Golf

Task completed as Americans win first Ryder Cup since 2008

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Task completed as Americans win first Ryder Cup since 2008

LEADERBOARD

CHASKA, Minn. -- Maybe not the best team ever assembled, the Americans were every bit of a team in finally winning back the Ryder Cup.

Phil Mickelson led the Americans behind closed doors. Patrick Reed powered them with his passion on the golf course. And it was Ryan Moore, who a week ago wasn't even on the team, who delivered the cup-clinching point Sunday at Hazeltine.

Moore finished eagle-birdie-par for a 1-up victory over Lee Westwood, and the celebration was on. The United States beat Europe for the first time since 2008, and only the third time over the last two decades.

Never has an American team been under this much pressure.

They lost for the third straight time in 2014 at Gleneagles, and it was team divided over everything from how the captain was selected to how the team would be built. Mickelson led the way in getting a task force together, and it was hard to argue with the results.

"You keep losing, you feel like you have to do something different," said U.S. captain Davis Love III.

The biggest difference was the outcome.

Reed faced the tallest order in the leadoff match with Rory McIlroy, and the quality of golf was as high as it gets. Reed had one stretch of driving the fifth green to within 8 feet for eagle, two short birdies putts and then a 35-foot birdie putt to match McIlroy, who made one from 60 feet.

Reed now is 6-1-2 in his two Ryder Cups, and he was the top points earner for the Americans this week.

Mickelson leapt higher than when he won his first major at the 2004 Masters after an 18-foot birdie putt that was worth a half-point when Sergio Garcia matched him with a clutch birdie of his own.

With one match still on the course, the Americans were headed for their biggest rout since 1981, when it won 18 1/2 to 9 1/2.

That team is regarded the best ever, filled with 11 major champions. Love said in a radio interview going into the Ryder Cup, making a point that his players didn't have to do anything extraordinary, that this was "the best team maybe ever assembled."

Tiger Woods' return ends with best finish in four years

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USATSI

Tiger Woods' return ends with best finish in four years

NASSAU, Bahamas — Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods both had cause for celebrations large and small at the Hero World Challenge.

Fowler rallied from a seven-shot deficit by opening with seven straight birdies at Albany Golf Club and closing with an 11-under 61 Sunday for his second victory worldwide. It was the second time in his eight years on tour that he won multiple times around the world.

Woods had his best finish in four years.

Playing for the first time in 10 months while recovering from a fourth back surgery, Woods closed with a 68 despite a bogey-bogey finish. Even so, his back felt good and he was swinging at full strength. He tied for ninth in the 18-man field, his best result since a playoff loss at this holiday event in 2013.

Tiger Woods roars in return to golf after 10-month layoff

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USATSI

Tiger Woods roars in return to golf after 10-month layoff

NASSAU, Bahamas — Tiger Woods looked a lot better in his return to golf than he did when he left.

Playing for the first time since his fourth back surgery, Woods returned from a 10-month layoff with a 3-under 69 on a breezy Thursday in the Bahamas and was three shots behind Tommy Fleetwood after the opening round of the Hero World Challenge.

Unlike a year ago, Woods didn't show any fatigue at the end of his round. His only regret was playing the par 5s at Albany Golf Club in 1-over par. That included a bogey on the par-5 ninth when he took four shots from about 30 feet, starting with a chip that didn't reach the green.

He made five birdies, had a few fist pumps and even a few choice words.