The combined best in Europe, led by captain Jose Maria Olazabal, trailed 10-6 with the final day’s 12 singles matches to go – the maths was simple, win 8 of the 12 points on offer and they tie and retain the Ryder Cup. The US needed just four and a half (half a point is awarded to each team in the event of a tie) points to take the famous trophy back.
Thoughts of victory were fanciful to anyone but the European team, who went into day three with nothing to lose.
Remarkably, the boys in blue won the first five matches of the day. And when German Martin Kaymer clinched a defeat of American Steve Striker on the 18th hole of the penultimate match, taking his team to the magic 14 points, it was mayhem on the final fairway.
It was the second time Europe’s won the Ryder Cup in the past decade, the previous time being in Kentucky four years ago.
The US were impressive in the foursomes and fourballs played on Friday and Saturday in Chicago.
Olazabal’s lads achieved the biggest comeback for a European side ever and left the US team reeling – they’d never lost after holding more than a two-point lead on the final day since the Cup began in 1927.
Europe lead out the day with their top players, including Englishman Luke Donald who dispatched of dangerous Bubba Watson in the first match, with Olazabal deciding their only chance would be to get off to a flying start and hope the momentum followed the rest – he was right on the money.
Europe’s oldest representative, Scot Paul Lawrie accounted for Tour Championship winner Brandt Snedeker, in a massive upset.
World number one Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, nearly missed his tee time and arrived at the course 10 minutes before his match started in a police car, then beat previously unbeaten Keegan Bradley.
England’s Ian Poulter continued his dream undefeated weekend by defeating Webb Simpson to tie the match 10-10.
The US weren’t lying down though, with Dustin Johnson beating Nicolas Colsaerts. But then Justin Rose took the last two holes with impressive putts to defeat US veteran Phil Mickelson by a single hole.
Zach Johnson pipped Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell but Spain’s Sergio Garcia added another point to the blue against Jim Furyk, while England’s Lee Westwood made it 13-12 in Europe’s favour with a win over Matt Kuchar.
Jason Dufner made it 13-13 against Swede Pater Hanson.
The final stages couldn’t be written. With scores tied, both remaining games – Tiger Woods vs Italian Frnacesco Molinari and Steve Stricker vs Martin Kaymer – were all square, with no player giving any quarter. That was until Kaymer slotted a precarious two-metre putt to take Europe to 14 points.
Topping off Europe’s just about perfect day, Woods faltered on the final hole against Molinari, missing two gettable putts to tie the match.
The final score: Europe 14 and a half points to US 13 and a half points.
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