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COLUMN: Meltdown, miracle, or both?

How Europe and Davis Love III sealed the United States’ Ryder Cup fate

October 2, 2012
B.J. LISKO - Salem News Sports Editor ( , Salem News

At first glance Sunday, the United States red, white and blew it at the Ryder Cup something fierce. Singles match after singles match kept going the way of the Europeans, and the U.S. team, sans Jason Dufner, Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson, played particularly poorly at just about every clutch moment down the stretch.

As nice as it would have been to see the Chicago faithful erupt in a fantastic celebration with an American win, after seeing the stoic, stone-faced European captain Jose Maria Olazabel break down in tears at chants of "Seve, Seve, Seve" in honor of the late, great Spaniard Ballesteros - Olazabel's late friend and fellow countryman who died of a brain tumor in May of 2011 - it certainly seemed like fate had a hand in this edition of the Cup.

Call it the Chicago Collapse, the Curse of Seve, the Meltdown at Medinah, everything needed to go right for Europe and did.

Justin Rose drained three of the biggest putts of his life in succession to beat Phil Mickelson. Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, basically picked for their putting prowess, couldn't have holed anything at Medinah if they were putting beach balls into Lake Michigan.

Davis Love III stuck Tiger Woods last in singles play, seemingly an afterthought as Love himself admitted he though Dufner's win would seal the deal. Not to be.

Two main factors determined Europe's seventh victory in the last nine tries.

1. Europe wanted it more late Saturday and Sunday.

2. Davis Love III was out of his league.

You can point to Stricker, Tiger, Furyk or even Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar or Brandt Snedeker for not earning a point or even a half point Sunday. But Love thought it was a done deal. Love let his players dictate everything they wanted to do including who they wanted to pair with and when they wanted to play. Phil is too gassed to play again on Saturday? He and Keegan Bradley beat everyone in sight easily. Get another early point while they're hot. Tiger wants to play later on in the day Sunday? What's the point of being the captain if you're not going to do anything? Love just supplanted Hal Sutton as the worst American Ryder Cup captain ever, and Sutton's team got shellacked 18.5-9.5 in 2004.

But I digress. Much can be made of the United States putting the "die" in Medinah, but Europe had fate on its side.

Seve Ballesteros made a career out of turning wild shots into wonderful results. His spirit was alive and well in the hearts of the European players Sunday.

Olazabel, visibly shaken at the memory of his late friend put it best.

"Every man dies, but not every man has the chance to live. You made me feel alive again this week. I'm pretty sure he's happy wherever he is today."



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