Rory McIlroy fought back tears of joy instead of disappointment after contributing a career-best performance to help Europe regain the Ryder Cup.
McIlroy’s singles victory over Sam Burns ensured he won four matches in the biennial contest for the first time as Luke Donald’s side inflicted a seventh straight away defeat on the United States.
Viktor Hovland had put the first point on the board with victory over Collin Morikawa before Jon Rahm birdied the 18th to snatch half a point from the opening contest with world number one Scottie Scheffler.
Patrick Cantlay then held off a battling Justin Rose to narrow the gap, but McIlroy defeated World Match Play champion Sam Burns 3&1 and Tyrrell Hatton beat Open champion Brian Harman 3&2 to take Europe to within half a point of victory.
They were made to wait as victories for Brooks Koepka, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele kept the contest alive, but when Tommy Fleetwood won the 16th to go two up with two to play against Rickie Fowler, he was guaranteed the half point required and the celebrations could begin.
McIlroy felt he had let his team-mates down at Whistling Straits after suffering three heavy defeats before beating Schauffele in the singles, after which he broke down in tears during a television interview and admitted he could not wait for a shot at redemption in Rome.
The four-time major winner won his first three matches at Marco Simone but lost the final fourball on Saturday evening and was involved in an angry exchange with Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava over his celebrations which spilled over into the car park.
“I needed that to fuel me today and not let it take away from what has been a great week,” McIlroy said.
“I felt like I used it to my advantage and came out with a different level of focus and determination and in a way it gave the whole team a bit of fire in our bellies.”
McIlroy had to fight back tears before he added: “I just wanted to win another point for Europe. Ever since Whistling Straits I was so disappointed in my performance there, so to come here and get four points for the team means a lot to me.
“It’s a great bounce back after Whistling Straits. The team we have is incredible. It’s a young team that I think will be around for a long time.”
McIlroy added on BBC Radio 5 Live: “Walking off the 18th yesterday was probably the angriest I’ve ever been in my career.
“I said it to the US guys, I thought it was disgraceful what went on and I made that clear.
“But I needed to calm myself down because I could have let it bring me down the wrong path, and I didn’t.”
Rahm admitted he was extremely aware of the significance of his match against Scheffler, who had suffered a 9&7 thrashing alongside Koepka in the Saturday foursomes.
“I told myself I wasn’t going to look but it’s hard not to see the scoreboards,” said Rahm, who two-putted from 90 feet for birdie on the 18th after Scheffler hit a clumsy chip over the green.
“I’m sitting looking at my putt (on 18) and the scoreboards are right in my way. So it’s hard not to catch yourself lingering.
“But I think I did a really good job at the end. Seeing those scores I refocused on the task at hand and played good at end. Too bad it wasn’t good enough to win but I’ll take a half.”
|Jon Rahm||Tied||Scottie Scheffler|
|Viktor Hovland||<||4&3||Collin Morikawa|
|Justin Rose||2&1||>||Patrick Cantlay|
|Rory McIlroy||<||3&1||Sam Burns|
|Matt Fitzpatrick||1 Up||>||Max Homa|
|Tyrrell Hatton||<||3&2||Brian Harman|
|Ludvig Åberg||3&2||>||Brooks Koepka|
|Sepp Straka||2 Up||>||Justin Thomas|
|Nicolai Højgaard||3&2||>||Xander Schauffele|
|Shane Lowry||Tied||Jordan Spieth|
|Tommy Fleetwood||<||3&1||Rickie Fowler|
|Robert MacIntyre||<||2&1||Wyndham Clark|
|Saturday Afternoon Fourball
|Viktor Hovland/Ludvig Åberg||4&3||>||Sam Burns/Collin Morikawa|
|Tommy Fleetwood/Nicolai Højgaard||2&1||>||Max Homa/Brian Harman|
|Justin Rose/Robert MacIntyre||<||3&2||Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth|
|Matt Fiztpatrick/Rory McIlroy||1 Up||>||Patrick Cantlay/Wyndham Clark|
|Saturday Morning Foursomes
|Rory McIlroy/Tommy Fleetwood||<||2&1||Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth|
|Viktor Hovland/Ludvig Åberg||<||9&7||Scottie Scheffler/Brooks Koepka|
|Shane Lowry/Sepp Straka||4&2||>||Max Homa/Brian Harman|
|Jon Rahm/Tyrrell Hatton||<||2&1||Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele|
|Friday Afternoon Fourball
|Viktor Hovland/Tyrrell Hatton||Tied||Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth|
|Jon Rahm/Nicolai Højgaard||Tied||Scottie Scheffler/Brooks Koepka|
|Robert MacIntyre/Justin Rose||Tied||Max Homa/Wyndham Clark|
|Rory McIlroy/Matt Fitzpatrick||<||5&3||Collin Morikawa/Xander Schauffele|
|Friday Morning Foursomes
|Jon Rahm/Tyrrell Hatton||<||4&3||Scottie Scheffler/Sam Burns|
|Viktor Hovland/Ludvig Åberg||<||4&3||Max Homa/Brian Harman|
|Shane Lowry/Sepp Straka||<||2&1||Rickie Fowler/Collin Morikawa|
|Rory McIlroy/Tommy Fleetwood||<||2&1||Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay|