NEWPORT, Wales — Europe reclaimed the Ryder Cup, winning a thriller that went down to the final singles match today.
The Americans rallied from a three-point deficit to tie the score, bringing the title down to the 12th match. But U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell made a clutch birdie putt at the 16th and was conceded his par putt at No. 17. Hunter Mahan flubbed a chip shot, then missed a last-gasp putt from off the green to save par.
The Europeans won 14 1/2-13 1/2 to reclaim the cup won by the Americans at Valhalla two years ago.
The youngest American, 21-year-old Rickie Fowler, gave the visiting team hope of pulling off an improbable comeback when he won the final three holes to halve his match with Edoardo Molinari. Fowler rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the 17th to extend the match, then made an 18-footer at the final hole to stun the Italian.
A few minutes later, Zach Johnson finished off a 3-and-2 win over Padraig Harrington, evening the score at 13.
That brought it down to McDowell vs. Mahan.
The Northern Irishman was 3 up with seven holes left. But he made a bogey at No. 12, and an errant tee shot at the 15th, a short par-4, handed Mahan another hole.
With Fowler's half-point, Mahan merely had to halve his match for a 14-14 tie that would've kept the trophy in American hands.
But McDowell rolled in a slick, downhill putt from 15 feet at No. 16 for a brilliant birdie. When Mahan made a mess of the 17th hole, the winner didn't even have to bother with his final putt.