IT’S ON! Only just maybe but it’s on. We’re talking victory for Europe
here. Still unlikely, still not the way to bet but with just today’s
singles left for us to savour Nick Faldo’s battlers have hauled themselves
back into this Ryder Cup, two points adrift of the USA.

Thirteen years ago Europe went into Sunday two points adrift and pulled in
a bucket of points but historically it remains unlikely. What is certain is
that these matches have returned to a good place, a close place, a
compelling place.

Those of us who have delighted in the easy-peasy victories over the last
few years but who have missed the old closeness have reason to rejoice
again. Once more the nerve-ends will be on display, once more take care how
you drink that glass of wine or beer because there are going to be a lot of
tipping moments now to savour.

What all is now beyond question is the wisdom of Nick Faldo’s decision to
select Ian Poulter ahead of one or two rather more obvious – to many of us
anyway – captain’s picks. Faldo failed to make a compelling case for
Poulter’s inclusion when he revealed his decision in Scotland a fortnight
ago but the man himself has let his clubs deliver an irrefutable case for
his participation over the last 48 hours.

His match, partnering Graeme McDowell against Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk,
was one of the great duels and Poulter’s deal concluding putt on the final
hole was every bit as relevant to the lippy one’s career as the longer putt
he holed during The Open this year.

But then there were so many heroes on view yesterday. Sergio Garcia
returning to form and hauling Paul Casey up there somewhere with him, the
Spaniard’s heartbeat passion illuminating a captivating day of sublimely
hard-fought golf.

And then there is Robert Karlsson. The tall Swede, either eccentric,
interesting or nuts depending on your point of view, produced golf of an
impossibly rare brand as he offered six birdies over Valhalla’s daunting
back nine. That this was only good enough to secure a half point against
Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan merely underlines the quality on view here
in Kentucky.

And whatever else is true of this 37th Ryder Cup it may now safely be said
that the years of total European domination are over for a while. The
Americans, ritually humiliated whenever they played the old match this
century, may no longer be studded with legendary names but the new
generation have proved already this week at Valhalla that, mostly, they are
made of the right stuff.

Pumped up by the crowd, many thousands of Louisville lips yelling their
encouragement, and focused on the victory that has been sought since the
dust finally settled on the embarrassment that had been Brookline in 1999,
Paul Azinger’s players are on their way to showing that the sum of the
parts is more relevant than the individual components. Enjoy.