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Was the Ryder Cup a collapse or a comeback?

By Shane Bacon | Blogger
Rory McIlroy's reaction after the final putt dropped said it all. (Getty Images)

For everything that can be said about Sunday at the 2012 Ryder Cup, there are really only two trains of thought for fans of either teams; the Europeans had an incredible comeback or the United States choked it away.

The United States was up 10-6 heading into Sunday, the same deficit that the Americans faced in 1999, and with a lot of the younger players looking in form for most of the week, it seemed almost impossible that they'd let this one slip away. But the Europeans had some momentum heading into Sunday with two closing match wins on Saturday afternoon, and while it wasn't likely that they'd come away with this Cup, there was a way better chance after that close in the team matches than if they hadn't done that.

So, we investigate, a choke or an epic comeback?

It was a choke, a choke!

There are a few things you must look at if this is the camp you're in. First, a team has only lost being down 10-6 once ever, and really, the Americans were up 10-4 at one point before those Saturday afternoon team matches concluded.

The Americans had jumped on the backs of Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson and it had paid off, no matter if Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker kept losing.

But the choking started on Saturday afternoon, when captain Davis Love III decided to sit the team of Mickelson and Bradley for the fourball matches after the two had gone 3-0-0 to start. Love had said he didn't want to play a single person for all five matches, but it seemed the smart move was to keep the momentum going with these guys and put them out there.

Hindsight accounted for, Mickelson and Bradley were two of the Americans who lost their matches on Sunday with both running into some of the hotter Europeans out there in Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.

But it was a choke, definitely, if you think about it.

At one point after Luke Donald beat up on Bubba Watson, the Europeans were leading in just one match with everyone on the golf course and it looked more likely that the United States would snag 20 points than lose the dang Cup.

And we haven't even started to talk about the 17th and 18th holes!

Ian Poulter and Webb Simpson were all square going into the final two holes with the Englishman winning both to beat Simpson 2 & 1. Justin Rose did the same to Phil Mickelson.

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Jim Furyk was 1-up with two holes to play and lost, three-putting the final green to give Sergio Garcia the full point for the Europeans, and we haven't even starting talking about the Steve Stricker match against Martin Kaymer, a player who has basically been MIA since his PGA Championship win in 2010.

Yes, Kaymer made some key putts, but it wasn't like they were for birdies. The putt on the 17th hole by Stricker was as shaky as you'll ever see a professional over a putt, and from the middle of the fairway on the last, he couldn't get the ball within 35 feet of the hole when he was facing a must-birdie situation.

Of the 11 matches that went to the 18th hole all week at Medinah, the Americans won exactly zero of them. That's choke city if you ask me.

It was an epic comeback by the Europeans, for sure!

All the credit in the world should go to the Europeans, who beat some red-hot Americans when they seemed to be at their best.

Bubba Watson was great all week but couldn't handle Luke Donald. Webb Simpson seemed molded for this format but struggled against Ian Poulter, and Keegan Bradley hadn't lost a match all week before running into the buzzsaw that was Rory McIlroy.

There are times when you see golfers fall completely apart, but the way the Europeans closed out their matches on Sunday was clutch and clutch only.

Think for a minute about the Justin Rose-Phil Mickelson match. Mickelson made birdie on the 16th before Rose matched it, and nearly chipped in on the 17th after pulling the flag from off the green before Rose poured in this ridiculous putt for birdie to get the match to all square.

And on the 18th, Phil hit a good second shot, he was just too pumped up, flying the green with his approach before Rose rolled in his third consecutive birdie putt to really give the Europeans a chance at this Cup.

The other part of this comeback was the play of some of the lesser known guys on the team like Paul Lawrie (who dismantled Brandt Snedeker), Martin Kaymer (a huge win out of nowhere) and even Francesco Molinari, who kept it close with Tiger Woods all day in case the final match counted (which it nearly did).

The Europeans should get all the praise for this one, and not the Americans for letting it slip away. It was good golf by the entire team on Sunday and as impressive a comeback as there has ever been in sports.

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