Just minutes before, the Americans had been handed a gift. Rickie Fowler, a controversial captain's pick by Corey Pavin, had clawed his way back in his match against Edoardo Molinari and was on the 18th green with a 15-foot birdie putt to halve his match. Fowler cooly rolled it in, and the Americans just needed another half point to retain the cup.
But McDowell, the U.S. Open champion at Pebble Beach earlier this year, wasn't going to give it up. He hit two excellent shots into the 16th and rolled in a birdie putt to go 2-up with two holes left.
Now, he and Mahan stood on 17, with Hunter needing to make some noise to extend the match. But it wasn't going to happen. His tee shot on the 196-yard par-3 came up short, and then the pressure that everyone speaks of when talking about the Ryder Cup got to him. He chunked his chip shot, and failed to convert the long par putt, conceding the hole to McDowell as the crowds around the green in Wales went bananas.
A lot will be made about the Mahan chip, but the focus should be on how great the matches turned out to be. Too many times, the outcome is decided in these things before we get to the meat and potatoes of match play. This time, it was a tie ballgame with McDowell and Mahan trying to best the other for the cup.
The 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 win by the Europeans mean they get to snag the cup back from the Americans.