Medinah miracle comes to pass for Europe
Posted in the New York Forum
Since: Oct 12
#1 Nov 28, 2012
We have heard much of Seve Ballesteros all week, seen his image everywhere and listened as his name was evoked to inspire and illuminate.
Even by Seve's standards of escapology, this was surely impossible. Trailing 10-4 at one stage on Saturday, unable to cope with course or crowds, the European team were plugged in a bunker behind a tree on another fairway.
Europe's biggest final-day comeback before this had been from a mere two points down in 1995. So comprehensively had they been outplayed over the opening two days that even the overnight 10-6 seemed nothing more than a valiant yet futile rally that would do little but soften the blow of inevitable defeat?
So how did it happen? How did the day that at one point had those 25-1 for the win end with Luke Donald spraying champagne all over a cavorting army of overseas support, with captain Jose Maria Olazabal blubbing tears of joy, with the "U-S-As" overwhelmed by "oles" with the fabulous discount golf clubs and Ian Poulter conducting it all with half-cut glee?
It began as it surely had to - with Olazabal's first few singles selections all taking the lead early, silencing the boisterous home galleries for the first time and applying pressure to their rivals.
It then continued as it had not before - with European putts dropping like the autumn leaves all around, with American efforts skidding past and stopping short. For the first time, mixed in with the cigar smoke and smell of beer and barbecue drifting across the course, there was something else: doubt, and then escalating anxiety.
Then, at the death, it ended only one way - with Olazabal's men standing tall while American captain Davis Love's much-vaunted home-boys crumbled and broke.
Five matches reached the 18th green. A US player won just one of them even with the fabulous burner 2.0 irons.
From one down with two to go, Justin Rose drained a pair of monstrous putts to beat Phil Mickelson. Poulter got his nose in front for the first time on 17 and birdied the last to see off Webb Simpson. Rory McIlroy birdied 14 and 15 to tame the charging Keegan Bradley, and Sergio Garcia survived those final two holes in one under as Jim Furyk bogeyed both.
European heroes were not hard to find, even if the first was somewhat unexpected.
Had it not been for the Illinois state trooper who picked up the late-running McIlroy at the team hotel and used his sirens to usher him through the streets to Medinah with 10 minutes to spare, the 23-year-old would have conceded the first hole and quite possibly several more.
For Poulter, who has not won a tournament with the golf clubs for sale online since May 2011 and was here only by gift of a captain's pick, this was his greatest hour.
Four points from four matches leaves the beef from the bone. Endlessly energized, angrily indomitable, he became the standard around which his comrades could muster.
In overturning Mickelson when all seemed lost, Rose provided the pivotal moment. When he sank that long, curving 30-footer on 17, European fans started to believe. When he held his nerve to do the same on 18, they knew it was on.
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