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Monty seals record Cup triumph
Mark Lamport-Stokes | September 20, 2004 10:29 IST
Rampant Europe retained the Ryder Cup after dominating the last-day singles matches on Sunday to beat the United States by a record 18-1/2 points to 9-1/2.
Wildcard selection Colin Montgomerie secured victory with a one-hole win against David Toms at Oakland Hills Country Club before the Americans slumped to their heaviest defeat in the competition's 77-year history.
The point gained by the 41-year-old Montgomerie took Europe to an unassailable total of 14-1/2 points, and that soon became 16-1/2 after rookies Ian Poulter of Britain and Frenchman Thomas Levet won against Chris Riley and Fred Funk.
Irishman Paul McGinley, who holed the winning putt for Europe at The Belfry in 2002, then beat Stewart Cink 3 & 2 before his compatriot Padraig Harrington put the icing on the cake, winning two up against veteran Jay Haas in the final game.
Europe's winning total eclipsed their previous best, achieved at The Belfry in 1985, when they beat the U.S. by 16-1/2 points to 11-1/2.
It also matched the record total set by the U.S. against Europe at Walton Heath Golf Club in England in 1981.
"I'm so happy for all the guys," a jubilant European captain Bernhard Langer said after his team won for only the third time in the U.S.
"We achieved it much easier than we thought we would.
"We beat one of the strongest U.S. teams in Ryder Cup history on their home soil. This is just unbelievable.
"We were down in a hole this morning but the guys came strong when it mattered and put point after point on the board," added Langer, after Europe had won the singles encounters by 7-1/2 points to 4-1/2.
Europe had to hold off an early challenge by the Americans, who took initial leads in the first five matches, before clinching the trophy for the ninth time -- and a fourth success in the last five matches.
U.S. captain Hal Sutton had predictably packed the upper half of his last-day singles order with his best players but could only watch as the Europeans, more cohesive as a team all week, resisted the early onslaught.
"I made mistakes, and I take full responsibility for the mistakes that I made," Sutton said.
"I thought there was no bad way to pair the 12 guys we had. Obviously the pairings we sent out didn't create any charisma.
"But the truth is the Europeans were the best players this week. They played ferociously."
Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk won the first two matches of the day after the Americans, trailing 11-5 overnight, made a fast start, but victories by Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood and a half by Darren Clarke put Europe on the brink of victory.
Westwood recovered after trailing American Kenny Perry by two after seven holes, winning one up, after Clarke had squared his match with Davis Love III and Garcia rallied with three birdies in a row from the ninth to beat Phil Mickelson 3 & 2.
Westwood, who matched Garcia's haul of four and a half points out of a possible five, effectively clinched his team's triumph as Montgomerie, one up playing the last, was assured of the half point Europe needed to retain the trophy.
But it was left to Montgomerie, who has struggled for much of this year while in the throes of a divorce, to seal the win in his seventh Ryder Cup.
"We had 12 fantastic players out there today. We had a strong top, middle and bottom," a tearful Montgomerie told reporters after preserving his unbeaten Ryder Cup record in singles matches.
"I've never been able to say that before. It doesn't matter who holed the final putt because this is a team event. But this means more to me than most. It's super."
The Americans had kept alive their faint hopes of a miracle comeback by going ahead in six of the first 10 singles encounters, but Europe rallied in the sunshine as the galleries of 40,000 became more subdued.
The resounding cheers of "USA, USA" that had echoed around the par-70 South Course in the early afternoon were wiped out by passionate European fans singing the football-style chant of "Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole".
Woods said after his 3 & 2 victory against Britain's Paul Casey: "The only thing we've lacked is the fact that we haven't made any putts.
"The Europeans have made so many more putts than we have. Basically, they just flat-out outplayed us. They got the job done."
Britain (or Europe since 1979) have now won nine times in the history of the competition. The United States have won 24 matches and two have been tied.