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McIlroy recalls Braveheart-inspired speech that launched Miracle at Medinah

Europe’s 2012 comeback regarded as the greatest in Ryder Cup history.

Miracle: Europe's players celebrate their sensational 2012 comeback.
Miracle: Europe's players celebrate their sensational 2012 comeback.
Image: Chris Carlson

RORY MCILROY HAS recalled how a Saturday night pep talk from captain Jose Maria Olazabal fired up Europe for their ‘Miracle at Medinah’ Ryder Cup comeback.

Rallying his team ahead of the Sunday singles matches, Olazabal borrowed one of the most famous lines from the film ‘Braveheart’ to convince them that they could complete the impossible job.

Europe trailed the US 10-4 at one point on Saturday afternoon and, after a late rally gave them the faintest hope, knew that would still need a massive 8.5 points from the final 12 on offer if they were to win the Ryder Cup outright.

Writing an exclusive essay for The Players’ Tribune ahead of this week’s renewal at Hazeltine, McIlroy recalls the buoyant atmosphere in the European team room that night and Olazabal’s words:

When the chatter and the laughter finally started to die down, Jose Maria began:
“As you all know, the tournament is far from over. We still have a monumental task ahead of us tomorrow.”
It was true. Only one other team in Ryder Cup history had overcome a four-point deficit on the last day to win. The gravity of the moment was not lost on our captain as he spoke.
“Remember one thing: All men die, but not all men truly live,” he said. “And I want every one of you to go out there tomorrow and live as if it’s your last day.”

Source: mkalexc/YouTube

We sat there in awe. Nervous energy was replaced with adrenaline. We were fired up. Something big was happening.
All week long, Jose Maria had carried with him the memory of his Spanish compatriot and friend, Seve Ballesteros, who had died a year earlier. With Jose Maria’s words echoing in our ears — and with Seve’s legacy in our hearts — we were ready to run through a brick wall for our captain and his mentor.

What happened next was the stuff of legend.

Europe won the first four points of the Sunday session to draw level at 10-10 before Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari secured 4.5 points to ensure that they not only retained the trophy but won it outright.

Read McIlroy’s essay on The Players’ Tribune here >

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‘Rory’s a wonderful young man and an unbelievable golfer. He’s hugely inspirational’

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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