Europe takes back Ryder Cup in victory over United States

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              Europe team captain Thomas Bjorn kisses the cup as he celebrates with his players after the European team won the 2018 Ryder Cup golf tournament at Le Golf National in Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
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SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (AP) — Payback belongs to Europe, and so does the Ryder Cup.

Two years after the Americans thought they had their Ryder Cup problems figured out, Europe reminded them Sunday why it practically has owned this shiny gold trophy for the last quarter-century.

British Open champion Francesco Molinari was just as good on his own as he was with Tommy Fleetwood. The best year of the Italian’s golfing life got even better at Le Golf National when he became the first European — and only second player since the current format began in 1979 — to win all five of his matches.

The last one set off a wild, champagne-soaked celebration.

Europe already was assured the 14 1/2 points it needed because it was guaranteed halves in two matches. Molinari made it official. He was 2 up and safely on the green at the par-3 16th green when Phil Mickelson hit into the water, removed his cap and conceded the match.

The finish was most appropriate.

The celebration and singing had already begun. The Europeans were treated like rock stars before more than 50,000 fans. All that remained was Alex Noren in the anchor match. He was 1 up on the 18th hole when DeChambeau stuffed his approach to 2 feet for a conceded birdie. Noren hit the final shot in this Ryder Cup, a 40-foot birdie putt to win the match, and the stoic Swede hurled his cap.

Europe won, 17 1/2-10 1/2, the most lopsided victory since consecutive 18 1/2-9 1/2 victories by Europe more than a decade ago when the Americans looked utterly lost. They formed a Ryder Cup Task Force, spearheaded by Mickelson, after the 2014 loss. The idea was to build continuity and momentum, and it seemed to work when they won at Hazeltine in 2016.

Mickelson was desperate to make this team because the 48-year-old saw it as his last chance to win a Ryder Cup on European soil. He wound up losing both his matches. He started the week by setting a record with his 12th Ryder Cup appearance. He ended it by setting a more dubious Ryder Cup record with 22 losses.

He wasn’t alone. Tiger Woods went 0-4, the first time in his eight Ryder Cups that he failed to contribute a single point.