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Team United State enters Sunday with a four-point lead and a chance to not only win the Ryder Cup but also win back the hearts of American golf fans.
The 2012 Ryder Cup concludes Sunday with 12 match-play contests that will determine if Team Europe can complete a remarkable comeback at Medinah Country Club or Team United States polishes off what has seemed to be an impossible feat -- defeating Europe in a team event.
For Europe, the odds are clearly stacked against them as it needs to overcome a 10-6 deficit, a margin only slayed once before. A come-from-behind victory of this magnitude would not only take away USA's bragging rights for greatest Ryder Cup comeback ever -- 1999 at Brookline -- but would add to an already impressive resume.
Currently, Team Europe features the No. 1-ranked player in the world, Rory McIlroy, and four more top 5 players -- Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose. Among them all (including assistant captain Darren Clarke), European players have won five of the last 12 major championships.
Not only are European golfers winning but they're also doing it on American turf, as many of them -- McIlroy, McDowell, Donald and Rose -- live in the United States. A formula that has helped them all constantly show up on the radars of American golf fans, and has seemingly globalized the PGA Tour.
Though, most of these European player are all very likable and its tough to root against any of them, its time for American golfers to take back its fanbase. And a convincing victory at Medinah, which would feature the emotional emergence of Keegan Bradley, a St. John's University grad, the exuberance of Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson and the likableness of a Jason Dufner or Matt Kuchar, would help the cause.
Slowly, the new generation of American golf is growing before all of our eyes. For over a decade, it was Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson that dominated the game giving U.S. fans two trump cards that were unbeatable.
However, despite the duos hardware, 16 major championship since 2000, the United States has collected just one Ryder Cup victory in that span -- a win that came without the help of Woods, who was recovering from a career-changing injury. And the dominance of the sport switched in the favor of the Europeans, as they got younger and more talented while Woods and Mickelson grew older and inconsistent.
Over the last 13 months, however, things has changed a bit as Bradley (PGA Championship), Watson (Masters), Simpson (U.S. Open) collected major championships, while Snedker won the biggest purse in the history of the sport (the FedEx Cup).
Yes, the Europeans may still have four of the world's best five players but -- in the words of Anne Hathaway -- it seems an American storm is coming. As easily going and likeable as some of these European players are, the new U.S. players are just as passionate and unselfish -- characteristics many experts believe American players have lacked in the Ryder Cup, thus, leading to multiple losses.
Sunday afternoon all of this could change if the United States can collect just 4 1/2 points. Not only is a Ryder Cup trophy on the line but so are the hearts of American sports fans everywhere.