PAUL LAWRIE lived his very own American dream after helping Europe pull off their stunning last-day fightback to win the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah.
Thirteen years ago, on his debut in the event at Brookline, the Scot watched the Americans record the biggest comeback in the event’s history.
Now he knows what it is like to be on the other side of the fence after the Europeans matched that feat on the outskirts of Chicago.
Trailing 10-6 heading into the singles, they won the closing session 8½-3½ to record their seventh success in nine matches.
On a day to savour for European golf, Lawrie played his part by delivering one of the early victories that proved pivotal in the Americans being overhauled.
Up against Brandt Snedeker, he chipped in from off the back of the green at the fourth then hit Snedeker with an eagle at the next.
He only lost one hole – the tenth – and ran out a comfortable 5 and 3 winner against the man who won the Tour Championship in Atlanta seven days earlier to claim the FedEx Cup.
“This obviously feels a lot better than ’99. That was pretty tough,” beamed Lawrie, sitting alongside his team-mates and captain Jose Maria Olazabal at the traditional all-in-one press conference afterwards. “We were 10-6 ahead at Brookline and obviously the American team played fantastic in the singles and deservedly won.
“Now, at the age of 43, I’ve been part of a team that has come back from 10-6 down on American soil. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Lawrie is among four members of Europe’s winning side in Illinois who are now heading back home to play in this week’s Dunhill Links Championship.
Lee Westwood, Peter Hanson and Martin Kaymer are the others and the latter, in particular, can expect some hearty slaps on the back after he ensured the Ryder Cup would be staying on this side of the Atlantic for at least another two years.
On a dramatic afternoon, it all came down to the final two matches – Kaymer v Steve Stricker and Francesco Molinari v Tiger Woods.
One up playing the last, Kaymer safely found the green in two but charged his first putt about six feet past the hole.
Stricker piled on the pressure by holing from about eight feet for par, leaving Kaymer in exactly the same position as his fellow German, Bernhard Langer, had found himself in at Kiawah Island in 1991.
Then, Langer missed and Kaymer admitted that had been in his mind as he surveyed one of the most important putts of his career.
He holed it, though, to earn a place in the event’s history as one of the men who clinched a Ryder Cup win.
“Graeme McDowell had the same pressure as me two years ago (in Wales) and I didn’t know how much pressure that actually was until I got to the 16th,” said the former USPGA champion.
“It was there that Jose Maria told me, ‘We need your point. And I don’t really know how you do it – just deliver!’
“But I like those straightforward situations. That’s the way we Germans are and, fortunately, I could handle it.”
Kaymer had only just scraped into the team after suffering a dip in form in the final few weeks of the qualifying campaign.
After losing his fourball match on the opening day here, he didn’t play at all on Saturday and admitted he set out in the singles with a point to prove.
“Saturday was difficult,” confessed the European hero. “It was Jose Maria’s decision, which was fair enough. But I definitely wanted to show him I could win a match here.”
Englishman Ian Poulter won all four of his matches, including a contest-changing fourball on Saturday night during which he finished with five consecutive birdies.
He was another of the singles winners, as were Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.
Asked what it was about the Ryder Cup that seemed to bring out the best in him, Poulter said: “It’s a passion I have and it came from watching the event as a kid. It’s something that comes from within. I just love it. You get very special moments at a Ryder Cup.”