“All men die but not all men live – you made me feel alive again this week,” said an emotional European captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, as he looked across to his team that had just delivered the greatest comeback in the history of the Ryder Cup. It was indeed, a lovely moment, amongst many lovely moments in this extraordinary third and final day at Medinah Golf Club, Chicago.
American Dignity In Defeat
The American captain, Davis Love, responded with: “To captain Olazabal and the 12 men on your team, my heartfelt congratulations. Well done.”
Immediately after the Ryder Cup was over the opposition captains embraced each other after historic victory for Europe (who were losing heavily going into the 3rd & final day).
Tribute To A Fallen Hero Who Still Inspires All
The Europeans wore navy blue jumpers and white shirts with a silhouette of Seve Ballesteros on the sleeve, in honour of Spain’s great player who died last year (five-time major winner, former Ryder Cup winning captain), he expanded the Ryder Cup to include European players in 1979. Ballesteros played in the Ryder Cup eight times and captained the side to victory in 1997 on home soil.
Justin Rose, who came from behind on the 16th to birdie the last two holes and beat America’s Phil Mickelson on the 18th, said: “In the moment you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, but as soon as I holed that putt [on the 18th], as soon as I came off the green, my first thought has been to Seve. I had a glance down and looked at my left sleeve and that’s the kind of stuff he would have done. He’s been an inspiration for this team all week long.”
Spain’s Sergio Garcia was also emotional “I have no doubt in my mind that he (Seve) was with me all day because there’s no chance I would have won my match if he wasn’t there.”
Great Sportsmanship Moments
There were many moments of great sportsmanship amidst this highly emotional competition e.g. when Justin Rose sunk a huge putt on the 17th America’s Phil Mickleson gave him a very clear thumbs up. Wonderful moment.
In a separate match, after a great 2nd shot on the 16th, Europe’s Ian Poulter asked the crowd to be quiet again so that USA’s Webb Simpson could take his shot.
Europe’s Lee Westwood was forced to putt his 12” putt on the 18th by America’s Matt Kuchar. Players often ‘give’ each other a short putt (or allow the putt i.e. assume he would get it and not actually ask the player to putt it). The classic being Jack Nicklaus allowing UK’s Tony Jacklin a final two foot putt back in 1969*. Westwood said he was shaking with nerves when he took the putt. After he successfully putted it and won the match Westwood and Kuchar shook hands and embraced each other warmly. Westwood said if the roles were reversed he would have done the same – i.e. he would have asked Kuchar to putt the pressure short putt. Extraordinary is an over-used word, but, this was truly extraordinary turn-around from being 10-6 behind on the last day to winning 13.5 – 14.5.
Once again, America’s captain, Davis Love, was most gracious and also remembered the great Spanish golfer in the sky, Seve Ballesteros, when he said:
“I congratulate them all including Seve.”
See other Great Ryder Cup Sportsmanship Stories in Will The Ryder Cup Unveil Real Sportsmanship?
* See the the full Nicklaus v Jacklin magical moment back in 1969 in the Great Moments Of Sportsmanship eBook.