By DOUG FERGUSON, Associated Press
MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) — Europe buried the memory of that American comeback at Brookline in 1999 with one that was even better.
Medinah was filled with sheer madness Sunday, the matches so close for so much of the day that even when Martin Kaymer stood over a 6-foot par putt on the 18th hole to clinch it, the Ryder Cup was up in air.
The putt was pure and the celebration was on.
"It will go down in the history books of the Ryder Cup," said European captain Jose Maria Olazabal.
The size of the comeback was equal to what the Americans pulled off at The Country Club, but at least they had help from endless cheers of the home crowd. Not many gave Europe much of a chance until Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia turned what looked to be certain losses into improbable wins, filling the scoreboard with European blue.
"What you did out there today was outstanding," Olazabal told his team at the closing ceremony. "You believed and you delivered. And I'm very proud that you have kept Europe's hands on this Ryder Cup. All men die, but not all men live. And you made me feel alive again this week."
Then, Olazabal bowed his head and closed his eyes as they filled with tears, and the European fans sensed what was coming next.
He didn't have to say a word. They said it for him.
"Seve, Seve, Seve," they began to chant.
Olazabal walked down the row and hugged every player until he saved the longest embrace for Lee Westwood, the only player who was on that 1997 team when Ballesteros was the captain, the last visible role he played at the Ryder Cup. He died in May 2011 at age 54 of a brain tumor.
Westwood, Garcia and Paul Lawrie were the only players on the '99 team that blew a 10-6 lead, and all of them won matches.
"We wanted to see how they would react, and see if they could hold it," Garcia said of the Americans. "And it was a combination of playing great, and maybe then that little bit of pressure getting to them."
The Americans were simply stunned.
Three times they came to the 17th hole with a chance to win a match, only for Europe to deliver the key shots that win the Ryder Cup. Ian Poulter won the last two holes, and so did Rose, a birdie-birdie finish to beat Phil Mickelson. Garcia won the last two holes with pars to beat Jim Furyk.
Furyk had beaten Garcia at Brookline in a pivotal match.
"That was fun," Furyk said. "This was pretty miserable."
If Kaymer had missed the putt and halved his match with Steve Stricker, the Americans would have been one point away from winning — with Tiger Woods in the fairway and 1 up over Francesco Molinari.
Woods wound up missing a 3½-foot par putt and conceded a par to the Italian from the same distance to halve their match. That extra half-point made it a clear-cut win for Europe, 14½-13½. Woods and Stricker, the anchors in the lineup, didn't win a single match at Medinah.
"This one is for all of Europe," Olazabal said. "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. And I think they did."
Poulter was the first to embrace Olazabal, which was only fitting.
It was Poulter who gave Europe hope Saturday evening when he made five straight birdies to turn a loss into a win and swing momentum in Europe's favor. Poulter was up to his fist-pumping, eye-bulging tricks again on the final day, winning the last two holes in his match against U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.
And he had plenty of help. Europe's top five players in the lineup all won, including Rory McIlroy, who was lucky to be playing.
McIlroy thought his match was at 12:25 p.m. — it was listed in Eastern time, not Central — and needed a police escort to get to the course with 10 minutes to spare. Then, he came up with key birdies to hand Keegan Bradley his first loss of the week.
The biggest match might have belonged to Rose. He was on the verge of losing to Mickelson when Rose holed a 12-foot par putt to halve the 16th, made a 35-foot birdie putt from the back of the 17th green to win the hole, and then closed out Mickelson with a 12-foot birdie on the last hole.