One team's miraculous rally is another team's meltdown.
That is the story after the Europeans came back from a 10-6 deficit on Sunday to overtake the U.S. team and retain the Ryder Cup with a 14 ½ to 13 ½ victory. Europe enjoyed plenty of clutch performances in the singles matches from start to finish. The Europeans beat their American opponents in the first five matches on Sunday to spark the improbable rally. They became just the second team in Ryder Cup history to overcome a four point deficit on the final day. The U.S. team staged a similar final day rally to win the 1999 Ryder Cup.
The biggest difference came on the final two holes. The Americans could not make a putt on the 17 th or 18 th hole to save their lives. Jim Furyk stood out the most with his failures on the final two holes. Furyk had a one up lead on Sergio Garcia heading into the 17 th hole. He bogeyed the final two holes to hand the match to Garcia. On both occasions, Furyk lipped out putts that would have been good for par.
Those misfires meant that efforts to stop the rally rested in the hands of Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods. That was a bad thing, given how both Stricker and Woods had performed in the first two days at Medinah. Both golfers had failed to win a single match. Neither one came through with a full point, once again, when it mattered on the final day. In the end, it meant the U.S. blew its biggest final day lead since 1981.
Stricker's and Furyk's failures stood out the most, given their status as captain's picks by Davis Love III coming into the Ryder Cup.
Plenty of heroes emerged for the Europeans when the Cup was on the line. Six of 12 matches came down to the final hole. The Europeans won five of them.
Ian Poulter won his last two holes against Webb Simpson to tie it at 10-10 after making five straight birdies a day earlier to help Europe win a point and regain momentum after falling behind 10-4 at one point on Saturday. Rory McIllroy arrived just a few minutes before his tee time to knock out Keegan Bradley, who had been undefeated before Sunday.
Justin Rose overcame a 1 hole deficit to Phil Mickelson with amazing shots on the final two holes. Rose made an incredible 35-foot birdie from the back of the green to win the 17 th . Then he clinched a valuable point by sinking a 12 foot birdie on the 18 th .
Martin Kaymer closed it out by making a 6 foot putt for par on the 18 th hole to finish 1 up on Stricker and clinch the comeback victory.
European golf fans will no doubt look back at this day as their Ryder Cup team engineered a miracle at Medinah. The U.S. team can only look back and search for explanations behind a historic meltdown.
John Coon enjoys getting in a round from time to time in the Salt Lake City area when he is not covering golf as a freelance sports reporter.
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