Northern Ireland

NI's McIlroy and McDowell celebrate as Europe takes Ryder

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Media captionRyder Cup final day highlights

Northern Ireland's top golfers have helped the Europe team take the Ryder Cup with one of the greatest victories in the 85-year-old competition.

They went into the final day of play, near Chicago, four points behind the United States.

But in a dramatic turnaround, they won eight of the twelve singles to take the match by 14.5 to 13.5.

There were heart-stopping moments off course too as Rory McIlroy almost missed his singles match.

He needed a police escort to get to the course after confusion over his tee-off time.

The rest of the European team had spent at least an hour at the course preparing for their matches, but Mcllroy's late arrival meant he was only able to hurriedly eat an energy bar and take a few practice swings to loosen up before having to dash to the first tee.

Image caption There were personalised champagne bottles for the Ryder cup heroes

"I was just casually strolling out of my hotel room when I got a phone call saying, 'You have 25 minutes'. I have never been so worried driving to the course," he explained.

"Luckily there was a State Trooper outside who gave me the escort. If not, I would not have made it on time.

"I had read my tee time on my phone, but it was just one of those things. I got here in the front of a police car, at least it wasn't in the back!"

On the putting green, McIlroy's non-appearance did cause his team members to wonder.

Fellow NI golfer Graeme McDowell said: "I was on the putting green warming up. It did cross my mind. I thought 'Where's Rory?' But then Rory doesn't need to warm up. He is a Rolls Royce. Rolls Royces do not need any warming up."

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Media captionGolfing legend Gary Player talks to BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme.

In the end, the Holywood golfer just made it in time to see off Keegan Bradley, sealing a 2 and 1 victory.

Golfing legend Gary Player said: "For Rory to come along and beat him after only arriving ten minutes before teeing off was a remarkable win.

"It gives you an idea of his talent."

The nine-times major winner told BBC Radio Ulster it was unclear whose fault it was that McIlroy turned up late, but there was no excuse.

"Just imagine if Rory hadn't made it; they wouldn't have won the Ryder Cup."

BBC Northern Ireland sports reporter Stephen Watson said: "This was sporting theatre at its very best.

"Europe produced a record breaking final with a comeback to keep their hands on the trophy.

"It was a stunning performance by Europe that left America shellshocked."

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