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Ryder Cup 2012: Europe beat USA after record comeback

2012-10-01 07:24:23

Europe's golfers produced a stunning final-day comeback to win the Ryder Cup at a shell-shocked Medinah.

With the United States requiring only four points from the 12 on offer, Europe somehow secured eight and a half to clinch a historic 14½-13½ win.

Martin Kaymer sank a five-foot putt on the 18th green to get his team to the 14 points needed to retain the trophy, before a Tiger Woods bogey in the final match gifted them overall victory.

The win matches the record recovery of Ben Crenshaw's US team in Boston in 1999 and is the best from a European side in the Ryder Cup.

It was a fitting tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros, the man who did so much to reinvigorate the competition and whose trademark colours the side wore on the final day.

"Seve will always be present with this team," said victorious European captain Jose Maria Olazabal.

"He was a big factor for this event, for the European side, and last night when we were having that meeting, I think the boys understood that believing was the most important thing, and I think they did."

On an afternoon of scarcely believable drama in Chicago, Europe first clawed back their overnight deficit of four points and then matched their opponents point for nerve-shredding point.

Blows were traded down the stretch, one side grabbing the initiative before the other snatched it back, until it came down to the last two matches on the final two holes.

Both were all-square, and when Steve Stricker three-putted on the 17th, Kaymer had a one-hole lead.

Kaymer then made a brilliant approach from a bunker on 18, and with Stricker crumbling under the pressure he stepped up to roll home the pivotal putt.

For the first time in three days Europe had come charging out of the traps, Luke Donald going into an early two-hole lead over Bubba Watson and muting both his opponent and the crowd in the process.

With Justin Rose also two up on Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy holding off the previously unbeatable Keegan Bradley and the unheralded Paul Lawrie taking early control against Brandt Snedeker, there was an entirely different atmosphere around the course than there had been on the first two one-sided days.

Donald had been asked to do what Colin Montgomerie had done in 2004 and win the first point of the day in style, and he did so on the 17th despite a late charge from Watson.

McIlroy's day had begun in extraordinary fashion, confusion over his tee time meaning he was still at the team hotel with just 25 minutes to go.

He eventually reached the course 10 minutes before he was due to tee off.

His battle with Bradley was a see-saw classic, but he got his nose in front on the 14th and went two-up on the 15th before closing out with a long putt on 17.

Poulter has been brilliant all week, and he made it four wins out of four in typically indomitable fashion against Webb Simpson.

Poulter had gone two holes down early and only went in front for the first time on par-three 17th when Simpson finally cracked under the enormous pressure and stuffed his tee-shot into the bunker left.

Simpson then pulled his iron approach to the 18th while Poulter fired his from out in the oak trees to 13 feet, and when the American's desperate long putt sailed way long, Europe had their third point in three.

A week after winning $11m at the Fed-Ex Cup, Snedeker was clobbered 5&3 by Lawrie, but Rose's triumph over the previously unbeaten Mickelson was more remarkable yet.

One down on 16, he nailed a nerveless putt to half the hole and then produced a wonderful 30-footer on the sliding 17th to go all square.

Mickelson, magnanimous, grinned his approval, but then slashed his approach to 18th over the back and watched aghast as Rose clipped his to 15 feet and then curved in a stunning birdie for the match.

They kept coming. Jim Furyk collapsed from the same position against Sergio Garcia by pushing two six-foot putts right and, although Zach Johnson held off a tired Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood found his form to beat Matt Kuchar 3&2 and Europe were 13-12 up.

It was peerless sporting theatre, the sun-drenched autumnal course awash with excitement. Jason Dufner held his nerve to see out Peter Hanson two up on the 18th, and it was level again at 13-13 with just two matches, both all-square, left on the course.

None of the four - Kaymer, Stricker, Molinari and Woods - had won a single point between them all week.

Stricker broke first, making a dreadful mess of his putts on 17 and then booming his approach to 18 long, while Kaymer conjured up a beauty from the fairway bunker.

With Woods going one up on Molinari on 17 Kaymer had two putts for the Cup, and he somehow held his nerve as the shadows lengthened to seal an extraordinary triumph.

With the packed home galleries silent with disbelief, a dazed Woods blew two putts from within eight feet to hand Molinari a half point, and with it victory.

"We know what it feels like now from the '99 Ryder Cup," said US captain Davis Love. "It's a little bit shocking. We were playing so well."


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