Ryder Cup 2012: Team Europe Shocks The World
In a weekend full of great putts, surprising action and a dramatic finish for the ages, Team Europe pulled off one of the most improbable victories in Ryder Cup history.
Team Europe rode a 10½-to-3½-point swing to erase a 10-4 deficit and capture the 2012 Ryder Cup. Europe started the weekend off very slow in doubles play, especially against the dynamic duo of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who were 3-0 on the weekend.
The crowd at Medinah Country Club in Chicago was lively, raucous and sported national pride everywhere. Team USA looked unstoppable on Saturday, and gained a commanding 10-6 lead by day's end.
Team USA was captivating and mesmerizing with their persistence and strength, especially on the putting green. Tiger Woods, who did not play on Saturday morning, was not even needed because of how strong Team USA was performing.
Unfortunately for Woods, his struggles continued at the Ryder Cup over the weekend. Woods and Steve Stricker (or stricken with fear) both ended the weekend with no points for Team USA.
Partners Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson plus Phil Mickelson and Bradley ran through the European competition through the first two days of action. Meanwhile on the European side, the vibrant Ian Poulter and the Belgian Nicholas Colsaerts kept their team equally motivated.
Poulter, who posted a lifetime record of 11-3 before 2012, stole the show for Team Europe with a 4-0 performance. On Saturday, he notched five birdies in a row after being down by three strokes with six to play in the four-ball competition. Poulter made perhaps the put of the tournament and was certainly the most spirited golfer of the bunch.
On Sunday, European head coach Jose Maria Olazabal was forced to load his early lineup with superstars Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter. This strategy paid dividends for Europe, as they were able to win the first three matches.
McIlory rushed the course in a police escort and after that was smooth all day, defeating Keegan Bradley with some clutch shots. Poulter once again pulled off a miracle for Europe by blasting two straight birdie putts to sink the hopes of his competitor Webb Simpson.
Then in the most exhilarating match of the weekend, Justin Rose came for the kill and tracked down Mickelson. Rose made a 12-foot par putt to halve the 16th hole, then he made a 35-foot birdie putt to win the hole. Finally, he buried a 12-foot birdie on the last hole. Mickelson could only respond with a smile and hand shake, as if some twist of fate would prevent the United States from winning.
Team USA and Team Europe split numerous matches after that point. The undefeated Dustin Johnson and the largest man on the course, Jason Dufner led the charge for Team USA.
This reared its ugly head as some of the final pairings were filling down the golf course: Jim Furyk vs. Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods vs. Francesco Molinari and Steve Stricker vs. Martin Kaymer.
By this point, anything was possible. The tides were officially turned in favor of the Europeans. All the pressure and expectation was now placed on Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods, who needed to win in order to bring the Ryder Cup back to America.
Jim Furyk had an early lead and looked in control at 16th, when nerves took over and Sergio Garcia capitalized. Furyk missed key putts at 16, 17, and 18, allowing Garcia to go from two holes back to eventually winning the match. Garcia did not play exceptionally well, but the sad look on Furyk's face after the match summed up his performance.
While all this was happening, Steve Stricker and Martin Kaymer were battling to decide who could gain the all important 14th point. If Europe were to win this match, the efforts of Tiger Woods would mean nothing on the final outcome.
Kaymer walked up, soaked in the loud capacity crowd anticipating magic to occur at any moment. He lined up the semi-tough shot and drained it, ending the match and giving Team Europe the come-from-behind victory.
Regardless of the outcome, the event drew quite well nationally and highlighted the excitement and drama team golf can provide. Whether you think Team USA blew it or Team Europe was simply dominant on Sunday, the fact remains that Europe has now won 10 out of the last 14 Ryder Cups.
United States coach Davis Love III, you gave it your best shot, but on this day Team Europe was the greater team and eked out the exhilarating victory. Let's just hope people stayed inclined to follow the sport for the next big tournament Oct. 22-24, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.