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Colin Montgomerie has had an awful year both on and off the golf course. He didn't qualify for the Ryder Cup team but rather had to depend on the patronage of captain Bernhard Langer who selected him as one of his two wildcards.

The Scot repaid the faith Langer showed in him by sinking the four-foot putt on the 18th green to win his match with David Toms and retain the Ryder Cup for Europe.

In the end it was a drubbing, but if the record 18½-9½ score suggests it was plain sailing in sun-kissed Michigan for Europe's men then it would be misleading after a day full of twists and turns this great event deserves as the Americans made a brave charge to overcome their mountainous overnight deficit of six points.

Very early on they were up in the first five matches on the course and the miracle that captain Hal Sutton had asked for looked possible, if implausible. But the charge petered out mid-afternoon and the red digits on the leaderboard denoting American advances were transformed into European blue until all that was left was a short putt from Montgomerie.

It is very fitting that it was Montgomerie, Europe's unofficial on-course captain, who should have the honour of completing a famous victory. The Scot kick-started the European drive with a magnificent birdie on the very first hole of the match on Friday to give his team momentum that they never lost. There were tears in Montgomerie's eyes as he was hailed a champion by the supporters who mobbed the 18th green, and Europe's Mr Ryder Cup deserved every one of them.

But there were European heroes all over the course. Sergio Garcia played with the flourish and passion of a matador to claw back an early two-shot deficit to Phil Mickelson to win by 3 and 2 and secure the first European point of the day. Behind him, Darren Clarke ground out a tough half with Davis Love and then Lee Westwood, who like Garcia finished the event with a wonderful 4.5 points out of 5, saw off Kenny Perry on the 18th green to set up Montgomerie's moment.

Much further down the course rookie Ian Poulter beat off Chris Riley 3 and 2 while Thomas Levet knocked off Funk and Paul McGinley thrashed Stewart Cink. By the time Padraig Harrington completed the rout with a 3 and 2 victory over Jay Haas, the Europeans had won no fewer than seven matches in the singles format that was supposed to be their weak spot.

The victory, secured by the best European team ever to play in this event, was totally deserved. They were prepared meticulously by the cool and calculating Langer, who left nothing to chance as he knitted 12 individuals together into a team that fought hard for one another all weekend, and his efforts paid dividends.

The contrast between Langer and Sutton could not have been greater. Sutton looked to be making it up as he went along all week. His team did not practice in the pairings they would eventually take to the fairways, and it showed as they were thumped all over the course by the more cohesive Europeans. By the end of Friday Sutton was forced to admit he had had to use guesswork on some of his pairings as he desperately tried to make the best of a bad situation.

Yesterday, left with only one option - to try and take control of the singles matches early - he sent out the cavalry to try and rescue the match. And early on European stomachs sank and knees trembled as the course was drowned out by huge cheers from the galleries and a chant that had not been heard often during the opening two days: "USA, USA, USA."

United in pairs on Friday and Saturday, the American superstars faltered, but without the burden of having to work together and, heaven forbid, talk to one another, they launched a fightback.

Tiger Woods led the charge, taking a stranglehold over his match with Paul Casey that he never lost and Mickelson, out of sorts all week, got a quick start against Garcia. Love, Perry and Jim Furyk followed suit as within an hour American progress looked ominous and minds started to think back to Brookline in 1999 when Europe surrendered a 10-6 overnight lead on the final Sunday.

But cometh the hour, cometh the Monty. The Scot, starting sixth - Langer realising that Sutton would send his big guns out first held back some of his best points scorers - posted the first blue number for Europe and the momentum shifted for the last time.

Suddenly the Europeans were resurgent. Garcia made a 20ft putt on the 10th to trigger a clutch of birdies. Just as he was doing that Levet made a birdie on the fourth to go ahead and McGinley took charge of his match at the opening hole.

Between them they painted the scoreboard blue. It will stay that way for two years.

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