By Ann Liguori
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The Europeans sure know how to spoil a wonderful party.
On a magical autumn day at Medinah Country Club, a picture-perfect venue, the Europeans outplayed the Americans, dominating in Sunday’s singles matches to retain the Ryder Cup, 14 ½ to 13 ½.
It was the biggest comeback of any visiting team in Ryder Cup history as the Americans gave up a 10-6 lead going into Sunday’s matches. The Europeans’ 8 ½ – 3 ½ win in the 12 singles matches was the largest margin of victory in Ryder Cup history.
Inspired by the late Seve Ballesteros and dedicating this Ryder Cup to the Spanish Ryder Cup hero, the Europeans came out Sunday with heart and focus, grabbing the first four points with wins from Luke Donald (2-1 over Bubba Watson), Paul Lawrie (5-3 against Brandt Snedeker), Rory McIlroy (2-1 against Keegan Bradley) and Ian Poulter, (2 up against Webb Simpson).
Rory ‘Almost Late For My Tee Time’ McIlroy, still won, despite misreading his start, which was written in Eastern Time. He got to the course with only ten minutes to spare. Poulter, by winning all four of his Ryder Cup matches, emerged as the Ryder Cup MVP, if there was one.
It was Poulter’s intensity and fight that helped carry the Europeans and ruin America’s celebration. He made five straight birdies on Saturday, winning the last two holes to beat Webb Simpson and that momentum sparked the entire team heading into Sunday.
After Sergio beat Jim Furyk, 1 up, the Europeans led 13-12 and needed only one more point for victory. Jason Dufner beat Peter Hanson 2 up to tie it up at 13.
Two matches remained. With Martin Kaymer taking the 17th hole to go 1 up, Steve Stricker had to win the 18th outright for the USA to win! It all came down to Stricker needing to make his putt and Martin Kaymer needing to miss his. Stricker made it but so did Kaymer, end of story. And in an ironic twist, twenty-one years after Bernhard Langer of Germany was unable to sink a putt on the final hole of the final singles match to retain the Cup for Europe, it was another German, Kaymer, who clinched the winning point.
Europeans got the 14th point to win the Ryder Cup. Tiger, 1 up going into the 18th hole, missed a four-footer, which dropped him to an ‘All Square’ finish against Francesco Molinari. Final score: 14 ½ – 13 ½.
Despite a plethora of fine play the first two days from the Americans, particularly the Ryder Cup rookies, who hit dazzling shots in front of loud but polite fans, the Europeans tore Medinah’s heart out, believing in themselves and playing brilliantly on the final day.
And for those second guessing Davis Love’s decision to sit the hot duo of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley Saturday afternoon, Mickelson jumped to Love’s defense, saying it was he and Bradley’s choice not to play and told Love before they even started Saturday morning, that he and Keegan would be ‘spent’ emotionally after their morning session, that they would put it all out there in the morning and they asked Love not to play them Saturday afternoon.
There’s not much point in looking back at Love’s strategy. With the Americans leading by four points heading into Sunday’s final matches, the Americans only won three of twelve singles matches! Only Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson and Dustin Johnson came through with victories. Tiger was winless all weekend, going 0-3-1. Loves’ four captain’s picks, Jim Furyk and Brent Snedeker, were 1-2-0, Dustin Johnson won three of three and Steve Stricker was 0 for 4!
What were your thoughts after the Americans’ loss? Let us know in the comments below!