A gutted European squad backed captain Padraig Harrington and slump-ridden star Rory McIlroy on Sunday after taking the most lopsided beating in the Ryder Cup’s modern era from the United States.
The Americans’ 19-9 triumph at Whistling Straits was the largest margin of victory since the US-Europe format was adopted in 1979, the Europeans never winning a session in taking an emotional defeat.
“I’ve only lost one other one and it’s dismal,” Europe talisman Ian Poulter said. “We’ve got a great team this week, and we were outplayed. Every session was difficult.
“They did their job and they made it painful for us today and this one’s going to hurt for a bit.
“But you know what? It’s things like that this make you stronger going forward.”
Harrington found reasons for hope in the nightmare.
“The were some good moments, just not enough of them,” he said. “Nobody didn’t give their heart and soul to this team. They gave it 100%. That’s all you can ask from the players.
“If you want to have these glorious moments, you’ve got to put your head out there, and sometimes it doesn’t go right. You get your head knocked off.”
England’s Poulter, 45, beat Tony Finau 3&2 to remain unbeaten in Ryder Cup singles and supported Harrington.
“Padraig is going to be questioned over this and that’s not fair,” Poulter said. “He did a hell of a job.”
England’s six players, half the Europe squad, went a combined 3-14 with three tied and managed only 4.5 points.
Two of those wins were delivered Sunday by Poulter and Lee Westwood in his 47th career Cup match to equal Phil Mickelson’s all-time record.
“It might be the last match I’ve played in The Ryder Cup,” Westwood said. “I’d rather it wasn’t, but I’m 49 next April, and the likelihood is it is. I got to share it with my son (and caddie Sam). Won my point.
“I hate this tournament. It makes you so emotional, but that’s what makes it great as well… If you haven’t got pride and passion, then it’s not for you. Don’t even bother turning up.”
Asked what motivation or inspiration might be drawn from a Ryder Cup loss, Westwood replied from a pained heart.
“How much it hurts and how much you despise it and how much you can’t wait for it to come around in two years’ time and win it back,” he said.
That was the same feeling for McIlroy, who like many teammates was in tears after the defeat, wishing he had done more for his team than win the first singles match after an 0-3 pairs effort.
“He didn’t let us down,” Spain’s Sergio Garcia said.
“He won his point today,” Ireland’s Shane Lowry said.
McIlroy was in tears after his match.
“No one was more disappointed in the way I played than me,” he said. “I wanted to go out there and show some character and resilience, and I did that.
“I was emotional because it’s a highly charged event and it sucks to lose, it really does. It sucks.
“Listening to, ‘We Are the Champions’ out there and those guys celebrating, if we have an opportunity in Rome — hopefully I’m on that team — it will make getting that Cup back even sweeter.”
Cup newcomer Lowry drew a round of applause from teammates for calling this, “by far the best week of my golfing career.”
“I don’t enjoy getting beaten,” he said. “We came up obviously a long way short but it has just been an incredible experience and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
“These things don’t come around very often,” echoed Poulter, who at 45 might be on his final Ryder ride. “It’s special to put the shirt on. It’s special to get around all these guys in a way that you would not imagine.
“It means a lot to represent Europe in The Ryder Cup and that’s why it hurts and that’s why you see all the emotion you see.”
United States 19-9 Europe
Rory McIlroy (EUR) bt Xander Schauffele (USA) 3&2
Patrick Cantlay (USA) bt Shane Lowry (EUR) 4&2
Scottie Scheffler (USA) bt Jon Rahm (EUR) 4&3
Bryson DeChambeau (USA) bt Sergio Garcia (EUR) 3&2
Collin Morikawa (USA) and Viktor Hovland (EUR) tied
Dustin Johnson (USA) bt Paul Casey (EUR) 1 up
Brooks Koepka (USA) bt Bernd Wiesberger (EUR) 2&1
Ian Poulter (EUR) bt Tony Finau (USA) 3&2
Justin Thomas (USA) bt Tyrrell Hatton (EUR) 4&3
Lee Westwood (EUR) bt Harris English (USA) 1 up
Jordan Spieth (USA) and Tommy Fleetwood (EUR) tied
Daniel Berger (USA) bt Matthew Fitzpatrick (EUR) 1 up
Sergio Garcia/Jon Rahm (EUR) bt Brooks Koepka/Daniel Berger (USA) 3&1
Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa (USA) bt Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton (EUR) 2&1
Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (USA) bt Viktor Hovland/Bernd Wiesberger (EUR) 2-up
Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (USA) bt Lee Westwood/Matthew Fitzparick (EUR) 2&1
Shane Lowry/Tyrrell Hatton (EUR) bt Tony Finau/Harris English (USA) 1-up
Jon Rahm/Sergio Garcia (EUR) bt Brooks Koepka/Jordan Spieth (USA) 2&1
Scottie Scheffler/Bryson DeChambeau (USA) bt Tommy Fleetwood/Viktor Hovland (EUR) 3&1
Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa (USA) bt Ian Poulter/Rory McIlroy (EUR) 4&3
Jon Rahm/Sergio Garcia (EUR) bt Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth (USA) 3&1
Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa (USA) bt Paul Casey and Victor Hovland (EUR) 3&2
Brooks Koepka/Daniel Berger (USA) bt Lee Westwood/Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR) 2&1
Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (USA) bt Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter (EUR) 5&3
Dustin Johnson/Xander Schauffele (USA) bt Paul Casey/Bernd Wiesberger (EUR) 2&1
Bryson DeChambeau/Scottie Scheffler (USA) and Jon Rahm/Tyrrell Hatton (EUR) tied
Tony Finau/Harris English (USA) bt Rory McIlroy/Shane Lowry (EUR) 4&3
Tommy Fleetwood/Viktor Hovland (EUR) and Justin Thomas/Patrick Cantlay tied