Preamble to Europe's Ryder Cup victory was written Saturday

IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:46 AM ET

Short memories conveniently forgot recent meltdowns such as Adam Scott’s collapse at this year’s British Open when they predicted Saturday evening that it was impossible for the home side to be blown away in the Windy City.

As confident prognosticators basked in a seemingly insurmountable 10-6 U.S. lead after two days of foursomes and four-ball, little did they realize the process was already underway for Europe’s seventh win in the past nine Ryder Cups.

As much as Ian Poulter’s two-up win over Webb Simpson in singles play was critical, so too were his five consecutive birdies that propelled him and Rory McIlroy to a one-up win over Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner in Saturday afternoon four-ball play.

The victory, combined with another by Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to split the afternoon matches gave the Europeans at least a glimmer of hope despite what the overall scoreboard and the nay-sayers said.

The mission was clear. The Euros needed to do what the Americans did back in 1999 at Brookline to pull off an unlikely comeback. After the late wins Saturday, it seemed possible.

Nobody would remember Brookline better than Euro captain Jose Maria Olazabal, the opponent for Justin Leonard when he drained a long-distance putt to seal that deal for the U.S. in ’99.

A similar performance was improbable, not impossible, but to pull it off, Olazabal first had to make sure the momentum from four-ball play was maintained or Sunday singles might have been over early with the chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A.”

Some second-guessed Olazabal for front-end loading his singles lineup with big guns Donald, Poulter, McIlroy and Justin Rose. Of course, it caused unnecessary concern when McIlroy was hard-pressed to make his tee time, but we’ll get into that shortly.

Europe needed something to ignite it early and got it just when Poulter seemed to be playing lackadaisically. His routine approach shot fell short of the green, but Poulter responded by chipping in for birdie, his sixth in a row after five to end the previous day.

Up ahead on two, Donald took a one-up lead against Bubba Watson. McIlroy’s lack of a proper warm-up didn’t seem to be affecting him either. The strategy worked as all four went on to do what they needed to do and were four for four to start the comeback.

Even Paul Lawrie, who played in the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline and had been used sparingly by the Euros this time around, came through with a timely 5 and 3 victory over Brandt Snedeker.

As much as Poulter becomes a Ryder Cup legend for his perfect record, timely shots and fiery leadership, it all came down to Martin Kaymer.

The former world No. 1 had a six-footer to beat Steve Stricker on the 18th hole that was reminiscent of the situation in the 1991 ‘War by the Shore’ in which fellow German Bernhard Langer missed a similar putt that would have retained the Ryder Cup for Europe with a tie.

Not this time as Kaymer connected in the clutch to set off the celebration, not as wild or obnoxious as the Americans’ back in 1999, but certainly one of joy and relief.

The U.S. lost by a mere 141/2 to 131/2. They’ve lost by much bigger deficits, but this one stings like no other the way it happened.

And the exhausted Europeans can now enjoy the stretch run to victory that took about 24 hours instead of the six or so that it usually takes to complete the singles competition.

ANYONE SEEN RORY?

McIlroy dodged a bullet with what transpired after he showed up with a police escort just 11 minutes before his tee time. Does McIlroy’s tardiness remind you of a hungover Roy McAvoy, played by Kevin Costner in the movie Tin Cup, showing up late for the first round of the U.S. Open and asking if there was time for a quick bucket on the range? Imbibing wasn’t the reason in McIlroy’s case, but how can you be in a city for almost a week and not know what time zone you’re in? Blaming TV? Lame ... Even with the hour difference that McIlroy screwed up, you’re 23 years old and the top player in the world. Your team is down by four points and desperately needs a strong start. Don’t you want to establish yourself as a leader, or at least a good teammate, by being there two or three hours early to not only give yourself time to warm up, but also to support your teammates going out before you? ... Couldn’t help noticing that Tiger was on the grounds long before his final match against Francesco Molinari ... His personality wouldn’t allow this to happen, but wouldn’t it have been cool if Tiger had turned to the crowd and whipped it into a frenzy before his tee shot the way Bubba did? ... Listening to Dottie Pepper on the telecast is reminiscent of the 1998 Solheim Cup, the women’s version of the Ryder Cup, when the Europeans put up an effigy of Pepper as a punching bag ... I can tolerate the “U-S-A, U-S-A” or “Ole, Ole, Ole” chants of the past few days. What I can’t tolerate anymore is that damn “Get in the hole” thing.

Just saying.


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