Europe win Ryder Cup after dramatic final day comeback
The unlikeliest comeback in Ryder Cup history was pulled off by Europe as they contrived to snatch a win and retain the trophy in Medinah tonight.
Just hours before the final Singles matches teed off, Graeme McDowell tweeted #whatwouldsevedo? In a Ryder Cup where the spirit of Seve Ballesteros was a very visible presence, on bags, sleeves and lips, the fighting finish, and ultimate victory, by Europe had all the hallmarks of the late, great Spaniard.
But in truth the final day was way beyond anything even Seve ever mustered in this great event. Trailing 10-6, away from home, nobody really expected Europe to retain the Cup. Fight, yes. Retain, no. How wrong we were.
The final day charge that Europe needed couldn’t have begun better for captain Jose Maria Olazabal. After a police-assisted sprint to make his tee time, Rory McIlroy recovered his composure to stop US point machine Keegan Bradley in his tracks. The boy from Holywood delivered once again.
His blue point was quickly followed by the reliable Luke Donald who saw off Bubba Watson 2 & 1. The man of the match for Europe, Ian Poulter, then recovered remarkably to beat Webb Simpson with birdies on the final two holes. The Englishman ends the week four for four. A man born for the white heat of this competition.
That escape act was followed by an even more spectacular Houdini job by Justin Rose who had a putt to save the match at 16, a monster putt at 17 to draw level and then, when Phil Mickelson miscued badly at 18, another nerve jangler to win the match. Lefty took the body blow with typical good grace.
While all this was going on Paul Lawrie demolished Brandt Snedeker 5 & 3 and after Dustin Johnson beat Nicolas Colsaerts the sides were somehow tied at 11-11 with six matches left on the course.
One man we would have expected to rise to the occasion, Graeme McDowell, was beaten by the super steady Zach Johnson and then the focus fell to the final five matches out on the sun-kissed fairways of Medinah.
Lee Westwood beat Matt Kuchar 3 & 2 after dominating all match and then the collapse of Jim Furyk pushed Europe to the brink. The normally unflappable American had a disastrous finish, bogeying the last two holes to hand Sergio Garcia an unlikely, and very welcome, win.
That left Europe needing just one more to retain the Cup, with Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari the men charged with doing the needful.
Jason Dufner finally saw off Hanson after leading by four at one point. That made it 13 all. A grandstand finish was set up, with a cast of unlikely characters in the final two matches, both all square heading into the final holes.
Kaymer was facing Steve Stricker, both men pointless up to this point. Now one could be a hero. The other match pitched Francesco Molinari against the woefully erratic Tiger Woods in the final game.
Stricker cracked on 17 and hit two bad putts, an unthinkable turn of events for the metronomic putter. The German saw his chance and struck, taking a one-hole lead to the last.
Tiger did his job, taking a one shot lead at 17 but up ahead the game was up. A super bunker shot by Kaymer put him closer to the pin than the American but both putted badly. However, Stricker holed out in two, leaving Kaymer a tricky six-footer to halve the hole and win the Cup. He did the job.
Woods would ultimately make a mess of the 18, halving the final match with Molinari, meaning Europe won 14.5 to 13.5. A most remarkable win. A win for Seve.