Europe roar back as Cup returns home
GOLF/RYDER CUP USA 13½, EUROPE 14½:OH, WHAT a rollercoaster ride this was. Heart-thumping, heart-stopping stuff. If the Americans expected a cakewalk here in this 39th edition of the Ryder Cup, they got a rude awakening. Europe – a dedication to the late Seve Ballesteros embroidered into their shirt sleeves – fought the good fight and dragged them into a bloodbath.
Finally, and almost inconceivably, Europe staged arguably the greatest comeback in the match’s history to retain the trophy after overcoming a four points deficit at the start of the day to win 14 ½ - 13 ½. But, boy, this was some dogfight!
Deliverance came the hard way for Europe, as José Maria Olazabals men stole all the traits of feisty terriers and stubbornly and doggedly refused to accept their fate. In the end, they left the US team shell-shocked with Martin Kaymer – the German whose game was so suspect that he’d only played once before the singles – claiming the one hole win over Steve Stricker that, somehow, brought about the comebacks of all comebacks.
It guaranteed Europe got to 14 points and Francesco Molinari’s halved match with Woods confirmed the most incredible win.
In evoking the spirit of Seve, Europe – with all the team’s big guns sent out in the top order in a quest to stage the greatest final day fightback since the USA overcame a similar 10-6 deficit at Brookline in 1999 – were like men possessed. Ian Poulter’s contribution on Saturday had been bottled and soaked into his team mates.
If Rory McIlroy’s plight in misinterpreting his scheduled tee-time led to good-natured banter on his arrival, with just minutes to spare for his singles with Keegan Bradley, and jokes of “Where’s your watch?” and such like, that atmosphere changed as Europe mounted a comeback for the ages. To such an extent that Justin Rose was heckled and barracked in the midst of making a recovery from a bunker shot on the 12th..
And, yet, it was the on-course deeds of the European players that did most to silence the raucous home crowd who could barely believe or fathom what was happening in front of their very eyes. Europe, the underdogs, posted one win after another from the top order.
Like a strategically-played game of dominoes, Europe’s top men – led by Luke Donald who inflicted a 2 and 1 win over Bubba Watson in the top match – created a form of mayhem in the US ranks. One by one, Europe cut into the deficit. Luke Donald. Ian Poulter. Rory McIlroy. Justin Rose. Paul Lawrie.