Europe cruised to its third consecutive Ryder Cup victory, registering a record-matching rout of the U.S. with clutch putting and inspirational leadership by Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke. The 18.5 to 9.5 victory came in the first Ryder Cup conducted in Ireland.
The K Club of Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland produced the showcase for what may be the finest European Team in event history. Clarke’s emotional journey back to the 36th Ryder Cup began in mid-August following the death of his wife, Heather, to cancer.
He had declared that Heather would have wanted him to compete, and he responded with gusto, an unbeaten mark in three matches.
Teammate Lee Westwood, also a Captain’s selection, finished 3-0-2. Europe secured the necessary 14 points to retain possession of the Ryder Cup when Sweden’s Henrik Stenson holed a birdie putt on the 15th hole to defeat Vaughn Taylor.
The U.S., which trailed 10-6 after two days as it had in 1999, never staged a rally. Europe captured all five sessions of the Ryder Cup, a feat accomplished for the first time by either team since the inception of the current format in 1979. The U.S. won only six of the 28 matches.
On a final day when the Europeans holed almost everything they looked at, American Scott Verplank made the longest shot in singles. A Captain’s choice, Verplank aced the 14th hole en route to a 4-and- 3 victory over Padraig Harrington and finished 2-0-0.
It was the second ace of the competition after England’s Paul Casey holed a 4-iron at the same hole in Saturday’s foursomes. Verplank’s hole- in-one was the sixth in the competition’s history, but the first by an American.