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GB’s Cotterill & Lapthorne lose Masters final

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Ryder Cup: Francesco Molinari gets the party started as Europe thrash abject Americans

Phil Mickelson plopped his ball into the water off the tee at the 16th, shook hands with Francesco Molinari, and left the stage for Europe to do what Europe do best at home Ryder Cups. Party.

Within minutes Molinari, ordinarily the most stoic of Italians, was throwing himself into the ecstatic Versailles crowd to be drenched in beer; Tommy Fleetwood – the other half of the ‘Moliwood’ double act which damaged the Americans beyond repair – was being carried shoulder high on a sea of revellers, and Ian Poulter was dressed as a postbox.

Poulter is the Postman who always delivers at a Ryder Cup and he had just seen off world No1 Dustin Johnson on a fantasy afternoon during which Europe won their fourth session out of five to record their biggest win for 12 years.

Mighty America, with their collection of nine Major champions and a couple of all-time legends, had been routed.

“It felt like we kept running into a buzzsaw,” reflected Brooks Koepka, the US Open and US PGA champion.

Individual titles are all well and good but when it comes to team golf Europe are more than the sum of their parts. They have now won nine of the last 12 Ryder Cups.

For Sergio Garcia, as of last night the most successful player in Ryder Cup history, to be part of Team Europe is to be a member of the most special club in golf.

“To be a part of this European Ryder Cup team – all of them – has been amazing. There’s not enough money to buy that feeling,” said Garcia.

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Ryder Cup: Europe thrashed America after three stunning days of golf (Image: REUTERS*PA)

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Ryder Cup: Europe win the Ryder Cup extending America’s failure in Europe (Image: PA)

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Ryder Cup: The European team celebrate their victory in Paris (Image: PA)

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Ryder Cup: Team Europe with their wives after winning the winning the Ryder Cup (Image: PA)

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Ryder Cup: Rory McIlroy celebrates after clinching the Ryder Cup (Image: PA)

“I love the crowds and how when we win, we win the right way. I love how well we connect, how much fun we have in the team room, how many different options we have to play together – I love everything about it.

“There’s nothing like it. There’s no other week where we open our hearts to guys we play against every other week and we fight as hard as we can for each other. Because of that we have been able to be very successful.”

Garcia is the embodiment of this team ethic. As Rory McIlroy strode onto the first tee yesterday to a thunderous reception before the opening singles match, the Spaniard was there to give him a warm embrace.

There was some unease when the United States took 3.5 of the first four points to narrow the four-point overnight deficit to one.

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Ryder Cup: Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter celebrate winning the Ryder Cup (Image: REUTERS)

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Ryder Cup: Ian Poulter celebrates in a post box outfit (Image: EPA)

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Ryder Cup: Henrik Stenson and Thorbjorn Olesen get the champagne out (Image: REUTERS)

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Ryder Cup: Justin Rose and Paul Casey spray champagne (Image: REUTERS)

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Ryder Cup: Francesco Molinari gets sprayed after winning five points at the Ryder Cup (Image: REUTERS)

Justin Thomas edged out McIlroy at the final hole after the Northern Irishman left his ball in a fairway bunker in the opening game, then Koepka rescued a half against Paul Casey with an up-and-down from a bunker.

Justin Rose surprisingly fell to Webb Simpson and Fleetwood, unbeaten on an unforgettable debut until yesterday, ran out of petrol against Tony Finau.

But from there the US ran into a blue wall.

“There’s always a moment when there’s a spark of light but when that was there for us they played a lot of great shots and closed out their matches,” said US captain Jim Furyk. “I tip my hat to them. They played great.”

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Ryder Cup: Jon Rahm beat Tiger Woods in the singles to hold off the American charge (Image: REUTERS)

Thorbjorn Olesen – left in the clubhouse since a Friday morning defeat – took Jordan Spieth apart, playing 14 holes in four under par.

That left Jon Rahm as the last of the 12 Europeans without a point, but he broke his duck in spectacular fashion by beating Tiger Woods.

Rahm, who dropped his putter and went on an air-punching rampage, was in tears afterwards, reflecting on how he had beaten a man he hero-worshipped. He had been taking pictures of Woods from the East Lake clubhouse like a fan when he won the PGA Championship a week ago.

Woods though was a pale shadow of that figure here. If the Ryder Cup diminishes him, it pumps Poulter into twice the golfer and the old bug eyes were back as he beat Johnson.

Even two monster putts from the monster driver could not stop the monster that Poulter becomes in these surroundings, and when he celebrated victory at the 18th this spectacular stadium venue shook.

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Ryder Cup: Tiger Woods struggled and failed to win a single point in four matches (Image: REUTERS)

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Ryder Cup: Phil Mickelson had big problems and lost both his matches (Image: PA)

With Henrik Stenson moving into dormie territory against Bubba Watson and then Molinari and Garcia doing likewise, Europe had the match in their pocket. Official confirmation came when Mickelson went into the drink at 16 and waved the white towel.

Despite the celebrations rolling around the course, the match still had to be completed and, after Stenson and Garcia had added their names to the European winners, an hour later it was completed, fittingly, when Alex Noren holed out from 40 feet to beat Bryson DeChambeau.

For Europe, the fun was just starting with the players chasing each other around the putting green in the semi-darkness spraying each other with champagne as they sang their Molinari song.

For the United States a more sober inquest was about to begin. By the time the Ryder Cup returns to Europe and Rome in 2022, it will be 29 years since America last won on European soil.

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