Give Europe credit. Ian Poulter grabbed the Ryder Cup and wouldn't let go. And one by one, his teammates followed. Jose Maria Olazabal played it like a maestro Sunday, and Seve Ballesteros was the inspiration.
But as much as Europe won the 39th Ryder Cup, the United States blew it. How did it happen? Let us count the ways.
Davis Love III » When the United States had a commanding lead after three rounds Saturday, Love rested Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson even though they had driven America to the lead and lit up Medinah with three adrenaline-fueled victories. With Bradley and Mickelson out of the lineup, Europe seized the momentum late Saturday. On Sunday, Bradley and Mickelson lost singles matches.
"In hindsight we would have done lots different," Love said. "I'm gonna second-guess myself a long time."
Love said before the event that he didn't want any of his players to compete in all five rounds. This was nice guy Love trying to make everyone happy. But Saturday was when America needed a captain who wanted to step on Europe's throat, not a Little League coach.
17th and 18th holes?» If all the Sunday singles matches had ended after 16 holes, the United States would have cruised to a five-point victory. The trouble is the United States had to play No. 17 and No. 18 and did so disastrously, going 6-over par without a birdie. Europe played the holes in 1 under. Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia were 1 down headed to the 17th tee, but both won both holes for 1 up victories. Poulter also won both holes in his 2 up win over Webb Simpson.
Captain's choices » While Olazabal came up aces with his captain's choice of Poulter (4-0), Love drew a losing hand. With the exception of Dustin Johnson (3-0), his captain's choices turned in the three worst performances for the United States. On Sunday, Jim Furyk (1-2) choked, Brandt Snedeker (1-2) disintegrated and Steve Stricker (0-4) couldn't beat Europe's weakest link, Martin Kaymer.
Poultergeist » Europe has its leader in Poulter, who has gone 12-3 in his Ryder Cup career, the best record in event history. Who does America have? Mickelson (14-18-6)? Tiger Woods (13-17-3)? Furyk (9-17-4)? The United States has lost seven of the last nine Ryder Cups. Talent is not the problem. Leadership is.
- Kevin Dunleavy