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

Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley
Robert Beck / SI
Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley went 3-0 as a match-play tandem at Medinah.

Godich: Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were the U.S.'s most dynamic duo, storming to victory in their first three matches. Love chose to sit the pair for the Saturday afternoon matches, and Phil said he had no problem with the decision, saying the rest would be good and that it didn't make sense to risk two points on Sunday to pick up one on Saturday. It sounded brilliant at the time, but now I'm not so sure, especially when you consider that Phil and Keegan both lost on Sunday. Phil came to Love's defense on Sunday night, saying the plan all along was to sit. What do you say?

Shipnuck: Love's the captain, not Phil. He should have told Phil on the 10th hole to man-up and get ready to play again. Saturday afternoon changed everything, and the U.S.'s most dynamic duo was twiddling their thumbs.

Van Sickle: The resting bit was a lame excuse. Phil and Keegan played all of 12 holes, alternate shot. So they each played the equivalent of six holes worth of shots. They needed to rest after that? I'm not buying. The captain needed to adjust his "plan."

Godich: I'm with you guys. The message before play started on Saturday should have been that while the intention was to rest everybody for a match, Phil and Keegan might be needed in the afternoon.

Morfit: I didn't understand the reluctance to split up Tiger-Stricker, and Phil-Keegan. It might have helped both Tiger and whoever he was paired with to put him with another player after he and Stricker proved they'd come to the end of the line Friday. And Keegan would have helped whoever he was paired with Saturday afternoon.

Van Sickle: You get the points when you can, strike while the iron's hot. Phil and Keegan lost their Sunday matches, anyway -- they could've done that tired. At the very least, I would've sent Bradley back out on Saturday afternoon with Tiger and sat Stricker, who wasn't lighting it up. Ideally, send them both out. Just like Ollie had to be kicking himself for benching Poulter AND Donald on Friday afternoon. Every point matters.

Herre: Hard to second-guess Love on this. He said going in that he was going to sit guys. Kind of got him off the hook with Woods. Mickelson played pretty well on Sunday. Rose was simply out of his mind. He was the last Euro I would've guessed would kill the U.S. with his putter. Bradley, the guy with all the energy, was the one who was all over the place on Sunday.

Garrity: At the time, I thought it was a good move on Davis's part, so I can hardly second-guess him now. I doubt that Keegan and Phil could have sustained that level of play for a fourth straight session, and it was good to have them fresh for Sunday -- Phil because of his age, Keegan because of his brain-sapping intensity.

Hanger: It's the same old story. If it works, Love's a genius. If it doesn't, he blew it. Nobody knows what the "right" move was.

Dusek: I have no problem with Love's decision to sit Keegan and Phil. If Rose doesn't putt out of his head, Phil wins and maybe the U.S. wins. Everyone rested at least one session, so I assume it was planned all along. If Phil and Keegan had lost Saturday afternoon the question would have been, "Why not rest the 42-year-old Phil?"

Wei: I thought it made sense at the time, and I will stand by that. It was exhausting watching their reactions and celebrations. Coming down from the adrenaline rush probably took everything out of them -- at least Phil. I never thought he was going to play all five matches, so I wasn't in the least surprised. I don't think the dynamic duo could have sustained that same intensity for the afternoon.

Morfit: Speaking of celebrations, you know how baseball players will sometimes choreograph their high-fives? That should be a prerequisite for all Ryder Cup players when they're getting fitted for their uniforms. Colsaerts and Garcia were such a mess trying to celebrate their birdie on 16 Saturday that it was hard to watch, and Colsaerts, no doubt still reeling, promptly rinsed his tee shot on 17 to lose the match. Let's decide right now: Are we doing the knuckle-bumps today or the high-fives? These things are important.

Wei: You mean their rock-paper-scissors exchange? Completely! Keegan and Phil had some awkward ones, too. The butt-patting and chest-bumping and near-missed high-fives. Obviously they had a ton of good ones. I thought they were going to make out a few times.

Godich: Not to open a can of worms, but is Phil's telling Davis not to play him and Keegan in the afternoon any different from Chris Riley asking to sit at the 2004 Ryder Cup?

Herre: Did Phil actually "tell him"? Also, Riley was 20 years younger than Phil, and had not played a kazillion Ryder and Presidents Cup matches. Frankly, I thought the Duf should've been sent out on Friday afternoon. Davis might have been a little bit too committed to his four-match-only policy in Dufner's case.

Godich: Phil said he told Davis on the 10th tee to not even think about sending them back out, said they had put all of their energy into the morning match because they knew they weren't going to play in the afternoon.

Shipnuck: Riley wasn't 42 and hadn't already played three matches. But he also wasn't unbeatable.

Van Sickle: Again, Phil hit only six holes worth of shots Saturday morning. Not that much stress.

Morfit: It's different from Riley because only one of them is 42 and has chronic arthritis and is a Hall of Famer. Otherwise, the same.

Garrity: Also, Phil spoke up to defend his captain, whereas Riley's captain, Hal Sutton, used Riley as a scapegoat. That was one of the low points in Ryder Cup history.

Shipnuck: Also, sitting Phil didn't mean Keegan had to sit. He could've helped Tiger a hell of a lot more than Stricker did.

Wei: Agreed, but I feel like handbags would have been thrown had DL3 paired Keegan with someone else.

Morfit: There seemed to be this unspoken assumption that Tiger-Stricker and Phil-Keegan were Siamese twins. Part of being an effective leader is making good decisions in real time, as the situation changes. For whatever reason, Love was reluctant to break up a big losing team and a big winning team.

Tell us what you think in the comments section on Facebook: Should Love have played Mickelson and Bradley one more time Saturday afternoon? Or was sitting them for one session the right move?

Godich: Let's be honest. The Ryder Cup was pretty much without suspense midway through the Saturday afternoon four-ball session. The U.S. was leading comfortably and the only question was how much the margin would be when the sun set. But that's when the comeback truly began, as the Euros turned what could have been a 4-0 whitewash into a 2-2 draw. I would argue that the last 60 to 90 minutes of that four-ball play were as good as it gets in the Ryder Cup. What was your most memorable moment from that stretch?

Morfit: This week was the first time I'd heard Rory actually scream in the manner of Poulter and some of the other European Ryder Cup legends. It was almost like Rory and Keegan were trying to out-scream each other there for a while.

Shipnuck: Standing on the edge of the 18th green in the twilight waiting for Tiger's putt. There were 20,000 or 25,000 fans there, and both teams. My heart was pounding, and I'm an impartial observer.

Wei: The moment that stands out most was Dustin Johnson draining the birdie putt on 17. My ears are still ringing from the crowd reaction. Also, Rory McIlroy draining a 15-footer for birdie on 13 to get things going. In person, you could sense the momentum changing. It was the only time I saw Rory make a putt all week, and also the first time I saw some fire in him since Friday morning. It was a good sign of things to come.

Morfit: Poulter going on that five-birdie run to close reminded me of Tiger circa 2000, in microcosm, obviously. You knew he was going to do something crazy, but that crazy?

Hanger: Rory McIlroy's reaction to Poulter's man-possessed play and demeanor. It was pretty cool to see the world's best player standing aside and shaking his head at what he was seeing, just like the rest of us.

Dusek: Ian Poulter's reactions to holing all those putts, and Rory's reaction to Poulter's incredible run. Priceless.

Garrity: Too easy. Poulter's five-birdie finish with all the eye-popping facial gymnastics.

Godich: I said one moment. You gave me five, John.

Garrity: Time moves quickly when you're 65.

Tell us what you think in the comments section on Facebook: What's your memorable moment from this Ryder Cup?

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