Ryder Cup 2010: Graeme McDowell seals win as Europe regain Cup at Celtic Manor
Agony for US as Monty's men snatch the crown
Ulsterman Graeme McDowell won the Ryder Cup for Europe after a Celtic Manor classic that crowned captain Colin Montgomerie's golfing career.
US Open champion McDowell's 3&1 victory over Hunter Mahan gave Europe a dramatic 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 triumph over the United States to regain the trophy.
Not since 1991 at Kiawah Island had the Ryder Cup been decided in such breathtaking fashion by the last of 12 singles matches.
A brilliant putt by McDowell on 16 left Mahan needing to win the last two holes for a half that would have denied Europe, but Mahan scuffed his second shot after firing short of the green off the tee on the par-three 17th.
That meant that at worst McDowell needed to get down in two from the edge of the green under unbearable pressure in front of 35,000 fans, but Mahan then missed his putt, conceded the match, and Europe began wild celebrations.
For a tearful Montgomerie, the most remarkable of Ryder Cup wins arguably compensated for the Major title he failed to win during an otherwise title-laden career.
But Corey Pavin's United States team pushed Europe to the limit, taking the singles by a 7-5 scoreline after trailing 9-1/2 - 6-1/2 overnight.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson - world number one and two players - finally found their form to claim emphatic victories over Francesco Molinari and Peter Hanson, respectively.
Europe though, prevailed thanks to wins by McDowell, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Miguel Angel Jimenez, plus the priceless halves gained by Rory McIlroy and Edoardo Molinari.
McDowell was immediately submerged by his team-mates, captain and assistant captains on the 18th green, while a bumper crowd that had gathered for the Ryder Cup's first Monday conclusion began taking it all in.
At one stage, Europe were ahead in eight of the singles matches and appeared well on their way to wrapping up victory with indecent haste.
But the United States, as they did in fighting back from a 10-6 deficit to win at Brookline 11 years ago, finally stirred.
Red numbers began appearing on the scoreboard, and their resilience was underlined when 21-year-old rookie Rickie Fowler fought back from three down with three to play against Edoardo Molinari to halve his match with a nerveless putt on 18.
Amid the mayhem, McDowell had to stay cool, calm and collected, and he delivered just when his captain needed it.
"Graeme was put there (12th in the singles) for a very good reason. He is the US Open champion and full of confidence, and it showed," said Montgomerie.
"The birdie on 16 was unbelievable.
He continued: "I'm very proud. It's a very proud moment for us all here in Europe. They all played to a man magnificently, they all gave 110% and that's all you can ask.
"I want to talk about every player playing how well they did. They did magnificently. I knew I had a great 12. I just had to rely on certain people at certain times.
"At one stage there were eight blue names on the board and it was over. But they weren't two, three up, they were one up. It's a dangerous position to be in.
"They (the US) came back extremely well. All credit to them. Tiger showed he was number one in the world. Phil Mickelson did brilliantly.
"All credit to the American team. You played magnificently today. The three-point deficit was the reason why we won."
Asked about his own achievement, Montgomerie said: "I didn't hit a shot so it wasn't much of an achievement, but it's a proud proud moment."
GO BANANAS FOR McDOWELL
The man who sank the winning putt to win the Ryder Cup for Europe described the moment as "bananas".
Graeme McDowell told BBC Radio Five Live: "That was absolutely amazing. That was bananas.
"The putt on the 16th was stuff I have dreamed about all my life."
US Open champion McDowell's 3&1 victory over Hunter Mahan gave Europe a dramatic 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 triumph over the United States.
Padraig Harrington described the winning feeling as "incredible" and "phenomenal".
Harrington, one of captain Colin Montgomerie's wild card picks, said: "Every Ryder Cup's the same. It's phenomenal. There's nothing like it in golf. That's incredible."
Lee Westwood, who lost today's opening singles match to Steve Stricker but had been in fantastic form since the opening day on Friday, said: "I've never been slapped on the back so often. We are really delighted.
"It's been a great team performance against a strong American side."
Ross Fisher told BBC Radio Five Live: "This is very sweet. It's a shame there's got to be a losing team and losing side."
HOW THE DRAMA UNFOLDED AT CELTIC MANOR
0905: Steve Stricker hits first shot through the mist.
0933: Rory McIlroy draws first blood with an opening birdie.
1045: Europe ahead in six of the first eight games.
1140: With all 12 games under way Europe up in eight, down in four.
1247: Dustin Johnson hammers Martin Kaymer to cut Europe lead to two. 9 1/2-7 1/2.
1248: Stricker beats Lee Westwood on the 17th and the States are only one behind. 9 1/2-8 1/2.
1303: Ian Poulter gives Europe their first win, 5&4 over Matt Kuchar. 10 1/2-8 1/2.
1321: McIlroy scrambles a half with Stewart Cink after taking two in a bunker by the 18th green. 11-9.
1330: Luke Donald beats Jim Furyk on the last. 12-9.
1405: Miguel Angel Jimenez's great birdie on the 15th to defeat Bubba Watson makes it 13-9.
1411: Ross Fisher three-putts the 16th and loses to Jeff Overton. 13-10.
1415: Tiger Woods is nine under par in beating Francesco Molinari. 13-11.
1444: Phil Mickelson's first win of the week, over Peter Hanson, cuts the gap to one again. 13-12 with three games left.
1503: Rickie Fowler completes a stunning comeback from four down with six to play and three down with three to go. His closing 18-foot birdie putt makes it 13 1/2-12 1/2.
1504: Zach Johnson defeats Padraig Harrington on the 16th and the sides are level with one game left.
1522: Graeme McDowell beats Hunter Mahan and wins the Ryder Cup. 14 1/2-13 1/2.
GRAEME McDOWELL FACTFILE
1979: Born Portrush, July 30.
1996: Wins Ulster Boys Championship.
1998: Attends the University of Alabama.
1999: Wins Irish Youths Championship.
2000: Further success in the Palmer Cup, Irish Amateur Maury Close Championship, Irish Youths Championship, World Universities Championship and South of Ireland Championship.
2001: Palmer Cup winner again and also part of Great Britain and Ireland team which retains Walker Cup in Georgia.
2002: Wins Haskins Award for most outstanding collegiate golfer in the United States. Later turns professional and goes on to win Scandinavian Masters in only his fourth start on the European Tour.
2004: Success in the Italia Open - after a play-off with Thomas Levet - helps him finish sixth on the European Tour Order of Merit.
2005: Divides his time between the European and PGA Tours and earns top-50 placing in the official world rankings.
2006: Fails to finish in the top 150 in 2006 PGA Tour money list.
2007: Competes on the European Tour.
2008: Wins Ballantine's Championship in Korea and Scottish Open. Earns 2.5 points for the European team in the Ryder Cup and finishes the season ranked fifth on the Order of Merit.
2010: June: Follows success in Celtic Manor Wales Open with victory in the US Open at Pebble Beach, becoming the first Northern Irishman to accomplish the feat and the first European to win the event since Tony Jacklin in 1970.
October 4: Defeats Hunter Mahan in tense final match at Celtic Manor to regain the Ryder Cup for Europe.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE FACTFILE
1963: Born Glasgow, June 23.
1984: Runner-up to Jose Maria Olazabal in British Amateur.
1985: Scottish strokeplay champion. Walker Cup debut.
1987: Scottish champion. Second Walker Cup cap. Turns professional.
1988: Rookie of the Year after coming 52nd in Order.
1989: Wins first European Tour title at Portuguese Open by 11 strokes.
1991: In Ryder Cup debut comes from four down with for to play to halve with Mark Calcavecchia, but Europe lose.
1993: Scores 3 1/2 points in Ryder Cup, but Europe lose again. European number one for first time after winning Dutch Open and Volvo Masters.
1994: Loses play-off for US Open to Ernie Els. European number one again.
1995: Loses play-off for US PGA Championship to Steve Elkington. Part of winning Ryder Cup side and third successive Order of Merit crown.
1996: European number one again and adds Million Dollar Challenge in South Africa.
1997: Second in US Open again, clinches Ryder Cup victory by halving singles against Scott Hoch and becomes first player to win Order of Merit five years in a row.
1998: Sixth successive money list crown, victories including Volvo PGA Championship.
1999: Seven Order of Merits in a row, plus Cisco World Match Play and joint top scorer in the Ryder Cup, but Europe lose and he is heckled.
2000: Wins third successive Volvo PGA championship, but reign as European number one ends.
2002: Takes Tiger Woods to play-off in Germany and stars in Ryder Cup victory at The Belfry.
2004: Marriage collapses, but sinks winning putt as Europe retain trophy in Detroit.
2005: Runner-up to Tiger Woods in Open, captures eighth Order of Merit.
2006: Joint runner-up in US Open after double-bogeying last hole. Part of another winning Ryder Cup side.
2008: Marries for second time.
2009: Appointed Ryder Cup captain for 2010 in Wales.
2010: Leads Europe to Ryder Cup victory over United States at Celtic Manor.