"I feel a lot of love from the crowd," Donald said, "and just a lot of relief that that game is over."
McIlroy continues to make practice look overrated — even moreso when your opponent does your work for you.
Bradley has been the emotional engine for the Americans and reaching into his motivational bag of tricks, he takes a big risk by trying to drive the reachable par-4 15th green. He winds up just in front of a grandstand and makes a nice recovery shot to set up a par. McIlroy takes the safe route. He lays up with his drive, knocks his approach within a few feet and slides in an easy birdie to go 2-up.
After he finishes off Bradley two holes later, an interviewer asks, "Extra special to take out what is their talisman really?"
"When I got the matchup," concedes McIlroy, who isn't ranked No. 1 in the world for nothing, "I liked it."
Lawrie mercifully closes out Snedeker at No. 15, the earliest end to any match. Good thing, too, because the Americans manage to take only 1½ points from the six matches that reach the 18th. Europe claws back to 10-8.
At the 17th, meanwhile, Poulter gets his hands on the lead for the first time in his match against Simpson. Despite falling temperatures, the noted clotheshorse is still playing in shirt sleeves. Embroidered on his left sleeve is a silhouette of the late Seve Ballesteros, one of Europe's best and most beloved Ryder Cup players and their captain in 1997.
"Seve is trying hard," Poulter would say after making par at 17 and a birdie at 18 to finish off Simpson. "It's incredible."
It IS incredible. The matches stretched for nearly 4½ hours before the U.S. team gets its first point when Dustin Johnson dusts off McDowell to restore the Americans' lead at 11-10.
But in short order, Rose dispatches Mickelson with three clutch putts in a row — the first for par from 35 feet and last two for birdies — turning a 1-down deficit into a 1-up win.
"Now I know how Ian Poulter feels. I had a glance down and looked at my left sleeve," he says, referring to the Ballesteros silhouette. "That's the kind of stuff he would have done today."
Even announcer Johnny Miller is picking up on the vibe: "The impossible is thinking about happening," he says.
Westwood has a 1-footer to close out Kuchar, 3 up on the 16th green. As he looks over the putt, he looks back at Kuchar to see if the American will concede. Kuchar won't. Westwood taps it in to even the match once again at 12-12.
Moments later, Sergio Garcia decides not to concede the 8-footer Jim Furyk needs to halve the match. Furyk misses and Europe pulls in front at 13-12.
Kaymer drives into the right bunker on 18 and his approach shot rolls 20 feet past the flag. Waiting for Stricker to play, his caddy begins massaging his shoulders. Stricker hits his iron 45 feet past the flag and the crowd makes one final, feeble attempt to pump up the U.S. team.
"USA! USA! USA!" rings across the ground.
In short order, Stricker misreads his putt and runs it down the left side of the green, still a good 8 feet from the hole. Kaymer's nervous jab at a birdie is only slightly better, sliding two yards past.
Stricker misses and all that stands between Kaymer and the win are 6 measly feet.
In 1991, Bernhard Langer, the first German to make a Ryder Cup team, faced a par putt of the same length on the 18th at Kiawah Island to keep the cup in European hands. He missed.
Kaymer pours his in the middle of the hole. He lets the handle of the putter drop at his side, balls up his fists and raises both hands in the air.
"When you were standing over that putt on 18," a reporter asks Kaymer, "did you think about Bernhard Langer and his putt in 1991?"