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PGA Tour Confidential: Europe wins Ryder Cup with epic rally in Sunday singles

Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose
Robert Beck / SI
Ian Poulter (center) went 4-0 for the week at the Europeans completed an improbable comeback on Sunday.

Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Who saw that coming? Staring at a 10-6 deficit, Europe rallied for a stunning 14 ½ -13 ½ victory. This kind of comeback doesn't come around often, so let's get right to the point: Did the Europeans win the Ryder Cup, or did the U.S. hand it to them? No fence-sitting. Take a side.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: The U.S. handed it to them. Our guys played the 18th hole wretchedly, a total cock-up. It was hard to watch.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: The U.S. thought it was over on Saturday night, just like the Euros did in '99. I'm not going to say the U.S. choked, but the Americans didn't seem to be playing with the same enthusiasm as they did on Friday and Saturday.

Godich: I said before the first tee shot was even struck that the U.S. body language suggested that this thing was over.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I'll say the Euros took it. Poulter was a joke, he was so good. Westwood said in the presser afterward that Europe has revised the qualifying criteria to nine qualifiers, two wild cards and Poults.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Europeans won it with some spectacular golf, which created a tsunami of momentum. The Americans will rue some loose shots and missed putts, but Europe seized this one with virtually flawless play.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It's a Euro win. They played inspired golf. Just like the Americans did in '99.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: When a guy hits a shank, nobody makes a putt when they've been making everything for two days, and you win only 3 of 12 matches, that's probably choking. Europeans still had to play well enough to pull it off, though.

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Oh, the U.S. lost it. No excuses. The Americans were playing way better than the Europeans, and it's mind-boggling that they let that slip through their fingers. I had a bad feeling when I woke up this morning and saw a bunch of stories saying that Europe had no chance.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I'm on the "Euros won it" side. There were a bunch of crazy runs and incredible shots that made that win happen.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, You can't give up that kind of a lead without a good percentage of the team falling apart, so I'd agree with Garrity. The Euros played inspired golf Sunday, but it was the Americans' to lose, and lose it they did.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, A comeback of this magnitude can't happen without a little of both. But you'd have to say that, playing a home game, the U.S. really kicked this thing away by blowing so many Sunday matches on the final two holes. The veterans on the team -- Mickelson, Furyk and Stricker in particular -- all had a chance to win their matches. They must feel sick about this one.

Morfit: Three of the U.S. captain's picks just didn't pan out. Stricker, Furyk and Snedeker combined to win just a point.

Garrity: I would cut Mickelson some slack. Rose made about a hundred feet of putts on the last three holes, including that incredible birdie on 17 after Lefty's fantastic pitch. Rose's finish turned everything around.

Wei: We should give Phil a little bit of a break. That 40-foot bomb Rose made was unreal. Phil helped take the pressure off Rose a bit after he blew his approach on 18 over the green, but then Rose made another putt.

Godich: Phil didn't really do anything wrong, though he certainly needed to put that approach shot at 18 on the green. That opened the door for Rose.

Morfit: Of the eight Americans who lost on Sunday, Phil looked the least like a loser. Rose was amazing, almost as much as Poulter was Saturday night. A lot of crazy stuff happened. Musta been Seve.

Wei: Rose said right after the match that he felt like he was Poulter. Then he asked to be excused to give his mum a hug.

Garrity: Give Phil credit for his sportsmanship, as well. He gave Rose a big smile and a thumbs up for his birdie on 17, and he was totally gracious on 18 green. Phil gave it the real Jack Nicklaus treatment.

Hanger: Right. I was waiting for someone to get on him for not being intense enough, but I love that about Phil. He takes the matches seriously but understands that this is all a game, and he's not so competitive that he can't acknowledge something special from an opponent.

Morfit: He was also signing autographs and giving away trinkets after they lost. He was class all the way and played great.

David Dusek, deputy editor, John made a great point in the media center as we watched the action. Clearly no one on the U.S. team communicated to the matches behind them that 18 was playing short, and that the putt coming back down the hill didn't break. Everyone went long, and everyone missed the putt coming back on the left.

Garrity: I really don't know what happened there. You know my general contempt for the whole "cult of the captain" trend, but I've always conceded that captains -- or at least their co-captains -- can lose a Ryder Cup. That might have been the case here. Surely somebody was supposed to tell the later players how 18 was playing. The only guy to hit it pin-high there was Tiger, and by then it didn't matter.

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, The U.S. handed it to them. You only need 4 ½ points on your home turf and you don't get it done? Major choke job.

Morfit: Lots of Americans playing not great, and lots of Euros playing well was the only way. The comeback did seem very doable even on Saturday night, though, after that Poulter run changed the momentum. I also thought the U.S. looked old Sunday, especially Furyk and Stricker. Furyk called this the low point of "a low year."

Dusek: The Europeans were fantastic, but the losses by Mickelson, Furyk and Webb Simpson were devastating to the United States. Win any of those matches, which were all lost on the last few holes, and the U.S. wins the Ryder Cup.

Morfit: Lots of blame to go around. Snedeker never looked right all week. Might've been a massive FedEx Cup hangover.

Tell us what you think in the comments section on Facebook: Did Europe win this Ryder Cup, or did the U.S. lose it?

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