MEDINAH, Ill. (Sports Network) – Europe equaled the largest comeback in history on Sunday, overcoming a 4-point deficit to win the Ryder Cup.
Europe won 8 1/2 out of 12 points on Sunday and won the Cup outright at Medinah, when it looked like the United States would win the event in a walk.
Martin Kaymer, who didn’t even play on Saturday, defeated Steve Stricker, 1- up, to guarantee the Ryder Cup stayed with Europe. Stricker missed a seven- foot par save at 17 and needed to win the 18th to give the Americans any chance.
Stricker made a gutsy eight-footer to save par at the last, but when Kaymer’s six-footer fell in, the comeback was complete and Europe matched the 1999 U.S. team at Brookline for the largest final-day comeback in Ryder Cup history.
The difference between the two comebacks was the U.S. was on home soil for its Sunday miracle 13 years ago.
Europe pulled this off on the road.
“It means a lot, but not just for me. This is for all of Europe, those 12 wonderful men, my four vice-captains, this one is for all of Europe,” European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said in a televised interview.
It was some sweet retribution for Olazabal.
In 1999, Olazabal was playing Justin Leonard when Leonard made the long putt that basically gave the U.S. the victory.
“I’ve been under pressure hitting shots, but today tops that,” Olazabal said.
Tiger Woods went 1-up with a win on the 17th over Francesco Molinari in the anchor match, but it didn’t end up mattering. Europe kept the cup once Stricker fell to Kaymer, but it got a victory when Woods missed a four-foot par save at the last to halve his match with the Italian.
Down 10-6 at the start of the singles, Europe front-loaded its lineup and the stars produced.
Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Paul Lawrie won the first five matches on Sunday. Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Kaymer added the other points, and that was enough for Europe.
Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner were the only winners for the U.S. on Sunday.
The story of Sunday came down to the last two holes. Europe went 10-2, excluding halves, on 17 and 18 at Medinah, and that swung several key points to their side.
Poulter, Rose and Garcia each won both 17 and 18. For Rose and Garcia, who were up against Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, respectively, those wins turned 1-down deficits on the 17th tee, into 1-up wins.
“We had a couple matches get flipped at the end that made it a little easier on them,” said American captain Davis Love III. “Give them a lot of credit, they played very, very well.”
Another problem for Love came from his captain’s picks. Dustin Johnson went 3-0, but Brandt Snedeker, Furyk and Stricker combined to go 2-8 this week.
Olazabal’s captain’s picks went 5-3, highlighted by the play of Poulter.
If an MVP award was given for the Ryder Cup, Poulter would’ve won it, and not just for his 2-up win over Webb Simpson in the second match on Sunday.
On Saturday night, when the tournament was getting away from Europe a bit, Poulter birdied the last five holes in his match with McIlroy against Zach Johnson and Dufner. Poulter and McIlroy trimmed the margin to four points, which turned out to be manageable.
“Last night we took such a lot from those last two wins,” said Poulter. “I mean, it was amazing to see the atmosphere change in that team room. The spirit, I mean, it just changed. You know what, guys were pumped up; for the first time this week we’d been beaten quite clearly, and we just felt there was that little glimmer of hope.”
The singles got off to a weird start when McIlroy hadn’t arrived at Medinah with his match just 25 minutes away from teeing off. He showed up 11 minutes before his match — thanks to a ride in an unmarked police car — and didn’t hit a warm-up ball, but defeated the previously undefeated Keegan Bradley, 2 & 1 in the third match.
“I thought I was off at 12:25 CT instead of 11:25 CT and was casually making my way out of the hotel room door, and I got a call saying, ‘you have 25 minutes till tee off’,” said McIlroy. “I was a bit worried then. But as soon as I got to the course I was fine and settled into the match and obviously lighted to win.”
Donald started the day off well for Europe with a 2 & 1 victory over Bubba Watson, followed by Poulter and McIlroy. Actually, the second point for Europe came from Lawrie, who trounced Snedeker, 5 & 3.
The U.S. collected its first point when Dustin Johnson topped Nicolas Colsaerts, 3 & 2.
Rose rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt at 17, then a 12-footer at 18 to defeat Mickelson and get a point.
Zach Johnson got the Americans back ahead with a 2 & 1 win over Graeme McDowell, but Westwood closed out Matt Kuchar 3 & 2 to tie the matches again.
Garcia gave Europe its first lead since Friday morning, but Furyk helped him out.
At the 17th, Furyk landed in a greenside bunker and blasted 12 feet past the hole. Garcia made a two-putt par and Furyk couldn’t convert his par attempt.
Garcia and Furyk were all-square when Furyk drove into a bunker at 18. His second shot went long and the Spaniard came up 20 feet short with his approach. Furyk’s chip then ran seven feet past the flag, and his par try slid by. That gave the Europeans a 1-point lead.
Dufner knotted it up when he bested Peter Hanson, 2-up, then it was Kaymer, who did it for the Europeans.
“Jose Maria came up to me on 16 and said, ‘Martin, we need your point,'” Kaymer said in a televised interview. “That didn’t help. This is a feeling, it’s not describable.”
Then Woods couldn’t build anything larger than a 1-up lead and got to that with his win at 17. He lost 18 when he gagged on a four-footer that didn’t mean a thing.
(© Copyright 2012 The Sports Network. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Also Check Out: