SJA Sports Team of the Year: The case for the European Ryder Cup team

VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED to decide the winners of three major categories at the Awards, to be held at The Kia Oval in London on Thursday 7 December; Jake Wightman, Beth Mead and the Lionesses claimed the equivalent 2022 honours; who will take the top prizes this year?

By Shayni Solanki

Team Europe turned humiliation into redemption in 2023, as they bounced back from the worst Ryder Cup defeat in living memory to lift the trophy in Rome.

Not content with taking home the 14 ½ points required to regain the cup, Team Europe fought until the end against the Americans to secure 16 ½ points.

In his victory speech, captain Luke Donald said: “It has been a long process, it’s been an amazing journey. I enjoyed this one.

“I am so proud of my 12 guys. We formed a bond from day one. They gave me everything. They trusted me and they delivered for me.”

The team had a mix of talent, whether it be Team Europe veterans or some looking to score their first Ryder Cup point. What worked though, is how they played harmoniously together.

The board was blue during the Friday morning foursomes, as Team Europe got off to an excellent start.

Going into the afternoon following a 4-0 blowout, Donald’s team looked as though they would remain unbeaten on home soil, having not lost in Europe since 1997.

Later that day during the afternoon four-balls, Team USA clawed themselves back into play by tying three of the four matches.

But, in his sixth Ryder Cup appearance, veteran Justin Rose solidified Europe’s lead by winning the fourth match to leave Team USA winless on the first day of the tournament.

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick also stunned on Friday, earning his first-ever Ryder Cup point during the fourballs after three appearances in the tournament.

Things got worse before they got better for the Americans as Team Europe fought hard on Saturday morning to win three of the four foursomes.

This was until Saturday afternoon came and the board bled red as the Americans turned the tide to win three of the four four-balls.

Tensions were high and for large swathes of Sunday it looked like Team USA might upset the odds and could still snatch the victory from Team Europe on their home soil.

Indeed, on the final day of the 44th tournament, it all came down to the wire.

But Europe’s lead was too great and Britain’s Tommy Fleetwood managed to clinch the victory for Team Europe on the 16th hole after American Rickie Fowler shot into the water.

Scottish rookie Robert MacIntyre left Rome undefeated on his debut, and with a Ryder Cup victory under his belt, beating US Open champion Wyndham Clark to put the icing on the cake.

But then there were very few disappointments for a European team that looked exactly that, a team, and brought home the Ryder Cup.

Sports journalist Shayni Solanki is a member of the SJA Academy – find out more about membership here.