Victory at Valhalla!
The United States had not won a Ryder Cup since 1999, giving up three in a row to the Europeans, and appeared to be the underdogs this year (playing without Tiger Woods).
However, this year U.S. captain Paul Azinger had a new plan...and some new faces. The result was an American 16.5-11.5 victory that turned the tide back to the west side of the Atlantic.
Anthony Kim and Boo Weekley were two of the new faces who brought youth, energy, and excitement to the U.S. team. Going in to Sunday's single's match play, the U.S. held a two point lead, needing just five and a half to secure the cup.
Captain Paul Azinger sent out his young gun Anthony Kim to face Sergio Garcia, and although Garcia has a terrific Ryder Cup record, this time it was all Kim.
Kim led the way for the Americans by playing an amazing front nine, taking advantage of Garcia's mistakes and not conceding putts. He won his match 5 & 4, but was so excited at making his par putt that he didn't even realize it was for the match.
Early in the afternoon, the outcome was very uncertain as many matches were either all square or only had a one point advantage. Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes, the two boys from Kentucky, both played excellently in winning their matches. Perry's putter was seemingly magical as he made birdie after birdie.
The Europeans did not go down easily and made several amazing shots and clutch putts of their own. Ian Poulter, European captain Nick Faldo's controversial captain's pick, played extremely well all week and was a bright spot for the Europeans on the last day, winning his match over Steve Stricker 3 & 2. Poulter's win came after the cup was already sealed for the U.S., and the frustration could be seen on his face (knowing his point was now more for pride than anything else).
Jim Furyk had the privilege of getting the winning point. Miguel Angel Jimenez trailed Furyk by two going into the seventeenth hole and needed a long putt to extend the match. He missed the putt, then conceded Furyk's short putt giving the Americans the 14.5 points needed to take back the cup.
Chad Campbell bookmarked the day for the Americans with a win over the number four player in the world, Padraig Harrington.
Their five point margin of victory was the largest win for the Americans since 1981. It was also the first time since 1979 that they led after each series of play. The Americans put forth both great team and individual effort in order to win the 37th Ryder Cup.
Now the questions begin for the 38th Ryder Cup. Will the Americans be able to keep the cup by winning away from the home crowd? Will Paul Azinger be chosen as captain for consecutive cups? Hopefully the play will be just as exciting two years from now as it was this year...and hopefully the U.S. team will be able to bring the cup back home.
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