Dave's diary: Day 3
Our man at the course, Dave Tindall, with his blog from the final day of the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah.
Last Updated: 04/10/12 8:26am
2100 And so that's about it. Quite simply that was one of most amazing sporting experiences I've ever witnessed.
It was virtually impossible for the Europeans to pull this back but they did it.
Deep down I always thought that Olazabal, like Seve, simply wouldn't entertain the idea of defeat. I felt he would somehow want it more than Davis Love, who is a class act and very nice man but maybe lacks a killer instinct.
Ian Poulter was the big hero for Europe and without his amazing five-birdie finish on Saturday none of this would have been possible. He really was phenomenal this week and, as Westwood said before the drink really kicked in, "We have actually revised the qualification for next time. It's nine spots, two picks and Poults."
It takes two to produce a classic contest of this magnitude though so hats off to the Americans who played some superb golf too.
Quite simply, had Kaymer missed, Tiger would have had a three footer to win the Ryder Cup. On such margins....
Right, time to have a celebratory drink myself.
1950 That's the press conferences finished and the Europeans was a right old drunken affair. Sergio looked the worse for wear but Lee Westwood was absolutely hammered. Aside from trying to distract Justin Rose, he produced a combination of facial tics, pointing and swigging motions and, at one point, even crawled under the table like an errant toddler. Press reaction varied from "lack of class" to "absolutely hilarious". I'd vote B. The American one was dominated by Davis Love, Phil, Tiger and Furyk while Jason Dufner just kept yawning.
1720 Someone once said that halving the Ryder Cup is a bit like kissing your sister. It doesn't really feel like this here (not that I have a sister or know the feeling) as even a 14-14 tie is incredible. After all the chaos calms down, Woods and Molinari finally play their approaches. Francesco can't hole his birdie so Tiger simply has to hole a three footer to secure the tie. Except he misses and concedes Molinari's of a similar length! My goodness me. It's sort of immaterial on one level but on another this changes the history books and the European celebrations will be even better now that they've actually won here. I'm ecstatic on lots of levels as my main bet/tip was Europe to win 14.5-13.5 and, after looking dead in the water, it's come in. Not sure how pleased the bookies will be though with Tiger's missed putt!
1710 Wow. Wow. Wow, with a side salad of wow. Europe have not only retained the Ryder Cup, they've won this event outright. The stand behind 18 for media types is a great vantage point and when I get there I see Kaymer hit his second out of sand. I honestly think it's going to come up short but it creeps onto the green and it's looking great for Europe now. Stricker pulls his approach a little and then, after an eternity, hits a shocking putt that doesn't get anywhere near the hole. Kaymer simply has to two-putt from 25 feet but he knocks his first effort six feet past. Oh Martin! With Tiger now going 1up on Molinari at the 17th, if Stricker makes, Kaymer misses and Woods closes the last match out, it's the USA who will win. This really is on a knife edge. Stricker does make and suddenly there's enormous pressure on Kaymer. This is incredible tension. Everyone is thinking how his compatriot Bernhard Langer missed a putt of similar distance in 1991 which cost Europe the Cup. Kaymer steadies himself though and... knocks it in. Pandemonium! Europe have retained the Cup and pulled off something astonishing!
1655: With Stricker missing his putt on 17, Europe have a guaranteed half from Kaymer. If the German can halve the last, the Europeans will, incredibly, have reached the magic number of 14 which means they retain the cup. I'm off outside....
1645: Dufner eventually sees off Peter Hanson, who battled bravley, so it's now 13-13. Two matches to go and both could go either way. This is astonishing exciting!
1635: The tie is now just 2/1. I tipped that at 11/1 at the start of the week and there's a decent chance it could collect.
1627: Another huge moment as Sergio wins his match with Furyk, who hands him it really with bogeys at the final two holes. The scoreboard now says USA 12 Europe 13. Am I seeing things?!
1625: Westwood secures his 21st Ryder Cup point by beating Kuchar 3&2. Now 12-12.
1614: Another little momentum swing as Sergio wins 17 to go all square with Furyk. Can the Spaniard win the last and claim another point?
1608: Within minutes of writing that, Kaymer and Westwood both hole 15 footers! That means Kaymer is 1up with four to play while Lee has gone 3up with three to play.
1605: Maybe the Rose win was the excitement peak for Europeans. Tiger has now gone ahead of Molinari, Zach Johnson has closed out McDowell and Garcia and Hanson are both down. It's reflected in the odds with the US now slashed to 1/12 again.
1545: Dashed out to 18 just in time to see Rose and Mickelson arrive. Poulter and McIlroy, fresh from their wins, were there to cheer on Rose who hit a superb approach to about 12 feet. Mickelson missed the green and couldn't hole his chip so the stage was clear for Rose. He's not always the greatest putter but he held his nerve superbly as he tapped his lightning fast putt towards the hole and it dropped. What a moment and I had a great view from the grandstand at the back. 11-11 and this is really turning into a classic.
1527: Excitement rising faster! Just been for a quick sandwich and in that time Rory and Poulter have both closed out their matches to make it 10-10! What's more, as I walked back into the press tent, Justin Rose just holed a bomb on 17 to pull level with Mickelson. Surely Europe can't pull this off - can they?!
1510: Excitement rising. Paul Lawrie beats Snedeker 5&3 to cut the gap to 10-8. And now Poulter wins 17 to go dormie one on Simpson.
1455: Love it that supporters of both sides still have a bit of a knot in their stomachs. Could easily have been a damp squib day. As it stands, if the matches all ended now, the US would win just 15-13.
1445: Luke Donald: "It was a big honour for me that Ollie had enough trust in me to go out and get that first point for Europe. It certainly helped having some local support. It wasn't totally going Bubba's way. I felt a lot of love from the crowd."
1435 Hmmm. Europe only up in one match now and Sky Bet's odds spell doom. They make USA 1/33 and Europe 14s.
1425 Luke Donald wins the top match despite Bubba rallying by winning 15 and 16 (chipped in) to prevent the Englishman finishing it early. Score now USA 10 Europe 7. The next three matches are massive as they've all gone all square. Paul Lawrie is 4up in the fifth match so, in theory, Europe could win the first five matches. That would put the cat amongst the pigeons.
1405 The fear of everyone in the media was that this would turn into a damp squib and the US would run away with the match. That certainly hasn't happened so far and there's still a gently bubbling tension that Europe might make this interesting.
1345 Biggest eye-brow raiser, at least amongst the US fans and journos - Paul Lawrie being 3up on FedEx Cup winner Brandt Snedeker.
1330 Quick snap-shot of the scoreboard shows Europe up in 6, US up in 5 and one all-square. Highlights include Luke being 4up on Bubba after 12 while Simpson, despite hitting a shocking shank earlier, is 1up in the big match with Poulter.1310 My final visit to the grandstand behind the first tee as Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari tee off in the last game. Seems strange sending Tiger out last. It could be all over by then in which case he will have missed the party completely. The other way of looking at it is that Love might think the outcome will go to Tiger's match but that hints at not having faith in the men above him. Can't work it out. Before rushing to the first tee I paid a visit to the putting green to see Molinari getting some last-minute advice from coach Denis Pugh. Tiger was practising downhill putts, getting a big roar when he holed a huge breaking 30 footer. Europe currently up in four of the top five matches although there is a good smattering of red in the bottom games.
1220 European blue showing in three of the top four matches. Just what Olazabal would have wanted. Donald 2up on Watson, Rory 1up on Bradley and Rose 1up on Mickelson.
1130 I've got access to the putting green so was able to get right in amongst it as the first groups warmed up. I planted myself near to the steps of the European locker room so I could snap Rory running out. But time ticked on and I wondered where he'd got to. Eventually he emerged, had a few quick practice putts and chips and then headed off to the first tee. When I got back to the press tent I found out that Rory had actually been running late. He was watching TV last night and they were showing the tee-times in Eastern Time. We, of course, are in Central Time in Chicago so McIlroy believed he was teeing off at 1225 instead of 1125! Wow, what a mistake that could have been. The rules say if McIlroy had been at all late he would have forfeited the first hole; if he had been five minutes late he would have been disqualified! Understandably, his opening tee-shot was poor but Rory has managed a par at the first so hopefully the rushed prep hasn't hurt him.
1110 Just back from the first tee where the atmosphere was tremendous as Luke and Bubba teed off. It'll be one of my favourite memories from this Ryder Cup, the crowds roaring rather than falling silent when Bubba tees off. All great fun and, just for good measure, Bubba went on to birdie the hole, as did Luke.
1010 If you've had a bet on top points scorer, here are the current standings after the first two days:
US points scorers: 3 Bradley, Mickelson; 2 Bubba, Simpson D Johnson, Z Johnson, Dufner, Kuchar, 1 Furyk, Snedeker, 0 Woods, Stricker.
Euro points scorers: 3 Poulter; 2 McIlroy, Rose; 1 Donald, Colsaerts, McDowell, Garcia, Westwood; 0 Lawrie, Hanson, Kaymer, Molinari.
So six players still to get off the mark while Bradley, Mickelson and Poulter have been the stars of the show.
0940 I got a late-night buggy ride off the TV guys from Canal+ the other evening. Noting the French accents I trotted out my usual French golf line - do you know "Philippe Chassepot". French golf writer Philippe and I became friends due to a common love for music (Teenage Fanclub the first connection I recall) and all the French TV guys went "aah, yes, Philippe. A great friend". Golf journo Matt Cooper did an interview with Philippe for his new website, curiousaboutgolf.com, recently and I particularly liked this answer: Q: How much media exposure will the Ryder Cup get in your country? Philippe: "Golf is still a enigma for most French people. And it will remain like this for a long time (probably for about three centuries, more or less)!" Well, hopefully they come around a bit quicker than that as Paris is the host of the 2018 Ryder Cup.
0930 On a lighter note, there was some disappointment in the media canteen earlier. The usual eggs, bacon and sausage has been replaced by waffles and maple syrup. "As if I could stomach syrup at this time of the morning," said one UK photographer. The other gripe was that no milk had been delivered due to a mix-up. This caused un-opened cereal being returned angrily to the counter although I found a solution and poured 17 of those little sachets over my Honey Clusters.
0830: Morning all. Bit of a lie in today with the matches not starting untill 1103 local time. However, when I turned on the Golf Channel at 0730 they were showing the 1st tee which was pretty much packed out already. Presenter Frank Nobilo claimed the crowds are the best he's ever experienced in pro sports. Utter nonsense. Did he not go to the K Club in 2006? The Golf Channel trotting out banalities about the crowd being great is understandable and, on the whole, the Chicago fans have been a good bunch. But any praise needs a few caveats. Asking around, there have been some horrid references to Seve and Luke Donald's late father while some of the chanting for European shots to go wrong has been very audible. Put it this way, several US journalists have admitted they're highly embarrassed to be American in such circumstances. Then again, in a massive crowd anywhere you'll find idiots fuelled by beer - not a good combination - so it's not really a surprise. Doesn't make it right though.