09/30/2012 06:24 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2012

Ryder Cup 2012: Europe Pulls Off Epic Comeback As Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk Surrender Leads

Do call it a comeback.

Both the European team and the United States squad would likely prefer it that way. After all, if the thrilling come-from-behind win for the golfers representing Europe isn't remembered as perhaps the most incredible comeback in Ryder Cup history then it must be regarded as an epic collapse by the Americans.

Boasting a 10-6 lead when they turned up at Medinah on Sunday, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and the rest of the United States team just needed to avoid an all-out rout in the concluding day of the 2012 Ryder Cup. They could not. Even after the Europeans captured the first four points of the singles action on Sunday, the United States team still had a path its winning point total of 14 1/2, with a few in-progress matches looking to go their way.

Both Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk took 1-up leads to the 17 hole in their respective matches yet came away without a point as Europe won seven of the first nine matches to take a 13-12 lead. Justin Rose overtook Mickelson with a birdie birdie finish to their singles match while Sergio Garcia capitalized on an inopportune miss by Furyk.

CLICK HERE for hole-by-hole breakdown of singles competition.

Needing just one point to retain the cup, Europe celebrated when Martin Kaymer held off Steve Stricker by rolling in a 6-foot putt at 18 for a 1-up win over Steve Stricker.

After Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari halved the final point of the tournament, Europe retained the Ryder Cup, with an overall score of 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 and a dominant 8 1/2 to 3 1/2 edge in singles. This dramatic reversal marks a moment of sweet revenge for European captain Jose Maria Olazabal, who was there in 1999 when the U.S. team turned a 10-6 deficit into a stirring triumph. Before the latest edition of Ryder Cup, that '99 comeback was widely considered the most thrilling moment in the history of the competition. Will the "Miracle at Medinah" surpass it?

"I guess they had to reroute the champagne from the American locker room to the European locker room because 24 hours ago we weren't winning this thing," Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland told Golf Channel during its broadcast of the European celebration. "[It was] an incredible team effort because, personally it wasn't my best weekend at the Ryder Cup but you know what? This personifies it for me.. being able to share it with 11 teammates. Whether I played good or bad, we're talking the Ryder Cup home to Europe."

Although the Americans surely entered the day in an enviable position, the European surge truly began on Saturday when Ian Poulter reeled off five straight birdies in an impressive display to grab the final point of the day.

"It's given the whole team a massive boost, to be able to go into tomorrow morning knowing that you can win from this position," Poulter said after wrapping up his superlative Saturday, via Golfweek.

As impressive as anyone at Medinah, Poulter continued his strong play on Sunday, defeating U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson 2-up to even the Ryder Cup, 10-10.

"Ollie said to us at the start of the week, Ryder Cup is what memories and dreams are made of," Poulter told Sky Sports Golf after his side's triumph. "And he's been awesome."


PHOTOS: Ryder Cup Day 3


MEDINAH, Ill. -- Europe has won the Ryder Cup, completing an historic comeback from a 4-point deficit to beat the MEDINAH, Ill. -- Europe has won the Ryder Cup, completing an historic comeback from a 4-point deficit to beat the United States.

Martin Kaymer delivered the crucial point with a 1-up victory over Steve Stricker on Sunday, and Tiger Woods missed from inside four feet to halve his match with Francesco Molinari. The Europeans finished with 14 1/2 points while the Americans had 13 1/2.

When Kaymer rolled in the 6-footer to clinch the cup, he threw up his arms in triumph and shook his fists. His teammates, surrounding the green and already on their feet, roared and began grabbing flags and hugging each other , fans - anyone and anything that was in reach.

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal, watching from the middle of the fairway, closed his eyes and looked skyward. This was the first Ryder Cup without the late Seve Ballesteros, Europe's greatest player, and Olazabal had repeatedly invoked the memory of his good friend.

It was a brutal loss for the Americans, who were poised to win the Ryder Cup for only the third time since 1999 after taking a 10-4 lead midway through Saturday afternoon's matches. But the Europeans rallied to win the final two, then built on the lead by winning the first five matches Sunday.