Thursday 19 October 2017

Donaldson seals European glory in style at Gleneagles

European team players Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate winning the Ryder Cup
European team players Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate winning the Ryder Cup
Europe's Sergio Garcia (front) and Rory McIlroy pose with The Ryder Cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Ian Poulter of Europe poses with the Ryder Cup trophy after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Europe team captain Paul McGinley poses with the Ryder Cup trophy his team and their partners and wives after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Europe team captain Paul McGinley poses with the Ryder Cup trophy after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Jamie Donaldson (L) and Europe team captain Paul McGinley pose with the Ryder Cup trophy after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Europe team captain Paul McGinley poses with the Ryder Cup trophy, his vice captains and his team after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Europe's Jamie Donaldson celebrates after winning the Ryder Cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Europe team captain Paul McGinley poses with the Ryder Cup trophy and his team after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Europe's Victor Dubuisson celebrates after winning the Ryder Cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Europe's Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning the Ryder Cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Europe's Victor Dubuisson celebrates after winning the Ryder Cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Europe's Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning the Ryder Cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Europe's Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning the Ryder Cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Europe team captain Paul McGinley celebrates winning the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Europe's Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez celebrate after winning the Ryder Cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Team Europe golfer Jamie Donaldson kisses his partner Kathryn Tagg as they celebrate him winning his match against U.S. player Keegan Bradley to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe on the 15th green during the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Team Europe golfer Rory McIlroy embraces Jamie Donaldson (L) as they celebrate Donaldson winning his match against U.S. player Keegan Bradley to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe on the 15th green during the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Team Europe golfer Jamie Donaldson celebrates with champagne after winning his match against U.S. player Keegan Bradley to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe on the 15th green during the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Europe's Miguel Angel Jimenez (front right) and Thomas Bjorn celebrate after securing the Ryder Cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
USA's Patrick Reed shakes hands with some Europe fans during the Singles matches on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Team Europe golfer Rory McIlroy (R) and Justin Rose celebrate teammate Jamie Donaldson winning his match against U.S. player Keegan Bradley, to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe on the 15th green, during the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Europe's Jamie Donaldson celebrates after Europe win the Ryder Cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Europe's Jamie Donaldson (left) celebrates with captain Paul McGinley after winning the Ryder cup on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Team Europe golfer Jamie Donaldson (R) raises his arms as he celebrates after winning his match against U.S. player Keegan Bradley to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe on the 15th green during the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Team Europe golfer Jamie Donaldson (L) celebrates with teammate Rory McIlroy after winning his match against U.S. player Keegan Bradley to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe on the 15th green during the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
European Ryder Cup player Rory McIlroy (L) shakes hands with U.S. Ryder Cup player Rickie Fowler after winning 5&4 on the 14th green during the 40th Ryder Cup singles matches at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Team Europe golfer Jamie Donaldson (L) shakes hands with U.S. player Keegan Bradley after winning their match to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe on the 15th green during the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Europe's Jamie Donaldson walks down the fifteenth fairway after playing into the green during the Singles matches on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Team Europe players Rory McIlroy (L) and Justin Rose (C) celebrate teammate Jamie Donaldson winning his match against U.S. player Keegan Bradley to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe on the 15th green during their 40th Ryder Cup singles golf match at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
European Ryder Cup player Rory McIlroy celebrates as he wins 5&4 on the 14th green against U.S. Ryder Cup player Rickie Fowler during the 40th Ryder Cup singles matches at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Amy Mickelson and Sybi Kuchar (R), the wives of U.S. Ryder Cup players Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar, high five Team U.S. fans on the second fairway during the 40th Ryder Cup singles matches at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Europe vice captain Miguel Angel Jimenez entertains the crowd on the first tee during the singles matches on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Europe captain Paul McGinley (right) and Sir Alex Ferguson on the first tee during the Singles matches on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Graeme McDowell of Europe celebrates victory against Jordan Spieth of the United States with caddie Ken Comboy on the 17th hole during the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
28 September 2014; Eddie Jordan watching Rory McIlroy, Team Europe, during his Singles Match against Rickie Fowler, Team USA. The 2014 Ryder Cup, Final Day. Gleneagles, Scotland. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Graeme McDowell (R) of Europe celebrates victory against Jordan Spieth of the United States with team mate Rory McIlroy on the 17th hole during the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Europe team captain Paul McGinley shares a joke with Europe team vice captains Jose Maria Olazabal, Sam Torrance, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Des Smyth during the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
28 September 2014; An Irish flag during the Singles Matches. The 2014 Ryder Cup, Final Day. Gleneagles, Scotland. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Team Europe captain Paul McGinley and fans celebrate Jamie Donaldson winning his match against U.S. player Keegan Bradley to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe on the 15th green, during the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Europe's Ian Poulter celebrates winning the ninth hole during the Singles matches on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Team Europe golfer Jamie Donaldson embraces his partner Kathryn Tagg as they celebrate him winning his match against U.S. player Keegan Bradley to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe on the 15th green during the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
USA's Patrick Reed reacts during the singles matches on day three of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 28, 2014. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

There was to be no miracle, no get-even at Gleneagles. The US made the Ryder Cup singles interesting, thrilling even, and for a while the implausible seemed possible. But it was to be Jamie Donaldson who had the honour of winning the point which gave their eighth Europe victory time in 10 years.

When the Welshman played the stunning approach on the 15th to a few feet and complete a 5&3 win over Keegan Bradley, they cheered and danced and inevitably cried and soon began hailing Paul McGinley. And poor old Tom Watson stood there baffled. One of the game's great winners was being blamed as a loser. In all this joy, it did seem an awful shame.

McGinley will rightfully be praised and Watson rightfully criticised. Some of the 65-year-old's selections were ridiculous and hardly helped him in his cause to lead the US to their first win on foreign soil since he was last captain in 1993. Yet this match is mostly to do with the players and there are so many of the Europeans who will walk away from Gleneagles with their reputations enhanced.

With Europe needing four points to retain the Cup, it was Rory McIlroy, the world No 1, who posted the first. So much for the "rivalry" between him and Rickie Fowler. The American did not stand a chance. McIlroy birdied the first and on the second and the third, McIlroy did not even have to attempt his putts for an eagle and a birdie, from 20 feet and 10 feet respectively.

On the fifth and sixth, McIlroy holed long putts and at that stage he was five-up. The game was effectively over, with McIlroy eventually putting Fowler out of his misery on the 14th.

Considering McIlroy only amassed half a point the first day, McIlroy came back well to collect three points out of five. The 25-year-old finally found his best form and did so under extreme duress. It says so much not only about his talent but his competitive spirit that he was able to turn it on when he thought he must.

The next man in was Graeme McDowell. McGinley surprised the Northern Irishman, regarded as a nerveless closer, by putting him out first and when Jordan Spieth, the brilliant 21-year-old who won two and halved one in the company of Reed the first two days, went three up through five, the choice was being questioned.

Here is the moment Donaldson won the Ryder Cup for Europe...

Yet McDowell is perseverance personified and after matching Spieth's birdies on the eighth and ninth he strode into the back nine determined to test his young opponent.

At that moment the US excitement was building. They were up in six of the games and only down in two and what had seemed forlorn was suddenly not forgone. Europe, of course, came back from the same deficit two years before in Chicago, winning eight and a half points from the 12 singles. Was history to repeat itself?

 

Spieth began to run out of gas, bogeying 10th, 12th and 13th. And as McDowell had birdied the 11th, that meant he was one up playing the 14th. A birdie on the 15th gave him his cushion and the fist-pump and charge towards the crowd was obligatory when he holed the five-footer for the win on the par-three 17th. Spieth looked destroyed.

Soon McDowell was in the arms of McIlroy and how apt that image appeared after all the fuss in the run-up of the court case involving the pair. Phil Mickelson's crack "we don't litigate against each other" seemed a long time ago.

It was 12-6 and when Martin Kaymer chipped in on the 16th for the eagle to beat Bubba Watson 4&2 there was only one point to keep the Cup and another half for the victory.

Henrik Stenson missed a four-footer to hand the point to Patrick Reed, whose fame will have soared with the passion he showed. The 24-year-old was the visitors' highest points score with three and half points from four and should be admired not reviled. Reed was heckled on the first tee and booed for refusing to dance for galleries who had raised the noise on another beautiful day.

And then when he holed a putt on the sixth he put his finger to his mouth to tell the crowd what he thought they should do. In that instant he became the villain, but in truth Reed responded as Poulter would have responded. With great, gutsy golf and so much passion.

Hunter Mahan was soon to miss a three-footer on the 18th to allow Justin Rose to steal in for a half. That made it 131/1-91.2 as by then Mickelson had despatched Stephen Gallacher and Matt Kuchar had accounted for Thomas Bjorn 4&3. Kuchar holed his second shot eighth, which just one of many highlights.

Both Rose and Kaymer played stunning recovery shots from the gorse on the 13th which rolled to within gimme range. It later emerged that McGinley had given all the caddies the yardage from that bush. He truly had thought of everything.

There was just one more point needed and so the chase began. Who would it be, Sergio Garcia Donaldson or Ian Poulter? Ultimately it was to be Donaldson when he saw off Keegan Bradley on the 15th by a 4&3 scoreline.

McGinley was there to celebrate with the Welsh rookie, as were so many of his team-mates. It was appropriate that a rookie, and such an impressive rookie at that, was deemed the match-winner.

McGinley tweaked an old but successful script and in Donaldson and others such as Victor Dubuisson and yes, Rose as the new leader with his collection of four points, Europe witnessed its future. For US the rebuilding should begin immediately for the sake of the match. It is not a legend they need for Hazeltine, but a cohesive gameplan. McGinley was Europe's glue. And they are stuck tight to that small but priceless trophy.

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