Team Europe of the Ryder Cup 2012In the end it was a stunning victory, but those of a nervous disposition can surely not have enjoyed the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Sports fans who could bring themselves to uncover their eyes on the competition’s final day will have witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in the sport’s long history. The Europeans had fared almost comically badly, Rory McIlroy misreading the time on his mobile phone and as a result nearly missing his Sunday tee-off time.

Trailing 10-6 on the final day at the Medinah course, European Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal could have been excused for imagining that his team was facing an insurmountable gap. This idea was reinforced by many American sports commentators who were rejoicing in the home team’s dominance, one going as far as to suggest that the only way that the Europeans could grasp victory from the jaws of defeat was if the American team was abducted by aliens.

In the end there were no abductions and the visitors dominated Sunday’s play; Martin Kaymer, who has had a dismal year up to this point, ensured that the Ryder Cup would return to Europe when he beat Steve Stricker, securing a draw. Sportingly, he attributed his victory to Olazábal’s advice: “José María told me: ‘We need your point. I don’t care how you do it, just deliver’. But I like those. It was straightforward. That is the way we Germans are. Fortunately, I could handle it and I made the last putt.”

Martin Kaymer of Germany Ryder Cup 2012It was left to Italy’s Francesco Molinari to seal victory in his match against Tiger Woods and ensure that José María Olazábal would forever be known as a captain who led a Ryder Cup team to an away win. On the day, Olazábal seemed more overcome by emotion than celebratory and confessed that his thoughts were mostly of his friend, Seve Ballesteros, who took Spanish golf to a new level. “All men die, but not all men live,” he stated at the closing ceremony, the recent death of Ballesteros still clearly at the forefront of his mind.

Both Ballesteros and Olazábal have ensured that the future of golf in Spain will be a long and healthy one, with a new generation of players primed to take over from the old guard. The country’s climate, excellent facilities and generally high level of interest in the sport means that Spain can draw on a growing pool of prospective Ryder Cup players for many years to come.

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