USA team member Phil Mickelson celebrates after the United States defeated Europe 17-11 to win the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota on October 2, 2016. USA defeated Europe for the first time since 2008. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
CHASKA, Minn. -- The champagne continued to flow as the United States Ryder Cup team made its way slowly to the post-match press conference Sunday.
Captain Davis Love III popped one bottle midway through the press conference that sailed over a bank of lights and into the crowd of reporters. Phil Mickelson held the Ryder Cup close and leaned in toward Rickie Fowler, who took a selfie with his cell phone.
A celebration that started on the 18th hole at Hazeltine National Golf Club when Ryan Moore made a par to win 1-up against England's Lee Westwood -- the clinching point for the Americans -- will continue for at least two years after the U.S. won its first Ryder Cup in four attempts.
And there in the middle of the front row of the press conference sat Patrick Reed, who electrified the Americans and the boisterous crowds, sat next to Moore, the final captain's pick who didn't even know he'd be a part of the team a week earlier.
"You're only as strong as your 12th man, right there," Brandt Snedeker said.
The Americans led by three points entering the day, with Europe front-loading its lineup. Europe earned 3 points in the first five matches but it wouldn't matter as the U.S. won five of the final six to win 17-11.
Moore, the last man in of both teams, earned the biggest point. He found his stroke on the back nine and had an eagle, birdie and par on the final three holes to beat Westwood, setting off an American celebration for the first time since 2008 at Valhalla in Kentucky.
"J.B. (Holmes) and Patrick both showed up after I went 2-down on 15, and I walked off that green and I saw both of those guys and I said, 'All right, I'm going to do it for my team right now. I'm going to do something. I'm going to try and flip this match somehow,'" Moore said. "To do it for my teammates, for my captains, for everybody who picked me, who wanted me to be on the team; you know, I had all of that on my shoulders and I said, 'Alright, I'm going to try and get points somehow today."
The first point of the day went to Europe, which had Sweden's Henrik Stenson beat Jordan Spieth 3 and 2.
The matchup between Patrick Reed and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy lived up to its billing as the two went out strong and were again vocal and passionate, drawing big cheers from the crowd.
After McIlroy went 1-up through three holes, the two matched shot for shot in the middle. Reed eagled the fifth to even the score and was 5-under through a series of four holes. But McIlroy had his own four-birdie streak.
The two players who had drawn in the crowds and been the emotional leaders for their teams faded a bit down the stretch.
"I think all the energy that I've expended this week, it sort of caught up with me on the back nine today, and it caught up with me on the back nine yesterday, as well," McIlroy said. "I wanted to try to take the bull by the horns ... I wanted to go out there and lead by example and give off the right energy and put as much blue on the board as possible."
Reed finally took control on the second nine, claiming the 12th to assume his first lead. He birdied two of the final three holes to win 1-up.
"I don't know if I would really say we ran out of gas," Reed said. "We just played normal golf ... I did not want to let me team down by all of a sudden having a blue score up off the first match."
A matchup between Ryder Cup veterans in Phil Mickelson and Spain's Sergio Garcia went down to the end. Mickelson drained a long birdie putt on 18, jumping up in celebration to cap a day in which he had 10 birdies. But Garcia matched him step for step as the pair halved the sixth match.
With Europe sending out its best early and the U.S. with a strong start but overall balance, the Americans started to pull away.
"You can't ask for anything more as a captain," European captain Darren Clarke said. "We're obviously bitterly disappointed but credit to Davis and his team for the performance of the day."
NOTES: Each of the 12 members of the U.S. team earned at least one point, the first time the Americans have done so since 1975. ... The six-point win was the United States' biggest margin of victory since an 18 1/2-9 1/2 win in England in 1981. It's the largest margin for a winning team since Europe won 18 1/2-9 1/2 in 2006. ... The 2018 Ryder Cup is set for Le Golf National in France. The tournament returns to the United States in 2020 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. ... The PGA released a statement prior to the final round, urging fans to be respectful of players after the first two days of competition saw some unruly fans yelling at players. Several times, European players had to back away from shots. Europe's Rory McIlroy confronted one person in the crowd and had him removed after a vulgar comment. There were fewer reported issues on Sunday.