We've had two days to get over it now, yet if it has ever happened to you in any team or individual sport, it's an experience you will never forget. It's called a choke-job, a meltdown, a come-apart, a collapse. In another words, if you compete at any level in sports, you've been there, done that.
On some rare occasions, you were the beneficiary of a trememndous comeback. I re-live my final home game as a varsity basketball player time and again, as we came from nine down in the fourth quarter to record a win. Still have the net we cut down hanging in my closet.
But those things you never get over, the things that haunt you forever, almost always were the result of losing one of those confounding leads when you and everybody else knows you had the competition in your grasp.
As gut-wrenching as the Europeans' comeback on Sunday to snatch the Ryder Cup from the seemingly-unbeatable Americans, it was a shared blame. Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, veterans who were thought to be our safety blanket in case the unthinkable began to unfold, were atrocious. Woods went 0-3-1, Stricker 0-4 and normally-steady Jim Furyk 1-2, including a costly loss in Sunday's clincher.
It was almost a replay of the U.S.' comeback at Brookline 13 years ago, when we celebrated wildly after a singles comeback from the same 10-6 deficit to win the Cup. But that was on our soil, just outside Boston, spurred by our own raucous crowd. Not like Sunday, when if there ever appeared to be a home-course advantage for a club it was the Americans at Medinah.
A couple of thoughts: First, yes golf is as much a team sport in this format as the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl. You must have every member of your club perform up to his capability or you lose. They fact you were way ahead just makes it hurt more.
Second: What transpired Sunday showed what is unique to golf. It is more pressure-packed than any competitive game I've been exposed to. A normal, 100-yard shot pros can normally knock within four feet in their sleep, suddenly becomes a 220-yard long iron over a lake with the wind swirling. It's because it matters that much in those type situations and human nature will not always prevail.
Who didn't fight back tears for Greg Norman when he blew a six-shot lead at the Masters in 1996? He walked off No. 8 three shots up on Nick Faldo, slumped off No. 12 behind by two. He was never the same, not only that day, but any other. Why, the president of the United States even called to offer his condolences afterward.
I was standing behind Phil Mickelson at Winged Foot just outside New York City in 2006 when he needed only a par to win his first coveted U.S. Open title. When he blasted his drive so far left if was near the concessions tent, he made things only worse and lost tragically. He couldn't must the power to walk out of the clubhouse until hours later.
Congratulations are certainly in order for the Europeans, lifted by the memory of the late Seve Ballesteros, perhaps their greatest emotional leader in Ryder Cub history. They are the ones who made the putts down the stretch, believed they could come back from that seemingly-impossible deficit. They have won seven of the last nine Ryder competitions, not the U.S.
But this one hurt. Not just the golf fans of our country, but our players and our teams. How long the repurcussions will last is anybody's guess. But for certain, nobody will ever forget what happened, winning side or not. It's golf. It's team and individual sports. Reminds you of something else we face every day as mere citizens: Life.
Phil Paramore's column appears Tuesday and Saturday in The Dothan Eagle. He can be heard weekday from noon until 2 on AM 560 WOOF, 100.1 FM or at www.woofradio.com. He can be reached at the same website.