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  Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 13:43 GMT
Golf: European stars
Europe's Ryder Cup team celebrate their success
The victorious Europeans celebrate at The Belfry

It took 12 men to do it, but for once Tiger Woods was not the biggest story of the year.

Europe's thrilling Ryder Cup victory over the USA was undoubtedly - on this side of the Atlantic at least - the highlight of 2002.

While Woods scooped two more Majors, narrowly missed out on a third and claimed three other top-drawer tournaments, it is the jubilant scenes at The Belfry that will live longest in the memory.

Paul McGinley's 10ft putt provided the thrilling finish to a remarkable final day of singles matches.

And if the Irishman's leap into the lake on the 18th gave the photographers their defining image, the plaudits were shared throughout the team.

Ryder Cup revisited
The biggest shares, however, belonged to Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance.

Montgomerie, with his form and fitness in doubt, was the star of the tournament with an unmatched 24 birdies and 4 points.

Torrance, the captain, was a genial host, master tactician and generous victor - a perfect performance.

Which brings us back to Woods - the game's most prolific pursuer of perfection had a miserable Ryder Cup.

Woods grimaced his way through his third Ryder Cup. Looking and playing like a man who wanted to be elsewhere, Tiger the team-player was toothless.

Tiger the individual, on the other hand, was voracious.

After a slowish start to the season, Woods walked away with the Masters.

Two months later he repeated the trick at the US Open. Once more he took an early lead, once more nobody was able to mount a challenge.

But just when it appeared a Grand Slam was as good as in the bag, the wheels fell off in spectacular fashion.

The Majors
A third-round 81 at the Open Championship at Muirfield put paid to a clean sweep, and opened the door for one of the Tiger phenomenon's biggest casualties, Ernie Els.

The South African emerged from one of the most dramatic final days in Open history to take the Claret Jug and win his first Major since 1997.

Woods, of course, bounced back.

But sandwiched between wins in America and Ireland was a second place at the season's final Major, the PGA Championship.

The winner was not one of the world number one's heirs apparent but the unheralded Rich Beem.

It was a close-run thing, though, as Woods conjured a sparkling finale to close the gap to Beem to a solitary shot.

Elsewhere, the USA enjoyed better luck in the women's transatlantic challenge, beating Europe in Minnesota to win the Solheim Cup.

Montgomerie completed his revival with two straight victories in November, and South Africa's Retief Goosen held off Padraig Harrington for the European Order of Merit for the second year.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
European captain Sam Torrance
"Nothing can compare to this victory"
Open Champion Ernie Els
"I thought my chance of victory had gone"
In-depth look back at a wonderful year of sport

Major events

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Sport in mourning

Funny Old Year

Sports Personality

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See also:

10 Nov 02 | Golf
22 Sep 02 | Golf
21 Jul 02 | The Open
14 Apr 02 | US Masters
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