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Europe's golfers win Ryder Cup

McGinley celebrates after his putt won the Ryder Cup
McGinley celebrates after his putt won the Ryder Cup

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SUTTON COLDFIELD, England (CNN) -- Europe's golfers upset the odds to beat the United States 15 1/2 points to 12 1/2 and lift the Ryder Cup after three days of drama at The Belfry in England.

Irishman Paul McGinley holed a nine-foot putt to secure the victory and trigger raucous celebrations in the sun.

McGinley, draped in an Irish flag, ended up in the lake by the 18th green while Europe's captain Sam Torrance wept and gulped champagne.

"What a team," said Torrance. "I led them to the water and they drank copiously."

The two teams had begun the third and final day on Sunday at 8-8, with the visitors favourites to retain the trophy in the 12 singles matches.


World number one Tiger Woods was last to play but by the time he came to the final hole he could only stand back and watch Europe's celebrations.

Torrance had predicted that his "12 lions" would overcome the Tiger. And his team was led from the front by Colin Montgomerie, defying a back injury to beat Scott Hoch and set the tone for the day.

American captain Curtis Strange praised his opponents and admitted his team had been given a "butt-whipping."

It was the first time the cup had been contended in three years. Last year's event was postponed following the September 11 attacks.

This was the 34th competition. Europe have won six out of the last nine.

In a nail-biting finish, American Paul Azinger chipped in from a bunker on the 18th hole to draw his match against Niclas Fasth and keep America in the hunt.

Azinger furiously exchanged high-fives with his caddie, but Europe were not to be denied and McGinley held his nerve in front of a packed gallery.

As the ball dropped in his teammates rushed onto the green, erasing the bitter memories of Brookline in 1999, when they threw away a lead on the last day.

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