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Euro stars grab cup

EUROPE pulled off the greatest comeback of the Ryder Cup’s history on a final day which emphatically and thrillingly confirmed the Cup’s propensity for the rawest of drama.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL'S team wore Seve Ballesteros’s outfit and completed an amazing escape which was perfectly apt for the Spaniard’s memory. Never give up. That is how Seve played his game. But even he would have found this recovery from four points down to retain his most precious trophy miraculous.

Martin Kaymer was the unlikeliest of heroes, shrugging off his wretched form to hole a six-footer on the 18th green to beat Steve Stricker.

What Bernhard Langer could not do, Kaymer could. In 1991 Langer missed the same length of putt at the same stage and the US grabbed the glory.

Yes, everywhere one looked here last night there was symbolism in the European celebrations.

Amazingly, ridiculously, Tiger Woods missed a tiddler on the 18th in the very last game to give Europe the win, by 14.5-13.5. But then, the Americans don’t like draws, do they?

In truth, the celebrations had begun in earnest and Woods’ match with Francesco Molinari was an afterthought. The cup was heading back over the pond regardless.

The stats say that Europe emulated the staggering fightback in 1999 when the Americans came through from the same 10-6 scoreline going into the singles.

The stats lie. This was way, way beyond Brookline and not just because Europe were 10-4 down at one stage on Saturday and were forced to win 10.5 from the next 14 points.

Europe were away from home with the Americans looking invincible and a home support vociferous in the belief that their valiant youngsters were about to win their second match this century.

They failed, thanks to Europe prevailing in the singles by the stunning margin of 8.5-3.5.

While Kaymer will grab the headlines, it was Ian Poulter who inspired this sporting resurrection with his five finishing birdies on Saturday night to keep the dream alive. He then won his singles and his 100pc record in Chicago means he has won 11 of his last 12 points.

He is the finest Ryder Cup player in operation. In a format as volatile as matchplay his record is totally absurd. Webb Simpson felt the full force of the Englishman’s competitive spirit in the singles when Poulter pulled back a two-hole deficit to prevail on the 18th for his third game in a row.

It took an outrageous shot on the last to see off the American rookie, playing it over a tree on to the green. The great conquistador himself would have been proud of that escape.

When Simpson conceded it meant that Poulter had become the first player to win four out of four in a Ryder Cup in 31 years.

Poulter rushed back to watch his great friend and Ryder Cup partner, Justin Rose, pull off an astonishing victory over Phil Mickelson.

Rose was on the brink of going two down with two remaining, but he holed a long putt on the 16th to stay at one down.

Then Rose holed a 20-footer on the 17th for a birdie and then a 12-footer for another birdie on the 18th.

As he was fist-pumping, the scoreboard showed the match at |11-11, with Luke Donald having led the team off in textbook fashion with a comfortable 2&1 win over Bubba Watson.

The shock was on. After being a 33/1 shot with Ladbrokes when Donald was on the 14th, the price was now tumbling as quickly as the Americans.

Rory McIlroy had taken down America’s main man for the week, Keegan Bradley.

McIlroy saw off Bradley 2&1, |while Paul Lawrie was immensely impressive in crushing Brant Snedeker by the day’s biggest margin, 5&3. It meant Europe had won the first five games.

Dustin Johnson struck one for the crowd with his 3&2 win over Nicolas Colsaerts and, with Zach Johnson beating Graeme McDowell 2&1, it still looked America’s.

Seemed possible

But then Furyk lost the final two holes to Sergio Garcia and everything and anything seemed possible. Furyk needed only to get up and down from the back of the green and they probably, almost certainly would, have still won.

Suddenly the word “Seve” was being mentioned all across Medinah. That and the word “olé” – over and over.

Next up came Jason Dufner beating Peter Hanson on the last and Lee Westwood staging a courageous return to form with his 3&2 win over Matt Kuchar. It was all on the last two games, on the veterans of Stricker and Woods.

Kaymer has been awful for months but grimly stuck in there and when Stricker messed up the par-three 17th the former world No1 holed a brave six-footer to go one up.

It was not anywhere near as gutsy as the one on the 18th, however.

He rammed it in, raised his arms and was soon engulfed by his |team-mates. Back on the fairway, Woods looked on bemused; all the Americans were bemused.

On the green Olazabal cried and thought of his old compadre. How Seve would have loved to be here.

But in the chutzpah and the complete audaciousness of the comeback his presence could be felt here.

The spirit of Seve lives on and on.