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How the Europeans Took the Ryder Cup

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy of Europe (L) greets Keegan Bradley of the USA on the first tee after McIlroy arrived late to the golf course during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

    Maybe if Dr. Heimlich could have gotten the police escort that Rory McIlroy got to Medinah Country Club, he could have saved the US from spitting up all over itself.

    The European side pulled off the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history. Sure, it's the same margin overcome that the US did at Brookline in 1999. But that was at home. The Euros did this on enemy soil. It will take a very long time for the players to get over this one.

    When they look back, they'll see that they simply couldn't come through on the last two holes when it mattered most. They only needed one person to do so. No one other than Jason Duffner did.  And he did his best to choke it away on 17. He was the only one to come out on top on either of the last two holes.

    When further autopsies are done, a lot of eyes will be pointed at Davis Love and his pick of Steve Stricker and his insistence on using him on Saturday afternoon. Stricker was picked to play with Tiger Woods due to their past success, despite their losing streak stemming from the last Ryder Cup through the Presidents Cup last year. They went 0-2 on Friday, with Stricker looking especially hopeless. Love stuck to his plan of sitting everyone for a session in the first two days, even though Keegan Bradley was crushing everything in front of him. Woods played valiantly yesterday afternoon, but got no help from his partner. What would that half-point look like now?

    So it was perfect that the US needed Stricker to pull them out of a sling when everything before him fell apart. He found the sand on 17, and couldn't get up and down. Needing a win on 18, he was perfectly placed in the fairway but severely overshot the flag to land at the back of the green. Having that door open was all Martin Kaymer needed to walk through. Game over, without Woods even getting a chance to steal victory.

    But it's not Love's fault that all his players sent a warm stream down their pant-leg. Bubba Watson couldn't be the emotional leader and trailed Luke Donald all the way. Phil Mickelson could only watch helplessly as Justin Rose buried two long puts on 17 and 18 to take that match like a thief in the night. Jim Furyk, another captain's pick, capped off an underwhelming weekend by finding a fairway bunker on the last to lose that match on the last hole.

    Credit should go to the Europeans, who were poised and clutch all afternoon. Jose Maria Olazabal's plan of sending out the big guns first to get momentum rolling worked a treat. Rose, Garcia, McIlroy and Poulter were flawless. Paul Lawrie and Lee Westwood rebounded from poor showings in the pairs events in a way Furyk and Stricker couldn't. There's your difference.

    A captain can only do so much with what's between his players' ears and their chests. He can't do much when there's nothing there, thought.