Europe Win the Ryder Cup 2012

Starting the third & final day 10-6 down, the odds were stacked against Europe to even make a reasonable score, let alone retain the Ryder Cup by winning a majority of the 12 singles matches.  But with Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose & Paul Lawrie winning the first five matches, the final day was an amazing show of awesome, nail-biting golf.

Ian Poulter didn’t lead in his match against Webb Simpson until the 17th hole and Justin Rose needed 18 holes to beat Phil Mickelson finishing with two sublime birdies.

While Rory McIlroy beat the young charismatic Keegan Bradley after only arriving at the Medinah Country Club ten minutes before his tee time in a police car with the excuse he had confused Eastern with Central Time!

Luke Donald & Bubba Watson was the first match of the day & the first to finish with Donald winning 2&1. But apart from Paul Lawrie thrashing US rookie Brandt Snedeker 5&3 every match was a tight one, with many switching from red to blue and back again.

It went right down to the wire, the last two matches between Steve Stricker & Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods vs Francesco Molinari.  With three holes to play both matches were all square with Europe needing just one point to retain the Ryder Cup. And it went down to the 18th when Steve Stricker made his putt and left Martin Kaymer a shot to win or lose the Ryder Cup for Europe. With just one match remaining, Kaymer won the Ryder Cup for Europe in the most amazing comeback of all-time.

In a post-match interview José María Olazábal attempted to dedicate the win to his great friend Seve Ballesteros before breaking down with emotion.

Sunday’s Singles:
Bubba Watson lost to Luke Donald 2&1
Webb Simpson lost to Ian Poulter 2 up
Keegan Bradley lost to Rory McIlroy 2&1
Phil Mickelson lost to Justin Rose 1 up
Brandt Snedeker lost to Paul Lawrie 5&3
Dustin Johnson beat Nicolas Colsaerts 3&2
Zach Johnson beat Graeme McDowell 2&1
Jim Furyk lost to Sergio Garcia 1 up
Jason Dufner beat Peter Hanson 2 up
Matt Kuchar lost to Lee Westwood 3&2
Steve Stricker lost to Martin Kaymer 1 up
Tiger Woods v Francesco Molinari A/S

Team Europe win the Ryder Cup in the final Singles Match

Graeme McDowell has finished a great personal year by winning the Ryder Cup for Team Europe in what turned out to be a very close match.  Europe won by 14½ points to 13½ in the last of today’s singles matches, beating Hunter Mahan 3&1.

Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter were mobbed as Hunter Mahan conceded the 17th hole, giving Graeme McDowell the victory needed to bring the Ryder Cup back to Europe. All the Team Europe players gathered around Captain Colin Montgomerie as champagne and tears began to flow.

Colin Montgomerie told Sky Sports “It’s a proud, proud moment for me.”

Europe needed five points from today’s Singles and got the points they needed with wins from Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Miguel Angel Jiminez & Graeme McDowell; and Rory McIlroy and Edorado Molinari.

Team Europe won four Singles matches today:

Luke Donald beat Jim Furyk (1up)
Ian Poulter beat Matt Kuchar (5&4)
Miguel Angel Jiminez beat Bubba Watson (4&3)
Graeme McDowell beat Hunter Mahan (3&1)

The United States also won six Singles matches today:

Dustin Johnson beat Martin Kaymer
Jeff Overton beat Ross Fisher (4&3)
Tiger Woods beat Francesco Molinari (4&3)
Phil Mickelson beat Peter Hanson (4&2)
Zach Johnson beat Padraig Harrington (3&2)
Steve Stricker beat Lee Westwood (2&1)

Rory McIlroy v Stewart Cink – halved
Edorado Molinari v Rickie Fowler – halved

Steve Stricker ready to take next step

Among those likely to be at the fore of the betting market for this The Open Championship at St Andrews this year there is one player who almost always gets ignored because of his simple efficiency and low profile.

The golfer in question just happens to be the best active player in the world at the moment, but how things have changed in the last five years for Steve Stricker, who looked to be heading out of the sport not very long ago.

The 42-year-old Wisconsin native won for the first time on the PGA Tour back in 1996 at the Kemper Open, and went on to add a second tournament victory that season but those would be his only successes until the new millennium.

His biggest victory, in cash terms, came in 2001 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play but only three years after that, with his exemptions all gone, Stricker lost his way and eventually lost his card before spending time in the wilderness.

But he regained his love for the game after a break and, relying on sponsors’ exemptions, became the PGA Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2006 after finishing in the top ten of seven tournaments.

A win would come in 2007 at The Barclays, but 2009 proved to be his best year and the one that put him right up there among the Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson’s of the world – as usual, he got no headlines.

Steve Stricker has already visited the winners’ enclosure in 2010 so his next aim is to break a duck in the major championships – his best performance so far came all the way back in 1998 in the US PGA at Sahalee. He might manage this before the summer as the golf betting currently makes him joint fourth favourite for the US Masters.

However, regardless of his performance at that event his game should be ideal for St Andrews this summer, especially if the weather is good. The fact that he missed the cut on his only previous visit back in 2000 can be ignored as his form was nothing like it is now.

Stricker does not rely on booming drives – he is more a finesse player – and St Andrews should set up perfectly for him since his putting will be a huge bonus on the massive greens he will face.

If Tiger Woods fails to make his way back to the tour by then – he would still probably be favourite if he turned up – then Stricker could be land the biggest payday of his career and secure a massive boost in a Ryder Cup year.

Winning boring is just fine for Steve Stricker

Steve Stricker moved back to the number two spot in the world rankings after his victory in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club last the weekend on the PGA Tour.

The dependable Wisconsin native led for most of the last three rounds and, unlike early last season, showed a good deal of composure after seeing his six-shot lead cut to two on a couple of occasions by Luke Donald and JB Holmes.

Stricker’s story is quite an amazing one as it is only six years since he lost his card on the PGA Tour and wondered what the future would hold after completely losing his swing with a driver, something a player with little distance off the tee would find a career-killer.

But he bounced back in style in 2006, finishing in the top ten at seven tournaments, mainly on sponsors’ exemption entries. Since the end of 2006 he has won five tournaments and competed well in the majors.

Victory in one of those has to be the next aim as he has top ten finishes in all four of them over the last two seasons.

Stricker’s resurgence is underlined by the fact that those betting online can get 5/2 on him topping this year’s US Money list.

He will never win any prizes for distance or for playing an exciting game, but in these times of improved technology he gets by, and on the greens there is barely a better player in the world. He topped the PGA rankings with the flat-stick in 2009 and putted superbly at Riviera while others were wasting chances.

Now, with Tiger Woods on the sidelines, he has the right to call himself the best active golfer in the world and what a deserved honour that is for a man who could walk down most high streets in the US and not be recognised.

Steve Stricker is certainly more deserving of the recognition at the moment than a surly Phil Mickelson, who huffed and puffed his way around a Riviera course he has won on twice in the past.

Who cares if Stricker admits to being boring? When it comes down to it, getting that little white ball into the hole is all that matters to him. At the moment he is the best in the world at doing it. Golf doesn’t always have to be exciting or controversial – boring will do just fine after all the travails Stricker has been through.