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Europe Wins Ryder Cup
The American team almost overcame a 9½-6½ deficit on the first-ever Monday finish in the 83-year history of the Ryder Cup. But Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland beat Hunter Mahan in the final match to give the Europeans the needed 14½ points for them to regain the cup.
The Americans were trying to win the Ryder Cup for the first time on foreign soil since 1993. And they almost did. On the 16th hole, McDowell sank a slick downhill putt to go 2-up in his match with Mahan. At this point, the cup hung in the balance, with the score tied at 13½ to 13½.
Needing to win the final two holes to get the halve and the necessary 14 points to retain the cup, Mahan hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th 30 yards short, while McDowell was hole high on the fringe. Then, improbably, Mahan chunked his chip shot a mere 10 yards. His third shot just missed for a par and he conceded the match.
The 35,000 fans on hand for the rain-delayed competition at Celtic Manor in Wales went ballistic. The huge gallery swarmed the fairways and greens and the European players and sprayed them with champagne, tossing out shirts and caps and memorabilia.
McDowell, who won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach earlier this year, admitted later: "I hoped I wasn't going to be needed," he said, calling the last nine holes the hardest of his life. "I was hoping my caddie was going to give me the nod that I could relax, that we had done the job."
The Americans sure tried hard in the singles matches, winning six of them and getting half points in two others. Among those who came through for the U.S. were Tiger Woods, who beat Edoardo Molinari 4 and 3, and Phil Mickelson, who edged Peter Hanson 4 and 2.
Setting the pace for the U.S.A. was Steve Stricker in the opening match, as he beat Lee Westwood 2 & 1.
As would be expected, the comments ran the full gamut after the emotions came down a bit.
"We came so close, it's a shame," Woods said.
"There are lots of guys, looking at one another and saying . . . one half-point. This falls on all of us," added Jim Furyk, who lost his match 1-up to Luke Donald.
Colin Montgomerie, the European captain, said later, "I knew I had 12 great players. I knew it and I did."
And Corey Pavin, the captain of the American squad, remarked, "I'm content with everything, except the result."
The Americans still lead in the biennial competition, 25-11-2. Next up will be the 2012 matches at Medinah Country Club near Chicago.