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Ryder Cup: Recap as Europe win 16.5-11.5 in Rome

Europe retained the Ryder Cup with a 16.5-11.5 victory over the USA in Rome.

Luke Donald's men got off to a quick start, leading in most of the early matches, but the likes of Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Max Homa, and Xander Schauffele put red on the board in the middle matches.

For a brief spell it looked like the USA could potentially squeeze out a draw if a few more of the bottom matches went their way, but with Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton establishing big leads, Europe were never likely to need many of the bottom matches to go their way.

Jon Rahm got off to an excellent start against Scottie Scheffler in the opening match before the world number one pegged the reigning Masters champion back to get A/S at the turn. The pair exchanged several holes with Rahm taking the 18th to take a half point.

Hovland, McIlroy and Hatton also wrapped up their points with Justin Rose unable to quite get back into his match with Patrick Cantlay, centre of much attention after his caddie's antics on Saturday evening. 

Matt Fitzpatrick in match five had a putt to win the Ryder Cup but missed and went down by a hole to Max Homa. Homa, playing in his first Ryder Cup, had an excellent week and was one of the few shining lights for the USA, top-scoring with 3.5 points.

The USA won three of the four middle matches to make it a contest, going as short as 18/1 to win at one point, but the bottom matches were always going the Europeans' way.

Tommy Fleetwood secured a half when Rickie Fowler drove into the water on 16, and secured a full point to officially get Europe over the line on 17.

Much credit has to go to captain Donald, with every European player not only playing on the first day but ensuring they added to the scoreboard and eventually taking a 6.5-1.5 lead after day one and a 10.5-5.5 after day two, and overseeing a record-breaking pairing of Hovland and Ludvig Aberg. 

On the flip side, serious questions will be asked of the Americans, who have once again sent a strong side across the Atlantic only to be resoundingly beaten as they were in 2014 and 2018. 

There were reports of a fractured team room - which seemed to be dispelled on Saturday evening - but the fact that none of the players had even played the Italian Open and three were absent for the team trip over, combined with most of the team not playing any competitive golf for five weeks before the event will garner much criticism. 

There were calls for Donald to reprise his role for Bethpage Black in 2025, when the USA will be understandably be favourites again, but for the 2021 winners, it's back to the drawing board.

Day 2 recap

Europe continued to break records as the USA launched a fightback on day two of the Ryder Cup.

As they did yesterday, Europe started fast in the foursomes with Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy going out first against an out-of-sorts Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Only some missed early putts from McIlroy prevented the pair taking a bigger lead, but Spieth began to find his touch on the greens to make a match of it, eventually going down 2&1.

The morning was stolen by the Scandinavian pair of Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg who blew Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka away, with the American pairing miles below the best and falling to a record loss and Hovland/Aberg ran out 9&7 winners; Scheffler was later seen in tears after the defeat.

Max Homa and Brian Harman stopped the rot with stellar golf to keep Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka at bay with Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton holding off a late fightback from Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.

But just as the Europeans played their best golf in the foursomes, the USA saved their best for the afternoon once again. 

Hovland and Aberg were sent out first but quickly went behind to Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa who ran out comfortable 4&3 winners.

Max Homa and Brian Harman ensured red stayed on the board throughout the afternoon, putting Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard to the sword, eventually winning 2&1.

Veteran Justin Rose rolled back the years with another excellent performance as he and Robert MacIntyre - much improved from his Friday showing - beat Spieth and Thomas 3&2.

But the day's drama was saved for the final match. McIlroy and Fitzpatrick got themselves to 1UP thru 16 after Cantlay holed a long putt for birdie to halve the hole. Reports emerged that Cantlay was behind a split in the US team room, wanting to be paid to play in the Ryder Cup and refusing to wear a hat in protest. 

The home crowd got wind of the rumours and greeted Cantlay by collectively waving their hats.

Cantlay responded by sticking a tee shot to 10 feet on 17 and making the birdie putt to go A/S down the last. And faced with a 40-foot birdie putt to likely win the match, he holed that too. 

The whole US team waved their hats while Cantlay gestured taking a hat off to the crowd. 

It's all added a bit of spice to what was looking like another home blowout.

Day 1 recap

Europe got off to a record-breaking start with a thrilling day one coming to a close as the hosts take a 6.5-1.5 lead in the Ryder Cup.

The holders got off to a miserable start, quickly going behind in all four foursomes matches in the morning and not leading in one match throughout the entire session.

Viktor Hovland chipped in for birdie on the first hole to set the tone, with Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton also establishing early leads.

The unlikely duo of Sepp Straka and Shane Lowry also pulled away early after poor displays from Collin Morikawa and Rickie Fowler.

And in the final match, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood held off Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele with Europe sweeping the opening session for the first time in Ryder Cup history, and extending their recent foursomes record on home soil to 17-3.

Captain Luke Donald opted to bench Fleetwood and rookie Ludvig Aberg, both who impressed in foursomes, giving the players who sat out of the morning a chance to play.

US skipper Zach Johnson was forced into changes to rotate out the likes of Sam Burns and Brian Harman who left plenty to be desired with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas sent out first.

Europe got off to another quick start, taking early leads with Hovland partnering Hatton and Rahm going out with rookie Nicolai Hojgaard, with the Dane holing a long birdie putt on his first hole.

Veteran Justin Rose went out with Robert MacIntyre and despite the pair leading early, they fell behind at the turn with Wyndham Clark and Max Homa playing solid golf throughout the afternoon and looking like earning the USA’s first full point.

In the bottom match, Matt Fitzpatrick went out with McIlroy, getting his first taste of four-balls having lost all five of his previous Ryder Cup matches, and started superbly.

The former US Open champion holed long putts on his first five holes, going -6 thru 6 on his own ball with Europe racing to an unassailable lead.

The top two matches were both back-and-forth affairs. Spieth and Thomas got themselves to 2UP thru 13 with Hovland and Hatton fighting back and Hovland making a long par putt to secure half a point on the last.

Rahm and Hojgaard were 2UP thru 8 with Scheffler and Brooks Koepka launching a fightback on the inward nine, with Rahm forced to make two eagles on 16 and 18 to secure another half a point for Europe.

Clark and Homa, who’d looked good value for a full point, getting themselves to dormie 2, found themselves under the cosh on the last with a couple of wayward shots, but an excellent wedge from Homa set up a birdie chance, only to see the opportunity slip by.

It means that the USA haven’t won any of the first eight matches and will be trailing by five overnight.

Europe went off 20/21 at the start of the day but are as short as 1/6 now, with the USA requiring a big second – and third – day.

Ryder Cup foursomes results:

Rahm/Hatton 4&3 Scheffler/Burns (F)

Hovland/Aberg 4&3 Homa/Harman (F)

Lowry/Straka 2&1 Morikawa/Fowler (F)

McIlroy/Fleetwood 2&1 Schauffele/Cantlay (F)

Ryder Cup four-balls results:

Hovland/Hatton A/S Thomas/Spieth (F)

Rahm/Hojgaard A/S Scheffler/Koepka (F)

MacIntyre/Rose A/S Homa/Clark (F)

McIlroy/Fitzpatrick 5&3 Morikawa/Schauffele (F)

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