Madness in Medinah

Forget everything you knew about golf. Forget everything you’ve ever thought as well, for that matter. The astonishing, final-day comeback produced by the European team to win the Ryder Cup at Medinah last Sunday has to rank as one of the most shocking achievements in golfing history.

Heading into the final session with the United States requiring just four points from the 12 on offer, Europe somehow managed to secure the requisite eight and a half required to steal a historic 14½ – 13½ win.

The record-breaking victory is the best recovery from a European side in the competition and is matched only by the efforts of Ben Crenshaw’s US team in Boston in 1999. Many will argue however that 2012’s turnaround, in such hostile foreign conditions, eclipses even that.

The final day began in much the same fashion as the previous two, with inane American chants of “Get in the hole” and “U.S.A, U.S.A” emanating from the crowd after every single shot. Unlike before though, the American team couldn’t maintain the levels of skill and momentum which had featured so prominently in the brutal assaults of Friday and Saturday.

So much so that as the afternoon wore on there was a noticeable stifling of US voices amongst the thousands of fans which had flocked to Chicago. The Europeans, having weathered the local storm, surged back into contention before matching their opponents blow for blown down the home stretch.

It was not until the final two matches, on the final two holes, that the ‘Madness in Medinah’ could be resolved so miraculously. German Martin Kaymer converted from five-feet on the 18th green against Steve Stricker to retain the Ryder Cup before Woods missed in the final match to gift Francesco Molinari and Europe the half which ensured outright victory.

As a spectacle it was impossible to render into comprehensible words, so I’m not going to bother trying. If you’ve not seen it, even if you don’t like golf, I’d strongly advise a quick perusal of the edited highlights online. For a sport often proclaimed as anachronistic and dull there can be no greater advert.

The plethora of spectators swilling beer and turning up in fancy dress might also go some way toward addressing the idea of golf as elitist, or as better suited to those of an elderly disposition.

Most importantly of all, the victory represented a fitting tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros, the man who came to personify European Ryder Cup golf and whose trademark colours the side donned for the final day.

“Seve will always be present with this team,” said victorious European captain Jose Maria Olazabal. After such a win, it’s easy to see how.

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