MEDINAH, Ill. – The Miracle at Brookline now has company.
Trailing by the same margin as that improbable Ryder Cup comeback 13 years ago, the Europeans quickly erased a 10-6 deficit, winning eight singles matches in all, and received the clinching point from beleaguered former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer to win the Ryder Cup, 14 1/2 to 13 1/2, on Sunday.
The Americans’ 10-6 lead heading into Sunday singles was its largest ever, but the Europeans were buoyed by the fact that they split Saturday fourballs, 2-2, when it could have been worse.
They also remember the 1999 Miracle at Brookline – or, more pointedly, so does their captain, Jose Maria Olazabal. The Spaniard was on the 17th green when Justin Leonard holed a long putt and the Americans stormed the green, celebrating their momentous comeback.
'It means a lot,' Olazabal said. 'But not just for me, for all of Europe. Seve (the late Seve Ballesteros) will always be present with this team. He was a big factor for this event, for the European side. Last night when we had that meeting I think the boys understood that believing was the most important thing.'
Despite his team's final-day collapse, U.S. captain Davis Love III said 'I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Give them a lot of credit. They played very, very well. They had some hot streaks that kept them in it.'
Learning from lessons of years’ past, the Europeans’ strategy of frontloading their lineup worked to perfection on Sunday, as they won the first four matches – none more unlikely than Justin Rose’s 1-up victory over Phil Mickelson – to pull even with the U.S.
With the matches tied at 12, Sergio Garcia reversed a 1-down deficit with two to play, winning both Nos. 17 and 18 with par, to steal a critical point for the Europeans. At 13-12, it was Europe’s first lead of the week.
Jason Dufner then beat Peter Hanson, 2 up, and improbably, the deciding match came down to Steve Stricker (0-3 entering singles) and Kaymer, one of Europe’s weakest links, a player who was benched all Saturday.
Back and forth the entire afternoon, Kaymer won the 17th with a par – Stricker had failed to convert an 8-foot par putt – on his way to a 1-up victory, completing the remarkable comeback.
Relive Day 2 Ryder Cup matches Monday at 8 p.m. ET and the singles matches Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.