Ryder Cup 2018: Brilliant Europe thrash disappointing USA to regain trophy

30 Sep

Europe are Ryder Cup champions with an easy win over the USA at Le Golf National in Paris.

The final day breakthrough came via rookie Jon Rahm, who produced a pivotal victory over Tiger Woods while history-maker Francesco Molinari secured the winning point.

Molinari celebrates the win with captain Thomas Bjorn

Europe’s 10-6 overnight lead meant they needed just four and a half points from the 12 singles matches for a ninth win in the last 12 biennial contests, but Justin Thomas gave Jim Furyk’s side an early boost with victory over Rory McIlroy in the opening match.

And when Webb Simpson beat Justin Rose 3&2 and Tony Finau thrashed the previously unbeaten Tommy Fleetwood 6&4, the gap was down to a single point and American hopes of a repeat of the comeback at Brookline in 1999 were very much alive.

However, Thorbjorn Olesen, who was left out of Saturday’s action by fellow Dane and Europe captain Thomas Bjorn, then thrashed three-time major winner Jordan Spieth 5&4 and Rahm picked a perfect time to win his first match and leave Woods without a single point.

Two up with three to play, Rahm handed Woods a lifeline by three-putting the 16th, but then smashed a wonderful 356-yard drive down the 17th and hit his approach to three feet to set up a winning birdie.

Jon Rahm secured an impressive win over Tiger Woods

“There is a lot going on for me right now,” Rahm said. “The memory of Seve (Ballesteros) and my grandpa, who would have loved to be here, who passed away at the (US) PGA.

“To beat Tiger, one of the all-time greats, if not the greatest, on the Sunday, at a pivotal point, it is the best feeling of my life.”

With several matches on the verge of finishing in Europe’s favour it was just a case of who would secure the winning point and Ian Poulter took his side to the brink of victory by beating world number one Dustin Johnson on the 18th.

And fittingly it was Molinari who had the honour of officially securing the win, beating Phil Mickelson 4&2 when the American dumped his tee shot into the water on the 16th to suffer a record 22nd defeat in the contest.

Molinari becomes the first European player to compile a perfect 5-0 record in the contest, with American Larry Nelson the only other to do so in 1979.

Molinari, who became the first Italian to win a major championship in July’s Open at Carnoustie, said: “It means so much, more than majors, more than anything. It’s hard not to get emotional.

“They had probably the strongest team ever and we were just so good, it is unreal.

“I just tried to do things well and be professional. Today it was hard to get the energy but I stepped it up when I had to.”

More of the Europe team congratulate Molinari

Bjorn added: “They have been amazing, the 12 of them, unbelievable. They were determined to set out and do the job themselves and for me it was an easy job to guide them in that direction.

“Experience when you come in with the right attitude produces special things.

“It was getting tight a little bit but I had belief and faith in this team that they were going to deliver and they delivered more than they should have.”

Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson get wildcard picks for Europe’s Ryder Cup team

5 Sep

Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson have been selected as wildcards by Europe captain Thomas Bjorn for the 2018 Ryder Cup.

Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter celebrate Europe’s Ryder Cup win in 2012

The experienced quartet join automatic qualifiers Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen in the Europe team.

Bjorn will be hoping those 12 men can regain the trophy from the United States at Le Golf National in Paris from September 28-30.

Spanish favourite Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion, has been chosen for the team despite suffering possibly the worst season of his career to date – missing the cut at the US PGA Championship, the Masters, the US Open, and the Open.

More to follow…

Neil Lennon says Steven Gerrard has done a ‘fantastic job’ at Rangers and reckons gap to Celtic is closing

14 Aug

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon has praised Steven Gerrard’s impact on Rangers and predicts this Scottish Premiership season will be much more competitive.

Celtic have won the top flight for the last seven seasons, securing back-to-back domestic trebles under Brendan Rodgers, but Lennon is certain the gap to the Hoops is closing.

Celtic clinch their seventh consecutive league title

The Hibernian manager, who led Celtic to title glory in 2011/12 and 2012/13, told Jim White on talkSPORT: “I think the league was very competitive last year, but there’s no question that Rangers are stronger this year, Aberdeen will have a say in it, and Hearts look very strong this year.

‘’So the competition is getting stronger, the league is getting sexier again with a lot of big clubs bang at it again.

‘’Celtic have been the dominant team and I think they will continue to be that, but I think everyone is starting to build and get closer to that.’’

Will Steven Gerrard’s side challenge for the title this season?

Celtic will bid to keep alive their Champions League group stage hopes on Tuesday night, but face a tough task having drawn against AEK Athens at home in the first leg of their third qualifying round.

talkSPORT presenter Jim White believes Rodgers could end his reign as Celtic boss should they fail to qualify, but Lennon would be surprised if he walked away.

“His record has been remarkable in the two season he has been there,” said Lennon. “He has come out and said he is happy and we have to take him at as his word.”

Lennon went on to praise Rangers new boss Gerrard, who has yet to taste defeat in seven matches in charge and led the club to victory over Maribor in the first leg of their Europa League qualifying third round clash last week.

‘’Steven has done a fantastic job so far,” said Lennon.

“The 3-1 first leg lead was a tremendous result considering that he has had to bring in a lot of players and he’s building his own squad and they’ve given themselves a real foothold in the tie.

“It’s not over yet but defensively Rangers have looked very strong so far.’’