Paris – Europe on Monday revelled in its golfers' last-gasp Ryder Cup win over the United States, praising a gutsy fight-back from a seemingly hopeless position, as their opponents pondered their defeat.
Plaudits came from the very top, with the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, sending a message of congratulations to Spanish team captain Jose Maria Olazabal for what he said was a “magnificent victory”.
“To beat such a talented US team, to retain the Ryder Cup and win on American soil, is a great tribute to your superb leadership and the unity of the European team,” Barroso said.
“You have fittingly honoured the legacy of Seve Ballesteros and cemented your own place in the history of this great competition,” he added, calling the victory “an inspiration to so many people in Europe”.
The EU commissioner for sport, Androulla Vassiliou, called the comeback “extraordinary”, as Olazabal's men reversed a 10-6 deficit going into the closing 12 singles on Sunday to win by 14 1/2 points to 13 1/2.
“We were staring into the abyss with a seemingly impossible deficit to overcome but Team Europe stuck together in the face of adversity, let their talent shine and pulled off a magnificent victory,” she added.
“I am sure Seve Ballesteros will be cheering in heaven!”
Spanish golfing great Ballesteros, who died in May 2011 after a long fight against cancer, figured prominently among the tributes to the achievement in the European press.
He won five majors during his career and played in eight Ryder Cups, captaining Europe to victory in 1997.
Britain's The Sun tabloid headlined a photograph of a tearful Olazabal “For You Seve” and set the win in the context of a stellar year for British sport, particularly after the Olympics, with the bulk of the team hailing from Britain.
The Daily Telegraph broadsheet said the against-the-odds triumph at the Medinah Country Club was a “perfectly apt” way to celebrate Ballesteros' memory.
“Never give up. That is how Seve played his game. But even he would have found this recovery from four points down to retain his most precious trophy miraculous,” the newspaper's golf correspondent wrote.
French sports daily L'Equipe expressed the thoughts of many watching, asking on its website: “How did America manage to lose this Ryder Cup? It's a question that will surely haunt (captain) Davis Love for the rest of his life.
“OK, the Europeans were all on their game on Sunday. But... it was rather the hosts that lost it...
“Medinah 2012 joins (Brookline) 1999 (when the US came back from 10-6 down going into the final day to win 14 1/2 to 13 1/2) in the fairy tale of mythical come-backs.”
Across the Atlantic, the New York Times said the nature of the US defeat went to the heart of the sport's appeal and made the Ryder Cup “one of the most unpredictable and irrestible of sporting events”.
The Wall Street Journal waded in to the post-mortem of the US defeat, asking whether Love miscalculated by pairing Mickelson with Keegan Bradley in the four-ball or picking Steve Stricker from the start.
On Stricker, the Journal said: “He was the only American not to win a point and was the most visible goat on Sunday when he missed a critical six-foot putt on the 17th hole in the next-to-last match.”
But it added: “The better questions to ask might be how teams from Europe consistently pull rabbits out of their hats at these Ryder Cups. Europe has now won two in a row, five of the past six and seven of the past nine.
“If it were just this U.S. team that lost when on paper it seemed to have the better players, the blame might be easier to assign. But that's not the case.” – Sapa-AFP