At the 17th, meanwhile, Poulter gets his hands on the lead for the first time in his match against Simpson. Despite falling temperatures, Poulter, a noted clotheshound, is still playing in shirt sleeves. Embroidered on his left shoulder is a silhouette of the late Seve Ballesteros, one of Europe’s best and most beloved Ryder Cup players and their captain in 1997.
“Seve is trying hard,” he would say after making par at 17 and a birdie at 18 to finish off Simpson. “It’s incredible.”
It IS incredible. Nearly 4 1/2 hours into the matches, the U.S. team finally gets its first point when Dustin Johnson dusts off McDowell to restore the Americans’ lead at 11-10.
But in short order, Rose dispatches Mickelson with three clutch putts in a row, the last two for birdies, to turn a 1-down deficit into a 1-up win.
“Now I know how Ian Poulter feels. I had a glance down and looked at my left sleeve,” he says, referring to the Ballesteros silhouette. “That’s the kind of stuff he would have done today.”
Even announcer Johnny Miller is picking up on the vibe: “The impossible is thinking about happening,” he says.
Westwood has a 1-footer to close out Kuchar, 3-up on the 16th green. As he looks over the putt, he looks back at Kuchar to see if the American will concede. Kuchar doesn’t twitch. Westwood taps it in to even the match once again at 12-12. Moments later, Sergio Garcia decides not to concede the 8-footer Jim Furyk needs to halve the match. Furyk misses and Europe pulls in front at 13-12.