EUROPE PRODUCED THE greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history to reel in the United States and retain the trophy at Medinah Country Club on Sunday.
Trailing by 10-6 going into the closing 12 singles, Jose Maria Olazabal’s men thrillingly won the first five matches out and went on to make sure of victory when Martin Kaymer defeated Steve Stricker 1 up in the penultimate match.
The German clinched it with a six-foot putt at the last.
That gave the Europeans the 14 points they needed to make sure of keeping the small, golden trophy for another two years and then Tiger Woods missed a four-footer at 18 to hand overall victory to Europe 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.
“I’m so, so happy,” Kaymer said. “17 and 18 were not perfect putts. On 18 I just wanted to get it in but it was too hard.
“I’m so happy for José because I know how much he wanted it. I just thought,on 18, just don’t do it like (Bernhard Langer) and I’m so happy I did.”
Olazabal added: “When I saw that we had a chance this afternoon, coming down the stretch, I was very emotional. The boys have done an unbelievable job.
I had a few words for Seve and this one is for him… When you see these guys giving their hearts to the cause, they are ready to sacrifice themselves for the team.
“It is incredible. The guys did an unbelievable job – maybe they knew how much it meant to me. They just believed in themselves and that is why we are here as winners.”
The Americans had started the 12 closing singles 10-6 ahead and needing just 4 1/2 points to win the cup for just the second time in the last decade, the other time being at Valhalla, Kentucky four years ago.
They got to that position by dominating the foursomes and fourballs play on Friday and Saturday, taking two sessions 3-1 and splitting the two others 2-2.
Jose Maria Olazabal’s team were left with the mammoth task of winning eight out of the 12 singles to put the overall match score at 14-14, thus ensuring Europe retained the cup as holders.
No European side had ever managed to comeback from 6-10 down in the Ryder Cup and no US team had ever lost more than a two-point advantage on the final day since the competition began in 1927.
Olazabal loaded his top guns at the start of the singles slate and there was some early momentum as Luke Donald quickly went 2 up on Bubba Watson in the lead match and Europe were ahead in three of the first five matchups with one all-square.
But gradually the US team settled in with some strong middle-order players and it became increasingly clear how huge the task on hand was for the Europeans.
First point home was a blue one as Donald led from start to finish to see off crowd-pleaser Bubba Watson 2 and 1.
The Englishman was four up with five to play, but missed a four-footer to win on the 14th. Watson took the 15th and then chipped in to nick the 16th before Donald clinched it with a superb bunker shot at 17.
Then Paul Lawrie, Europe’s oldest player, pulled off an upset by trouncing Tour Championship winner Brandt Snedeker 5 and 3.
And when world No.1 Rory McIlroy, who nearly missed his tee-time due to a mixup over time zones, completed a 2 and 1 win over the previously unbeaten Keegan Bradley, and Ian Poulter finished a perfect 4-0 by defeating Webb Simpson 2 up, the overall match was tied at 10-10.
Dustin Johnson beat Nicolas Colsaerts 3 and 2 to put the Americans back ahead only for Justin Rose to win the last two holes with monster putts to defeat Phil Mickelson 1 up.
Zach Johnson edged Graeme McDowell 2 and 1, but Sergio Garcia won the last two holes to stun Jim Furyk and Lee Westwood completed a 3 and 2 win over Matt Kuchar to make it Europe 13 United States 12.
Jason Dufner defeated Peter Hanson 2 up and it was level at 13-13.
It all came down to the last two matches and they were both all square.
Woods moved one up on Molinari but Kaymer took the 17th against Steve Stricker and he sunk a nerve-jangling six footer at the last to ensure Europe had the 14 points they needed.