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  Sunday, 29 September, 2002, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
American dream shattered
Celebrations erupt as Europe clinch the Cup
USA are absent from the celebrations

America arrived at The Belfry with the Ryder Cup but leave empty-handed, and the finger of blame is pointing at Curtis Strange.

The US captain took a major gamble in the singles by sending the world's top two players out in the last matches.

If the competition was going down to the wire, he reasoned, who better than Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to seal victory?

European skipper Sam Torrance used the exact opposite strategy, sending his big guns out early to build momentum - and it worked.

Amid scenes of wild jubilation, the home team regained the Cup with two matches still out on the course.

In fact, Strange's two late bankers proved to be not so reliable.

Curtis Strange and David Duval
Strange days: The US captain gets to mull over his tactics
Welsh Ryder Cup rookie Phillip Price, ranked 45th in Europe, played sensationally well to beat world number two Mickelson 3&2.

Woods had a stinker against Jesper Parnevik, but eventually halved with the out-of-form Swede who played extremely well.

How he must be looking forward to returning to the Tour, where he can do his own thing and stick to stroke play whenever possible.

US golf fans will find defeat hard to take, not least because the singles matches are where their team usually shine.

Europe had only won two out of the 11 series of head-to-head games since the team came into being in 1979.

And the Americans as individual players were, in world-ranking terms, streets ahead of their rivals.

But, at The Belfry, it was the foursomes and fourballs where Strange seemingly got his planning right.

His Mickelson-David Toms pairing won three-and-a-half points out of four, and he finally found the perfect partner for Woods in Davis Love III.

Struggle

The holders ended the first day down just 4-3 and the second all-square at 8-8.

It was a fine achievement, given the widespread belief Strange would struggle to sell the team ethic to his rugged individualists.

For all the talk of "hanging out with the guys" and ping-pong tournaments, the Americans never quite convinced as a collective.

The Europeans genuinely seemed to enjoy each others' company - and winning the Cup back means everything to them.

The USA also wanted to win badly, but they somehow come across as a bunch of millionaire golfers who just want to get the job done and go home.

Team-building might be the order of the day ahead of Oak Hill in 2004.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
USA captain Curtis Strange
"We played well, they played better"
USA's Tiger Woods
"This Ryder Cup was played as it should be"
USA's Davis Love III
"It will be a long ride home"
 VOTE RESULTS
Who was the star for Europe at The Belfry?

Paul McGinley
 7.00% 

Colin Montgomerie
 67.65% 

Phillip Price
 11.44% 

Sam Torrance
 13.91% 

28937 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
News, reports and features on golf's big team event

Europe 15-12 USA

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