The United States claimed the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits as they defeated Europe by a record margin with a 19-9 triumph on Sunday.

Padraig Harrington's side had won seven of the past nine editions of the biennial event but failed to recover from a six-shot disadvantage heading into the final day.

USA required just 3.5 points to claim the trophy on home soil, and they managed to reach that mark in just the fifth match of the finale as Collin Morikawa finished all square with Victor Hovland.

Europe had early hope through Rory McIlroy, who cruised past Xander Schaffuele to collect his first win at this year's edition but Patrick Cantlay quickly restored USA's dominance by defeating Shane Lowry.

Fellow rookie Scottie Scheffler enjoyed a magnificent singles debut, overcoming world number one Jon Rahm, before Bryson DeChambeau crushed Sergio Garcia with two holes to spare.

Morikawa and Hovland were neck-and-neck until the penultimate hole, where the former landed his iron shot within tap-in range to secure at least a half point and the trophy for the USA. Hovland won the last to halve their battle, but the Americans had the overall match in the bag.

Paul Casey chased Dustin Johnson but could not stop the two-time major champion from winning on the final hole to complete a 5-0-0 record, while Brooks Koepka eased past debutant Bernd Wiesberger despite a spirited performance from the Austrian.

Justin Thomas produced a dominant performance to demolish Tyrrell Hatton, while Lee Westwood - making his record 47th match appearance for Europe - picked up a consolation point against Harris English.

Ian Poulter also maintained his unbeaten record in singles matches to collect Europe's second win on the day, but that proved in vain, with Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood sharing the spoils as they both faltered on the 18th.

However, in the final pair, Daniel Berger edged past Matthew Fitzpatrick, who found the water at the last, as the USA defeated Europe by a record margin, surpassing the previous 18.5 to 9.5 win at Walton Heath Golf Club in 1981.

 

Shot of the day

Team USA were looking for a positive start to quash any suggestions of another repeat of the 'Miracle at Medinah' and DeChambeau provided exactly that in the fourth match of the day.

He comfortably reached the green with his drive on the par-four first, much to the delight of the Wisconsin crowd surrounding the tee box.

The world number seven could have claimed the 'shot of the day' tag with his drive, however, the subsequent 41-foot putt that followed to secure an eagle was both magnificent and important to place early pressure on the evergreen Garcia.

Player of the day

Scheffler, who was a Ryder Cup rookie and has yet to win on the PGA Tour, was sent out early and tasked with tackling world number one Rahm.

The American's rapid start, recording five birdies in the opening six holes, was enough to see off Rahm, who could not fight back from that point onwards and was finished off with three holes to go.

Sunday's singles win made it 2.5 points from a possible three, Scheffler unbeaten in the four-balls in a memorable debut in the Ryder Cup.

Chipping in

USA's winning captain Steve Stricker: "Speechless. Everything about it, these guys all came together. Two weeks ago they came together. Showed me a lot about this group of guys. They had a mission this week and you could tell, they played great and they came together. I just can't tell you - I mean, Brooks and Bryson wanted to play together; that's how much it came together. That shows a lot about this whole team."

Europe captain Padraig Harrington: "Of course we're disappointed. But the USA played well. Look, they out-played us, they are a strong team. They got their plan right. They got some momentum going. They started well. It's been good, no doubt about it. The fans were better - it's tough when you're going away and having no Europeans, but certainly above expectations in terms of an away crowd."

Rory McIlroy (on NBC): "I don't think there's any greater privilege to be a part of one of these teams, European or American. It's an absolute privilege. I've gotten to do this six times. They have always been the greatest experiences of my career. But this team, and what it feels like to be a part of, to see Sergio [Garcia] break records, to see Jon Rahm come into his own this week, to see one of my best friends, Shane Lowry, make his Ryder Cup debut. The more I play in this event I realise it's the best event in golf, bar none."

A little birdie told me...

Johnson entered this year's tournament with a 7-9 record in four previous appearances.

However, he made Ryder Cup history as he went 5-0-0, becoming just the fifth player to do so in a single Ryder Cup and the third since battles between Europe and the USA began in 1979. Previous matches saw teams from Great Britain, and Great Britain and Ireland, take on the Americans.

Johnson knew victory against Casey would see him etch his name in history, and he duly confirmed victory on the final hole, with the Englishman dragging his potential levelling putt wide.

Sunday's single results

Rory McIlroy (Eur) beat Xander Schauffele (USA) 3 and 2

Patrick Cantlay (USA) beat Shane Lowry (Eur) 4 and 2

Scottie Scheffler (USA) beat Jon Rahm (Eur) 4 and 3

Bryson DeChambeau (USA) beat Sergio Garcia (Eur) 3 and 2

Collin Morikawa (USA) tied Victor Hovland (Eur) A/S

Dustin Johnson (USA) beat Paul Casey (Eur) 1UP

Brooks Koepka (USA) beat Bernd Wiesberger (Eur) 2 and 1

Ian Poulter (Eur) beat Tony Finau (USA) 3 and 2

Justin Thomas (USA) beat Tyrrell Hatton (Eur) 4 and 3

Lee Westwood (Eur) beat Harris English (USA) 1UP

Jordan Spieth (USA) tied Tommy Fleetwood (Eur) A/S

Daniel Berger (USA) beat Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eur) 1UP

The 12 singles pairings for the final round of the Ryder Cup have been announced, with the United States looking to dethrone Europe on Sunday.

Team USA hold a commanding 11-5 lead following Saturday's foursomes and four-ball at Whistling Straits, where the hosts boast the biggest two-day advantage since 1975.

Steve Stricker's USA require just 3.5 points to reclaim the cup from Europe, who will need to produce the biggest ever comeback if they are to claim the required nine points to defend their crown.

"That was an important one," Stricker said after USA split the four afternoon matches. "If they blank us, they're right back in the game. I think getting two points and splitting the session is a good outcome for us."

Xander Schauffele will lead the Americans out to start Sunday's play in Wisconsin, facing struggling European star Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy was dropped for Saturday's foursomes having struggled on Friday – the first time in the four-time major champion's Ryder Cup career that he has missed a session. He returned for the four-ball but fell to another defeat alongside Ian Poulter against Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa 4 and 3.

The second matchup pits USA's Patrick Cantlay against Shane Lowry, while Europe captain Padraig Harrington put world number one Jon Rahm down to face Scottie Scheffler.

Bryson DeChambeau and European star Sergio Garcia meet in match four, American Collin Morikawa tackles Viktor Hovland and unbeaten USA veteran Johnson plays Paul Casey.

Elsewhere, Brooks Koepka is set to tee off against Bernd Wiesberger, Poulter and Tony Finau go head-to-head, Justin Thomas will clash with Tyrrell Hatton, Lee Westwood goes up against Harris English, Jordan Spieth faces Tommy Fleetwood and the final matchup is a showdown between Daniel Berger and Matt Fitzpatrick.

The United States continued their dominance on day two of the Ryder Cup, the hosts closing in on the trophy after taking a commanding 11-5 lead over defending champions Europe.

Europe, who have won seven of the past nine editions of the showpiece biennial competition, split Saturday afternoon's four-ball session but face an uphill task to retain their crown in Wisconsin this weekend.

USA – enjoying the biggest two-day lead since 1975 – require 14.5 points to dethrone Team Europe and clinch the cup on home soil at Whistling Straits on Sunday.

Europe gave themselves some hope by winning the opening two matches of the afternoon's four-ball – world number one Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia topping Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth as Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton battled past Tony Finau and Harris English.

But the Americans claimed the final two matches of the day to preserve their six-shot cushion thanks to Dustin Johnson-Collin Morikawa and Scottie Scheffler-Bryson DeChambeau.

Rory McIlroy was benched for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, sitting out the morning foursomes. The four-time major champion returned in the afternoon but he was unable to snap his winless run at this year's tournament, tasting defeat in his pairing with Ian Poulter versus Johnson and Morikawa.

Earlier, in the foursomes, Steve Stricker's red-hot USA were dominant once again.  

Spieth and Justin Thomas took four of the last five holes to beat the rookie duo of Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger, while Johnson and Morikawa edged past Paul Casey and Hatton.

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay won for the second consecutive day, claiming holes nine, 10 and 11 to take control as they overcame Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Spanish pair Rahm and Garcia got Europe's solitary point, as they came from behind to see off Koepka and Daniel Berger despite initially going three holes down. 

 

Shot of the day

Casey ended up on the losing side in his foursomes match alongside Hatton, but he can at least reflect on a remarkable shot at the par-four 14th hole.

Hatton's drive had found the left-hand rough just short of the bunker, leaving Casey with a blind wedge shot onto the green.

Not only did he get it onto the dancefloor, but the Englishman rolled it into the cup to win the hole in style.

Player of the day

The oldest player on the Team USA roster, Johnson has led by example throughout this week. The 37-year-old is yet to taste defeat at Whistling Straits, having swept the foursomes and four-ball alongside Morikawa on Saturday. Johnson did not drop a shot in the final matchup against Poulter and McIlroy, while he and Morikawa also enjoyed a flawless display in the win over Casey and Hatton.

Chipping in

Despite a record-breaking day personally, former Masters champion Garcia told reporters: "It's great but it's not. We need more wins and unfortunately we are not getting them at the moment. I didn't even know. Steve Sands told me on the 17th hole. I didn't know the record and I didn't care. Obviously Jon and I, we did what we had to and what we could, and unfortunately it just looks like the American guys are just playing a little bit better than us, and it's a shame."

USA captain Steve Stricker said: "This team is deep. They are so good and they have had great couple of years to make this team. Everybody came in ready and prepared. They are hitting it well. They came here all on board a couple weeks ago for the final round and they put the time and effort and energy into it."

On the home-field advantage, Dustin Johnson added: "It definitely helps. It kind of keeps you going. It gets you fired up, especially right at the start. But the fans have been great this week. I felt like they have been really respectful to both sides. But obviously we have got definitely a home-field advantage here."

A little birdie told me...

Garcia was in record-breaking form in his foursomes showdown, becoming the player to win the most matches in Ryder Cup history.

The 41-year-old, who made his competition debut in 1999, claimed his 24th victory earlier in the day, moving clear of Nick Faldo's previous record.

Saturday's foursomes results

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (Eur) beat Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) 3 and 1
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) beat Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton (Eur) 2 and 1
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) beat Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger (Eur) 2 up
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) beat Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (Eur) 2 and 1

Saturday's four-ball results

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (Eur) beat Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth (USA) 2 and 1
Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton (Eur) beat Tony Finau and Harris English (USA) 1 up
Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau (USA) beat Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland (Eur) 3 and 1
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) beat Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy (Eur) 4 and 3

Ryder Cup team captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington have confirmed their selections for Saturday's four-ball session at Whistling Straits.

Europe have their work cut out to retain the title as they lost the day's foursomes 3-1 to trail the United States 9-3 in Wisconsin.

The pressure will therefore be on Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton to get a point on the board when they face Tony Finau and Harris English in the first four-ball match.

That is followed by Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia teaming up for a third time to take on Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth, while Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau meet Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland in match three.

The final match of the session will involve Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa for the USA, with Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy their opponents.

Poulter and McIlroy were well beaten by Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay in Friday's foursomes, but Harrington is showing faith in the pair.

Johnson and Morikawa were successful against Hatton and Paul Casey earlier on Saturday in the foursomes, meanwhile, as they prevailed to hold off a European fightback.

"Dustin and Collin are great players, and again they played great golf – opening up with three birdies," Casey told Sky Sports. "But I'm very proud of how we fought. 

"I think Tyrrell was probably a little bit disappointed. I hit a couple of poor shots. I think Tyrrell felt like he hit a couple of poor shots. But what a fight. 

"Tyrrell is such a gritty little player and he's a key part of our team, and I would team up any time with that guy.

"You know, there was one stage we didn't think we would get them as far as we did, and then I guess we had a chance to take them all the way and make it a great battle. 

"But you tip your cap to Collin and Dustin. There's a reason why they are as good as they are, and they are clearly very, very difficult to beat."

The United States launched their bid to reclaim the Ryder Cup from Europe as the action teed off at Whistling Straits on Friday.

Sergio Garcia, playing alongside Spanish compatriot Jon Rahm, had the honour of hitting the opening shot in the morning foursomes, with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas providing the opposition.

A raucous crowd created a tremendous atmosphere on the first tee in Wisconsin, with some boos for Europe, for whom Garcia drove into a bunker before Thomas responded by finding the fairway.

Europe, then led by Thomas Bjorn, won by seven points last time out at Le Golf National in 2018 and new captain Padraig Harrington has gone for experience to kick off his team's campaign after a year's delay amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Paul Casey, 44, joins Viktor Hovland against Dustin Johnson and Open champion Collin Morikawa in the next match out, followed by the 48-year-old Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick against Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger. 

The final clash of the opening session pits Ian Poulter, 45, and Rory McIlroy against the rookie American duo of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. 

Europe have left Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger on the sidelines for the opening matches, while Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler miss out for the hosts.

The fourballs pairings will be confirmed later in the day.

Friday's foursomes

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) v Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (EUR)
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) v Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (EUR)
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) v Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR)
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) v Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (EUR)

Europe will look to their Ryder Cup veterans to set the tone when play begins at Whistling Straits on Friday. 

Captain Padraig Harrington's four oldest players, all in their 40s, will feature for Europe in the morning foursomes against a youthful USA group whose oldest player, Dustin Johnson, is 37. 

All-time Ryder Cup scoring leader Sergio Garcia, 41, will lead the charge with world number one Jon Rahm as the Spanish pair face Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in the opening match in Wisconsin. 

"We would have been aware that JT and Jordan would have gone first, obviously, so we were going to lead ourselves with a strong partnership," Harrington told a news conference. "The whole world will be watching that one."

Teeing off next, Paul Casey (44) will team with rookie Viktor Hovland against Johnson and Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa, followed by Lee Westwood (48) and Matthew Fitzpatrick against Brooks Koepka and Danel Berger. 

The final matchup of the opening session will pit Ian Poulter (45) and Rory McIlroy against the rookie American duo of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. 

"We've gone with an experienced setup, no doubt about it, but it was our strong setup," Harrington said. "It just happened to be experienced. I was happy with that, there's no doubt, when it came out like that and you're looking at it and you go, yeah, that's very experienced. That is a big bonus.

"But it didn't weaken our fourballs – that was very important. We still have a strong fourball setup and we haven't taken from the afternoon by going with a strong setup in the morning." 

Europe will leave Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger on the sidelines for the opening matches, while the USA will do the same with Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler. 

While the Europe captain said it was safe to assume his players who will sit out the morning will play in the afternoon fourballs, his US counterpart Steve Stricker declined to be drawn on that topic – though both captains said their foursome and fourball pairings were set and communicated to their teams early in the week.

Each also said he was focused on his own side as opposed to worrying about what the other team might be doing, though both put special emphasis on the first and fourth matches. 

"We talked occasionally about maybe who they're going to put out, but it doesn't matter," Stricker said. "I mean, they're all such great players, they're all highly ranked players and we know that we're going to have to play our best to to beat them.

"We had an idea that Rory and Rahm would probably go one and four, and that's pretty much all we knew, or really thought about. We didn't know who their guys were going to be paired with but we kind of had that figured out, so we tried to act accordingly as well."

Asked whether any of his players had expressed disappointment in not being included in the morning pairings, Stricker immediately responded "not at all." 

"These guys have been incredible," he added. "I can't stress it enough, really, and it's about the communication that we've had, the captains and myself, and being upfront with them and just letting them know what we're thinking, so there's no curveballs.

"We've heard it multiple times from all the players: If you want to play me once, or all five, you know, that's up to you – meaning the captains – and just so we can try to win this Cup."

Friday's foursomes

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) v. Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (EUR)
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) v. Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (EUR)
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) v. Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR)
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) v. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (EUR)

Europe captain Padraig Harrington has selected Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup, but there is no place for Justin Rose on the 12-player roster.

Rose has competed in five of the last six editions of the biennial tournament, but he was overlooked by Harrington after a poor season on the PGA Tour that saw him fail to make the top 125 on the order of merit list.

Harrington opted for experienced names in Garcia and Poulter, while Lowry was given a reprieve of sorts after being knocked out of the automatic selection places when Bernd Wiesberger finished tied-20th at the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday.

Wiesberger, Poulter, Garcia and Lowry join Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Viktor Hovland, who all qualified through the rankings.

"I am absolutely thrilled with my team, with all of our picks we have the strongest 10, 11 and 12 we've ever had," Harrington said on Sunday.

Asked about the inclusion of Poulter, who is set to compete in his seventh Ryder Cup, Harrington said: "He is undefeated in singles. He lifts himself, he lifts his partners, he lifts the team.

"I'm getting a player who is in probably the best form of his life. He consistently motivates people around him. That's so important to the team. I know I have players who are good enough to deliver and Poulter is at the heart of our team."

Europe are looking to retain the trophy at Whistling Straits later this month following their 17.5-10.5 triumph over the United States in Paris three years ago.

USA finalised their squad on Wednesday, with captain Steve Stricker selecting Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele among his wildcard picks.

Schauffele was one of four rookies chosen by Stricker along with Daniel Berger, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler, with Tony Finau – part of the beaten side in 2018 – completing the captain's picks.

Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay had already locked in spots for the USA.

Hideki Matsuyama and Xander Schauffele battled it out for Masters glory and now they will go head to head in a scramble for Olympic gold on Sunday.

Japanese superstar Matsuyama trails American Schauffele by one shot going into the final round at Kasumigaseki Country Club, and they will join Paul Casey in the final group out.

A home triumph for Matsuyama at the Tokyo Games would be an extremely popular result in Japan, but the top 10 are separated by only four strokes, so medals remain firmly in the sights of a host of players.


AS AUGUST ARRIVES, AN AUGUSTA REPEAT

Almost four months have gone by since Matsuyama became the first Japanese man to win a major, when he edged home at Augusta National on a tense final day.

He partnered Schauffele for the final two rounds at the Georgia course, and the same thing has played out this week, with the August 1 finale to the golf event sure to make for absorbing sporting theatre.

The big-name front-runners also had Mexican Carlos Ortiz for company on Saturday, but it was Schauffele who stayed at the head of the pack after following Friday's 63 with a hard-fought 68 to reach 14 under, with Matsuyama on 13 under after a 67, having completed a second-round of 64 earlier in the day.

Schauffele "hung tough", the American said, relying on solid putting to dig him out of trouble as he struggled with his long game.

It was Matsuyama who led going into the final round at The Masters in April, when he held a four-shot cushion but ended up winning by only one after a 73. Schauffele's hopes disappeared when he found water and made six at the par-three 16th that day.

Despite the gold medal being a tantalising target, Schauffele said Saturday had been a routine day on the course.

"Tomorrow may feel a little different," he said. "There's a little bit more on the line than what we normally play for and you're trying to represent your country to the best of your ability."

He was impressed by Matsuyama, who is playing his first event since testing positive for COVID-19, which forced him to miss the Open Championship.

"He seems to be fine," Schauffele said. "Teeing up, he seems strong, he seems normal and he seems himself. Luckily he wasn't hit too hard by it.

"He was firing on a lot of cylinders when he won the Masters. He's maybe not in his realm of perfection, hitting it as well as he'd want to, but he's one back.

"Hideki's a great player, our current Masters champion. I plan on wearing that [green] jacket some day as well. I assume we'll be playing in more final groups for years to come."


JAPAN EXPECTS, CAN HIDEKI DELIVER?

After the blow of Naomi Osaka losing early in the women's tennis, her fellow global superstar is coming good on the golf course.

Matsuyama has been surprised by his recovery from COVID and would love a medal from Tokyo's Games, expressing obvious pleasure at being in the mix so soon after being ill.

"I definitely could not have believed that," he said. "The endurance part of my game has been struggling a little bit, but thankfully it's held up in the last few days. Hopefully it will hold up tomorrow as well."

The host nation awaits a home golfing champion, and Matsuyama is up for the challenge of taking on Schauffele and the chasing pack.

He was asked how the Olympic experience compares to the pursuit of a major.

"There's not much difference to it, but in the Olympics the fact is that third place is still celebrated, as well as second, so there's a nice thing waiting for you even if you get third place," Matsuyama said.

"At a major championship, only the winner will be celebrated. I'm not sure tomorrow what my motivation will be, but I'm going to focus on playing good golf.

"I played with Xander in the third and fourth day together at The Masters. I'm sure Xander will come out determined to win the gold medal, so hopefully on my end too I'm going to come out strong on the mental side."


HOW LOW CAN THEY GO?

If Schauffele and Matsuyama are both to be overtaken on Sunday, it may take a score in the low 60s to snatch away gold.

Tommy Fleetwood showed that is possible with a 64 in the third round, as the Great Britain player climbed to a share of ninth on 10 under, alongside Ireland's Shane Lowry.

His team-mate Casey sits alongside Ortiz on 12 under, tied for third, with four players sharing fifth spot: Ireland's Rory McIlroy, Colombian Sebastian Munoz, Mito Pereira of Chile and Austrian Sepp Straka.

McIlroy said:"I've got a great chance going into tomorrow. It's a bit of a packed leaderboard so all to play for.

"It's going to be brilliant. A lot of us are trying to do something that none of us have ever done before.

"There's a lot of us that are going to be going through experiences that we've not experienced."

Thomas Detry launched an early assault on the European Open with a sublime back nine in Saturday's first round, at odds with an underwhelming effort from defending champion Paul Casey.

The event returns this weekend having been cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But 2019 winner Casey soon found himself facing an uphill struggle in his bid to defend a European Tour title for the first time in his career.

Both Englishman Casey and Belgian Detry – without an honour on the European Tour – started from the 10th and they each reached the turn one over par.

From there, though, their fortunes differed drastically.

Detry made seven birdies across a stunning stretch, his progress checked only by a disappointing double-bogey at the third – "one of the easiest holes," he said – that meant he carded a four-under 68.

That was enough for the outright lead, ahead of Ashun Wu, Alexander Bjork, David Law and Ashley Chesters – all a single shot back.

On the other hand, Casey stumbled to a dismal three-over 75 as he failed to add to his early birdie at the 11th and instead dropped two more shots.

Yet his was far from the worst round of a former champion, as 2018 winner Richard McEvoy had a triple-bogey and three doubles en route to an 84.

Alexander Levy has twice played in a play-off for the title – winning in 2016 but losing at Green Eagle the following year – yet is highly unlikely to feature in the running again in 2021 after his 80.

Ross Fisher, beaten by Levy in 2016 having taken the championship eight years earlier, was a shot worse off at nine over.

Those struggling stars might look to Detry for inspiration, but the leader feels the brutal Hamburg course suits his game.

"It's completely different, it's very major," he said. "I played the US PGA two weeks ago and it's a similar approach.

"You have to drive it on the fairway otherwise it's really penalising. In a way, that’s golf that suits me a bit more.

"I tend to struggle on easy courses where you're forced to make birdies otherwise you're losing ground, and it's a completely different approach on this golf course."

Sam Burns earned his maiden PGA Tour title after winning the Valspar Championship by three strokes.

Burns and 2011 US PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley had been level atop the leaderboard through the second and third rounds in Palm Harbor, Florida.

But Burns broke the deadlock with his fellow American on Sunday courtesy of a three-under-par 68 at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club.

Burns mixed six birdies with three bogeys in the final round as the 24-year-old improved to 17 under and became the second youngest winner in Valspar Championship history.

He also became the fifth player to claim his first Tour title at the tournament, with Adam Hadwin the last to do so in 2017.

An even-par 71 saw Bradley drop down into sole possession of second spot – the four-time Tour champion's seventh runner-up finish in 273 starts.

It all turned sour for Bradley on the back nine, where he found water on the par-three 13th hole, leading to a double bogey. Burns birdied the 14th to open up a three-shot advantage and never looked back.

Viktor Hovland (65) and Cameron Tringale (68) finished tied for third – four strokes behind Burns, while American star Justin Thomas (70) earned a share of 13th position, six shots further back.

Two-time defending champion after the 2020 event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Paul Casey's bid for a three-peat ended following his final-round 68, which left him tied for 21st.

World number one Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, closed out the tournament 15 strokes adrift after his two-under-par 69.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson failed to hit the ground running in testing conditions when he started the defence of his Masters title on Thursday.

Johnson donned the green jacket for the first time last November, finishing the tournament on a record-breaking 20 under par.

The world number one made only four bogeys as he blew the field away in the 2020 major at Augusta, but he dropped two shots in his opening five holes five months later, with patrons returning under blue skies.

Birdies were at a premium when the tournament got under way on much quicker, firmer greens than those seen in last year's tournament.

Two-time major champion Johnson started by dropping a shot after running through the first green with his second shot. Although he hit straight back with a birdie at the par-five second, Johnson was back at one over after failing to sink a par putt at the fifth.

Hideki Matsuyama led the way on three under through eight holes after draining an eagle putt at the eighth, with Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Si Woo Kim just a shot behind.

New father Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed and Paul Casey were among a host of players on one under following early birdies.

The recently in-form Lee Westwood was struggling on three over through six after a double bogey at the third, while Rory McIlroy dropped to one over with a dropped shot at the fifth and Brooks Koepka was level par eight holes into his first round.

Sergio Garcia earned a two-stroke lead thanks to a late surge in the opening round of The Players Championship, while defending champion Rory McIlroy endured a nightmare start.

An 18-foot eagle at the final hole propelled Garcia to the round of the day – a seven-under-par 65 – and top spot on Thursday.

Garcia, who won the Players in 2008 and lost a play-off in 2015, gained four strokes from his last three holes in Ponte Vedra Beach, where play was suspended due to darkness.

Masters champion in 2017, Garcia had eagles at the 16th and ninth holes (both par-fives) for his first round at TPC Sawgrass with multiple eagles – his 77th career round.

It is also Garcia's first 65 or better at the venue since 2013, after the Spanish star was almost late for his opening-round tee time.

"I thought I had plenty of time. Obviously I left the range at 7:35, I was teeing off at 7:40 so I figured it's going to take me probably two, three minutes at most to get to 10," Garcia said. 

"I don't know if the clock on the range was behind or something, but when I got to the putting green just like 50 yards short of 10 I kind of looked at it and the sun was coming up so I couldn't see if it was 7:38 or 7:39 but just in case I just took a little stroll, made sure that I got there before it turned to [7:40]."

Brian Harman is five under heading into the second round, a shot clear of Matthew Fitzpatrick, Corey Conners and Shane Lowry at the PGA Tour event, where 21 players will complete their first rounds on Friday morning.

U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who claimed last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, opened with a first-round 69, highlighted by six birdies.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth, 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed and Jason Day are among 14 players tied for 12th position at two under, while Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas are a stroke further back.

World number one Dustin Johnson signed for a 73, but McIlroy had a quadruple-bogey eight on his card as the former world number one posted a seven-over-par 79.

Still the defending champion after last year's tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, McIlroy returned and struggled dramatically after two balls found water.

McIlroy recorded 43 on the back nine – his first nine – tying the highest opening nine-hole score of his PGA Tour career (677th round).

Henrik Stenson had an even worse day than McIlroy, with an 85 from Sweden's former Open champion featuring two double bogeys and two triples and three balls in the water.

It marked the highest score of Stenson's Tour career, eclipsing his previous high of 83.

Rory McIlroy had a quadruple-bogey eight on his card as the former world number one endured a shocking start to his title defence at The Players Championship.

The Northern Irishman finished his first round on a seven-over-par 79, with two balls at the bottom of a lake, and facing a huge battle to make the cut.

McIlroy began on the back nine and made an immediate double bogey, but the round got worse when he sent two balls into the giant expanse of water to the left of the fairway at the 18th.

The four-time major winner gave himself a chance from close range to limit the damage to three shots, but McIlroy could not sink the putt.

Having also dropped a shot at the 13th hole - his fourth - it meant McIlroy reached the turn in seven-over-par 43.

He picked up shots at the first and second to get back to five over, but further damage to his scorecard at the next two holes saw the 31-year-old return to seven over.

A third three-putt of the round at that fourth hole summed up McIlroy's misery, and although he soon picked up another shot and began to play steadily, more putting peril at the ninth, his final hole, inflicted yet more damage.

McIlroy was not alone in sending balls into the water.

England's Paul Casey took seven at the 17th, the famous three-par island hole at Sawgrass, after going into the drink both off the tee and from the drop zone.

That outcome saw Casey plunge from two under par to two over, but he steadied himself and finished with a one-over 73.

Henrik Stenson had an even worse day than his fellow European Ryder Cup stars, with an 85 from Sweden's former Open champion featuring two double bogeys and two triples and three balls in the water.

While McIlroy, Casey and Stenson ran into trouble, Sergio Garcia led the way as he secured the clubhouse lead with a sparkling seven-under 65, the Spaniard with a pair of eagles in his round.

This tournament was called off after the first round last year due to the developing COVID-19 crisis, with McIlroy the most recent champion in 2019, when he edged out Jim Furyk by one shot.

Daniel Berger secured his fourth PGA Tour win with a two-stroke victory at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am as Jordan Spieth's wait goes on.

Berger carded a brilliant seven-under 65 at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday to claim his first win of 2021.

The American holed a 31-foot eagle putt at the final hole to finish at 18 under.

Berger earlier had an eagle, four birdies and a bogey before delivering the key putt at the last, ending up clear of Maverick McNealy (66).

Winless since 2017, Spieth took a two-stroke lead into the final round but could only shoot a two-under 70.

The three-time major champion mixed five birdies with three bogeys to finish at 15 under and tied for third alongside Patrick Cantlay (68).

After finishing tied for fourth at the Phoenix Open last week, Spieth has consecutive top-five finishes on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2018.

Paul Casey (68) and Nate Lashley (69) finished at 14 under, the latter four-putting for a triple bogey on 16.

Charley Hoffman (66), Cameron Tringale (67), Max Homa (68), Jason Day (69) and Russell Knox (70) were a stroke further back at 13 under.

Paul Casey won by four shots at the Dubai Desert Classic to claim his 15th European Tour title.

The world number 27 led by one stroke heading into the final round and carded a two-under par 70 on Sunday to finish clear of closest challenger Brandon Stone. 

European Ryder Cup hopeful Casey was given a scare by Robert MacIntyre, who had a share of the lead at one point, before four successive bogeys put him out of contention.

Casey enjoyed a strong back nine that included a two-putt birdie on the par-five 18th hole to card 271 overall for the tournament.

Stone bogeyed three of his first seven holes but recovered as the day went on to leapfrog MacIntyre into second spot, finishing one shot better off than the Scotsman.

Victory for Casey is his first since the European Open in September 2019. It takes the 43-year-old ahead of Rory McIlroy on the all-time list of European Tour successes, and level with Thomas Bjorn and Padraig Harrington. 

"It's very, very special," Casey said. "Dubai has been so good to tour, but to golf around the world as well has been so cool. I've worked so hard.

"I'm hoping for a lot of good stuff for the rest of the season. I feel like I've regained my youth; I mean that sincerely. I'm so happy."

Further down the standings, Laurie Canter finished in a tie with Kalle Samooja for fourth place, while Harrington's final-round 70 saw him share sixth place with Bernd Wiesberger and Sergio Garcia.

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