By Martin Kelly
Europe have retained the Ryder Cup after a sensational comeback saw Jose Maria Olazabal’s team overturn a four point deficit on the last day, winning 14 1/2 – 13 1/2.
The US had started the day 10-6 ahead as both teams headed into the singles, traditionally the strongest day for the Americans.
The Americans, under Davis Love, had hit the Europeans with an avalanche of birdies in the first two days and looked the stronger on a course specifically designed to favour their big hitters. With a four point lead they were expected to regain the trophy.
However, Olazabal’s men, spurred on by early wins from England’s Luke Donald and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy were soon back in contention and it was suddenly all square at 11 points apiece.
Not since 1999 had any team overcome a four point deficit. That match in Brookline in 1999 saw the USA come back after Europe had dominated the first two days. It featured one Paul Lawrie, and this result was sweet revenge for the Scotsman who has returned to the team thirteen years on.
This match ebbed and flowed as birdies were traded, putts lipped and nerves jangled.
There were some fantastic wins with Scot Lawrie easing to an impressive 5 and 3 win. Man of the tournament England’s Ian Poulter slugged it out winning on the final green in a tense affair.
Most impressive win was a close call between Justin Rose who was one down with two to play against Phil Mickelson but somehow contrived to win the last two holes and with it an important point.
Sergio Garcia had a similar win, incredibly his opponent Jim Furyk held up his hands on the sixteenth expecting his putt to fall, but watched in disbelief as it lipped out. Garcia took full advantage and went on to win the next two holes and with it his match.
Lee Westwood’s win took Europe to 13 points, one ahead of the USA and suddenly the impossible was looking likely.
It was coming down to the final groupings. Woods versus Molinari and Stricker versus Kaymer – one point would ensure Europe retained the famous trophy, the USA needed 1 1/2.
Who would prevail?
As both teams looked on it was Germany’s Kaymer and the USA’s Stricker who would provide the answer – both men hitting the final green with their second shots.
Kaymer, one up, needed only to halve the hole, and when his six foot putt dropped in it gave Europe the point they needed to retain the trophy. When Woods and Italy’s Francesco Molinari shared the final hole in their match it gave Europe the extra half point they needed to emerge winners.
An incredible win, and one that will be remembered for years to come. Jose Maria Olazabal placed a silhouette of the late, great Severiano Ballesteros on each player’s golf bag for inspiration.
It worked, and Europe had won one of the most famous victories this event has ever witnessed. “This one’s for him” said a tearful Jose Maria, who called the win “unbelievable”.
“I told the players that I really believed they could do it – I think they just believed in themselves and that’s why we are here as winners.” he said.
Final Day Results:
- Watson lost to Donald 2&1
- Simpson lost to Poulter 2 up
- Bradley lost to McIlroy 2&1
- Mickelson lost to Rose 1 up
- Snedeker lost to Lawrie 5&3
- D Johnson beat Colsaerts 3&2
- Z Johnson beat McDowell 2&1
- Furyk lost to Garcia 1 up
- Dufner beat Hanson 2 up
- Kuchar lost to Westwood 3&2
- Stricker lost to Kaymer 1 up
- Woods halved with Molinari