His match didn’t cost the U.S., which prevailed 14 1/2-13 1/2 when Europe’s Bernhard Langer missed a 6-foot putt on the final hole of his match with Hale Irwin.
The Americans shot 9-under 63, only to be outdone by the Europeans’ 10 birdies. The key hole was the 15th, where, with Azinger inside of 5 feet for birdie, Bjorn made a 15-footer for birdie.
“Ripped our heart out,” Azinger said.
* With Woods teaming with Davis Love III, the U.S.’s 2012 captain, for two Saturday victories, the Americans forged an 8-all tie entering the 12 singles matches.
“They’ve got one Tiger,” Torrance said. “I’ve got 12 lions.”
But all the U.S. needed to retain the Ryder Cup was a split of the singles. Europe had won the singles in only two of the previous 21 competitions.
“I’m confident,” Strange said. “Obviously.”
* Europe routed the U.S. in singles 7 1/2-4 1/2 to reclaim the Cup and set the continent on its ear. After braving the week’s early wind and rain, spectators popped champagne.
Only two Americans, Cup rookies Verplank and David Toms, won. Azinger halved his match with an outrageous hole-out from a bunker that had both teams high-fiving, but it only delayed the inevitable.
Strange was blistered for sending his aces out late, Torrance hailed for front-loading his lineup to gain momentum. But lost in that second-guessing was this:
Europe’s decisive points came from Philip Price and Paul McGinley at the bottom of the order. Price, ranked 119th in the world, dusted Mickelson 3 and 2; McGinley, ranked 71st, halved with Furyk.
“Sam and I started this three years ago,” Strange said during the closing ceremonies. “We were committed to an event that we could walk away from, shake hands, drink a beer and say, 'well done.' I think we both have won in that category.”
Strange then kissed Torrance on the cheek.
“They were immensely gracious in defeat,” Torrance said. “Hopefully we can be just as gracious in victory.”
Toms had endured a back injury to compete in his first Ryder Cup.
“Memories that will last a lifetime,” he said. “I can't explain it to anybody.”
Ten years later, I couldn’t agree more.
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