ryder cup
ryder cup
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The Ryder Cup
Inspired Europeans claim Ryder Cup
Strange has no answer to Torrance gambit
Torrance full of praise for European players
McGinley forgets poor form to seal win
Ryder Cup rookies measure up to task
Inspired Europeans claim Ryder Cup

Ireland's Paul McGinley secured victory with a nine-foot putt on the last green at The Belfry to earn the half point that lifted the Europeans to the winning total of 14-1/2.

"What a team. It was tremendous and it was always going to be close," European captain Sam Torrance said.

"Colin (Montgomerie) has been fantastic all week. All I did was lead them (the players) to the water and they drank copiously."

Torrance's ploy of sending his best players out early proved to be a masterstroke, and American world number one Tiger Woods, last out against Jesper Parnevik, was left stranded in a dead contest that was halved long after the celebrations had started.

It was only the third time Europe had had the better of the singles matches in the last 12 Ryder Cups.

The hosts' momentum gathered pace during a sun-drenched afternoon and no one captured their mood of growing confidence better than the unheralded Phillip Price.

The Welshman, lying 119th in the world rankings, reeled off five birdies to upset world number two Phil Mickelson 3 & 2.

Needing 6-1/2 points on the final day to regain the trophy they last held at Valderrama in 1997, Europe secured comfortable early victories through Montgomerie, who won a record-equaling 4-1/2 points in the match, Padraig Harrington and Bernhard Langer.

Although American David Toms edged out Sergio Garcia by one hole after a tight battle and Darren Clarke and David Duval finished all square after 18 tense holes, Europe were just two points short of victory when Thomas Bjorn defeated Stewart Cink 2 & 1.

U.S. rookie Scott Verplank, always in control of his match against Lee Westwood, earned his team a second point with a 2 & 1 win before Price produced the shock result of the day.

Price holed a putt from 25 feet at the par-four 16th for his fifth birdie of the round to inflict upon the left-handed Mickelson his first Ryder Cup singles defeat in four matches.

Moments later, Paul Azinger holed out from a bunker at the last to halve a match against Sweden's Niclas Fasth that the American had three times trailed by two holes.

That left Europe still needing half a point to win the trophy for the eighth time and McGinley held his nerve at the last to halve his match against Jim Furyk, who had narrowly failed to hole his third shot from the bunker.

"I knew how important it was, and it was for the Ryder Cup," McGinley said. "Just to have that opportunity -- it was the matter of having the nerve to hit the putt on the line, and fortunately I did."

The putt sparked wild celebrations among the European players and the capacity crowd, but, in keeping with the exemplary spirit in which the entire match was played, there was no repeat of the excesses that marred the American victory three years ago.

Montgomerie had been sent out first to inspire a fast start, and the ploy worked well.

With the two sides locked together at 8-8 overnight, a relaxed and confident Montgomerie holed out from 15 feet for birdie at the par-four first.

The 39-year-old Scot, unbeaten in singles in five previous Ryder Cups, reeled off further birdies on six, seven, 10 and 13 before sealing a 5 & 4 victory with a birdie putt from 15 feet at the par-three 14th.

"This is probably the best day ever for European golf -- it means a huge amount," he said after three days competition in which he never trailed the Americans during a remarkable 82 holes.

"It means more for us to win it than I think it does for the might of the U.S. Tour.

"It's been the best Ryder Cup I have ever played in. The crowd has been fantastic and it has been great to have their support."

The seven-times European number one finished the week with 4-1/2 points out of a possible five, matching the Ryder Cup achievements of Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal -- at The Belfry in 1989 -- and Seve Ballesteros -- at Kiawah Island in 1991.

American Larry Nelson is the only player in the competition's history to secure all five points, doing so at The Greenbrier in 1979.

With 12 points up for grabs on the last day, the United States had started as firm favorites to gather the six points they needed to retain the trophy they won at Brookline by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2 in 1999.

The U.S., who held the trophy at the start of the week after their victory by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2 at Brookline three years ago, have won 24 times in the 75-year history of the competition. The match was postponed last year following the September 11 attacks on the U.S.

Britain (or Europe since 1979) have now won eight matches and two have been tied.