DID you see it? Can you believe it? I am here in Chicago and I’m struggling to take in this win.
And it WAS a win. Tiger Woods’ concession on the 18th green to Francesco Molinari meant Europe won. Probably they would have anyway, the trophy already secured but I’m not sure Tiger’s team-mates appreciated his picking up of Molinari’s coin three feet away from the hole. There is a mountain of difference between a tied match and one that was lost and the Italian is not the best from that distance.
But by then Woods’ brain was scrambled along with his team-mates’ and especially his skipper’s. Davis Love is a gentle man but he was struggling to retain his natural grace as he surveyed the wreckage of a day that was supposed to end early with the USA cantering to an easy victory.
Suddenly yesterday those Europeans who had struggled over the first two days rediscovered their real form. Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Molinari were cast down the pairings, the skipper’s trust in their talent dented by their earlier mediocrity. But a perfect autumnal Sunday saw them reignite their core belief in themselves.
Meanwhile, the first five Europeans out did what Jose-Maria Olazabal hoped they would. When Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Paul Lawrie won their matches, the leaderboards smothered in Euro blue began to suffocate the noise that had been coming out of the massed home fans.
Medinah went quiet and Europe knew that they were on their way.
It was, however, still a long way, still an unlikely path. The Americans were four points ahead going into this final day because they had played better. Most of all they had putted better.
Few, if any, really believed that these European players could come back from a four point deficit on foreign soil. Totally unprecedented.
Eventually I will take all this in and reflect properly in the magazine on this astonishing week in the mid-west.
This was my 17th Ryder Cup and quite probably my last in the USA but, if so, what a way to go out. When Jose-Maria cracked up as he tried to talk about Seve’s distant influence on his captaincy and his team, his tears were not solitary ones believe me. What a day, what a night in prospect.