Sam’s Section: Takeaways from Europe’s big Ryder Cup victory 

Europe’s Team Captain Luke Donald , centre, and team members lift the Ryder Cup after winning the trophy by defeating the United States 16/12 point to 11 1/2 points at the Marco Simone Golf Club in Guidonia Montecelio, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. Photo by Alessandra Tarantino/AP Photo.

The best events in golf in 2023 are all wrapped up, with Europe winning the Ryder Cup on home soil, 16.5 to 11.5. The biennial event took place at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, outside of Rome, Italy. There was a lot of takeaways once Europe took the cup back. Here are some of them. 

Max Homa was by far the best player on the United States team. 

Seven of the 12 players from Zach Johnson’s team were major champions. None of them were as good as Max Homa, who has won six times on the PGA Tour, including the Farmers Insurance Open at the beginning of the year. He hasn’t shown much in major championships, finishing in the top 10 for the first time in his career at this year’s Open Championship. He’s been as high as No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but his Ryder Cup debut may be his most impressive performance yet.  

The 32-year-old couldn’t capture any points in Friday’s foursomes match, where he and Brian Harman lost to Ludvig Åberg and Viktor Hovland 4 & 3. In the afternoon, Homa, paired with Wyndham Clark, led with two holes to go. However, Robert MacIntyre and Justin Rose won the final two holes to halve the match. On Saturday, Homa and Harman were the first pairing to win a match for the United States, winning 4 & 2 over Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka in foursomes. Paired again in the afternoon’s four-ball match, they defeated Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Højgaard 2 & 1.  

Homa faced Matt Fitzpatrick in Sunday’s singles match, where he gave the Americans hope. Europe needed just a half point to win the Ryder Cup, and it was down to the 18th hole, with Homa up by one hole against the former U.S. Open champion. Following his approach shot, Homa’s ball had an impossible lie, buried in deep fescue on the side of a greenside bunker. He and his caddie decided to take an unplayable lie, costing him a penalty stroke. After taking a drop, Homa hit a clutch flop shot that sat six feet away from the hole. After Fitzpatrick missed a Ryder Cup-clinching putt, Homa made a huge putt to secure the match and keep the Americans alive. 

Homa led the United States team with 3.5 points and an overall record of 3-1-1. It’s just a matter of time until he starts to perform at this level in major championships. 

Europe’s Rory McIlroy lifts the Ryder Cup after Europe won the trophy defeating the United States at the Marco Simone Golf Club in Guidonia Montecelio, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. Photo by Andrew Medichini/AP Photo.

Justin Rose and Robert MacIntyre were the best pairing for Europe. 

Rose was named the winner of the Nicklaus-Jacklin Award following the Ryder Cup, awarded to the player who best embodies the true spirit of the Ryder Cup. He played with rookie MacIntyre during Friday’s and Saturday’s four-ball matches. As mentioned earlier, Rose and MacIntyre won the final two holes against Homa and Clark. Rose hit a clutch putt on the 18th hole to secure a tie, with an incredible reaction to his teammates. It was crushing for the Americans, as it secured no wins on the first day of the Ryder Cup. Rose and MacIntyre worked together on Saturday, as hot putting helped them win 3 & 2 over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. MacIntyre finished with 2.5 points and an overall record of 2-0-1. Rose finished with 1.5 points and a 1-1-1 overall record. 

Viktor Hovland may be the best player in the world. 

Hovland is coming off the best season of his career, winning the FedEx Cup and the Memorial Tournament in May. He was huge in Europe’s Ryder Cup win, beginning with a 4 & 3 win with Åberg over Homa and Harman in Friday’s foursome match. Paired with Tyrrell Hatton, they went the distance with Thomas and Spieth, the four-ball match ending in a tie. On Saturday, paired up with Åberg again, they soundly defeated Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka 9 & 7 in a foursome match. However, in the four-ball match against Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa, they lost 4 & 3. Hovland faced off against Morikawa and defeated the two-time major champion 4 & 3. Hovland had 3.5 points with an overall record of 3-1-1, including a 2-0-0 record in foursomes. He’s been trending in the right direction this year. It’s just a matter of time before the Norwegian wins a major. 

Despite a commanding Europe lead early, the Ryder Cup always will have some drama. 

The Ryder Cup is one of the best golf events, with many memorable moments. This year had those moments as well. Even though it was clear Europe was going to win early in the three-day event, some of the matches included great golf. I’ll mention Rose and MacIntyre’s two-hole comeback to halve the match against Homa and Clark. That was an electric moment for Europe. Homa’s six-foot putt to clinch the win against Fitzpatrick was huge as it kept the United States’ chances alive. Patrick Cantlay was one of the biggest stars for Johnson’s team this weekend. Cantlay not wearing a hat saw him mocked by the European fans, who waved their hats at the 2021 FedEx Cup champion. On Saturday, he hit a massive putt on the 18th hole to help him and Clark win a terrific match against Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy. 

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