Six of the 12 matches went to the 18th hole on Sunday. The Americans won only one of them.
"Today was certainly not what we expect," U.S. captain Davis Love III said.
Love became the first U.S. captain to sit every player at least once before Sunday, wanting them to be fresh for the decisive day. Instead, the Americans faltered at the end — especially Furyk and Stricker, two of his captain's picks.
The only U.S. points came from Dustin Johnson, who went 3-0 in this Ryder Cup, Zach Johnson and unheralded Jason Dufner.
"We're all kind of stunned," Love said. "We know what it feels like now from the '99 Ryder Cup. It's a little bit shocking. We were playing so well, we figured it didn't matter how we sent them out there. We got a couple of matches flipped there in the middle that cost us."
Love thought all along the Ryder Cup would be decided in the ninth match by Dufner. It was most appropriate that Europe won the cup thanks to Kaymer.
Kaymer gave German golf some redemption from Kiawah Island in 1991, when countryman Bernhard Langer missed a par putt from about the same length that allowed the Americans to win.
"I did think about him, especially when I walked around the hole and read the putt from the other side," Kaymer said. "So I thought, 'OK, it's not going to happen again, it's not going to happen again.' And to be honest with you, I didn't really think about missing. There was only one choice you have. You have to make it."
It was a collapse the Americans won't soon forget. Just 24 hours earlier, they had a 10-4 lead with two team matches still on the course — they were ahead in one of them, while Woods and Stricker were closing in on the other. It's hard to believe they would only win 3½ points the rest of the way.
Europe came out fast, and for McIlroy, that started at his hotel.
He was leisurely heading out of the hotel — thinking that his tee time was an hour later than it was — when he got a frantic call to tell him his match was in 25 minutes. McIlroy was lucky to run into the police, who helped him get to Medinah with enough time to change his shoes, take a few putts and head to the tee box.
He never trailed in his match, making two straight birdies late to knock off Bradley.
"It's my own fault," McIlroy said. "If I let down these 11 other boys and vice captains and captains this week, I would never forgive myself. I'm just obviously happy to get the point and help the cause out a little bit today."
Everyone pitched in.
Luke Donald, who makes Chicago his home and had a small share of gallery support, overwhelmed Bubba Watson despite being some 50 yards behind him off the tee. Paul Lawrie, returning to the Ryder Cup after a 13-year absence, had the shortest match of the day against FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker. Poulter outlasted Simpson when the U.S. Open champion hit into a bunker on the 17th and made bogey, and then hit well long on the 18th when he needed a birdie to halve the match.
Jack Nicklaus first suggested in 1977 that all of Europe be included in the Ryder Cup, which brought the great Ballesteros into the matches. He was determined to prove that Europeans were equal to the Americans, and they have shown to be every bit of that over the last three decades.