'I've dreamt about that putt on the 16th all my life. Wow!" - McDowell

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The Independent Online

It was mud, sweat and beers on Monty Monday here in south Wales yesterday. And it wasn't just the fans that were drinking at the end of the day. "That was bananas," said Graeme McDowell, whose victory in the final match sealed the Ryder Cup for Europe, between glugs of beer. "That putt on the 16th was the stuff I have dreamed about all my life," he said. "It was the best putt I've ever hit. I have never felt as nervous in my life. Wow!

"It's a different feeling. It's just so much pressure. To do this for the fans, the caddies, my 11 team-mates, for Europe and Monty is very special," he said. "The US Open [which he won this year] felt like playing the back nine at Royal Portrush with my dad compared to that," McDowell said. "It was nuts on the 17th green," he added. "But, as they say, if you can't handle the celebrations, don't score the goal."

Hunter Mahan was in tears after losing the crucial match to McDowell. He broke down mid-sentence and had to be rescued by Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk. "The only time I have ever cried in defeat has been at the Ryder Cup," Furyk said.

When volunteers were sought to go out in the crucial final match, Mahan's hand was first to be raised. And not all hands went up. For those that say the Americans don't care about the Ryder Cup, Mahan's tears were proof to the contrary.

The supporters certainly care and there was a festival atmosphere on a working day when the sun finally shone on Sir Terry Matthews' specially designed stadium course. "These fans are amazing rocking around in the mud," McDowell said. "I love them. We needed them big time."

Colin Montgomerie looked close to tears. "I asked them to play with passion and by God they did," he said. "They are the finest team I will ever captain. The world was watching and Wales delivered."

Monty and Europe delivered, too. And the captain paid tribute to McDowell. "Graeme McDowell was in that last position for a very good reason," Monty said. "He's the US Open champion and full of confidence. That putt on 16 was unbelievable. This means so much to European golf and we wouldn't have won it without my five vice-captains." McDowell returned the compliment. "Monty has been amazing. He's everything there is about the Ryder Cup and to be able to do that for him was really special."

Ian Poulter put the first blue point on the scoreboards in the fifth match as the Americans were fighting back. "I love the songs, the history, Seve, Ollie, Nick, Monty, everything. Seve is at home watching this but every player has watched what he has done for European golf," Poulter said. "We have played from the heart today and this means everything to him."

Rory McIlroy went out in the No 2 spot and his half point with 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink proved crucial. "I didn't realise it at the time, but it was huge," McIlroy said.

Cink entered into the atmosphere on the first tee. "He's got more hair than you, he's got more hair than you," the crowd teased him standing next to McIlroy. Cink took off his cap and patted his bald pate. "It's been the best week of my life," McIlroy said. "To regain the Ryder Cup and bring it back to European soil for Seve."

Pavin didn't sound any different in defeat as he had all week. Maybe the mud sucked away all his energy. He paid tribute to his players. "They fought back. Nearly got there. It's been a privilege and an honour to call them team-mates." Pavin got many things wrong and that was another one.

He was not a team-mate; he was their captain. "I wanted to have a calming effect on the team," Pavin said. Sadly, it felt more like an embalming effect. "I went with what I thought was best," Pavin added. "It nearly worked out." Nearly, though, doesn't cut it.

McDowell spoke up for the distraught Mahan: "All of a sudden it was obvious our match was going to count. He shouldn't feel bad about himself. I didn't want it to come down to me but it did."

That shows how tough Mahan is. The American wanted it. But it was the Northern Irishman that took it.

Timeline: How Europe won back the Cup

9.05: Lee Westwood tees off against Steve Stricker in the first singles match with Europe leading 9.5 to 6.5 .

12.32: The crowd go wild as Ian Poulter goes four-up against Matt Kuchar, outrageously chipping in for an eagle on the 11th (right).

12.48: Dustin Johnson downs Martin Kaymer 6&4 in a horribly one-sided contest. Europe 9.5 US 7.5. Is this the start of the American comeback?

12.49: Stricker holes on the par-three 17th for a 2&1 victory over Westwood (far right). Europe 9.5 US 8.5.

13.02: Poulter wraps things up on the 14th hole to defeat US rookie Matt Kuchar 5&4. Europe 10.5 US 8.5.

13.22: Rory McIlroy's resilience gains Europe half a point in his battle with Stewart Cink. Europe 11, US 9,

13.31: Luke Donald completes an impressive victory over Jim Furyk as Europe go even further ahead of their rivals. Europe 12 US 9.

14.06: Miguel Angel Jimenez putts a three-foot birdie on the 15th to beat Bubba Watson 4&3. Europe 13 US 9.

14.11: Ross Fisher misses a putt on the 15th to concede his match by 3&2 loss to the surprising Jeff Overton. Europe 13, US 10.

14.16 Woods secures an emphatic victory over Francesco Molinari. Europe 13, US 11.

14.47: Mickelson wins 4&2 over Peter Hanson after birdie putt on the 16th. Europe 13 US 12.

14.56: Hunter Mahan birdies the 15th, and Graeme McDowell is now just one up with three holes to go.

15.02: Rickie Fowler rolls in a sublime 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th to halve his match with Edoardo Molinari. Europe 13.5 US 12.5.

15.03: Zach Johnson makes 15-foot birdie to beat Padraig Harrington 3&2 to draw the holders level. It's all down to McDowell now. Europe 13.5 US 13.5 .

15.10: Two holes left in the absorbing McDowell-Mahan contest, McDowell birdies the 16th to go two up, with two holes remaining.

15.22: Mahan's putt on the 17th veers right and Europe win the Ryder Cup. Cue ecstatic scenes at Celtic Manor. Europe 14.5 US 13.5 .

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