CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — Maybe not the best team ever assembled, the Americans were every bit of a team in finally winning back the Ryder Cup.
Phil Mickelson led the Americans behind closed doors. Patrick Reed powered them with his passion on the golf course. And it was Ryan Moore, who a week ago wasn’t even on the team, who delivered the cup-clinching point Sunday at Hazeltine.
Moore finished eagle-birdie-par for a 1-up victory over Lee Westwood, and the celebration was on. The United States beat Europe for the first time since 2008, and only the third time over the last two decades.
Never has an American team been under this much pressure.
They lost for the third straight time in 2014 at Gleneagles, and it was team divided over everything from how the captain was selected to how the team would be built. Mickelson led the way in getting a task force together, and it was hard to argue with the results.
“You keep losing, you feel like you have to do something different,” said U.S. captain Davis Love III.
The biggest difference was the outcome.
Reed faced the tallest order in the leadoff match with Rory McIlroy, and the quality of golf was as high as it gets. Reed had one stretch of driving the fifth green to within 8 feet for eagle, two short birdies putts and then a 35-foot birdie putt to match McIlroy, who made one from 60 feet.
Reed now is 6-1-2 in his two Ryder Cups, and he was the top points earner for the Americans this week.
Mickelson leapt higher than when he won his first major at the 2004 Masters after an 18-foot birdie putt that was worth a half-point when Sergio Garcia matched him with a clutch birdie of his own.
With one match still on the course, the Americans were headed for their biggest rout since 1981, when it won 18 1/2 to 9 1/2.
That team is regarded the best ever, filled with 11 major champions. Love said in a radio interview going into the Ryder Cup, making a point that his players didn’t have to do anything extraordinary, that this was “the best team maybe ever assembled.”
All that mattered to the Americans was taking back that 17-inch gold trophy.
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