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U.S. stunned as Europe wins Ryder Cup

By James Masters, for CNN
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Mon October 1, 2012
Peter Hanson, center, and Francesco Molinari of Europe celebrate their team winning the 39th Ryder Cup on Sunday, September 30, in Medinah, Illinois. Europe produced the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history to defeat the United States and retain the trophy. <strong><a href='http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/world/photography/index.html'>See more of the best of CNN's photography.</a></strong> Peter Hanson, center, and Francesco Molinari of Europe celebrate their team winning the 39th Ryder Cup on Sunday, September 30, in Medinah, Illinois. Europe produced the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history to defeat the United States and retain the trophy. See more of the best of CNN's photography.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Europe pull of a stunning turnaround to win the Ryder Cup 14.5-13.5
  • Europe had trailed 10-6 going into the final round of matches Sunday
  • The teams were level at 13-13 with two matches left on the Medinah course
  • Germany's Martin Kaymer holed the definitive putt on the 18th green

(CNN) -- This was the miracle of Medinah.

In 1999, it was the United States who stunned the European team as they overhauled a four-point deficit to win at Brookline.

On Sunday, Europe inflicted an identical comeback on Davis Love III's Americans as Martin Kaymer held his nerve to hole the most dramatic of putts and ensure a 14 1/2 - 13 1/2 point victory for Jose Maria Olazabal's team.

Playing in the blue and white outfits made famous by the legendary Seve Ballesteros, Europe's players produced a performance that the late Spaniard would have been proud of despite trailing 10-6 heading into the final day in Illinois.

"It's very hard to describe my emotions," European captain Olazabal told reporters.

"When I saw we had a chance this afternoon coming down the stretch, I was very emotional, I started thinking about the possibility of winning.

"The boys have been unbelievable. I started thinking about my friend Seve and this one is for him.

Historic comeback at Ryder Cup

"I have never experienced anything like this. This event is so special."

Poulter is clutch with tough putts

While the U.S. had dominated the first two days of the competition, they simply had no answer to a European team determined to honor Ballesteros' memory.

McIlroy discusses his Ryder Cup match

U.S. close in on Ryder Cup glory despite late Poulter heroics

Olazabal's players struggled to keep up with the U.S. in the fourballs and the foursomes, but they raced out of the traps from the very first tee shot of the singles matches.

Led by Luke Donald, who comprehensively saw off Bubba Watson in the opening game, Europe rode on the crest of a wave with Englishman Ian Poulter, who won four of his matches, at the center of the charge.

Ryder Cup revolutionaries: Seve and Ollie

Poulter, a wildcard pick by captain Olazabal, justified his selection as he saw off U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson 2&1.

"Ollie said to us at the start of the week, Ryder Cup is what memories and dreams are made of, and he's been awesome," explained an emotional Poulter.

"And last night in that team room was buzzing. We weren't four down. We were all square. We just knew we had a chance and do you know what? This is history right here. This has been unbelievable.

"I'm going to enjoy it, with the best team I've ever seen, and the best captain I've ever seen, and everyone else, because this right here is special."

Scotland's Paul Lawrie, playing in the Ryder Cup for the first time since Brookline 13 years ago, claimed Europe's second point of the day, thrashing FedEx Cup playoff winner Brandt Snedeker 5&3.

With the momentum firmly behind Europe, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy edged out impressive rookie Keegan Bradley 2&1 before Poulter brought Europe level.

Big-hitter Dustin Johnson got the first point of the day for the U.S. following a 3&2 win over the equally powerful Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium.

While that victory was met with loud cheers, the joy was short lived as England's Justin Rose showed nerves of steel over the final three holes to see off four-time major winner Phil Mickelson.

Rose was trailing going into the 17th, but holed a stunning putt to level before sneaking beyond Mickelson at the last for a 2 up victory.

The U.S. moved ahead once again to lead 12-11 following Zach Johnson's 2&1 win over Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell, who struggled for form throughout.

But Europe refused to give up and former world No. 1 Lee Westwood holed his putt on the 16th hole to secure a 3&2 win over Matt Kuchar and round off a difficult week on a high note.

There was further drama as experienced American Jim Furyk lost out to Spanish Ryder Cup veteran Sergio Garcia.

Furyk thought he had won the match on the 16th and began to celebrate as his ball circled the lip of the cup -- only to agonizingly roll out.

Faldo backs McIlroy to roar over Tiger

The consistent Jason Dufner, a winner of three points from four matches, saw off Peter Hanson to make it 13-13 as the tension increased.

With two matches remaining on the course both teams sensed victory but it was Europe which held its nerve.

Germany's Kaymer took a one-shot lead on the 17th and then produced the defining moment of the 39th Ryder Cup -- holing the crucial putt on the last to defeat Steve Stricker and ensure the U.S. could not reach the winning target of 14 1/2 points.

That left Europe on 14 points and Italian Francesco Molinari secured the half point needed to win the cup outright after finishing level with 14-time major winner Tiger Woods.

"They played very, very well," said U.S. captain Love III. "They holed putts when they had to. We never got that big chip in or that big shot, maybe it just wasn't our week.

"The Europeans played with class and I congratulate them. We never took this for granted. We had a lot of guys who got beat today, I don't know if they played badly but they didn't win.

"There's probably a lot I'd change now we didn't win. It'll be disappointing when we think about how well we played and didn't win. It's not good for us, but it's good for golf this Ryder Cup."

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