COLIN MONTGOMERIE spoke of his pride in leading Europe to Ryder Cup glory at Celtic Manor – but then revealed it was only a one-off.
The Scot captained the European team to a 14 1/2–13 1/2 victory after one of the most thrilling rounds of singles matches in history.
Graeme McDowell was the hero, securing a 3&1 victory over Hunter Mahan in the decisive match to help the Europeans regain the trophy they lost at Valhalla two years ago.
But after orchestrating victory, captain Monty confirmed he has no intention of going through it again.
“This is a one-hit time, I will not be doing this again,” he said. “I think it’s only right that it should be shared around.”
Monty also heaped praise on US Open champion McDowell, who became the latest in a long line of Irishmen including Eamonn Darcy, Christy O’Connor, Philip Walton and Paul McGinley, to etch their name in Ryder Cup folklore.
“G-Mac was put there [final match] for a very good reason,” Monty added. “He’s the US Open champion, he’s full of confidence and that showed. That birdie on 16 was unbelievable.
“But I want to talk about how well everyone played, because to a man they were magnificent and they all gave me 110 per cent, which was all I could ask for.
“[Winning] means the world for European golf. It’s a very proud moment for us all here in Europe. They all played to a man magnificently. I knew I had a great 12.”
Leading 9 1/2–6 1/2 going into the first-ever Ryder Cup fourth day, Monty’s men needed just five points from the remaining 12 singles matches to regain the trophy.
At one stage, no fewer than eight of the matches were lit blue, but just when it looked like a big victory could be on the cards, the Americans hit back.
Steve Stricker led the charge, coming back from two down to beat new world No2 Lee Westwood 2&1, before Dustin Johnson returned to form to thrash Martin Kaymer 6&4.
Back came the Europeans, however, with Ryder Cup specialist Ian Poulter taking centre stage. He magnificently disposed of in-form Matt Kuchar 5&4 before Luke Donald held off Jim Furyk for a single-shot win. Rory McIlroy then played his part with a crucial up and down from the bunker on the final green to snatch a crucial half from Stewart Cink.
Miguel Angel Jimenez followed with a 4&3 success over Bubba Watson, but then the Americans set up a nerve-jangling finale with a desperate late surge. Jeff Overton beat fellow rookie Ross Fisher, and Tiger Woods – nine under par and seven under for his last seven holes – recorded a 4&3 win over Francesco Molinari.
Phil Mickelson, pointless from his first three games, continued the trend with a 4&2 victory over Peter Hanson, Zach Johnson hit back to beat Padraig Harrington, and 21-year-old rookie Rickie Fowler recovered from four down with six to play to halve with Molinari’s brother Edoardo.
McDowell still needed a point to ensure victory and he closed in on that with a superb 15-foot putt for birdie at 16, which moved him two clear with two to play.
And the triumph was confirmed when Mahan left his chip short of the green at the 17th and conceded the hole to spark wild celebrations.