Europe regained the Ryder Cup from the United States on Sunday with a 16.5-11.5 victory in Rome.
We take a look at five key things from the matchplay showdown:
European team ‘culture’
Justin Rose said that playing for Europe “means representing something bigger than yourself” and the unity among Luke Donald’s team was evident throughout the event and in the aftermath when it was made very clear that they wanted their captain to stay on for a tilt at winning at Bethpage in 2025.
“We are united by a culture and we are united by a generation of players that have come before us,” said Rose. “This is our time to shine, not because this is our stage, we are just taking care of it because of the amazing role models that we’ve had before us that have shown us how to do it.”
US big guns misfire
Europe’s ‘big three’ of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland all delivered, winning at least three points each, while the Americans’ bigger stars struggled for form.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas have formed a formidable partnership in past matchplay events but were both largely out of sorts. Spieth in particular struggled badly off the tee.
The pair battled hard, constantly talking with each other between shots as they tried to find their best, but could not provide a full point playing together.
Five-time Major champion Brooks Koepka and world No 1 Scottie Scheffler also suffered a record-breaking 9 and 7 defeat against Hovland and Ludvig Aberg, with Scheffler going four matches without a win in total.
European captain Luke Donald spoke about wanting to make a “fast start” on Friday morning when explaining his decision to start with foursomes instead of the usual fourballs.
Hovland chipped in on the first green in the second match of the week to set the tone and Europe won the 1st hole five times before the Americans managed to do so. The final score on the hole was 10-4 to the hosts.
“The strategy, 1st tee, Ryder Cup, [driver] is the easiest club to hit. Send it,” said Rose when asked about the secret to succeeding on the opening hole, which boasted an intimidating grandstand with a capacity of 5,000 around the tee.
The differing fortunes between the teams on the hole were illustrated best during Saturday morning’s foursomes when seven of the USA’s eight players missed the fairway, to the delight of the crowd. Patrick Cantlay drew loud ironic cheers when he finally found the short grass in the final group.
Excellent matchplay course
The course at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club had been revamped especially with the event in mind and it delivered in style with holes that were perfectly set up for the matchplay format.
The long, downhill par-five 18th provided some of the most memorable moments of the week, with Hovland, Rahm and Rose’s clutch putts to steal half points on Friday afternoon looking even more crucial come Sunday.
Cantlay’s monster effort on Saturday was the catalyst for the controversy involving his caddie Joe LaCava and McIlroy.
The 16th stood out most, though, with players going for the green every time.
The short par four, protected by water down the right-hand side of the green, saw the winning moment in a classic risk-and-reward scenario as Rickie Fowler hit his tee shot into the drink before Tommy Fleetwood drove the green.
Italian golf legacy?
The Ryder Cup might have been held in Italy but there was little Italian flavour to the event beyond a chintzy opening ceremony which featured local TV presenter Melissa Satta and the Italian Air Forces’ ‘Frecce Tricolori’ aerobatics team and the revamped course’s stunning setting in the Roman countryside.
There were no Italian players on the European team and the majority of the chatter along the fairways and greens was in English from the wave of British, Irish and American tourists bussed in from hotels around the Eternal City.
Travelling around the city there was almost no sign that the tournament was even being held in Rome, nor was there any significant sense that golf would be elevated above its current status as just another minority sport in the country.
© Agence France-Presse