Ahead of the Ryder Cup getting underway tomorrow at Whistling Straits, we have decided to take a close look back at one of Europe’s greatest ever victories at Medinah.
With the Ryder Cup finally making its return to the golfing calendar tomorrow, many would say that despite being current holders, Europe head to Whistling Straits as the underdogs.
Any Ryder Cup away from home is a tricky one, however Padraig Harrington’s task is made much harder thanks to the star-studded 12-man American team facing his side, as nine of the world’s top 11 golfers are all turning out for the host nation at this year’s event.
Furthermore, the long-winding Whistling Straits course that awaits the two sides is one that could well suit the long hitting American team, that includes the likes of the Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, who are all known for their long striking from the tee box.
Despite this, a European underdog success story on foreign soil is something that has come before, following the visitors’ historic comeback victory at the 2012 event at Medinah Golf Course, which aptly earned the nickname the ‘Miracle at Medinah’.
After a pretty dismal early showing back in 2012, the European’s found themselves with a mountain to climb at the halfway stage of the tournament, as a dominant Friday and early Saturday saw the American’s take a demanding 8-4 lead into day two’s afternoon session.
Things would then get worse for the visiting team as two defeats in the two opening fourballs saw the American’s move even closer to Ryder Cup glory, in what was shaping out to be a heavy drubbing from the home side.
The delirium from the raucous home crowd was clear to see around the Illinois course, as they could smell a regaining of the Ryder Cup crown.
However this atmosphere soon became a tad quieter, as Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald looked to salvage some pride for the European’s as the pair earned just their side’s second point of the day with a one-up victory over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in a much needed away team win.
This sense of pride however, quickly turned to hope as European stalwart Ian Poulter showed just why he is one of the greatest Ryder Cup players ever.
The Englishman reignited his notorious Ryder Cup form and carded a remarkable five birdies in a row to secure a nail-biting one-up win alongside Rory McIlroy against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.
Poulter’s heroics in the Medinah sunset were exactly what the visiting team needed, as they headed into the final day singles matches four points behind, lighting a Sunday flame that the once confident Americans were unable to blow out.
The final session of singles matches have always been known to throw up drama, however Sunday in Medinah was like no other.
The equation was simple, Team USA needed just four and a half points to get their hands back on the trophy, whilst Europe needed eight to retain it, and eight and a half to win outright.
If the Medinah miracle was to come through for Jose Maria Olazabal’s side a quick start was needed and this is exactly what they got, winning five of the first seven singles matches to claw themselves well into contention with half of the matches still to finish.
Poulter again proved just why he was nicknamed ‘The Postman’ as he delivered yet another point with a win over Webb Simpson to ensure he ended the tournament unbeaten.
As a sea of blue began to flood the Medinah leaderboards, the European’s finally got their noses in front for the first time. Sergio Garcia completed a heroic turnaround to win his last two holes, and the match against Jim Furyk, whilst Justin Rose rolled in a superb 40-feet putt on the 17th green to help him defeat Phil Mickelson – who couldn’t help but applaud his rival’s heroics.
This meant Olazabal’s underdogs required just half a point for victory, as all attention turned to Martin Kaymer. After flying a birdie putt six-feet past the hole the pressure was on the German to roll in his par to clinch the all-important half point.
Despite the first miss he kept his cool to hole the putt at the second attempt and record arguably one of the greatest sporting revivals of all time, and no doubt the greatest in Ryder Cup folklore.
A jovial, but emotional European team began their celebrations alongside winning captain Olazabal, in what was the perfect tribute to his late, great friend and European legend Seve Ballesteros who had died one year prior.