“Golf is a day spent in a round of strenuous idleness.” Those are the words of the English romantic poet William Wordsworth, and certainly not wholly unfair, since it is a game that if watched and not played, does appear slow (mind you … some could say the same about Test cricket). But idle would be the last word you would use to describe the final day of the 2012 Ryder Cup between the US and Europe.
From an almost impossible position of 10-6 down, before the final days 12 single matches began, Europe somehow managed to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in golf and competitive team sport. And the US found a way to lose the Ryder Cup for the seventh time in the last nine outings.
The Europeans were excellent as the to-and-fro of the day’s events culminated in an outstanding finish, wrapping up one of the most memorable Ryder Cups ever. The US dominated the first two days but the Herculean efforts of the Europeans erased the deficit and in some style. Almost every time the men from Europe needed the ball to drop, it did.
While the likes of Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods (as neither man won a point all week) will be scapegoated, the casual attitude of the Americans — with Bubba Watson being cheered mid-swing on the opening tee as an example — most likely played a role in their defeat.
For those who do like the more gentlemanly aspects of golf, such as reserved and thoughtful behaviour by onlookers on the course, it was a moment of schadenfreude for pro-European fans as the Europeans edged closer to victory the less vocal the boorish American fans became.
The Europeans rallied around the idea of doing it for the late Spanish great Seve Ballesteros, who apart from being one of the icons of the sport, was one of the central figures in revitalising the image of the Ryder Cup on the blue side of the Atlantic.
In the end, like in Test cricket where it only takes one session to change a match, the Europeans stood up when it mattered most. They will be celebrating a fine victory. For the US, reflection and introspection lies ahead as they ask themselves “how did we throw that one away?”