Green gloss on European Ryder Cup triumph

“The Europeans kicked our butt,” conceded Tom Watson. He wasn’t wrong

Just as day turns to night, the outcome of this 40th edition of the Ryder Cup had a sense of inevitability about it. Long before it was finally confirmed, the question was, "Who?" That Jamie Donaldson – one of those players who possess a trait similar to all silent assassins – was the chosen one to claim the winning point was appropriate, in that he has long being a stalwart of the European Tour.

A case of being the man in the right place at the right time in securing the win, Donaldson, a 39-year-old Welshman playing in his first Ryder Cup, finished in style to defeat Keegan Bradley. The shot that won the trophy was sublime, what he called "a perfect wedge" from 140 yards that settled inches from the hole. Game over. Cup won.

In the end, Europe – 16½ to 11½ winners – were convincing in just about all facets of the game but especially in the outcome. A four point cushion brought with them into the final day's singles presented the United States with an almighty task and, if there were signs early on of intent to spoil the party, the reality was that Europe – with hugely impressive contributions at the top of the order from Graeme McDowell and world number one Rory McIlroy – were far superior.

Eight out of 10 for Europe

No, this was one occasion when the winner was apparent a long way from the finishing line. And, in winning for a third straight time and an eighth time in the last 10 stagings, Europe reaffirmed if it were needed that there has been a shift in power. Even with allowances that the USA travelled without such players as


Tiger Woods


Dustin Johnson


Jason Dufner

, for whatever reasons, the reality is that Europe are just much better when it comes to this team matchplay gig.

“The Europeans kicked our butt,” conceded Tom Watson. He wasn’t wrong! Having found a position of strength over the first two days – especially using the foursomes to build up a 10-6 lead going into yesterday’s final session of singles – Europe, inspired by a fightback by McDowell, finished the task with a degree of comfort.

Along the way, there were some significant happenings: McDowell, three down at the turn to Jordan Spieth, turning the match on its head by winning four holes in succession from the 10th to eventually secure a 2 and 1 win; McIlroy covering the first six holes in six-under en route to destroying his friend Rickie Fowler by 5 and 4; a chip-in for a winning eagle from Martin Kaymer to close out Bubba Watson. All key elements in sending the life blood back through the field.

Europe's singles winners – McIlroy, McDowell, Kaymer, Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia – and the three halves claimed by Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Victor Dubuisson ensured victory and brought with it recriminations in the American camp and jubilation in the European camp.

McIlroy tour de force

For McIlroy, his was a tour de force performance that, ironically, enabled him to match the feat to the opposing

captain Watson

in winning two Majors in the one season as well as being on a Ryder Cup team.

“It’s the icing on the cake of what has been a very special summer for me, to win back-to-back Majors, the Open Championship and then the PGA, and then to be a part of this fantastic team led by a wonderful captain, I couldn’t have asked for the summer to end any better,” he said.

A European win, but also one tinted with a green gloss in that McGinley – the first Irishman to captain a Ryder Cup team – had inspired and mapped out a plan that evolved and worked in the most emphatic fashion. “I know what it’s like to be there as a player. I know how difficult it is to play in a Ryder Cup. I know when your heart is jumping out of your chest how incredibly excited and nervous you are. But we relish this challenge. We did it with a smile on our face, which is so important, and we did everybody proud I think,” said McGinley.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times