The Europeans celebrate their stunning comeback at Medinah
Chicago - On an absolutely beautiful Sunday in the Chicago suburb of Medinah,
anything that could happen, did.Starting the day with a commanding four point lead,
team USA was sending out their hottest players to offset Europe's top heavy lineup
of Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.The problem for Team USA
was, Europe's captain Jose Maria Olazabal was channeling his fallen friend and
mentor Seve Ballesteros.
The perfect storm was well underway be the time the middle groups hit the first tee,
Donald jumped on Bubba Watson early, and held on for a 2 & 1 victory.Ian Poulter
trailed Webb Simpson for much of the day, but when it mattered, the Englishman
took out the U.S Open Champion.Now with the score 10-8 the momentum was
picking up steam.As if that wasn't enough, McIlroy overslept and had to arrive via
police escort just moments before his tee time (Chicago faithful chanted "Central
Time Zone" at him as he walked onto the first tee) . . . but even that wasn't
enough to keep the world's #1 from slaying the stars & stripes hottest player in
Keegan Bradley (the Ulsterman finished him off 2&1).
In match #4, Justin Rose jumped on Mickelson early, but Lefty battled back and was
one up standing on the 17th tee.Surely this was where the tide would swing the
other way.Phil hit his tee shot just over the green and had a delicate downhill chip
for his next shot.Rose was safely on the green about 38 feet away, but a 3 putt
could be a possibility.Mickelson nearly holed his downhill chip . . . with his par
conceded, Rose stepped up and made the bomb to send the Euro's into a frenzy
and take a 1 up lead heading to 18th.On 18, Mickelson found the fairway and flew
the green with his approach.Rose, from the left rough, hit a superb approach to 10
ft, Phil then chipped to 4 feet.The point was on the line here, and Rose came thru . .
. USA 10 Europe 10.
The matches see sawed back and fourth till it ultimately came down to two American
veterans: Jim Furyk vs Sergio Garcia and Steve Stricker vs Martin Kaymer.After losing
his lead on the seventeenth, Furyk had 6 feet to earn a half point.This was pivotal,
without a half it would come down to Stricker, who had an O-fer for the week.After
many back offs, and a routine that looks like an OCD episode.Fluff gave him the read
. . . Furyk missed and the Ole Ole chants ensued.
At 13 points all, the Euro's only needed a single point to pull off the greatest stunner
since the comeback at Brookline (but since this was a road game it would be the
most incredible accomplishment in the history of the Ryder Cup).It all came down to
putts by Stricker and Kaymer.Stricker had 8 feet to save his par and keep the slim
hopes of the USA alive.He had struggled all week, this would be a defining moment
for the Wisconsin native.Stricker nailed the putt and suddenly it looked like the final
match of Tiger and Molinari might matter.Now the Ryder Cup was in the hands of the
German Martin Kaymer, he had 6 feet to keep the Cup in Europe.A miss would put the
match in Tiger's hand, something the Euro's certainly didn't want.Kaymer stepped in
and calmly drained the biggest putt in Euro Ryder Cup history.Europe would once
again take the Cup across the pond.
Tiger and Molinari ended up halving their match making the final 14 1/2 - 13 1/2.
It was an amazing day on a gorgeous autumn day in Chicago, tough to see the
Yanks blow such a lead . . . but after congratulating some European fans who were
celebrating behind the eighteenth green, I couldn't help but think that the great
Seve Ballesteros had a little something to do with his comrades hoisting Samuel
Ryder Cup Scoring: http://www.rydercup.com/usa/scoring/