Europeans Rally Past Americans To Take The Ryder Cup

Ryder CupWhat looked like a potential runaway for the Americans turned into a thrilling nail-biter as Europe, playing in memory of Seve Ballesteros, won the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, 14 ½-13 ½.

With the score tied 13-13, the Cup came down to the final two matches, and four players who hadn’t yet won a point. Martin Kaymer made a clutch, six-foot par putt on 18 to defeat Steve Stricker and give the Europeans a 14-13 lead. That guaranteed them at least a tie, which meant they would retain the Cup because they won the 2010 matches at Celtic Manor in Wales.

Tiger Woods won the 17th hole with a par against Francesco Molinari, and though it was of no consequence, he missed his short par putt on 18 as they halved their match. Europe had come back from the abyss to win by half a point.  With a 10-6 lead going into the final day, its biggest lead heading into the singles matches since 1981, the American team needed only 4 ½ points to win back the Cup but got off to a slow start in the lead match and struggled from there.

Luke Donald matched Bubba Watson’s birdie on the first hole, then won four of the next 11 to take a 4-up lead. Watson tried to fight back with birdies on 14, 15 and 16, but Donald’s up-and-down par on 17 gave him a 2-and-1 win. The score was 10-7; counting Saturday, Europe had won three consecutive points.

Paul Lawrie put the finishing touches on his 5-and-3 victory over American Brandt Snedeker, who never quite found his game at this Ryder Cup. It was 10-8.

Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy, the two most recent PGA Championship winners, traded birdies and war cries in one of the best matches of the day. But Bradley got stymied behind a tree on the par-5 14th, and McIlroy won the hole to go 1 up.

Ian Poulter ran his record to 4-0-0 this week when he held off Webb Simpson, 2 up, and all of a sudden it was anyone’s ballgame at 10-10. It was Poulter who did the most to alter the momentum of these matches with his five straight closing birdies in his four-ball match with partner McIlroy on Saturday night, the Euros beating a shell-shocked Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, 1 up, to breathe life into a moribund side. It made the score 10-6 through the team sessions, a major deficit, but Europe finally had momentum.

It was amazing to see the atmosphere in that team room,” said Poulter, 12-3-0 in his Ryder Cup career. “The spirit — it just changed.”

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