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Saturday 10 December 2016

USA take back Ryder title

Love's team bridge an eight-year gap to take Cup from Europeans

Rory McIlroy gestures to the crowd as he celebrates his putt on the eighth hole during the singles matches on day three of the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club
Rory McIlroy gestures to the crowd as he celebrates his putt on the eighth hole during the singles matches on day three of the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club

Rory McIlroy suffered his first singles defeat in the Ryder Cup as the United States won their first trophy since 2008.

Europe needed to overturn a three-point deficit in yesterday's 12 singles matches at a hostile Hazeltine to claim an unprecedented fourth straight win in the biennial contest.

British Open champion Henrik Stenson gave Darren Clarke's side the ideal start with a 3&2 win over Jordan Spieth in match two, but McIlroy then lost a highly-charged contest with Patrick Reed on the 18th.

That took the home side to within four points of victory, with Davis Love's side leading in each of the last five matches on the course.

With Clarke sending his best players out at the top of the singles order and Love doing likewise, the fired-up duo of McIlroy and Reed got things off to an electrifying start.

McIlroy drew first blood with a birdie on the third and also birdied the fifth, but saw Reed drive the green on the short par four and hole from seven feet to eagle and get back to all square.

Another birdie on the sixth elicited the first animated celebration from McIlroy, only for Reed to also birdie and then mimic McIlroy's bow to the crowd which had followed his winning eagle on the 16th in Friday's fourballs.

Reed also appeared to wag his finger in McIlroy's direction as the four-time major winner walked away, the world number three responding on the next by putting a finger to his lips to silence the fans after matching Reed's birdie.

Remarkable

McIlroy celebrated with even greater relish after holing from 50 feet for a remarkable birdie on the eighth, cupping his hands behind his ears and roaring "I can't hear you" at the packed grandstands.

Reed responded with a birdie of his own from 15 feet and again wagged his finger at McIlroy, but the pair then exchanged a fist-bump and warm smiles as they amazingly headed to the ninth tee all square and five under par.

Surprisingly both players bogeyed the ninth after finding sand off the tee and when McIlroy was unable to save par from another bunker on the 12th, Reed took the lead for the first time.

Reed, who was unbeaten and the top US points scorer on his debut at Gleneagles in 2014, birdied the 16th to double his lead and although he made a mess of the 17th, a birdie on the last was a fitting way to seal victory.

Stenson was already two up when Spieth found water with his approach to the 16th, the world number four then incurring a penalty for making his ball move after taking off his shoes and socks and contemplating playing it from the edge of the hazard.

Sensational

That led to a concession and Europe soon had another point on the board at the same hole as Thomas Pieters secured his fourth point of a sensational debut with a 3&2 win over JB Holmes.

The gap was down to a single point when another rookie, Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello, defeated US PGA champion Jimmy Walker by the same score, but Justin Rose then lost on the last to Rickie Fowler, who had only taken the lead for the first time with a birdie on the 16th.

A miserable week for Masters champion Danny Willett, who was heckled after an article by his brother criticised American fans, then came to an end with a 5&4 defeat at the hands of Brooks Koepka.

Sergio Garcia showed incredible nerve to follow Phil Mickelson in for a birdie on the 18th and halve their match, which featured an amazing 19 birdies.

But when Brandt Snedeker completed a 3&1 victory over Andy Sullivan, the home side needed just half a point from the remaining matches to seal victory.

The Americans sealed victory against Europe when Ryan Moore beat Lee Westwood in the seventh match of the day.

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