MEDINAH, Ill. -- Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal's
message to his despondent Ryder Cup squad on Saturday night was simple: Believe.
a daunting 10-6 deficit on foreign soil after being whipped the first
two days of this biennial tussle with the USA, Olazabal latched onto a
glimmer of hope and called upon his troops to channel the spirit of the
late Seve Ballesteros and refuse to surrender.
Dressed in navy
blue slacks and white tops, the color scheme Ballesteros favored on
Sunday, and with his iconic silhouette on their left sleeves and on
their golf bags, Europe pulled off the improbable comeback by winning 8½
of the possible 12 points in singles to stun the USA 14½-13½ Sunday at
Medinah Country Club.
Clinching retention of the Cup was Germany's
Martin Kaymer, who made a 6-foot par putt on the final hole to close
out a 1-up victory against Steve Stricker in the penultimate match. The
putt gave the Europeans the 14 points it needed to take the 17-inch golf
trophy back across the Atlantic. And it came 21 years after Bernhard
Langer, the only other German to play in the Ryder Cup, missed a
6-foot par putt on the final hole gave victory to the U.S. in the War by the Shore in 1991.
one other team had ever rallied from four points down to win - the U.S.
in 1999 at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. Olazabal was there that
day, standing on the 17th green in the decisive match and watching
Justin Leonard roll in a 45-foot birdie. When Olazabal missed his birdie
putt, the U.S. had pulled off the comeback in what became known as the
Miracle at Brookline.
Now Europe has won seven of the last nine matches.
one is for the whole of Europe, period," Olazabal said. "Seve will
always be present. Seve will always be present with this team. 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 they did."
While Europe never
gave up hope, the U.S. is left to wonder what happened on the final day
after being a red, white and blue wrecking ball the first two days. With
firepower to spare, fierce emotion coursing through their veins and
playing on a course tailor-made to favor their advantage in power, all
that was left to do was win four matches and halve another before
popping the champagne bottles. But only Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner and
Dustin Johnson pulled out wins while Tiger Woods gained a half.
of celebrating, the Americans were left to console each other and
ponder how Stricker and Woods went winless. Or ponder how the U.S. won
just three of 15 holes when nine of the matches got to the final two
holes. Or ponder how their wonderful play on Friday and Saturday turned
"We are all kind of stunned," Love said. "We know
what it feels like now from the '99 Ryder Cup. It's a little bit
shocking, and you know, we were playing so well, everyone on our team
was playing so well, we just didn't figure it didn't matter how we sent
them out there (in singles).
"But we put who we thought were our
hot players up front and who we thought was our steady players in the
back that would get us points and we all thought it would come down to
Jason Dufner and he played very, very well.
"We got a couple matches flipped there in the middle that cost us."
Miracle at Medinah began to feel possible as Olazabal front-loaded his
lineup and sent out his big guns - Luke Donald in the first match,
followed by Ian Poulter, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose. And
the four all came through and sent inspiring roars back to their
teammates as Donald beat Bubba Watson, Poulter won the last two holes to
beat Webb Simpson, McIlroy beat the previously unbeaten Keegan Bradley,
and Rose won the last two holes to beat Phil Mickelson, who also was
unbeaten the first two days as he and Bradley formed an energetic and
destructive team in going 3-0.
In another key match, Sergio
Garcia, who was a 19-year-old rookie at Brookline, avenged his singles
loss that year by turning the tables on Jim Furyk, who lost the last two
holes, with a three-putt the final dagger on the 18th. And former No. 1
Lee Westwood, who had played poorly the first two days in three
defeats, knocked off Matt Kuchar, who was 2-0 entering Sunday.
were four ahead. The plan worked the first two days, it just didn't
work (Sunday)," Love said. "That's my job is to get second-guessed.
Those guys tried their hardest, and we could have put out a whole bunch
of different plans, but if we don't play well none of them work. And
when team plays like Europe did, you're going to get beaten."
The 8½-3½ win in singles is the largest win for Europe in the U.S.
Ryder Cup is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes you just have to
buckle up and hit a shot," said Poulter, who was 4-0 and the heart, soul
and face - especially his bulging eyes of celebration - of his team.
"There was a buzz in the team room last night that didn't feel like we
had a 4-point deficit. For some reason, everyone was calm. Everyone was
cracking jokes. We just felt we had that tiny little chance, and do you
know what, the boys have proved today it could be done, and we made
"It has been unbelievable."
Stricker - and the rest of the U.S. team - could use the same word to describe what happened to them.
pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and we're resilient," Stricker
said. "As golfers you have got to be. It's the nature of the game. We'll
be disappointed for sure, but we'll all be all right.
disappointed that I let 11 other players down and the captains. At the
end, Tiger and I were out there to get some points. And I didn't."
so confident entering the this week and especially when he woke up on
Sunday, will now be second-guessed - for his captain's picks, for
benching Bradley and Mickelson Saturday afternoon, for
his lineup on Sunday.
of his captain's picks - Sticker, Furyk and Brandt Snedeker - combined
to go 2-8-0. However, his other pick, Dustin Johnson, was the only
undefeated American as he went 3-0.
"It's been a pretty low year," Furyk said. "I've played well but didn't close the door. This is the lowest point of my year."
was already getting questioned for benching Bradley and Mickelson
Saturday afternoon. The two clobbered Donald and Westwood Saturday
morning, needing just 12 holes to finish them off. But Love's plan -
which the team accepted without argument - was to keep his players fresh
for Sunday and not one player played in all five sessions.
wouldn't have done anything different," Love said. "(Europe) played
great. We had a couple matches get flipped there that made it a little
bit easier on them. (The U.S) is a great team, we had a great week. We
played together as a team, and we wanted to win every segment. But we
got beat badly in this one. Any time you lose a segment that badly, it's
going to cost you the Ryder Cup.
"Give them a lot of credit; they
played very, very well. And some of our guys that started hot the first
couple days did not start hot today.
"Once those guys got the momentum, it was tough."