Europe have retained the Ryder Cup with an epic 13 1/2 - 14 1/2 victory over America, following an enthralling comeback during Sunday's singles at Medinah.

Trailing 10-6 going into the final day, Europe required a comeback akin to the USA's resurgence at Brookline in 1999, with Jose Maria Olazabel's side requiring eight points from the day's 12 singles matches.

But after Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Paul Lawrie, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood all claimed victories, Martin Kaymer holed brilliantly on the 18th to claim the decisive 14th point.

Team Europe
Kaymer's putt sparks wild scenes. Reuters

Kaymer said: "This is indescribable. I was so nervous in the last two or three holes. Olazabal came up to me on the 16th and told me we needed my point to win the Ryder Cup. I loved that feeling. Loved it.

"You cannot compare the pressure of winning this to winning my major. I won that for myself. But today I could hear my team and hear all the people. My season hasn't been good but today I made a huge step for my confidence."

McIlroy added: "This feels unbelievable. We knew that America did that to us in 1999 in Brookline. We had to get blue on the board early and the first five guys did that. I played the best I've played all week today. We've done it for Seve. Jose has been so inspirational in the team room and so emotional. It's so good we got to do this for him."

Martin Kaymer
Kaymer holed the winning putt to spark scenes of jubilation in Chicago. Reuters

While Kaymer follows in the footsteps of the likes of Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie and Graeme McDowell in striking the winning putt to claim the Ryder Cup, the victory is Europe's fifth over America in the last six attempts and cements their dominance of the world of golf.

Olazabel's team were looking for early momentum on the final day at Medinah, and the Spaniard decided to send many of his big hitters from the first two days, including the unbeaten Ian Poulter and world No.1 McIlroy, out early in order to cut the four-point overnight deficit.

Donald set Europe on their way with a 2&1 victory over Masters champion Bubba Watson. Poulter, whose resilience on day two put Europe in a position to stage a comeback in the singles, looked likely to have to settle for a half in his match with Webb Simpson but was able to hold his nerve to claim a one-shot win, while Lawrie thrashed Brandt Snedeker and McIlroy beat Keegan Bradley.

Luke Donald
Donald got the ball rolling for Europe. Reuters

The noise created over the opening two days sparked by a spate of brilliant American performances had been quelled by the European team, and when Justin Rose produced two birdies in two holes against Phil Mickelson to grab a point in match four, the visitors began to believe they could overcome the faltering hosts.

Graeme McDowell wasn't able to replicate his coolness under pressure from Celtic Manor in 2010, as he went down to Zach Johnson while Nicolas Colsaerts was beaten by Dustin Johnson as Davis Love III's side started to put red on the board.

But their dominance was merely temporary on Sunday, and perhaps the decisive moment came via Jim Furyk's seven-foot miss on the 18th against Sergio Garcia, which handed the Spaniard victory and was another significant European scalp.

Peter Hanson wasn't able to overhaul Jason Dufner but quickly the attention turned to the final three matches, and when Lee Westwood dispatched Matt Kuchar, Europe were within a point of retaining the Ryder Cup.

Kaymer went down the 18th one-up against the pointless Steve Stricker, but the American's four forced his counterpart to putt for the title. The German duly converted the opportunity to spark scenes of wild celebration and cap the most remarkable comeback in the competition's history.

Despite fielding a European side of which only three apply their trade away from the PGA tour Europe defied critics of a lack of unity, using the memory of Seve Ballesteros to inspire them to victory over one of the most decorated American teams after formed.

Olazabel said: "An unbelievable day, one that will go down in history. It's hard to express it in words. I knew it was going to be difficult but, at the same time, I truly believed we could do it. When I looked at those matches, the matches were pretty much even, well-balanced. I said to them I believed we could change things around. I think he's [Steve] is proud."