MEDINAH, Ill.

The scoreboard said 10-6 and just about everyone figured the Ryder Cup was over.

Everyone, that is, but the Europeans.

There was so much energy and excitement in Europe’s team room Saturday night that Ian Poulter just knew they were on the verge of something special.

“The atmosphere was like we had a two-point lead,” Poulter said. “We’re four points down. You’re not going to turn around and say you’re going to win, but we knew we had a little chance.”

A chance, and a belief in themselves, was all they needed.

Point by point, they painted the scoreboard blue on Sunday. That deficit was gone by the time the first six groups finished, and that’s when the fun really began. One, two, three matches flipped in Europe’s favor on the last two holes, and 13 years after glumly watching the U.S. celebrate its epic comeback at Brookline, the Europeans had one of their own, 14 1/2-13 1/2.

They partied on the 18th green, exchanging hugs with anyone in arm’s reach.

They wrapped themselves in their own country’s flags and climbed the bridge between the clubhouse and the first tee. As giddy fans serenaded them with choruses of “Ole! Ole! Ole!” the players passed around oversized bottles of champagne, taking swigs and spraying the crowd with bubbly.

It was a scene the late Seve Ballesteros would have loved, and European captain Jose Maria Olazabal didn’t even bother trying to hide the tears as he looked skyward. His dear friend and “Spanish Armada” partner was never far from the Europeans’ minds or hearts this week, and they carried him with them Sunday, wearing his silhouette on their sleeves.

“What you did out there today was outstanding,” Olazabal said. “You believed, and you delivered. And I’m very proud that you have kept Europe’s hand on this Ryder Cup. All men die, but not all men live. And you made me feel alive again this week.”

The Americans could feel nothing but numb, knowing the Ryder Cup had been in their grasp and they’d let it slip away.

The U.S. has now lost five of the last six Ryder Cups, and two of the last three on home soil.

“It was a hell of a lot of fun being on the other end,” said Jim Furyk, one of the three Americans who were part of the Brookline squad. “It wasn’t very much fun today.”

The only U.S. points came from Dustin Johnson, who went 3-0 in this Ryder Cup, Zach Johnson and unheralded Jason Dufner.



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