Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Europe wins Ryder Cup with record-tying comeback

MEDINAH, Ill. — Jose Maria Olazabal squeezed his eyes shut as they filled with tears, overwhelmed and overjoyed that the Ryder Cup still belongs to Europe.

His players wore on their sleeves the image of the late Seve Ballesteros, the soul of European golf in this event, and played their hearts out Sunday at Medinah Country Club, chipping away at a four-point deficit until completing a comeback even more remarkable than the Americans' in coming back from four down to Europe to win at Brookline in 1999.

This one was on the road, where the Europeans didn't have the advantage of a flag-waving crowd carrying them along. All they had was a message from Olazabal, their Spanish captain, to "play your socks off" and the spirit of Ballesteros, who died of a brain tumor in May 2011.

"I'm pretty sure he's very happy where he is today," Olazabal said after the 14½-13½ win.

The Americans were simply stunned.

They began the day with a 10-6 lead and needed just 4½ points out of 12 singles matches, their traditional strength, to reclaim the Cup. But Europe won the day 8½ to 3½, with the only U.S. singles victories coming from Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Cup rookie Jason Dufner.

Even worse, three times the United States came to the 17th hole with a chance to win a match, only for Europe to deliver the key shots that won the Ryder Cup. Ian Poulter won the last two holes against Webb Simpson. Justin Rose had a birdie-birdie finish to beat Phil Mickelson. Sergio Garcia won the last two holes with pars to beat Jim Furyk.

Even at the very end, the result could have gone either way. In the 11th match, Martin Kaymer stood over a 6-foot par putt he needed to make to assure Europe would keep the trophy. If he missed, Tiger Woods was in the fairway behind him, ready to take the final point the Americans needed.

Kaymer poured it in to beat Steve Stricker.

Woods delivered the final U.S. half-point, losing his final hole to halve his match with Francesco Molinari.

"We're all kind of stunned," U.S. captain Davis Love said. "It's a little bit shocking. We were playing so well, we figured it didn't matter how we sent them out there (Sunday). We got a couple of matches flipped there in the middle that cost us."

It is a collapse the Americans won't soon forget. Just 24 hours earlier, they had a 10-4 lead with two team four-ball matches still on the course. They were ahead in one, and Woods and Stricker were closing in on the other.

They lost both.

That lit an emotional fuse for Europe, Rose said: "It was a glimmer of hope … but it was huge. We didn't need a big pep talk from Jose. For the first time, we felt inspired. When he handed out the singles (lineup), we liked what we saw. Golf does the talking at the end of the day, but we had a feeling."

Olazabal frontloaded his lineup, putting his in-form players on the course early in an attempt to commandeer the momentum. It worked. Europe won the first five matches, even with one of those players, Rory McIlory arriving 10 minutes before his tee time.

McIlroy said he mixed up his time because the TV coverage he was watching in the team hotel announced tee times in Eastern time, one hour ahead of the tournament's Central time zone.

After arriving in an unmarked police car, McIlroy was unable to warm up on the driving range, settling for a few practice putts. Though he mis-hit his opening drive, he quickly settled down and defeated Keegan Bradley 2 and 1.

"It's my own fault," McIlroy said. "If I let down these 11 other boys and vice captains and captains this week, I would never forgive myself. I'm just obviously happy to get the point and help the cause out a little bit."

Said Love, "Once those guys got the momentum, it was hard."

Asked if he could explain what had happened from Saturday to Sunday night, Poulter — 4-0-0 in this Cup and whose five straight birdies late gave Europe one of those final four-ball wins Saturday — was temporarily speechless. Finally, he pulled at his left sleeve, showing the silhouette of Ballesteros.

"That's how I explain it," Poulter said.

Winning rallies

The largest deficits overcome entering singles play to win the Ryder Cup since the U.S.-Europe format began in 1979:

Year/Team Deficit Singles score Final score

'12 Europe 4 8½ -3½14½-13½

'99 U.S. 4 8½-3½14½-13½

'95 Europe 2 7½-4½14½-13½

'93 U.S. 1 7½-4½15-13

Europe wins Ryder Cup with record-tying comeback 09/30/12 [Last modified: Sunday, September 30, 2012 11:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For ex-Rays/now Cubs manager Joe Maddon, the legacy is in the jeans

    Blogs

    Joe Maddon has plenty of memories of his time at the Trop during nine years of managing the Rays. "Too many to count,'' he said.

  2. Study shows playing football before age 12 can lead to mood and behavior issues

    Footballpreps

    A new medical study has found that children who play football before age 12 suffer mood and behavior problems later in life at rates significantly higher than those who take up the sport later.

    Youths who began playing tackle football before the age of 12 had more behavioral and cognitive problems later in life than those who started playing after they turned 12, according to a study released by Boston University researchers on Sept. 19, 2017. [Tamir Kalifa | The New York Times]
  3. Tiki Barber will join his brother, Ronde, on Fox broadcast for Bucs-Giants

    Bucs

    FOX announced Monday night that former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber will have a familiar face joining him as a guest analyst for the Oct. 1 Bucs-Giants game in Tampa: his twin brother Tiki, who will join …

    Tiki Barber, right, will join his brother, Ronde, left, as a guest analyst on the Oct. 1 Bucs-Giants broadcast on FOX. [Times files (2006)]
  4. Cannons will fire again when Bucs return to Raymond James Stadium

    Bucs

    As good as the Bucs looked in their season-opening 29-7 win against the Bears on Sunday, fans couldn't help but notice that the success didn't sound the same at Raymond James Stadium.

     Ron Gutschmidt is perched on top of the Buccaneer pirate ship ready to activate the ship's cannons with the press of a button after a Buccaneer touchdown. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  5. Rick and Tom podcast: How should Joe Maddon be remembered tonight?

    The Heater

    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones talk about Joe Maddon's return to Tropicana Field for the first time since he left the Rays in 2014 in the latest edition of our Rick and Tom podcast. They discuss the mixed emotions …

    Joe Maddon returns to Tropicana Field tonight for the first time since he left the Rays in 2014. [Getty Images]