History was made at the 2012 Ryder Cup, but perhaps the biggest winner was the sport.
It's not very often that a golf tournament completely consumes the sports landscape, but Chicago was overwhelmed with Ryder Cup Mania. With the NHL locked out, the Bears not playing until Monday night and both major league baseball teams struggling, sports fans in this city focused on a wonderful competition between the United States and Europe.
The golf gods - especially Seve Ballesteros - were smiling on Medinah Country Club over an incredible week of golf. Over 200,000 fans took in the action, and each fan got their money's worth from spectacular Sunday drama.
Ballesteros was a beloved Spaniard who was a driving emotional force in many Ryder Cups for Europe. He lost a battle with brain cancer at age 54 in 2011, and was memorialized by the European team all week. Whether it was his likeness sewn into their golf bags or his name being written in the sky, there was no question that his presence was felt.
An electric crowd was behind the US players all week; I have covered a wide range of events, from the Stanley Cup Finals to the BMW Championship and both professional and college football, and this crowd was as good as any I've been around. At the end of almost seven hours of golf on Sunday (with many fans in attendance arriving up to four hours before the opening group walked to the first tee), there was still an enormous crowd watching the final moments unfold on Sunday evening.
In the end, the Europeans matched the largest comeback in the history of the Ryder Cup. They quickly overcame a 10-6 deficit by winning the first five matches on the course on Sunday, but the final outcome of the Cup wasn't decided until the final two matches.
Europe won eight of 12 singles matches to finish with a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 advantage. Europe has won the last two Ryder Cups, five of the last six, and seven of the last nine. The last time a four-point advantage was overcome on Sunday was 1999, when the US won the Cup. For the US, the four-point lead was their biggest heading into the final day since 1981.
The final score aside, Medinah Country Club was a stunning host, the weather was perfect and the drama was unbelievable. By all accounts, Chicago was a perfect host.