Europe’s run of Ryder Cup victories was brought to an end as the United States won the trophy for the first time in eight years at Hazeltine National.
Darren Clarke’s men came into the contest looking for a fourth win in a row but were on the back foot after a 4-0 whitewash in the opening session and entered the final day trailing 9½-6½.
Open champion Henrik Stenson and rookies Thomas Pieters and Rafa Cabrera Bello put early points on the board to offer some hope of a glorious comeback but wins for Americans Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Brandt Snedeker plus a half for Phil Mickelson had the hosts on the brink of victory.
The win was sealed when Ryan Moore defeated Lee Westwood one up on the last, the pick handing redemption to United States captain Davis Love III following the Miracle at Medinah in 2012 when Europe had fought back from 10-6 behind to win on the final day.
Zach Johnson and Dustin Johnson then sealed further wins for the USA, with Martin Kaymer defeating Matt Kuchar to take the final score to 17-11.
Rory McIlroy and Reed had been the form men for their teams all week and they produced a front nine of the highest quality in match one, making eight birdies and an eagle between them to reach the turn all square.
Brilliant up-and-downs from Reed on the 12th and 16th then got the American dormie two before McIlroy won the 17th to take that match up the last.
“He’s played incredible all week and we played a great front nine and I couldn’t really keep the pace up for the rest of the round,” said McIlroy. “Fair play to Patrick. He was awesome all day and deserved the win.
“Overall this week, obviously the United States deserves the victory so congratulations to them.
“It’s disappointing, obviously, but I think it’s good for golf. It keeps The Ryder Cup interesting going into France in a couple of years’ time. Not that we need any more incentive, but we’re going to want to get it back on our home turf next time.”
A fantastic putt on the ninth moved Stenson one up against Jordan Spieth and he added further gains on the 11th and 13th with an eagle on the 16th closing things out with the American in the water.
Pieters and JB Holmes were all square at the turn in their game but that did not tell the full story, with the Belgian having fought back from surrendering the first two holes to edge ahead before a Holmes birdie on the ninth.
Pieters then made it seven birdies for the day on the 11th, 14th and 16th to seal an emphatic win and a fourth win out of five in a stunning debut performance for Europe.
“It’s different when you’re out there on your own and don’t really have anybody to high five and all that stuff and have Rory to pick you up when you’re down,” he said. “But I thought I did pretty well after being two down after two and fought my way back.
“I’m glad I had the full experience of playing five games. Hopefully I can take that experience into the next Ryder Cup.”
Cabrera Bello also had a debut to remember and leaves Minnesota as the only undefeated member of the European team.
“It was very special,” he said. “I have a great team, great team-mates and they all tried to explain how it was going to be today. I felt very positive, very confident, very happy. I really believed this week and I’m really happy that I got the point for my team.”
Three birdies on the font nine were enough to put him three up at the turn against Jimmy Walker and while the US PGA Championship winner hit back on the tenth and 12th, the Spaniard won the 13th and 16th to have Europe within one point.
Things were not looking good down the board for the visitors, though, and Justin Rose was beaten one up on the last by Fowler before Koepka overcame Masters champion Danny Willett 5 and 4.
Sergio Garcia and Mickelson halved the match of the day as they combined for 19 birdies in a clash where the lead never got beyond one hole.
“It was amazing,” said the Spaniard. “Obviously to shoot nine under and end up tying the match, it’s heartbreaking. But I gave it everything I had and I don’t think I could have done anything differently. Obviously Phil just made it from everywhere and played well.”
Snedeker then overcame Andy Sullivan 3 and 1 before Moore eagled the 16th and went on to win the 17th and 18th to defeat Westwood one up and seal the trophy.
Zach Johnson beat Matthew Fitzpatrick 4 and 3 before Dustin Johnson closed out a one up win over Chris Wood to leave Kaymer and Kuchar out on the course.
The German gave Europe a consolation win as he fought back from three down to win the ninth, 13th, 14th and 15th.
“After seven, eight holes, I actually thought maybe it could come down to the last two, three matches again like Medinah because it looked quite decent for us,” he said.
“In the end, it’s about you, making your point and we all tried and we all fought very hard but in the end it’s a disappointment we didn’t win.”