Magical memories of 2012 - Golf: 'This was it. The moment that would decide the Ryder Cup. A 10-footer for glory... Get in!'

30 September: Europe claim Ryder Cup in thrilling fashion

The memories come in a rush; Ian Poulter staring down the whole of America on that mad Saturday afternoon of rampant sporting theatre when Europe began to inch back from the precipice, Poulter and Bubba Watson geeing up the crowd on the first tee on Saturday morning, Keegan Bradley holing everything for three sessions and storming on to the tee box shortly after 7am on the last day to whip the fans into a frenzy, the missing Rory McIlroy emerging from a police patrol car on Sunday morning and munching on an energy bar on his way to the tee as if he were playing the medal at Holywood Golf Club, Justin Rose curling one in from 40 feet to claim the 17th, Martin Kaymer momentarily frozen as the winning putt dropped.

And then at the end of it all the European players emerging in little clusters from the back of the clubhouse draped in blue flags and posing for photos with a few savvy punters, who took a chance on the shuttle buses in the car park being deployed to take our heroes to the closing ceremony. McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Nicolas Colsearts, Peter Hanson and Darren Clarke duly stopped by before the taxi whisked them off to the speeches.

Looking back to Friday there was no sense that an epic event was upon us, so few were the dramatic clues at the outset. The first day was almost anticlimactic from a European point of view with America establishing a 5-3 lead after sharing the spoils in the morning. Saturday morning? More of the same, America threatening to erase all tension from the contest at 8-4. Only Poulter and Justin Rose were on the board for Europe. By mid-afternoon America were 10-4 to the good, Webb Simpson and Watson's 5&4 drubbing of Rose and Francesco Molinari exemplifying the one-sided nature of the contest.

And then, like returnees emerging at the desert's edge after being given up for lost, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia edged Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker at the last to log a vital point for Europe. Donald admitted later to being buoyed by the miracle unfolding behind. Poulter, full of fist-pumping fury, drilling putts from all angles. A two-hole deficit with six to play turned on the last with a sixth successive birdie for Poulter and McIlroy, who started the ball rolling at the 13th. After that it was all Poulter. Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner did nothing wrong. Far from it. They birdied three of the last five holes but that wasn't enough to repel Popeye Poulter.

Kaymer had endured an awful spell and would not have been anywhere near this team had he not clung to 10th spot in the qualifying pool, yet it was he on whom providence dumped all her chips in the penultimate match. He looked nervous. Everybody looked nervous. This was it, the moment that would decide the Ryder Cup. A 10-footer for glory... Get in!

Further reading:

Olympics: ‘Mo, Jess and Greg gave us a night no one could forget’ 4 August: That night in the Olympic Stadium - James Lawton

Football: ‘When Chelsea saw off Barcelona, the joy was in watching the spoilers have their day’ 24 April: Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea (agg 2-3); Champions League semi-final second leg - Sam Wallace

Athletics: ‘The roar for Ennis made the hair stand up on the back of my neck’ 3 August: Opening day of track and field at the Olympics - Simon Turnbull

Rugby Union: ‘It was eerie seeing England sticking it to the silver fern’ 1 December: Manu Tuilagi waltzes to the try line as England smash New Zealand- Chris Hewett

Cycling: 'Bradley Wiggins' achievement was greatest we have ever seen from a Briton' 22 July: Bradley Wiggins wins the Tour de France - Alasdair Fotheringham

Football: ‘We’ll never encounter anything quite like it again’ 13 May: Manchester City win the title in thrilling style - Ian Herbert

Football: ‘After losing the title in the cruellest way, Ferguson stood firm’ 13 May: United are denied the title in heart-breaking style Martin Hardy

Olympics: ‘Nobody personified it more than Hoy, the ultimate sportsman’ 27 July: Hoy leads out Team GB at the Games opening ceremony - Robin Scott-Elliot

Football: ‘An hour later Theo Walcott was a hero – given a standing ovation’ 26 February: Theo Walcott turns the jeers to cheers to steer Arsenal to derby victory - Glenn Moore

Boxing: ‘The fight was terrific from the first bell. It had urgency, nastiness' 14 July: David Haye v Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora - Steve Bunce

Tennis: ‘After Murray won he staggered in a daze, then held his head in his hands’ 11 September: Andy Murray ends Britain’s wait for a major - Paul Newman

Football: ‘That night Spain played thrilling, bold, beautiful football’  1 July: Beautiful Spain smash Italy in the Euro 2012 final - Jack Pitt-Brooke

Formula One: ‘Kimi’s Lotus win was F1’s most romantic result’  4 November: Kimi Raikkonen zooms to victory in Abu Dhabi - David Tremayne

Racing: ‘Frankel enlarged life’s comfort zone for us all’ 22 August: Juddmonte International Stakes; Frankel finally goes the full distance - Chris McGrath

Cricket: ‘A sweep for three and Cook had broken a 73-year-old landmark’  6 December: Alastair Cook breaks England century record - Ste

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