Europe win Ryder Cup
Published 04/10/2010 | 15:29
Graeme McDowell won the Ryder Cup for Europe after a Celtic Manor classic that crowned captain Colin Montgomerie's golfing career.
US Open champion McDowell's 3&1 victory over Hunter Mahan gave Europe a dramatic 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 triumph over the United States to regain the trophy.
Not since 1991 at Kiawah Island had the Ryder Cup been decided in such breathtaking fashion by the last of 12 singles matches.
A brilliant putt by McDowell on 16 left Mahan needing to win the last two holes for a half that would have denied Europe, but Mahan scuffed his second shot after firing short of the green off the tee on the par-three 17th.
That meant that at worst McDowell needed to get down in two from the edge of the green under unbearable pressure in front of 35,000 fans, but Mahan then missed his putt, conceded the match, and Europe began wild celebrations.
For a tearful Montgomerie, the most remarkable of Ryder Cup wins arguably compensated for the Major title he failed to win during an otherwise title-laden career.
But Corey Pavin's United States team pushed Europe to the limit, taking the singles by a 7-5 scoreline after trailing 9-1/2 - 6-1/2 overnight.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson - world number one and two players - finally found their form to claim emphatic victories over Francesco Molinari and Peter Hanson, respectively.
Europe though, prevailed thanks to wins by McDowell, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Miguel Angel Jimenez, plus the priceless halves gained by Rory McIlroy and Edoardo Molinari.
McDowell was immediately submerged by his team-mates, captain and assistant captains on the 18th green, while a bumper crowd that had gathered for the Ryder Cup's first Monday conclusion began taking it all in.
At one stage, Europe were ahead in eight of the singles matches and appeared well on their way to wrapping up victory with indecent haste.
But the United States, as they did in fighting back from a 10-6 deficit to win at Brookline 11 years ago, finally stirred.
Red numbers began appearing on the scoreboard, and their resilience was underlined when 21-year-old rookie Rickie Fowler fought back from three down with three to play against Edoardo Molinari to halve his match with a nerveless putt on 18.
Amid the mayhem, McDowell had to stay cool, calm and collected, and he delivered just when his captain needed it.
"Graeme was put there (12th in the singles) for a very good reason. He is the US Open champion and full of confidence, and it showed," said Montgomerie.
"The birdie on 16 was unbelievable.
"We got off to a flyer, up in eight matches, and it was over, but they came back extremely well. Tiger showed he is the number one in the world, and all credit to the United States - they played magnificently.
"This means the world to European golf. I am so glad we won.
"I didn't hit a shot, yet it is a proud, proud moment for me personally."
Irishman McDowell, who had won the Wales Open on the same Twenty Ten course just four months ago, drank in the moment as the European players cracked open the champagne on the clubhouse balcony.
"The US Open felt like a back nine with my dad at Royal Portrush compared to this," he said.
"I was really nervous - there was so much pressure.
"The putt on 16 was massive, and these spectators are massive. I had to get the putt going on 16, and it was the biggest one I have hit in my life."
And in tribute to Montgomerie, he added: "Colin has been amazing these last two years. There is nothing quite like him in the Ryder Cup."
Europe's win was their first in the Ryder Cup since 2006 at The K Club in Ireland, and the drama was rich reward for those patient fans who made it a 'Magnificent Monday' for Europe.
All the delays - 13 hours in total due to rain on Friday and Sunday - were washed away on a sea of emotion, and Celtic Manor could also celebrate by taking a significant place in Ryder Cup history.
It was the first Ryder Cup to be staged in Wales, and one that ultimately provided as many thrills as any that had gone before it.