Category - Major Events
Europe Wins 2023 Ryder Cup, Homa Shines and More Notes From Marco Simone
By Jay Coffin
The victorious European Team.(Getty Images)
The fifth consecutive Ryder Cup goes to the home team, with Europe winning the 44th playing of the matches 16½ to 11½ over the U.S. at Marco Simone in Rome.
The Europeans jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the opening foursomes session on Friday and held on for the decisive victory, although on Sunday, for a few moments, it looked like the red, white and blue had some momentum on its side.
But it was not to be for the Americans and Europe has now won five of the last seven Ryder Cups and eight of the last 11.
Here are more observations from a magical week in Italy.
When looking back on the week, much of the focus will be on the Europeans sweeping the opening foursomes session. Rightfully so. It wasn’t just that Europe won all four matches, but it was just how dominant they were during the entire morning.
U.S. Captain Zach Johnson opted to sit Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka – with 10 majors combined between them – which raised some eyebrows, but it likely wouldn’t have mattered. Luke Donald’s squad came out of the gate firing on all cylinders.
Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton won the opening match, 4-and-3, against Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns. The second match was the same score, with Viktor Hovland and rookie Ludvig Åberg topping Max Homa and Brian Harman.
The breakdown? There were 64 holes played combined in all four matches. Europe won 22 holes and the U.S. only won 10 holes. The Americans never led in any of the four matches at any point.
“Historic day,” Luke Donald said at the time. “But we want it to be an historic week.”
No matter which side leads heading into Sunday singles, and no matter the score, there is always a point during the session where it seems like momentum is swinging heavily in favor of the team that is trailing. Sometimes it continues – think 1999 in Brookline and 2012 at Medinah – but often it does not.
This year at Marco Simone was no different. With the Americans down 10½ to 5½ they needed a miracle to pull this one off. And like usual there was a ton of red on the leaderboard for a point, making it seem like the U.S. had a shot. In fact, it happened twice.
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Projections at one point showed that the U.S. could capture as many as 12½ points, meaning they only needed to swing a point and a half to retain the Cup.
But just as quickly as the U.S. gained that momentum, Europe grabbed it back. Needing only four points for victory, Viktor Hovland defeated Collin Morikawa, 4-and-3, and then, up ahead, Jon Rahm collected a crucial half-point against Scottie Scheffler in the first match.
Both men held 2-up leads at different points and after being down after 13 holes, Scheffler won Nos. 14 and 15 to take the 1-up lead into the final three holes. On the 18th, however, Rahm lagged his 90-foot eagle putt to a foot for an easy birdie and when Scheffler failed to chip in from just off the green, Rahm won the hole and the match ended in a tie.
Rory McIlroy quickly closed his match against Sam Burns, getting Europe to 13 points and then Tyrrell Hatton finished Brian Harman. But Max Homa took an unplayable from short, right of the 18th green and still got up and down, making an 8-footer for par, to beat Matt Fitzpatrick. That kept Europe from collecting the last half point it needed to win.
“That was an out of body experience,” Homa said.
Then there was a lull for Europe as most of the next few matches favored the Americans.
The final score doesn’t indicate how close the matches were down the stretch. Ultimately, it was Tommy Fleetwood who collected the Ryder Cup clinching point when he won the 16th hole against Rickie Fowler to go 2 up with two holes remaining. At that point, Fleetwood had earned a half point to move Europe to 14½, but he would win the next hole to top Fowler 3 and 1.
“I really didn't want to come down to one of us at the back,” Fleetwood said immediately after. He was in the day’s penultimate match.
“It means an awful lot,” McIlroy said of the victory. “I was so disappointed after Whistling Straits. We all were. And we wanted to come here to Rome this year and redeem ourselves a bit. We've got some fresh blood on the team that I think has worked really, really well.”
The best of the best
Everyone performed well for Europe, but it all started with their three biggest stars. The team was always going to follow their lead, for better or worse. In this case, for the better.
Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland – the worlds Nos. 2, 3 and 4 ranked golfers respectively – played in a combined 14 matches and earned a total of 10½ points. McIlroy collected 4 himself, with Hovland earning 3½ and Rahm 3. They were out in three of the first round singles matches on Sunday and, while Hovland and McIlroy won their matches, Rahm’s tie against Scottie Scheffler was just a crucial.
“I think we were all just trying to take care of our business,” Hovland said.
Max Homa was the brightest star on the American side, and it wasn’t particularly close. He was the only American to play in all five matches and paid it off by earning 3½ points. No other player from the U.S. earned more than 2 points. Rickie Fowler failed to earn a point while playing in only two matches.
Homa paired brilliantly with Brian Harman all week, although they lost in the opening foursomes session, as all Americans did. He paired with Wyndham Clark to tie their afternoon four-ball match against Robert McIntyre and Justin Rose.
But he then rattled off three consecutive wins, pairing again with Harman twice on Saturday to win foursomes and four-balls, then capped it off with the gutsy singles performance against Matt Fitzpatrick.
“I just had so much fun with my team,” Homa said. “I love these boys so much. So you just want to do your best and give the team the best chance they've got.”
The next opportunity for that chance will come at Bethpage Black, where the Americans will look to win their third straight home Ryder Cup. The winless streak on European soil, however, will go into its third decade. At Ireland's Adare Manor in 2027, it'll have been 34 years since the last U.S. win . . . and the 100th anniversary of the Ryder Cup. Does everything align for the Americans then? Time will tell.