It would be a lie if we said there was something in the air yesterday morning, something that would help dictate a European comeback so grand they would take eight and a half points from a possible 12.
It would be a lie because the script had already been written on the back of two days of breathtaking American team play. Whatever Europe did over the latter stages of Friday and throughout two thirds of Saturday, it was never enough. They were out. Buried and beaten. The better side was in front and there could be little or no complaint.
But by 7.30pm local time on Sunday evening as the cold Chicago air set in over Medinah, it was the same old story: 12 men, battered, bewildered and bereft of energy, sitting shoulder to shoulder as the world’s media quizzed them endlessly on a Ryder Cup defeat but, more tellingly, how they let slip the biggest US margin heading into the singles since 1981.
On a day that started with the world’s best player forgetting what time zone he was in, Europe arrived mob-handed; the momentum swing on the previous day’s evening – when they had claimed the last two points in the fourballs – allowed Olazabal’s players to open their shoulders.
With nothing to lose but everything to gain, Luke Donald strode defiantly onto the 1st tee as midday loomed. The Englishman, subdued for most of this contest, was sent out to put down a marker and from the moment he went one-up at the 2nd hole, there was no looking back.
Europe were untouchable over the early holes. Rose had Mickelson in his pocket; McIlroy had the measure of Keegan Bradley; Paul Lawrie was overwhelming Brandt Snedeker. The crowds were flat and when Davis Love needed his players to show character, they had none.
Not everything fell into place. Ian Poulter was out of sorts in his match with Webb Simpson, and in the latter matches, Davis Love’s men began to take hold. But Europe were out of the blocks with gas in the fashion of Crenshaw’s comeback kings of 1999, when the home side reversed their own 10-6 Sunday deficit. And, in something of a twist of irony to proceedings 13 years ago at Brookline 13 years, the swing came on the 17th green.
The amphitheatre of this monstrous par-3 has been the scene of many a duel this week, but on Sunday it was a graveyard for the home side as the putts refused to drop. Rose holed from 35 feet to draw all square with Mickelson; Jim Furyk lost his nerve with a five-footer against Sergio Garcia; Martin Kaymer went one-up after Steve Stricker failed to clean up from a similar spot.
It meant that, Kaymer, out of form and seemingly out of favour, had to hold firm on the last to gain the point needed that would keep the cup in Europe’s hands. He executed his plans perfectly, on a perfect day for European golf.