Jose Maria Olazabal's Team Stuns US in Ryder Cup

Kathy BissellCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2012

Victorious European squad upsets US at Ryder Cup
Victorious European squad upsets US at Ryder CupAndy Lyons/Getty Images

Team Europe, in a comeback equal to that of the U.S. in 1999 at Brookline, came back from a 10 to 6 deficit to win the Ryder Cup when Martin Kaymer made a par putt on the 18th hole to secure the 14th point for Europe to retain the Ryder Cup.

“Never say never,” a tearful Ian Poulter said. “Ollie [Jose Maria Olazabal] said to us at the start of the week, Ryder Cup is what memories and dreams are made of, and he’s been awesome.”  Poulter won his match against Webb Simpson, two up.

“I don’t have a reaction yet,” Davis Love III said. “We are all kind of stunned. We know what it feels like now from the’ 99 Ryder Cup.”

“This is one for the whole of Europe, period,” European captain Olazabal said after the final putt dropped.  "Seve [Ballesteros]will always be present.  He was a big factor for this event for the European side, and last night when we were having meat meeting, I think the boys understood that believing was the most important thing, and I think they did (believe).” 

His team was thrilled.

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“It was a big honor for me that Ollie had enough trust in me to go out and get that first point for Europe,” Luke Donald said. “ We wanted to do it for Seve. We wanted to show our grit. We’ve been known not being that great in singles, and we showed that we can win.” He defeated Bubba Watson, two and one.

“We are in shock,” Justin Rose added. “We wanted to believe.  We really did want to believe, but we had no illusions of how hard that day was going to be, four shorts against a team that’s played so well all week.”  Rose won against Phil Mickelson one-up in a match that went to the 18th hole.

Lee Westwood said that Ian Poulter’s play on Saturday was inspirational for everyone on the Euro squad.

Martin Kaymer actually won the match that secured the Cup. 

“After that match today against Steve [Stricker],  I know how important the Ryder Cup became and is for Olazabal,” Martin Kaymer said.  He added that a conversation with Bernhard Langer earlier in the week helped him have the right attitude. 

Sergio Garcis said Seve’s presence was there. “I have no doubt in my mind that he was with me today all day, because there’ snot chance I would have won my match if he wasn’t there,” he said.

Love said it was his job to get second guessed, so he expects it.  However, before the single matches teed off, he was looking like one of the best Ryder Cup captains in U.S. history. “Those guys tried their hardest, and we could have put out a whole bunch of different plans, but if we don’t play well and the team plays like that, you’re going to get beaten,” he said.  “We all went to plan. We were four ahead.  The plan worked the first two days.  It just didn’t work today.”  

According to Jose Maria Olazabal on Saturday evening, it was a matter of his team believing they could overcome the deficit, even when they were behind.

But in fact, as it always is in Ryder Cup, it was about the putting.

“The first two days, nothing went our way,” Olazabal said. “We struggled on the greens, and this morning I felt a little change in that regard, and we started to make a few putts.  The Americans started to miss them.  And winning those few matches, that was key.” 

Some think it was inspiration from Seve Ballesteros, whose silhouette was on their Sunday uniforms and whose blue and white colors they wore.  Ballesteros mentored Olazabal and to some degree Sergio Garcia of Spain. He was the Arnold Palmer of European golf, and his recent death from cancer was personal for many in European golf circles. 

Others blamed it on the full moon, as apparently there was also a full moon the day when the U.S. came back at Brookline. Whether it was self belief, the Seve factor or the moon above, this Ryder Cup comeback victory was truly one of the most memorable in the event’s glorious history. 

Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.