With a birdie on the par-3 17th hole by Collin Morikawa, the American team unofficially clinched the 43rd Ryder Cup.
The 24-year-old American went 1-up in his match against Viktor Hovland, guaranteeing a half-point and cementing victory for Team USA which led 14-6 at the time.
Morikawa would go on to lose the final hole and halve his match, but also officially clinched victory, giving Team USA a 14.5 – 6.5 lead.
“It means so much, everything, wanting to make that putt, it was a great match against Viktor,” said Morikawa. “I don’t think he really missed too many shots. I had to earn my birdies.
“But to clinch this and bring the Cup back to home soil, it feels so good.”
For the California native, it’s been a dream 13-month run, starting with a win at the PGA Championship at Harding Park in August 2020, then hoisting the Claret Jug this past July at Royal St George’s in England, and now the Ryder Cup clincher at Whistling Straits.
Before Morikawa secured the clinching point, the story of the day was the continued dominance of America, highlighted by Scottie Scheffler’s surprising takedown pf world No. 1 Jon Rahm.
Patrick Cantlay then (rather easily) defeated Shane Lowry, 4&2, followed by Bryson DeChambeau winning his match, 3&2, against Sergio Garcia.
Of Captain Harrington’s front-loaded foursome, only Rory McIlroy was able to win as the Northern Irishman beat Xander Schauffele, 3&2.
Lowry, Rahm and Garcia didn’t reach the 17th hole in their losses.
Following Morikawa’s clincher, in a span of about 10 minutes, Brooks Koepka birdied the 17th hole to win his match against Bernd Wiesberger, 2&1, quickly followed by victories from Dustin Johnson (1-up) and Justin Thomas (4&3) which gave America a commanding 17.5 – 6.5 lead.
With a perfect 5-0-0 record, the two-time major winner joined Arnold Palmer (1967), Gardner Dickinson (1967), Larry Nelson (1979), and Francesco Molinari (2018) as the best Ryder Cup performers ever.
Ian Poulter was one of the few bright spots for Europe on Sunday. The 44-year-old Englishman defeated Tony Finau, 3&2, to keep his Ryder Cup Singles record unblemished at 6-0-0.
“It’s difficult, right,” said Poulter. “When you have played Friday, Saturday, you got nothing out of your matches; today was playing with a bit of pride and making sure you put something on the board.
“It’s a heavy defeat. It’s not good. But you know, just to put something on the board is quite nice.”
Europe then added a third full point when Lee Westwood edged Harris English, 1-up, after the American lost his ball on the 18th at Whistling Straits.
“You like to win, but I guess when we’re all grey — I’m already grey, when we’re all in our twilight years, we’ll sit down and we may cherish more the friends we’ve made in The Ryder Cup than the results,” said teary-eyed Westwood.
With two matches to go, Team USA led 17.5 – 8.5.
Jordan Spieth would halve his match with Tommy Fleetwood to make it 18-9. Then Daniel Berger put an exclamation point on the week for Team USA, beating Matt Fitzpatrick 1-up, to set a modern record with 19 points.
The final score of 19-9 – a 10 point separation – is also a record.
2021 Ryder Cup: Sunday Singles
Match No.-Player 1-Result-Player 2-Score
1: Rory McIlroy def. Xander Schauffele, 3&2
2: Patrick Cantlay def. Shane Lowry, 4&2
3: Scottie Scheffler def. Jon Rahm, 4&3
4: Bryson DeChambeau def. Sergio Garcia, 3&2
5: Collin Morikawa tied Viktor Hovland
6: Dustin Johnson def. Paul Casey, 1 up
7: Brooks Koepka def. Bernd Wiesberger, 2&1
8: Ian Poulter def. Tony Finau, 3&2
9: Justin Thomas def. Tyrrell Hatton, 4&3
10: Lee Westwood def. Harris English, 1 up
11: Jordan Spieth tied Tommy Fleetwood
12: Daniel Berger def. Matt Fitzpatrick, 1 up