NEWPORT, Wales — It was tough to say which was the bigger surprise, the fact that the sun finally shone on swampy Celtic Manor or that the foregone conclusion that was the 2010 Ryder Cup came down to the last, nerve-jangling match.
With copious rain necessitating the first Monday finish in Ryder Cup history, the Americans rallied under blue skies but couldn’t quite produce a 1999-style miracle in the singles, and Europe won 14.5-13.5 to reclaim the Cup.
The U.S. won the singles matches 7-5, but after suffering one of the worst routs in the history of the Ryder Cup in the third session, it wasn’t quite enough.
Needing just five points to win back the Cup, Europe got exactly five when U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell birdied 16 and hung on to defeat Hunter Mahan, 3 and 1, in an anchor match many initially thought would mean nothing.
It was the sixth European victory in the last eight Cups, and the first since they pasted the Americans at the K Club in Ireland in 2006.
Rickie Fowler, the 21-year-old rookie and U.S. captain Corey Pavin’s most heavily debated captain’s pick, set the stage for Mahan and McDowell by executing a stunning reversal to halve his match with Italian Edoardo Molinari.
After falling 4 down through 12 holes, Fowler birdied the last four holes, the last two with 20-footers that found the center of the cup and set Celtic Manor on edge.