Golf-Fleetwood Mac take Europe back to Number One

Golf - The 2023 Ryder Cup - Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, Italy - September 30, 2023 Team Europe's Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy at the 15th green during the Foursomes REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

ROME (Reuters) - Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy combined to share a name and the glory as the former earned the lifetime honour of "securing" the Ryder Cup and the latter did more than anyone to win it by claiming four points from his five matches.

To the thousands of fans who flocked to Rome this week, "Fleetwood Mac" was an irresistible portmanteau as the pair teamed up to win both their foursomes matches, with McIlroy also winning in fourballs alongside Matt Fitzpatrick.

McIlroy, Europe's most experienced Ryder Cup player having now appeared in seven editions, had his mentality tested after his run-in with the American team after the only blip on his weekend - a last-hole fourballs defeat with Fitzpatrick against Patrick Cantlay and Wyndham Clark on Saturday.

But he was back to his laser-eyed best in Sunday's singles, racing to a two-hole lead over Sam Burns, stretching it to four before triumphing 3&1 after a typically dominant display.

"I was very focused. I let it fuel me," McIlroy said of the incident when he was annoyed by a celebrating caddie standing on his putting line.

"It all gave us a little bit of a fire in our bellies to try

and get the job done today."

2021 TEARS

McIlroy was in tears after Europe were blown away by the U.S. two years ago.

"It means an awful lot," he said. "I was so disappointed after Whistling Straits. We all were. And we wanted to come here and redeem ourselves a bit. I just knew that I needed to put in a better performance for my team mates and thankfully I was able to do that."

With only four points needed for victory, an early burst of European wins suggested Fleetwood's match against Rickie Fowler, the penultimate one, would be something of an afterthought.

However, as the Americans fought back and with Europe stuck, tantalisingly, on 14 points with a half needed, attention started to switch.

Fleetwood always looked on top but when Fowler got back to one down with three to play, nothing was guaranteed.

The Englishman put paid to any worries, though, by drilling a brilliant drive to within 15 feet on the par-four 16th, and with Fowler finding water, he had two putts to win the hole and go dormie two - guaranteeing the half-point Europe needed.

He left the first around four-feet short but, just as the huge crowd began to mutter their concerns, Fowler conceded the putt to spark pandemonium.

"I really didn't want to come down to one of us at the back but it just so happened I had a part to play," Fleetwood said.

"It was a bit bigger part than I thought I was going to have when we saw the draw. It's relief and pride in everybody that's been involved this week," he added.

"I couldn't wish for a better bunch of people to do this with. We are just one gigantic family and the bonds we made with everybody will last a lifetime."

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; editing by Ed Osmond)

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