Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

McDowell's Ryder Cup Magic

Down by three points going into the last day of this year's Ryder Cup in Wales, America's chances for a repeat win in the prestigious global team event looked slim. But during the singles matches, the Americans mounted a furious comeback against the European team. Even Tiger Woods, who was awful in his return to the tour after his scandal-plagued divorce, won his match. The U.S. tied the tournament at 13 ½ — 13 ½, with only American Hunter Mahan and his opponent, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, left on the course. On the 16th hole McDowell, up a hole on Mahan, needed to sink a 15-foot birdie putt to give himself a comfortable cushion against the American, and prevent an epic European collapse. With the expectations of the continent thrust upon him, McDowell, who in June became the first European to win the U.S. Open in 40 years, rolled it in; the crowd let out a cathartic roar, as if they were at a World Cup football match.

Mahan shanked the next hole and conceded the match: a sea of Euro frenzy engulfed McDowell on the green, and Europe secured its sixth of the last eight cups. "I've never felt more nervous on a golf course in all my life," he said afterwards. And he was never more clutch.