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Team Europe Captain Bernhard Langer celebrates his team's Ryder Cup Matches win with jubilant fans. (Photo: Getty Images)
Team Europe Captain Bernhard Langer celebrates his team's Ryder Cup Matches win with jubilant fans. (Photo: Getty Images)

Team Europe wins Ryder Cup

There weren't any miracles by Team USA at the 35th Ryder Cup Matches. The Americans got an early boost in Sunday's singles matches with victories by Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, but Team Europe went on to win its seventh Cup in the last 10 events.

Don Jozwiak, Contributor
September 19, 2004

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- It's official. Team Europe can no longer be considered the underdog when it comes to the Ryder Cup.

Throw out the world rankings, disregard major championship wins. As the Europeans showed with their 18 1/2-9 1/2 thrashing of Team USA in the 35th Ryder Cup Matches at Oakland Hills Country Club, they are the undisputed world leaders in team golf competition.

And if this whipping didn't prove the Europeans' domination, a seventh win in the last 10 Ryder Cups surely did.

Lee Westwood -- who was 4-0-1 this week -- closed out Kenny Perry with a par putt on 18, earning a 1-up win to put Team Europe within a half-point of retaining the Cup. Minutes later, Colin Montgomerie made a par putt to win his match with David Toms 1-up, giving Team Europe the 14 1/2 points it needed to win the Ryder Cup.

"The truth is that the Europeans were the best players this week," Team USA Captain Hal Sutton said. "This is golf. You want to win badly, but you understand that losing is part of it."

The loss was the worst suffered by the United States in the Ryder Cup Matches, surpassing the 16 1/2-11 1/2 defeat in 1985 at The Belfry. Team Europe's 18 points were the most scored by any team since the event was changed in 1979 to include players from continental Europe.

"We came here again as underdogs. It's amazing how well we do," Montgomerie said. "I don't know how it happens."

Team USA did not go quietly in front of a lively gallery of 40,000-plus spectators, but the record 11-5 deficit faced by the team proved to be insurmountable at Oakland Hills Country Club on a sunny late-summer Sunday.

Needing to put points on the board early and often, Sutton put his top guns out first. It looked like the strategy might pay off when Tiger Woods put Paul Casey away easily. Woods won on the 16th green, 3 and 2, after holding Casey at bay all day. Woods did not lose a hole, and he ignited the crowd with several outstanding shots, including a 35-foot eagle putt on the par-5 12th hole. Casey was never a factor, despite Woods' continued wildness off the tee on several holes. But Woods sealed his reputation as Team USA's toughest player -- exactly what Captain Sutton expected from Woods.

"My job was to get it started early with some red on the board," Woods said. "It was important for me to never show blue on that board. I just treated today like it was the last round of a major championship."

Team Europe Captain Bernhard Langer predicted on Saturday that his team would win two of the first three matches, and he was nearly right. Team Europe's first point of the day came courtesy of Sergio Garcia, who beat Mickelson 3 and 2. Mickelson got off to a quick start against Garcia, opening a 2-up lead after Garcia shanked an iron shot on No. 8. But Garcia birdied three straight holes to take a 1-up lead after 11 holes, then extended his lead to 2-up after Mickelson bogeyed the par-3 13th. Mickelson hit his approach on No. 16 into the pond fronting the green, and Garcia holed his par putt to slam the door on Mickelson -- who finished the 35th Ryder Cup Macthes with a 1-3-0 record.

"I got 2-down early, but I fought back," said Garcia, who joined Westwood in leading Team Europe with matching 4-0-1 records. "All my teammates were behind me and I really felt the push. I wanted to finish off the match because I wanted to go watch my teammates."

Davis Love III had a 2-up lead with three holes to play against Darren Clarke, but Clarke was able to halve the match and give another half-point to Team Europe. Love opened up a 1-up lead when Clarke bogeyed the par-4 fifth hole and pushed it to 2-up with a birdie on the fifth hole. The players then halved six consecutive holes before another Love birdie gave him a 2-up lead. Clarke made a dramatic turnaround on Nos. 16 and 17, birdieing both holes -- including a chip-in on the difficult par-3 17th. Love -- who stumbled down the stretch in the 1995 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills -- watched his drive on No. 18 kick into the deep rough left of the fairway. He was forced to lay up, but escaped with a half-point when Clarke lipped out his par putt.

"It looked like we had a chance. There was a time when our board was all red, but we just didn't keep it rolling," Love said. "Our problem is that we didn't do that on Friday morning. If we go 2-2 on Friday morning it would have been a whole different story. The team that gets way behind hardly ever wins the Ryder Cup."

Team USA had several bright spots on Sunday. Jim Furyk won the team's second point of the singles matches with a resounding 6 and 4 win over David Howell. Furyk had his game face on and never let Howell into the match. The 2003 U.S. Open champ showed he was fully recovered from early-season wrist surgery with his overwhelming victory, which included four front-nine birdies. Chris DiMarco never led his match against Miguel Angel Jimenez until the 14th hole, then he able to hld on to win 1-up. DiMarco finished as the leading point-winner for Team USA with 2 1/2 points. And Chad Campbell turned his game around after two days of poor play in team matches, routing Luke Donald in singles, 5 and 3. Campbell poured in a number of long putts and was strong from tee to green in earning Team USA its third full point of the singles matches.

Team Europe won the last four matches of the day. Thomas Levet closed out Fred Funk 1-up despite Funk's game attempt to halve the match on the 18th green. Ian Poulter handled Chris Riley with ease, 3 and 2, in a rematch of a Poulter win at the World Match Play Championship earlier this year. Paul McGinley won the first hole and never trailed in a resounding 3 and 2 victory over Stewart Cink 3 and 2. And Padraig Harrington closed out the 35th Ryder Cup Matches by closing out Jay Haas 1-up, rolling in a 25-foot downhill putt on the 18th green.

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