At this year’s Ryder Cup in Medinah, Illinois, the U.S. entered the final day up 10-6, needing to win just four of the 12 singles matches, and to halve (tie) another, to reclaim the Cup. The last time a Ryder Cup squad came back from such a deficit: 1999, when the U.S. famously ticked off all of Europe by celebrating its dramatic win in Brookline, Mass. before it was official. But the U.S. had led this Cup wire-to-wire, and Europe was a mess. The world’s best player, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, even misread his tee-time on this final day, and needed a police escort to get to the course before his match started.
With little warm-up, however, McIlroy won his match. His mates took care of business too: Europe put the first four points on the board, to tie things up at 10. Americans Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, and Steve Stricker faltered down the stretch: after Martin Kaymer of Germany sunk a six-foot par putt on the final hole to give Europe the title, his teammates mobbed him, and celebrated an emotional comeback win dedicated to a Ryder Cup great, Spain’s Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer in 2011.