MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - They wore the colors loved by the late Seve Ballesteros and a silhouette of him on their sleeves, and then Team Europe rode his spirit on Sunday to the greatest Ryder Cup comeback victory ever.
“We wanted to do it for Seve,” said Englishman Luke Donald, who started Europe on their way to erasing a massive four-point deficit with a 2&1 victory over American Bubba Watson.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia turned around his match against Jim Furyk by winning the last two holes for a one-up victory.
“I have no doubt in my mind that he was with me today all day,” Garcia said about compatriot Ballesteros, who breathed fire into the Ryder Cup after the Britain-Ireland team was expanded to include players from all of Europe.
“Because there’s no chance I would have won my match if he wasn’t there.”
Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal had long ago been taken under the wing of Ballesteros, who ignited a proud surge in European golf with his three British Open crowns and two Masters triumphs.
Olazabal, who formed the most successful Ryder Cup tandem alongside Ballesteros, told the team in their meeting on Saturday night that he felt Seve in the room and that he could help propel the Europeans to a victory despite trailing 10-6.
“Seve will always be present with this team. He was a big factor for this event, for the European side and last night when we were having that meeting I think the boys understood that believing was the most important thing,” said Olazabal.
Wearing blue and white, the favorite colors of the fiery Spanish competitor, Europe took apart the host team to match the biggest final-day points comeback ever in the Ryder Cup.
The U.S. team had overtaken Europe by the same margin to prevail in 1999 at Brookline, with Olazabal left gloomy on the 17th green in the clinching match.
But that record Ryder comeback took place before a roaring U.S. home crowd and this amazing Europe fight back came on foreign soil.
The first five European players won their singles matches and the competition came down to the final two matches when 2010 PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer sank a five-footer at the 18th to clinch it.
“We wanted to show our grit. We’ve been known for not being that great in singles, and we showed that we can win,” said Donald.
“It’s going down in history. We talk about Brookline in ‘99, losing that one. We wanted to come back and show that we could win from behind, too.”
Englishman Ian Poulter, added to the team as a wild-card pick by Olazabal, beat U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson two up to complete an impeccable Cup with wins in all four of his matches.
“My captain picked me to come and play, and you know, I owe it to him, and Seve, to be here today,” he said.
Editing by Julian Linden