Monday 01, October 2012
Miracle in Medinah
EUROPE rolled up to the Medinah Country Club, Illinois, as big underdogs in the betting. Everything was seemingly stacked in the American team’s favour.
The course set-up by the USA team captain Davis Love III was to gain maximum advantage for their big hitters and world class putters.
But by the close of play on Sunday night the European team, captained by former Ryder Cup hero Jose Maria Olazabal, had turned all of that on its head with one of the most phenomenal final days in Ryder Cup history.
Of course the greatest player in European Ryder Cup history wasn’t there; but it seemed that the words 'inspiration' and 'Seve Ballesteros' were never too far from anyone’s minds.
As the Americans were going to be playing in Blue, Olazabal made a special request to Davis Love for the European team to wear Seve’s traditional blue and white colours on the final day. And what an inspiration it proved.
Seve always played with a never give up mentality and that’s exactly what this European side did.
From late Saturday night when Ian Poulter made five birdies in a row in the closing five holes to secure a point and leave the score at 10 – 6 to the American team with the singles to play on Sunday.
To turn over such a deficit seemed insurmountable. But as the European team won their first four singles matches to level the score at 10 – 10, suddenly the impossible seemed to be achievable.
The fifth singles match of the day saw Scotland’s Paul Lawrie – playing in his first Ryder Cup for 13 years – beat form player Brandt Snedeker 5 & 3, inspiration indeed.
Further victories for Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood had seen team Europe take their score to 13, although the USA team had gotten back in the game with wins for Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. The match now tied at 13 – 13.
With Europe just needing a point to retain the Ryder Cup the atmosphere was palpable as the German, Martin Kaymer, came down the stretch of the 18th one up against Steve Stricker.
Kaymer was on the green in two and closer to the hole than Stricker who needed a birdie to tie the match but as his putt was wide and long it was left to the former PGA Championship winner to secure the point.
After his initial putt from over 20 feet rolled 6 feet past the hole, he then held his nerve to confidently stroke it in and retain the Ryder Cup.
The European team and fans erupted in a rush of euphoria screaming and chanting, ole ole ole, in salute to their captain, and inspiration, Jose.
The emotion was evident in the player’s faces and of course their captain Jose in the immediate aftermath when he was interviewed as he broke down when remembering the greatest of them all, his Ryder Cup playing partner and friend, Severiano Ballesteros.
This will surely go down as the best Ryder Cup in history with the greatest comeback and against what many considered to be one of the strongest American teams ever assembled. What makes it all the more remarkable is that it was on American soil.
By Brian Cruickshank
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