3 victory over Francesco Molinari . Latest match score Europe 13 US 11
JEFF OVERTON saw Europe’s Ross Fisher bogey four of his last five holes to clinch a 3 & 2 win. Latest match score: Europe 13 US 10
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ beat Bubba Watson 4 & 3 to increase Europe’s lead to four points. Latest match score: Europe 13 US 9
LUKE DONALD finished one up in his clash with Jim Furyk. Latest match score: Europe 12 US 9
RORY McILROY stood firm to share his game with Stewart Cink. Latest match score: Europe 11 US 9
IAN POULTER grabbed Europe’s first point of the day. His pre-match confidence shone through as he crushed Matt Kuchar 5 & 4. Latest match score: Europe 10 1/2 US 8 1/2
DUSTIN JOHNSON continued the US fightback in emphatic style with a 6 & 4 win over Martin Kaymer. Latest match score: Europe 9 1/2 US 8 1/2
STEVE STRICKER drew first blood for the US with a 2 &1 win over Lee Westwood. latest match score: Europe 9 1/2 US 7 1/2
EUROPE had the upper hand going into today’s 12 singles matches needing just five points to regain the trophy lost in Louisville, Kentucky two years ago.
Colin Montogmerie’s men put in a storming Sunday performance which their captain described as “one of the greatest days in European golf”