Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

From 12 Ryder Cup heroes, Ian Poulter stands alone as Seve Ballesteros' successor

He had shown the most appetite for the challenge of turning back the sea of red

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Ian Poulter of Europe waits in a fairway during a practice round during the fourth preview day of The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Ian Poulter of Europe
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy celebrates after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Europe's Rory McIlroy holds up the trophy after winning the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Europe's Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald celebrate after winning the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy of Europe poses with the Ryder Cup after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Ian Poulter of Europe hits a shot on the 12th hole during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy of Europe pose with the Ryder Cup after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Martin Kaymer pose with the Ryder Cup alongside Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy speaks with the media after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy speaks with the media after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Davis Love III addresses the crowd at the closing ceremonies after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Sergio Garcia celebrate after Team Europe defeats the United States for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Martin Kaymer of Europe celebrates with Rory McIlroy and Peter Hanson after holing the decisive putt on the 18th green during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Members of team Europe celebrate after defeating the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Martin Kaymer (R) and Rory McIlroy celebrate in the locker room after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: (L-R) Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate in the locker room after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy of Europe (L) and Tiger Woods of the USA greet each other on the 18th green after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy of Europe celebrates after Martin Kaymer holed the decisive putt on the 18th green during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Jim Furyk of the USA (R) reacts to a missed par putt on the 18th green as Sergio Garcia and the European team celebrate during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Justin Rose (L) and Rory McIlroy of Europe celebrate on the 18th green during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy of Europe waves to the gallery on the 17th green during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy of Europe celebrates a putt during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy of Europe waves to the gallery on the 17th green during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond receives a ceremonial putter to mark the passing of the Ryder Cup venue to Gleneagles 2014 during the closing ceremony after the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond receives a ceremonial putter to mark the passing of the Ryder Cup venue to Gleneagles 2014 during the closing ceremony after the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Lee Westwood of Europe reacts after making a birdie putt on the 15h hole during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Bubba Watson of the USA waits with his caddie Ted Scott during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: (L-R) Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Jose Maria Olazabal, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter pose with the Ryder Cup after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: (L-R) Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Jose Maria Olazabal, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter pose with the Ryder Cup after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Graeme McDowell poses with Martin Kaymer and the Ryder Cup after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy poses with the Ryder Cup after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy speaks with the media after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28: Kristin Stape and Kate Rose look on during the Afternoon Four-Ball Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28: Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley of the USA celebrate on the 17th green with Amy Mickelson and Jillian Stacey after defeating the McIlroy/McDowell team 2&1 during the Afternoon Four-Ball Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28: Angie Watson (L) and Dowd Simpson watch the play during the Afternoon Four-Ball Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28: Webb Simpson of the USA rides a golf cart with his wife Dowd during the Afternoon Four-Ball Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28: Pernilla Bjorn and Kristin Stape watch the play during the Morning Foursome Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28: Mandy Snedeker (L) and Tabitha Furyk watching the action during the Morning Foursome Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
A model promotes the 2012 Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club, Chicago
A model promotes the 2012 Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club, Chicago
A model promotes the 2012 Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club, Chicago
A model promotes the 2012 Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club, Chicago
A model promotes the 2012 Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club, Chicago
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28: Mandy Snedeker (L) and Tabitha Furyk watching the action during the Morning Foursome Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Kristin Stape (L) and Kate Rose attend the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Paul Lawrie's wife Marian Lawrie before the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: USA team players wives and partners walk in during the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: L-R: Marian Lawrie, Katie Poulter, Laurae Westwood, Alison Clarke, Graeme McDowell's partner Kristin Stape during the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Jordin Sparks sings the national anthem as Davis Love III and Keegan Bradley of the USA look on during the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Peter Hanson of Europe poses with his wife Sanna after the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Justin Rose of Europe walks with his wife Kate to the stage at the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Graeme McDowell of Europe poses with his girlfriend Kristin Stape after the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Phil Mickelson' wife Amy Mickelson acknowledges the applause during the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Keegan Bradley of the USA with his partner Jillian Stacey during the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Matt Kuchar of the USA with his wife Sybi Kuchar during the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Webb Simpson of the USA and his wife Dowd attend the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Diane Donald and Pernilla Bjorn attend the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Ally McGinley attends the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Laurae Westwood attends the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Valentina Molinari attends the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Sanna Hanson attends the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Kate Rose attends the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Ian Poulter of Europe and his wife Katie Poulter walk in during the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Donald Trump and his wife Melania attend the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: European Team captain Jose Maria Olazabal with the players wives and partners during the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Graeme McDowell of Europe and his partner Kristin Stape attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Zach Johnson of the USA and his wife Kim Johnson attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Dustin Johnson of the USA and his partner Amanda Cauder attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Jim Furyk of the USA and his partner Tabitha Furyk attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Jason Dufner of the USA and his wife Amanda Dufner attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Keegan Bradley of the USA and his partner Jillian Stacey attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Lee Westwood of Europe with his wife Laurae Westwood attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: USA team captain Davis Love III and his wife Robin Love attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Graeme McDowell of Europe (L) poses with his girlfriend Kristin Stape and Rory McIlroy (R) for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Paul McGinley of Europe poses with his wife Ally for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Darren Clarke of Europe poses with his wife Alison for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Miguel Angel Jimenez of Europe poses with his girlfriend Susanne Styblo for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Graeme McDowell of Europe poses with his girlfriend Kristin Stape for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Justin Rose of Europe poses with his wife Kate for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Francesco Molinari of Europe poses with his wife Valentina for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Luke Donald of England of Europe poses with his wife Diane for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Ian Poulter of England of Europe poses with his wife Katie for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Paul Lawrie of Europe poses with his wife Marian for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Peter Hanson of Europe poses with his wife Sanna for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LOMBARD, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Thomas Bjorn of Europe poses with his wife Pernilla for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Actress Jessica Biel watches the play of Justin Timberlake during the 2012 Ryder Cup Captains & Celebrity Scramble at Medinah Country Golf Club on September 25, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Actress Jessica Biel (R) watches the play of Justin Timberlake during the 2012 Ryder Cup Captains & Celebrity Scramble at Medinah Country Golf Club on September 25, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Actress Jessica Biel watches the play of Justin Timberlake during the 2012 Ryder Cup Captains & Celebrity Scramble at Medinah Country Golf Club on September 25, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Actress Jessica Biel watches the play of Justin Timberlake during the 2012 Ryder Cup Captains & Celebrity Scramble at Medinah Country Golf Club on September 25, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Actress Jessica Biel watches the play of Justin Timberlake during the 2012 Ryder Cup Captains & Celebrity Scramble at Medinah Country Golf Club on September 25, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Phil Mickelson of the USA and his wife Amy Mickelson attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Matt Kuchar of the USA and his wife Sybi Kuchar attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Webb Simpson of the USA and his wife Dowd Simpson attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Brandt Snedeker of the USA and his wife Mandy Snedeker attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Steve Stricker of the USA and his wife Nicki Stricker attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: The European team players pose for a photograph with their wives and partners prior to the 39th Ryder Cup gala>> at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: European Team captain Jose Maria Olazabal poses for a photograph with the European players wives and partners prior to the 39th Ryder Cup gala>> at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Peter Hanson of Europe and his wife Sanna Hanson attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Paul Lawrie of Europe and his wife Marian Lawrie attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Francesco Molinari of Europe and his wife Valentina Molinari attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Ian Poulter of Europe and his wife Katie Poulter attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Justin Rose of Europe and his wife Kate Rose attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

We may never see again quite the memorial to one sporting life which was literally written in the sky here as 12 European golfers created something inevitably to be known as the Miracle of Medinah.

But then if the message towed among the clouds commanded, "Do it for Seve," and each of the heroes wore his image and intoned his name as though it was part of some religious mantra, we should never forget the wider meaning of the 39th Ryder Cup.



Yes, indeed, it was an unforgettable gift to the memory of everything that Ballesteros had come to represent.



Yet if there were times when his presence seemed so tangible you might have imagined him striding over the crest of a fairway with all that intense and haughty promise of extraordinary deeds, there was a certain danger in all the reverence.



It was that we might just miss the fact that another new and shining monument was also being built.



This was to the capacity of the ancient game of golf to make new and sharply different types of heroes.



This, anyway, was one reaction here to the fact that when you moved from one superb performance to another you were left with the unlikeliest natural-born successor to the man who so brilliantly enriched the old contest.



You could so easily be distracted away from the immensely significant effort of Ian Poulter.



You could be diverted by the matador finish of the archetypal young Englishman Justin Rose which did for the American icon Phil Mickelson and would have so thrilled the man to whom it was dedicated.



There was the wonderful discipline of Luke Donald, who surely had never before given such a detailed account of why he was so recently ranked No 1 in the world.



How could you overlook the ferociously brilliant resurrection of veteran Paul Lawrie – or the eagerness with which Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari vied for the honour of performing the coup de grâce as the legions of American support melted away in the autumn sunshine?



Or the insouciant splendour of the late-coming Rory McIlroy as he put down the man who had elected himself the hammer of the Europeans, Keegan Bradley, and who had been described by the great Lee Trevino as "a Ryder Cup captain's dream hatchet man"?



You couldn't because if there was ever a deeply layered, astonishingly rounded team performance in a game made essentially for individual talent and strength of mind, it was this one which, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, imposed not only the greatest Ryder Cup comeback on foreign soil in 85 years of competition but also "Shock and Awe".



But then however fastidiously the litany of heroes is compiled, there should be no hardship in nominating the first among equals. It is, beyond the sliver of a shattered tee peg, the 36-year-old Poulter.



Poulter could enjoy a 100 triumphs of the kind he worked here at the Medinah Country Club without ever beguiling in the way of Ballesteros in one flash of mesmerising talent.



Such a gift to the sporting senses is simply not within his range. We do not have to track through all the controversies he has inflicted on more sensitive natures to say that even in his finest moments he is somewhat less than embraceable.



When he puckers and glowers and struts it is not so hard to remember that ultimately jarring statement apparently made from behind a straight face. You remember the one? "Don't get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer but I know I haven't played to my full potential and when that happens it will just be me and Tiger."



There have been other irritants. Notoriously, he was pictured eating cereal from what captain Jose Maria Olazabal the other day described as the "lovely, golden Ryder Cup trophy".



Yet as the sun rose in Illinois, as the golf world contemplated a breakfast of celebration-stained champions, there was no question about who had shown most appetite for the challenge of turning back the sea of red that had so quickly enveloped the scoreboard before Sunday's singles action.



Yesterday he talked of the great personal fulfilment of the Ryder Cup, something that pleased him beyond all the good things that have come to him through golf after a less than opulent youth in Hertfordshire. Not only did it assuage the frustration of failed football ambition, and the disappointment of not wearing the shirt of Tottenham Hotspur, it gave him a sense of comradeship that he could never have imagined in his early strivings in a sport which most rewarded an obsessive interest in one's own game.



Poulter could only dream of the skills of a Ballesteros or a Tiger or a McIlroy, but what he could do – and these last few days he has reminded the world of golf with quite extraordinary force – is perform the most pressing obligation of all those who have sufficient talent to earn a living from professional sport.



He could drive himself beyond the point where he needed to fear that one day he might have to tell himself that he left too many things undone.



His Ryder Cup record was already a mighty affirmation of what can be achieved if you are ready to fight hard enough, if you simply refuse to accept that it is necessary to submit to superior talent. However, nothing could have prepared the understandably confident Americans, or the rest of golf, for the impact he delivered at the end of the second day of a contest which had become, in so many European eyes, the most forlorn of formalities. Poulter simply rejected the possibility of surrender.



Donald, who has his own impressive Ryder Cup record, was sure enough about the crucial switch of momentum which came when Poulter, partnering McIlroy in place of a plainly jaded Graeme McDowell, produced a run of five birdies in the fourball defeat of Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. It made the score 10-6 going into Sunday's action, which meant that no longer would the European challenge be unprecedented. In 1999, the Americans overcame precisely the same discouragement to deliver victory at Brookline.



Donald said: "I think that was the key to be honest. To get to 10-6, well you can't believe how much the optimism changed in our team room. We fed off that – and that was the difference."



On Sunday, the Americans sat together like a row of condemned men. They were shocked by the scale of their defeat and from their captain, Davis Love III, there was ready agreement that Poulter had been at the heart of the remarkable transformation. "Ian's hot streak gave them confidence and I know they built on that."



No, Poulter may not have been a man to naturally walk in the footsteps of the hero who brought such artistry and grace to the golf course, but if he didn't have the facility of Ballesteros, if he couldn't explore the game as a great warrior-artist, he could understand that it would always be his best means of defining himself.



When Ballesteros fought to retrieve something of his greatest days, when he was racked by back pain and tormented by the decline of his genius, he still came here to America in a vain search for the glory he had found at Augusta. Once, he was jeered at from the gallery along the second fairway after a failed tee shot. "Didn't that used to be Seve Ballesteros," was a sneer that is impossible to forget.



If any atonement was due, Ian Poulter enforced it here. He did more than most to conspicuously honour the memory of one of the greatest golfers the world had ever seen. He said that he accepted a duty to fight until all hope had gone. That brought a famous victory – and ennobled an entire sport.

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