THE European team has staged a dramatic comeback to snatch a sensational 2012 Ryder Cup victory at the Medinah Country Club in Chicago.
Europe hadn’t won a session till the final day when Germany’s Martin Kaymer sunk a four and half foot putt under unbearable pressure to rip the heart out of the American team and its many thousands of supporters present.
Midway through the second day of the three day match it looked like it would be a cakewalk for the star-studded US Team.
Who would have thought it would be the guy with the pink shoes and funny hair – Ian Poulter – who would rally the downcast troops with a stunning five birdie finish to back up his tough pre-tournament talk.
Poulter’s pressure putting and aggressive, passionate display helped he and teammate Rory McIlroy to a 1UP victory over Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson and stop what would almost certainly have been an American whitewash. The win gave the Europeans back some heart and at least a glimmer of hope heading into the final day. Importantly, it gave them momentum.
“They believed last night,” said the victorious but emotional European Team captain José María Olazábal after what was labelled as Europe’s best ever comeback win. “I said I believed.”
At 10 matches to 6 after the Saturday foursomes and fourballs, Europe still needed to win an unlikely 8 matches of the 12 singles matches on the final day.
It almost started disastrously for the Europeans when world no.1 Rory McIlroy got his scheduling wrong and nearly missed his tee time. The 23 year turned up just eight minutes before he was due to play and had to hit off without a warm-up.
Incredibly, McIlroy lead a charge that saw Europe win the first five matches straight.
Again, Poulter was an inspiration. The Englishman hit perhaps the shot of the tournament on the 18th after splaying his tee-shot well wide of the fairway.
The decision by US Team captain Davis Love 111 to have all rough banished from the course perhaps came back to bite him when Poulter’s ball ended up on completely bare earth.
Poulter got the ball up from the bare lie over high trees and onto the green 13 foot from the pin in a miraculous shot. He sunk the birdie putt to take the match 2UP and to draw Europe level (10 – 10) for the first time in the tournament.
Justin Rose was another late hero, sinking a long birdie putt on 17 to square his match with Phil Mickelson and then another 10 foot birdie putt on 18 to take the match 1UP.
When Lee Westwood beat Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia beat Jim Furyk in a nail-biter it was Europe up for the first time (13 – 12) and down to the last two (at that time all square) matches: Kaymer v Steve Stricker and Francesco Molinari v Tiger Woods.
Kaymer birdied the 17th to go 1UP, meaning Stricker needed to win the final hole to keep his country’s hopes of winning the cup alive.
Stricker missed his much longer and more difficult birdie putt on the 18th green but then sunk a high pressure eight footer.
Kaymer had missed his birdie putt and it rolled past the hole much further than anyone with a European heart would have liked.
With Woods now 1UP and waiting halfway down the centre of the fairway for his second shot (Molinari was in a fairway bunker) it was all up to Kaymer.
In a moment of silence amidst the screaming madness, the big German stroked the ball into the back of the hole to give Europe an unassailable advantage. His teammates and supports went wild.
Woods and Molinari still had to complete their match and when the American missed a relatively short putt and conceded the Italian’s, Europe had an outright victory 14 ½ to 13 ½.
It was Europe’s biggest ever comeback win and equalled the US’s best in 1999.
Europe has now won seven of the last nine cups and will be surging with confidence when they next meet, at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014.
[quote]”This one is for Seve…”[/quote]
Maybe Europe were helped in their remarkable victory by an “unofficial” 13 player – golfing great Seve Ballesteros who died in May last year after a long illness.
The team wore colours associated with Ballesteros – a navy jumper, trousers and white shirt – in Sunday’s singles, with an iconic silhouette of the five-time major winner on their shirt sleeves.
“When I saw that we had a chance this afternoon coming down the straight I was very emotional,” Olazabal said. “I started to think about maybe the possibility of winning here today. The boys have done an unbelievable job. I had a few thoughts for my friend Seve … this one is for him.”
Fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia had no doubt.
“I have no doubt in my mind that he [Seve] was with me today all day, because there’s no chance I would have won my match if he wasn’t there,” said Garcia, who won the last two holes in his crucial victory over Jim Furyk.
“It was amazing and it feels so good to be able to win it for him and for our captain, Jose; it’s been amazing.”2012 Ryder Cup Full Results