Sunday, 7 October 2012

Ryder Cup 2012: Greatest Comeback in Golfing History

by Rosie Mist

Ian Poulter celebrates yet another birdie
(source: Daily Record)

Last Sunday’s Ryder Cup was a nail-biting event. A wave of agonised silence spread across Europe, as we watched what we hoped might be the greatest comeback in golfing history. After three disappointing and stressful days, the final round of the 2012 Ryder Cup repeated what happened at Brookline in 1999 --- except that, this time, at Medinah, it was the Americans, not the Europeans, who watched the Cup slip away. 

The Europeans' success in the last two matches of the previous day, including Poulter's astonishing performance of 4 birdies on the last 4 holes, enabled their team to carry this momentum through with them into the final round on Sunday, and helped secure the realisation that Europe's hopes of victory were far from over. Poulter continued his impressive performance from the previous day, by chipping in on the first hole to go one up against Webb Simpson; Justin Rose, who had given a steady performance in the tournament so far, also secured a win on the first against Mickelson.

However, as Sunday’s action got started someone was noticeably absent --- Rory Mcllroy, the world’s number one; after being forced to employ a police escort (having misunderstood the difference between Eastern and Central Standard Time), Mcllroy screeched dramatically into Medinah only 11 minutes before his tee time with America's Keegan Bradley. This left no time for the usual warm up routine; instead, Mcllroy had to make do with stroking a few putts on the practice green before setting up to his tee shot, which he saw land disappointingly in amongst some television cables. However, 2 up through 9, Rory was soon showing no ill-effects resulting from his rush to the golf course; nor were these seen in his overall victory of 2-1.

However, American Bubba Watson was not holding back either, holing a chip off the 16th green, to bring him back to 2 down in the match; with only 2 left to play, faced with a tough battle, he accepted defeat on the 17th to Luke Donald, awarding the first points on Sunday afternoon to the Europeans. This set the atmosphere for the rest of Sunday. The Europeans went on to secure a 2 out of 2 match victory after Lawrie recorded an impressive 5-3 win against Snedeker. Then came Mcllroy's 2-1 win against Bradley and the European spirit was running high, leaving only a 1-point advantage, overall, for the US.

The US conceded its fourth subsequent defeat when, from a 1-down position on 18, Webb Simpson failed to get the ball anywhere near the hole, handing Poulter another victory, resulting in a 10-10 draw between the Americans and the Europeans.
Johnson's win against Colsaerts saw a point returning to the Americans. However, Rose, showing no weakness, was quick to retaliate, by holing two magnificent putts on 17 and 18 to go birdie-birdie finish, securing a well-fought 1-up victory against America's Mickelson, leaving the overall score now at 11-11.

Zach Johnson's win over McDowell saw a point return to the Americans. However, Westwood, thriving under pressure, delivered a 3-2 win over Kuchar. Meanwhile, America's Jim Furyk was also seen to suffer, becoming the third American to lose holes 17 and 18 and lose his match, missing his 10-foot putt to half the match and handing over victory to Garcia. Europe were now leading for the first time during the whole championship.

This, however, did not last long, as Dufner wrapped up his match, winning 2-up to Europe's Peter Hanson, pulling the score back to even at 13-13. With four golfers left on the course (Europe's Francessco Molanari and Martin Kaymer, America's Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker), emotions were definitely running high in my household.

Martin Kaymer celebrates his winning putt
In the end, it was the German PGA Championship winner, Kaymer, who was left standing over a five-foot putt on the 18th green, with the trophy at stake. He struck with a comforting amount of confidence; we all knew that this ball was going nowhere other than the centre of the cup. Europe could no longer be beaten by the US, which meant that, as cup-holders, Europe would retain the trophy even if the final score was even.

However, an outright win was the only acceptable result to the Europeans by now. Italy's Molinari responded with the crucial half-point against Woods, a well-known match-play demon, winning the Ryder Cup outright for Europe with an overall score of 14 and 1/2 points to 13 and 1/2, securing a miracle happy ending for the Europeans and, of course, for Seve.

In memoriam: Seve
(source: American Heritage)

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