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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Europe clenches Ryder Cup victory

SUTTON COLDFIELD, England (REUTERS)–Europe clinched a famous Ryder Cup triumph Sunday, with Colin Montgomerie providing the inspiration as the hosts dominated the singles matches to beat the United States,15.5 to 12.5.

Ireland’s Paul McGinley secured victory with a nine-foot putt on the last green at The Belfry to lift the Europeans to the winning total, to which Montgomerie contributed a record-equaling 4.5.

“What a team. It was tremendous and it was always going to be close,” European captain Sam Torrance said.

“Colin [Montgomerie] has been fantastic all week. All I did was lead them (the players) to the water and they drank copiously.”

Torrance’s ploy of sending his best players out early proved to be a masterstroke, and American Tiger Woods, ranked first in the world, last out against Jesper Parnevik, was left stranded in a dead contest that was halved long after the celebrations had started.

It was only the third time Europe has won the singles matches in the last 12 Ryder Cups.

The hosts’ momentum gathered pace during a sun-drenched afternoon, and no one captured their mood of growing confidence better than the unheralded Phillip Price.

The Welshman, lying 119th in the world rankings, reeled off five birdies to upset Phil Mickelson three and two. Mickelson is currently ranked second in the world.

“When I made that putt on 16 [to win the match] … I didn’t think I had it in me, but it was awfully nice to discover that I did,” Price said.

“To be able to win a point in the singles when it really mattered meant more to me than you can you can imagine. I’m pretty proud of myself.”

Needing 6.5 points on the final day to regain the trophy they last held at Valderrama in 1997, Europe comfortably secured early victories through Montgomerie, Padraig Harrington and Bernhard Langer.

Although American David Toms edged out Sergio Garcia by one hole after a tight battle and Darren Clarke and David Duval finished even after 18 tense holes, the European team was just two points short of victory when Thomas Bjorn defeated Stewart Cink two and one.

U.S. rookie Scott Verplank, always in control of his match against Lee Westwood, earned his team a second point with a two and one win before Price produced the most shocking result of the day.

Price holed a putt from 25 feet at the par-four 16th for his fifth birdie of the round to hand Mickelson his first Ryder Cup singles defeat in four matches.

Moments later, Paul Azinger, who had three times trailed by two holes, pitched out from a bunker to halve a match against Sweden’s Niclas Fasth.

That left Europe still needing half a point to win the trophy. McGinley held his nerve at the last to halve his match against Jim Furyk, who had narrowly failed to sink his third shot from the bunker.

“I knew how important it was, and it was for the Ryder Cup,” McGinley said. “Just to have that opportunity–it was the matter of having the nerve to hit the putt on the line, and fortunately I did.”

The putt sparked wild celebrations among the European players and the crowd, but in keeping with the exemplary spirit in which the entire match was played, there was no repeat of the excesses that marred the American victory three years ago.

Montgomerie was sent out first to inspire a fast start, and the ploy worked well.

With the two sides locked together at eight each overnight, a relaxed and confident Montgomerie sunk a putt from 15 feet for birdie at the par-four first.

The 39-year-old Scot, unbeaten in singles in five previous Ryder Cups, reeled off further birdies on six, seven, 10 and 13 before sealing a five and four victory with a birdie putt from 15 feet at the par-three 14th.

Montgomerie, the seven-time European number one, finished the week with 4.5 points out of a possible five, matching the Ryder Cup achievements of Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal–at The Belfry in 1989–and Seve Ballesteros–at Kiawah Island in 1991.

American Larry Nelson is the only player in the competition’s history to secure all five points, doing so at The Greenbrier in 1979.

With 12 points up for grabs on the last day, the United States team members had started as firm favorites to gather the six points they needed to retain the trophy they won at Brookline by 14.5 points to 13.5 in 1999.

The United States team, victor by 14.5 points to 13.5 on home soil three years ago, has won 24 times in the 75-year history of the competition. The match was postponed last year following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Britain (or “Europe” since 1979) has now won eight matches and tied two.

“This is probably the best day ever for European golf–it means a huge amount,” Montgomerie said after three days of competition in which he never trailed the Americans during a remarkable 82 holes.

“It means more for us to win it than I think it does for the might of the U.S. Tour.

“It’s been the best Ryder Cup I have ever played in. The crowd has been fantastic and it has been great to have their support.”

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