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US seals Ryder Cup win for first time since 1999
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An upbeat United States team inspired by rookie Anthony Kim won the Ryder Cup for the first time in nine years yesterday, beating Europe by 16-1/2 points to 11-1/2 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kim crushed Sergio Garcia 5&4 in the top encounter to set the tone for the Americans before Jim Furyk secured the decisive point with a 2&1 victory over Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez at a sun-drenched Valhalla Golf Club.

It was Europe's heaviest defeat since they were pummelled 18-1/2 to 9-1/2 at Walton Heath in 1981, and ended a run of three successive victories in the biennial team competition, the last two by lopsided margins.

"My players poured their heart and soul into this for one week," an emotional US captain Paul Azinger said in a television interview beside the 17th green.

"They played great, the crowd was unbelievable and I couldn't be happier. It's a pretty amazing feeling.

"You know, they brought themselves there and if I was the guy that helped organize it, then I'm happy to be that," he added, referring to his players. "But those guys did it. They deserve the credit."

Azinger was hugged by his opposite number Nick Faldo after Furyk was conceded a short par putt by Jimenez at the 17th to give the Americans the 14-1/2 points needed for victory.

"Congratulations to Paul," Faldo said. "Twenty-four guys have given their hearts and souls in this event and Europe has come up short but the golf was fantastic."

"I'm so proud of my 12 guys. We have a straight back and chin up but the Americans this particular week were a little bit better than us."

Kim delivered a sparkling display against an off-key Garcia to trigger a rousing start for the US as they established early leads in eight of the 12 matches in front of boisterous but largely good-natured crowds.

The 23-year-old birdied three of the first four holes to take control before Garcia lost the sixth hole after taking an unplayable lie off the tee.

The Spaniard then dumped two shots into the water guarding the front of the seventh green to slip three behind.

Kim also won the 12th before setting up another birdie with an approach to five feet at the 13th to forge five up. After draining an eight-foot par putt to seal victory on the 14th green, he pumped his right fist in celebration.

"I wanted to come out here and give the fans what they wanted to see," a beaming Kim said.

"I got chills up my spine the whole day and I'm loving every minute of it. I wouldn't trade this for US$10 million."

Europe won the next two points, Swede Robert Karlsson hammering Justin Leonard 5&3 and Britain's Justin Rose holing an 18-footer for birdie on the 16th for a 3&2 win against Phil Mickelson.

Moments later, Hunter Mahan halved a tight match with Britain's Paul Casey before the Americans won the next four encounters to cross the finishing line.

Kentucky native Kenny Perry outplayed Swede Henrik Stenson 3&2 and Boo Weekley, a crowd favorite all week at Valhalla, holed out from a bunker to eagle the par-five seventh on his way to a 4&2 victory against Britain's Oliver Wilson.

Big-hitting Kentuckian JB Holmes knocked in a two-footer to birdie the 17th for a 2&1 win over Dane Soren Hansen, leaving Furyk to take centre stage by beating Jimenez.

For the Europeans, the putts did not drop when they were most needed and their big three of Garcia, Lee Westwood and three-time major champion Padraig Harrington ended the week without a single win between them.

"We gave it 100 percent and this particular week we were outplayed just marginally in different areas by America," Faldo said. "We take our hats off to them this week."

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily September 22, 2008)

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