Ryder Cup 2014: The top 10 moments from Gleneagles

Paul Mahoney casts an eye back over three days of glorious golf at Gleneagles and, amid the heroics and meltdowns, picks the memories which defined 2014

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The Independent Online

FRIDAY

 

1. First tee: “Ole, ole, ole...”

“There’s only one Ian Poulter…” For three days every two years, golf thinks it’s football.

“Europe! Europe!” was the terrace-type cry from 3,000 fans packed into the grandstand around the first tee. It was 6am, 90 minutes before the first match. “USA, USA,” came the response from the away supporters. All 17 of them, by the volume. “You’ve only got one song,” the home fans taunted. “Who are ya?”

Best songs: “Kaymer, Kaymer, Kaymer, Kaymer, Kaymer chameleon, he putts and drives…” And “Bjorn beats the USA…” It’s not clear if Boy George and Bruce Springsteen are golf fans.

2. Bubba Time

Bubba brought The Noise and stole the show. At the last Ryder Cup in 2010, Watson created history by being the first player to invite the crowd to whoop and holler as he teed off. He said he’d never do it again. But history repeated itself at Gleneagles.

The crowd started to roar as he prepared to hit off the first tee. They wanted more of the same. Bubba smiled, nodded his approval and cupped his hand to his ear to get the volume cranked up to a Spinal Tap 11. The circus was in town and the clown had centre stage. He smashed his ball with his pink driver. It looked as if he was swinging a flamingo by its leg. He lost his match but won the crowd.

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Bubba Watson of the US plays a shot from the bunker

 

3. Keegan! It’s there!

Confusing 1970s Liverpool fans, “Keegan, Keegan,” came the chant from the American fans as Keegan Bradley eagled the 16th in Friday morning’s fourballs.

He and his partner Phil Mickelson were losing the stellar match against Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia until Bradley unleashed a wood that soared towards the green. It also unleashed his trademark crazy wild stare.

Of the adrenaline rush he felt after hitting that shot, he said: “It’s like you’re drinking 500 cups of coffee at once.”

It gave the Americans momentum. Bradley birdied the 18th, too. The point was won for the US.

 

4. Zeroes to Heroes

McIlroy and Garcia had wanted to be together but looked more like they were on a blind date that just wasn’t working out.

There was no spark as they lost two of the last three holes in the morning to lose to Mickelson and Bradley. But what a turnaround after lunch. Whatever they ate, perhaps they should have had it for breakfast, too.

It looked like Europe’s big guns would be shot down by Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler.

Then, bang! McIlroy holed a 40-foot bomb to take the game up the 18th. Then wallop! Garcia smashed a five-wood out of the rough over 200 yards to the green. Birdie. Match halved. It felt like a victory.

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Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy embrace after beating Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan

 

SATURDAY

5. Bloomin’ ’eck

Justin Rose jumped on the birdie train at the eighth in the morning foursomes and rode it to the 13th.

His  four birdies in that run would have been six in a row in strokeplay as his ball was inside five feet for both his pars. His partner turned those pars into birdies anyway. Rose holed almost every putt he looked at. He was seven under par with his own ball. Combined, they shot 52, 12 under par, a Ryder Cup record.

Poor Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar. They were nine under par – and lost.

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Justin Rose

 

6. The eagle has landed

Hunter Mahan had already bagged five birdies before he smashed the drive of the day at the short par four. There was never any thought of laying up.

He fired at the green 320 yards away and stared at it in hope. Thousands roared as Mahan’s ball cleared the bunkers lined up at 280 yards and found the edge of the green.

Lee Westwood had bagged a birdie for himself and Jamie Donaldson but Mahan wasn’t finished. He punched the air as his eagle dropped and high-fived his partner Jim Furyk. Victory to the US.

 

 7. The bulging eyes

The Postman finally delivered. The bulging eyes, the double-fisted air punch, the scream that could be heard at the Space Station, the stare that scared his children. It was all back. But it took until the 15th hole in the morning fourballs for the real Ryder Cup Ian Poulter to reveal himself.

He and partner McIlroy needed to make something happen. Postman Poults delivered, chipping in from 50 yards. Cue bedlam. It produced the roar of the day and not just from Poulter. It seemed the whole of Scotland shook with the thunderous noise that boomed around Gleneagles.

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Ian Poulter

 

SUNDAY

8. McDowell leads the way

It was Paul McGinley’s secret two-year plan to put 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell out first in the singles tasked with getting blue on the board early for Europe. He only told the Northern Irishman on Wednesday.

McDowell started slowly, going three down after nine holes against the 21-year-old sensation Jordan Spieth. But his trademark big heart and fighting spirit kicked in on the back nine. McDowell’s putts began rolling in, while Spieth spluttered, throwing in four bogeys.

“He missed that putt on the seventh to go four up,” McDowell said. “That was a massive turning point for me mentally. Something clicked.” Point duly delivered 2&1.

 

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Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland (R) celebrates after winning his singles match with team-mate Rory McIlroy

9. Garcia comes good

Something glorious happens to Sergio Garcia in the Ryder Cup. His major campaigns are littered with bunker shots fluffed and putts lipping out. In the Ryder Cup, he holes  out from here, there and  everywhere.

The Spaniard said he felt he had let his team down this week but began to think more clearly in the singles. “The last four or five holes, it was unbelievable,” he said. Garcia finished with three birdies and an eagle to win by one hole, but not before crying on the 17th after Europe had secured victory.

“I couldn’t hold it in,” he said. “This event is so special.” A major title surely awaits.

 

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Sergio Garcia of Europe reacts to a putt on the 17th

10. The winning putt (wedge)

There was not actually a putt to win it this time because the shot into the green was so good.

Jamie  Donaldson was four up against Keegan Bradley and the chance to claim the winning point for Europe had fallen to him. He unleashed the perfect drive at the 15th then fired a wedge shot to two feet. Bradley gave him the putt, hands were shaken, champagne sprayed.

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Jamie Donaldson of Europe celebrates on the 15th hole after Europe won the Ryder Cup with Donaldson defeating Keegan Bradley

 

Deadly Donaldson killed the match with his putter, bagging four birdies in the middle of the round. All hail the 2014 Ryder Cup hero, the Prince of Pontypridd.

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