US reclaims Ryder Cup from Europe

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - September 21, 2008 Strong as a team, strong as individuals, the Americans rode the emotion of a flag-waving crowd and its two Kentucky players on Sunday to win the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1999.

Kenny Perry, the 48-year-old native son who felt this week would make or break his career, was part of an early American push that swung momentum in his favor. Then came fellow Kentuckian J.B. Holmes, blasting drives over the trees to birdie his last two holes and position the United States for a victory it felt was overdue.

The Ryder Cup was clinched with a handshake when Miguel Angel Jimenez conceded a short par putt to Jim Furyk, giving the Americans the 14½ points they needed to take the 17-inch gold chalice.

Dressed in red shirts - the Sunday color of Tiger Woods, who could only watch from home - the Americans erupted into hugs and tears behind the 17th green.

"I poured my heart and soul into this for two years," U.S. captain Paul Azinger said, his voice cracking." The players poured their heart and soul into this for one week. They deserved it. I couldn't be happier?

It was only fitting that Furyk won the decisive point. He felt hollow six years ago at The Belfry watching Paul McGinley make a par putt that clinched victory for Europe, the start of three straight victories that extended its domination in an event once owned by the Americans.

Their only victory in the last 15 years came in 1999, and only after Justin Leonard knocked in a 45-foot putt to complete the "Miracle at Brookline" comeback.

From the opening match, when Anthony Kim dealt Sergio Garcia his worst loss ever in a Ryder Cup, the Americans put red numbers on the scoreboard and didn't stop until victory was certain.

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