Ryder Cup 2012: 'I really believed we could do it': José María Olazábal

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Even in the frenzied moment of victory, Europe's golfers had a clear-headed view of how the Ryder Cup was won, and that was on Saturday evening when the team salvaged wins in the last two fourball matches, with Ian Poulter leading from the front.

"Poults holing that putt last night, and the match in front of that; I can't put into words how important that was," said Lee Westwood. "It's just been staggering."

The captain, José María Olazábal, also identified the second afternoon as a turning point. "In the meeting afterwards I told them that I really believed we could do it," he said. "After that they just believed in themselves. That's why we are here as winners. The boys have done an unbelievable job. It was 12 men giving their hearts, trying to win this trophy. You don't see this anywhere else in any other tournament. Those guys were ready to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the team. Maybe they knew how much it meant to me."

"Those two matches last night were key," said Poulter. "It felt like we were all square, and the team room was energised. Olly said to us: 'Just give it everything.' Everybody has done the job and they've turned out an incredible performance."

Sergio García, who admitted "it's been a hard week for me, I haven't played well and I haven't felt comfortable", said: "I'm just happy for my captain – what an amazing guy, he's unbelievable. He's one of the nicest guys I've ever met."

Rory McIlory added: "José María has been inspirational. I'm delighted we could do it for him, and for that great man Seve who's looking down on us from up there." A tearful Olazábal also spoke of the inspiration of Seve Ballesteros: "I had a few thoughts, and this was for him," he said.

A "bitterly disappointed" USA team captain Davis Love said: "Obviously Seve was here for that one point they needed. We were close. If it wasn't for Ian Poulter's five birdies at the end of that session we would have had an easier cushion. The Europeans played very, very well. Today we never got that big chip in, we never got that long putt. The Europeans fought hard and holed their putts. They played with class."

The man who holed the putt that retained the Ryder Cup, Germany's Martin Kaymer, admitted to having had thoughts about his compatriot Bernhard Langer's failed putt to keep Europe's hold on the Ryder Cup in 1991. "I did think about it for a second, and I just thought: 'Come on, make it better than that.' The first putt on 18 was a little too aggressive but I wanted to make it."

McIlroy, who predicted the celebration party would be "off the charts", claimed to have been confident that Kaymer would make the putt. "I don't know if we wanted anyone else except Martin to hole a putt like that. He has nerves of steel and I'm so happy for him because he was a little down yesterday, I know he wanted to play.

"This is just incredible. It's been one of the most perfect days on a golf course if you're a European. We went out in strength trying to lead from the front, trying to get blue points on the leaderboard, and we did that."

Poulter added: "This is better than everything, it's better than any wins. I know Seve is up there and not here but he'll be the proudest man in the world right now."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Peter Mason, for The Guardian on Monday 1st October 2012 01.18 Europe/London

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