Golf: Europeans pay tribute to Seve Ballesteros after Ryder Cup victory
London • The Miracle of Medinah.
One of sport's greatest comebacks was celebrated across the continent with those words Monday after Europe's historic and emotional victory over the United States in the Ryder Cup.
Nowhere was the win more special than in Spain, the home of European captain Jose Maria Olazabal and the inspirational late Ryder Cup stalwart Seve Ballesteros.
"This one is for you, Seve," ran the front-page headline of Spanish sports daily Marca, echoing the thoughts of Olazabal and all of Europe's players who overcame a 10-4 deficit late Saturday afternoon to win 14 1/2-13 1/2 in Medinah, Ill.
Ballesteros, who died from a brain tumor in May 2011, was everywhere Sunday. His image adorned European bags and shirts, his name was sung by Europe's fans well into the night and his spirit was invoked by players wearing the navy trousers and white polo shirt that were the Spaniard's trademark.
His name was on everyone's lips Monday, too.
"What happened yesterday went beyond sports what that group of individuals achieved was incredibly difficult," Ivan Ballesteros, Seve's nephew and vice president of the Seve Ballesteros foundation, told The Associated Press by telephone. "We want to thank Jose Maria for remembering Seve not just throughout the week but for always keeping his memory alive."
Ballesteros' family kept it simple on their official website with the message: "Thanks Europe, Thanks Jose Maria."
The British media, already spoiled by an unprecedented summer of sporting success this year that included the London Olympics, added another memorable triumph to the list.
"After London 2012, Bradley Wiggins, Andy Murray and the rest, we were due an anti-climax. But this sporting year is incapable of dullness, one-sidedness, hollow drama," the Daily Telegraph said.
Britain had heroes everywhere from Luke Donald beating Bubba Watson in the opening singles to the tight victories secured by Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood.
Justin Rose beat Phil Mickelson with a birdie at the 17th that was perhaps the key turning point Sunday. And then there was Ian Poulter, who started Europe's charge by making five straight birdies in the final match of Saturday's fourballs to take a crucial point and leave the score at 10-6 going into the final day.
"I'm officially taking two years off and I'll see you at the next one," said Poulter, who won a match-high four points and was labeled the "modern-day Seve" by McIlroy.
It was a German, Martin Kaymer, who rolled in a putt on the 18th hole to beat Steve Stricker on Sunday and ensure that Europe retained the cup.
"I never had such a feeling before," Kaymer said. "I'll never forget it and I'll be telling my grandchildren about it."
Pictures of the German celebrating his putt pumping both fists were splashed across newspaper front pages.
"Wunderbar," blared the headline in Britain's Daily Express.
With a nod to Europe's economic troubles, the Irish Times said: "Martin Kaymer, a cool German, gave Europe a massive bailout that contributed to the most unlikeliest comeback in Ryder Cup history."
Twitter was awash with Ryder reaction from sports personalities past and present who stayed up late to cheer on Europe from afar.
"The victory was epic!" Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, a keen golfer, tweeted.
Paul Casey, an English golfer who played in three Ryder Cups from 2004-08, added: "Woke up this morning and it wasn't a dream. The most amazing Ryder Cup ever! Well done lads, especially JMO."
Four-time Olympic rowing gold medalist Matthew Pinsent of Britain offered his own take.
"Ironic that in the cold light of morning the US played better in the team formats than we did and EUR were great 'individually,'" Pinsent tweeted.
Belgium hardly a golfing stronghold reveled in having one of its own in the winning lineup. Nicolas Colsaerts was a virtual unknown in Belgium a few months ago, but Europe's biggest hitter graced the front pages of two of the country's main newspapers Monday after making a memorable debut that included beating Tiger Woods in Friday's fourballs.
"After beating Tiger Woods on Friday, Colsaerts could celebrate again last night," boasted Belgium's Het Laatste Nieuws.
The 2012 match, though, will forever be remembered as the one where Europe did Seve proud.
Olazabal failed to fight back the tears Sunday as he dedicated victory to his close friend and playing partner at the closing ceremony. On Monday morning, "Ollie" surfaced with bags under his eyes, clutching the cup.
"If someone had to write a script for it, that would be the ideal one," Olazabal said. "For that to happen, Seve had to have something to do with it."
AP Sports Writer Raf Casert in Brussels and Associated Press writers Joe Wilson in Barcelona, Spain, and Ciaran Fahey in Berlin contributed to this report.
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