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The Rise And Fall
Alan Shipnuck
October 08, 2012
The finish to this Ryder Cup was so riveting, it is sure to overshadow most of what came before. The greatest European comeback in the event's history climaxed on Sunday evening, but the victory—or put another way, the U.S.'s collapse—was three long days in the making. Every hole at the Ryder Cup is a tournament within a tournament, every half point is monumental, but sometimes the importance is obvious only in hindsight. Here is SI's definitive guide to the 39th Ryder Cup.
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October 08, 2012

The Rise And Fall

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BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE: Nicolas Colsaerts. The Belgian Bomber made an outrageous Ryder Cup debut, piling up eight birdies and an eagle while virtually single-handedly defeating Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods in four-balls. The growing respect for Colsaerts could be heard while his tee shot was airborne on the par-3 13th. Zach Johnson narrated, "That's good. Very good. He's good. Really good."

ACT OF GAMESMANSHIP: Steve (Pepsi) Hale, Bradley's caddie, celebrated the foursomes victory on the 15th green by waving the flagstick around and around over his head like a deranged samurai.

TIGER WATCH: Woods was simply awful in losing a foursomes match with Stricker versus Ian Poulter and Rose. Watching on TV on the Medinah grounds, Woods's former coach Hank Haney observed, "At least his attitude is good." He was being sarcastic. Woods pouted and sulked his way through the match, a buzzkill to the crowd and his woebegone partner. Playing his own ball in the afternoon, this rugged individualist finally found his game, making five back-nine birdies trying to keep up with Colsaerts. On the 18th hole Woods was left with a 15-footer to salvage a halve. It was the last match of the day, and both teams had gathered in the gloaming, along with tens of thousands of fans who encircled the green. If ever there was a Tiger Moment, this was it, but Woods can no longer summon such magic on demand. His putt skimmed the lip on the low side, completing an 0--2 skunking on the day.

BEST PUTT: Poulter's 15-footer to save par on the 16th hole in foursomes. That blunted a minicharge by the Americans and earned Europe a split for the session.

MOST QUESTIONABLE CAPTAIN'S DECISION: José María Olazábal benching three of his four best players—Donald, García and Poulter—in four-balls. Sure, Luke and Sergio lost in the morning, but Europe was lacking leadership and firepower while losing three of the four afternoon matches.

WORTH REPEATING: "Oh, baby, I wish I could go 36 more."—the tireless Bradley

"He gave us the hair-dryer treatment. It was a real roasting."—McDowell, on Olazábal's Friday night, er, pep talk

DAY 2

IN A NUTSHELL: Europe was overwhelmed by the U.S.'s depth and passionate play for most of the day, but a furious rally in the twilight trimmed the Americans' lead to 10--6 and restored some hope for the Europeans.

MOST INSPIRED PAIRING: Jason Dufner--Zach Johnson. The Duf was overshadowed by Keegan Bradley, another, more emotive Ryder rookie, but Dufner played with just as much precision, while the perpetually underrated Johnson was a rock-solid partner. The U.S.'s overall lead was built on superiority in morning foursomes, and for the second straight day Dufner-Johnson brought home a full point, this time cooling off Nicolas Colsaerts and his frisky partner, Sergio García.

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