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Ballesteros serves as inspiration during Ryder Cup

| Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, 8:45 p.m.
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European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal speaks with the media after Europe defeated the United States to retain the Ryder Cup. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Jose Maria Olazabal hugs Sergio Garcia during the closing ceremonies after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

LONDON — Not even the family of Seve Ballesteros could have imagined a Ryder Cup finish quite like this.

It was after midnight in Spain when a European team inspired by the “spirit of Seve” and captained by his close friend Jose Maria Olazabal completed its improbable comeback victory over the United States in Medinah, Ill.

“What happened yesterday went beyond sports,” Ivan Ballesteros, Seve's nephew and vice president of the Madrid-based Seve Ballesteros foundation, told The Associated Press on Monday.

“We want to thank Jose Maria for remembering Seve not just throughout the week but for always keeping his memory alive. I would say that not even Hollywood screenwriters could have imagined what happened yesterday.”

Seve Ballesteros died in May 2011 from a brain tumor and the team played in his honor, overcoming a 10-4 deficit to win, 14 12-13 12, after an epic day of singles matches.

Ballesteros was everywhere Sunday. His image adorned European bags and shirts, his name was sung by Europe's fans well into the night and his spirit was invoked by players wearing the navy trousers and white polo shirt that were the Spaniard's trademark.

To a man, Europe's players said it was Seve's memory they were attempting to uphold.

“Lots of feelings and emotions were revived again,” the Madrid-based Seve Foundation, which collects funds to promote brain tumor support, said in a statement. “It was great to see the European team showing that fighting spirit Seve always showed.”

Olazabal was emotional again Monday morning as he cradled the cup and recalled Ballesteros, his former playing partner.

“If someone had to write a script for it, that would be the ideal one,” Olazabal told Britain's Sky Sports. “For that to happen, Seve had to have something to do with it.”

Britain, already spoiled by an unprecedented summer of sporting success this year that included the London Olympics and the country's first Tour de France victory, added another memorable triumph to the list.

“This sporting year is incapable of dullness, one-sidedness, hollow drama,” the Daily Telegraph said.

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