Kentucky fried Faldo as USA ends European streak

Nick Faldo ended up Kentucky fried at Valhalla as home boys JB Holmes and Kenny Perry inspired the USA to a 16.5 to 11.5 Ryder Cup victory.

Jim Furyk grabbed the winning point when he beat Miguel Angel Jimenez 2 and 1 with European strongmen Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell looking on helplessly in irrelevant matches at the back of the field.

All the glory went to Kentucky natives Holmes and Perry as the Americans ended their nine-year wait for victory.

Delighted US skipper Azinger said: “Our Kentucky boys won it for us. We had a great day and I am proud of my players and the 13th man made the difference this week.

"This crowd has energised our boys the whole week and made the difference. I am so happy. These guys earned it and they deserved it. They really deserve it.”

Faldo’s strategy of sending Sergio Garcia out first and then packing the bottom of the singles order with his top men backfired spectacularly.

The Spaniard crashed to an embarrassing 5 and 4 defeat to Anthony Kim and the Americans then ripped four points out of the heart of Europe’s challenge in the middle order with Perry, Boo Weekley, Holmes and Furyk grabbing wins that ended America’s nine-year Ryder Cup drought.

Graeme McDowell salvaged some pride from his first Ryder Cup when he beat Stewart Cink 2 and 1 to finish with two and a half points from four matches.

But it was another disappointing week for Harrington, who lost 2 and 1 to Chad Campbell in an irrelevant anchor match and finished with just half a point to show for his efforts for the second Ryder Cup in a row.

McDowell said: “It is disappointing to finish an amazing week on the losing side. It has been an unforgettable experience but bitter sweet at the same time.

“I’ll have a pint of Guinness tonight but it won’t taste as sweet as it would have out of the Ryder Cup. I holed a lot fo great putts and hopefully I’ll be back in Wales in two years’ time to hole a few more.”

Faldo was the hero the last time Europe came back from 9-7 down overnight to win the Ryder Cup at Oak Hill in 1995.

But he is now certain to be slaughtered by the British press, despite the fact that controversial wildcard Ian Poulter beat Steve Stricker 3 and 2 in the singles to finished as his side’s top scorer with four points out of five.

It all started to go wrong from the time Garcia crumbled in the opening singles with 23-year old Kim.

Rated the man most likely to succeed Tiger Woods at the top of the game, California kid Kim proved that he is capable of going all the way.

“I wouldn’t trade this for $10 million,” said Kim as Garcia hung his head. “It has been the experience of a lifetime and I am going to draw on things that have happened this week. All in all it was a great experience.

“I have looked up to Sergio for a long time and I wanted to give the fans something to cheer. I had chills up and down my spine the whole day.”

Europe claimed two and a half points from the first four matches as Europe snatched two and a half points from the first four singles as Paul Casey snatched a half with Hunter Mahan, Robert Karlsson thrashed Justin Leonard 5 and 3 and Justin Rose outgunned Phil Mickelson 3 and 2.

But the tide turned America’s way in the middle order as Kentucky veteran Perry, 48, had six birdies and an eagle three in a 3 and 2 win over Henrik Stenson and Weekley beat  rookie Oliver Wilson  3 and 2 to leave the US needing just two points from the last six matches.

All eyes were on matches seven and eight and both went to the Americans with Kentucky boy Holmes highly impressive in a 2 and 1 win over Dane Soren Hansen.

It all started to go wrong when Garcia’s putting deserted him when he most needed it most in his clash with Kim.

Now with just one singles win from five starts, Garcia groaned: “I’ve played with him before and I knew what he was capable of. I felt like I started well, unfortunately the mistakes on seven and eight were huge. After that the putts I missed on 11 was a real dagger.

“Today was a hard day and I just came up against a guy who played awesome. All I can do is offer my congratulation. Nothing I did worked.”

The morning began amid incredible scenes on the first tee as the European fans, outnumbered 5 to 1, made their voices heard.

When Harrington appeared on the tee for the final singles, the Europeans chanted: “Padraig’s got two majors, Padraig’s got two majors, la-la la la la-la la la.” and then threw in a verse of the Fields of Athenry.

The Dubliner wanted a tough match that would prove to be key but while he won the first with a birdie, he struggled with his game never looked like winning once he went two down at the turn

As the Europeans tried to come to terms with their defeat, Rose summed up the mood in the camp, explaining: “It is hard to take. We have put so much into this.  I don’t think any of us were kidding ourselves that this was going to be a tough match.”

As for Faldo’s singles order, Rose said: “It was a tough call. We got two and a half points from the first four matches and we had some strong players in the back of  the order. But Kenny Perry was seven or eight under par, JB Holmes had five birdies. Boo Weekley was seven under. Hats off to them. They played great golf.”

USA 16 1/2, Europe 11 1/2 (with four matches remaining)
Singles (US first)
Anthony Kim bt Sergio Garcia 5&4;
Hunter Mahan halved with Paul Casey;
Justin Leonard lost to Robert Karlsson 5&3;
Phil Mickelson lost to Justin Rose 3&2;
Kenny Perry bt Henrik Stenson 3&2;
Boo Weekley bt Oliver Wilson 4&2;
JB Holmes bt Soren Hansen 2&1
Jim Furyk bt Miguel Angel Jimenez 2&1
Stewart Cink lost to Graham McDowell 2&1
Steve Stricker lost to Ian Poulter 3&2
Ben Curtis bt Lee Westwood 2&1
Chad Campbell bt Padraig Harrington 2/1.