At one point the United States were ahead in six matches, but McIlroy was an approximate eight under par in thrashing Rickie Fowler 5&4 to put the first European point on the board and fellow Northern Irishman McDowell won five out of six holes from the 10th to complete a remarkable 2&1 victory. With US Open champion Martin Kaymer beating Masters champion Bubba Watson and Rose also fighting back to claim a half, Europe were within sight of victory and Welshman Jamie Donaldson delivered it in style, hitting his approach to the 15th to within inches of the hole to beat Keegan Bradley. That prompted a handshake on the fairway between the captains and the usual curious conclusion as the remaining matches played out, Garcia beating Jim Furyk, Poulter halving his match with Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood losing to Jimmy Walker and Victor Dubuisson halving with Zach Johnson. McIlroy said the win was the “icing on the cake” after winning the Open and US PGA Championship, adding: ” I was just so up for it – more so than I was in the two majors I won,” he said. “There was no option other than to win. I played my best golf, six under through six and that built a comfortable lead that I was able to hang on to.” McDowell, who was disappointed to have played just two foursomes matches before the singles, added: “I’m really proud of myself the way I played the back nine. I’m just relieved. The captain put a big role on me and I’m just happy I could deliver.” Donaldson had already contributed two points from two foursomes outings with Westwood and was never behind to Bradley, moving four up with birdies on the 11th and 12th and making sure of the half point to retain the trophy with a par on the 14th. It was only a matter of time before outright victory was confirmed, and Donaldson did not disappoint. ” I hit the wedge shot of my life to close the game out. I can’t really put words to it. It is unbelievable,” the 38-year-old said. ” I knew it was getting tight there at the end and everyone was building on my group. I just tried not to spend too much time looking at the scoreboard. “I was able to do it well enough to close it out. The lads have got on so well all week. There has been a great craic in there, it is an incredible week. It is hard to describe how good it is – there is nothing else like it in golf. It has been amazing to be a part of it.” Press Association Europe’s players hailed the influence of Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley as opposite number Tom Watson was embroiled in a public debate with Phil Mickelson. McGinley’s side survived an early scare on the final day at Gleneagles to turn a 10-6 overnight lead into a victory by 16.5 points to 11.5 – their eighth win in the last 10 biennial contests. And while McGinley was praised as “modern” and “meticulous”, the losing team’s press conference saw Mickelson call for a return to the captaincy style of Paul Azinger, who led the United States to their only win this century at Valhalla in 2008. “Unfortunately we have strayed from a winning formula the last three Ryder Cups,” said Mickelson, who was left out for an entire day’s play for the first time ever. Mickelson praised Azinger for ensuring the players were “invested” in the team and involved in decision-making, but added: “Nobody here was in any decision.” Watson, who was captain the last time the US won on European soil, said he had read Azinger’s book on the 2008 contest, but added: “I had a different philosophy. It takes 12 players to win. It’s not pods – it’s 12 players.” The contrast in the European team was pronounced, with players lining up to hail McGinley’s leadership style. “He has been so methodical,” Sergio Garcia said. “Every single aspect he needed to touch on, he did. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great captains. Paul did things a little bit differently, but with great style. “He has been a little bit more of a modern captain, taking care of every single detail. He knew what we had was good and working but improved it without changing it.” Rory Mci lroy added: “I can’t say enough about the captain. Paul has been absolutely immense this week. He has left no stone unturned. He has given this week a lot of thought over the last two years. I am just glad it worked out for him.” Mc Ilroy and Graeme McDowell, the target for American jibes earlier in the week, had led from the front as the home side recovered from an early wobble, with McDowell three down after five to rookie Jordan Spieth in the opening match and the unbeaten Justin Rose four down after six to Hunter Mahan.
College football is obsessed with records. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t a good one either. At times, it can cloud someone’s vision and allow one to overlook the talent and current play of a team just because of its record. Other times, focusing on records completely makes sense. I know what you’re thinking; she’s probably talking about USC. I am, but Penn State also falls into the same discussion. After beating Michigan this past Saturday, it seems like Ohio State is a lock for the playoff. Last week, both the AP and the College Football Playoff rankings mirrored each other. This week, the AP has Ohio State sitting at No. 2, so one could reasonably guess that the Buckeyes will hold that spot for the CFP.So that looks good for the Big Ten, right? Wrong. The Big Ten is in an interesting situation. The Buckeyes are sitting at No. 2 in the nation with an 11-1 overall record, so that means they’re playing in the conference championship, right? Wrong, again. Facing off for the conference title for the Big Ten will be Penn State and Wisconsin. Both teams are sitting at 10-2, and Penn State has a bit of an advantage with its win over Ohio State thanks to a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown toward the end of the fourth quarter. The CFP Committee always talks about how they like conference champions, but with Ohio State as the likely candidate for the second spot in the playoff, that goes against what they typically like. If Penn State ends up beating Wisconsin, they will have a viable shot at the playoff, because Ohio State’s only loss was at the hand of the Nittany Lions. It’s a mess, and the committee could have one heck of a headache going into the release of its rankings on Sunday. While a 11-2 conference champion looks great and is more or less a dream team for the committee based on rankings alone, it isn’t really better than an 11-1 team with quality wins throughout the season. What makes this whole Big Ten debacle even more interesting is that the first protocol — according to the CFP committee selection protocol — is winning a conference championship. The other three are strength of schedule, head-to-head competition (if possible) and outcomes of common opponents (without considering margin of victory). Looking at the committee’s protocol from their standpoint, a Wisconsin win will make their lives easier. Now, what about USC? Its chances of making the playoff are virtually impossible. Just imagine how many people would freak out if a three-loss team made it to the playoff. While the Trojans won’t see themselves playing in one of the semifinals, they could still see themselves playing at the Rose Bowl, somewhere they haven’t played since 2009. USC has played in the most Rose Bowls (33) and has won the most Rose Bowls (24) of any college program. With the Trojans back in the national discussion and a number of analysts, such as Kirk Herbstreit, saying that USC is the one team that no one wants to play right now, other than Alabama. He also made the argument that if the CFP is looking for the best teams that USC should be higher. Vegas even has the Trojans as the No. 3 team in the country. The Trojans’ success makes the case that the playoff should be expanded. An expansion would allow for teams like USC that started their season rough but have completely flipped the script to close out the year. The Trojans that upset No. 4 Washington 26-13 and have handily outscored their rivals 81-41 are nowhere near the team that started its season 1-3 with losses to Alabama, Stanford and Utah. If the committee wants the best teams playing for a championship, a team like USC fits the bill. Through their eight-game win streak, the Trojans have beaten everyone except Colorado by double digits. A surging USC team following a shaky start brings back memories of Pete Carroll’s 2002 Trojans. That season, USC started out 3-2, but finished 11-2 on the back of senior quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer performed so well that he caught national attention and won the Heisman Trophy, USC’s first quarterback to do so. The Trojans finished No. 5 in the BCS and beat No. 3 Iowa in the Orange Bowl, 38-17. There are a number of similarities between the 2002 season and this season, such as dominating victories over UCLA and Notre Dame and a quarterback garnering national attention. If the similarities continue, the Trojans could see themselves in the Rose Bowl instead of the Orange Bowl. On top of it, USC would set a foundation for national championships for years to come, cementing it as a national powerhouse once again. Jodee Storm Sullivan is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. Her column, “The Storm Report,” ran Tuesdays.