The best Ryder Cup battle for years

 
Sam Torrance
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FOR one reason or another, this Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor will live long in the memory. Not only was it the first time in its 83-year history that it went into a fourth day due to the downpours of Friday and Sunday, but it was also a damn fine spectacle.

Not for a long, long time can I remember so many twists and turns on singles day, culminating in Europe eventually claiming back the cup on the penultimate green and the very last match.

Europe captain Colin Montgomerie insisted he deliberately placed Graeme McDowell in the final pairing – and what a stroke of genius that proved to be. He kept a cool head to produce a moment of magic with that monster putt for birdie at 16. It really was one of those special Ryder Cup moments.

FIST-CLENCHING

Indeed, it capped an absolutely remarkable day’s play which brought some top drawer golf.

From Rory McIlroy's brilliant up and down from the bunker at 17 to help clinch a half with Stewart Cink, to Rickie Fowler's tremendous birdie at the last to complete his comeback against Edoardo Molinari. It was literally thrill a minute.

For once, Tiger Woods wasn’t the main attraction but he responded by shooting nine-under-par in his win over Francesco Molinari.

But man of the moment this time was Ian Poulter. He led his team home with a 35-yard putt on the third and then three birdies and an eagle from the five holes played on the back nine to complete a mightily impressive win over Matt Kuchar – just as he promised he would.

With his fist-clenching celebration on reeling off brilliant shot after brilliant shot, Poulter encapsulated the spirit and determination of the European team.

It also ensured he finished as Europe’s top points scorer for a second successive Ryder Cup.

And then there’s the captain himself. This was simply the biggest and best day of Monty’s life and he thoroughly deserved it.

Whether it be his preparation and attention to detail in the two years leading up to Celtic Manor, or his leadership, motivational skills and decision-making out on the course itself, he did a tremendous job and his team responded by doing him proud.

But it wasn’t just the performance of the European team which made this Ryder Cup so memorable.

The 35,000-strong crowd were phenomenal throughout – despite the weather – and they were very fair on an American team, who also deserve huge credit for the way they played and for putting up such a tremendous fight.