Elliott: Ring out the Bells
Bill Elliott, Golf Monthly Editor at Large and Chairman of the Association of Golf Writers: "There will never be a Ryder Cup like the 39th version at Medinah"
RING the bells, sound those trumpet calls, light beacons on the hills. Most of all sing Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé. Loudly.
There never again will be a Ryder Cup like this 39th version at Medinah. Why? There simply can't be. Even that most unpredictable of things, big time sport, cannot come up with something as wonderfully fabulous as this final Sunday in the suburbs of Chicago.
Four points behind an apparently rampant US side, few of us gave Europe much hope of victory. There was some defiantly brave talk, most of it in bars late on Saturday night when logic is caressed by a swaying kind of anaesthesia.
But in the cold, clear air of a perfect autumnal morning here those hopes seemed ridiculously misplaced as the thousands of American fans embraced the edges of this terrific course and prepared to roar on Davis Love's men.
Wear red, the PGA of America had urged and wear red they did, a long sea of this colour stretching everywhere one cared to look. Sprinkled here and there was the yellow and blue of Europe, the occasional defiant song breaking out now and then.
What José María Olazábal wanted to happen was for his top-loaded players to put blue on the leaderboards around the course early and so subdue the US team's supporters. It was, even on paper, a slim hope but cometh the day cometh the men and Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose plus the strong, reinvented figure of Paul Lawrie did their captain proud.
One by one these players edged ahead of their opponents. One by one they began to paint those leaderboards blue, one by one the rest of us began to believe that something extraordinary was indeed happening in front of our startled eyes on this remarkable day.
Of course, as hope grew vibrantly on one side, so desperation began to infiltrate an apparently impregnable American team. Suddenly the improbable became the possible before turning into the most singular achievement in the history of this competition.
Match after match came to the closing holes and in the majority of these contests it was the European's will that prevailed, the European clutch putts that dropped.
And of course it ended in tears. It was always going to. José María had dedicated this Ryder Cup to his great friend and mentor Severiano Ballesteros. On this Sunday Seve's famous St Andrews silhouette was on every European shirt sleeve.
More importantly, his spirit ran through this team. “Seve taught me one thing above all else,” José María had said at the beginning of the week. “Never give in, never quit, anything is possible in this game.”
On a vibrant day this thought has never been more beautifully exampled. As the climax came José María flicked a glance at the heavens and then began quietly to cry. He was not alone. Olé, Olé, Olé. The perfect end to the perfect summer of sport.
We'll never see its like again. Just be thankful we saw it once.