Europe Captain Nick Faldo said he was proud of his players despite their 16½-11½ defeat in The Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club today.
Trailing 9-7 ahead of the 12 singles matches the visitors were always facing a tough task to retain the trophy and they got off to the worst possible start with Sergio Garcia – distinctly off colour with his putter – going down five and four to Anthony Kim in the opener.
Hope was restored with superb wins for Robert Karlsson and Justin Rose and Europe’s strong tail were going well at one stage but defeats for Henrik Stenson, Oliver Wilson and Søren Hansen left America on the brink of victory.
And when Jim Furyk, a man so often on the losing side in Ryder Cups, beat Miguel Angel Jiménez Paul Azinger’s men had regained the prize.
Europe Captain Faldo explained: "It's about fractions. I'm so proud of my 12 guys. We have come up short but not in pride and spirit.
"We can have a straight back and chin up. We did our best but America this week were just a little better."
Rookies Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter both secured fine wins over Stewart Cink and Steve Stricker but with the crown already gone Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington both lost.
Furyk was magnanimous in victory after he sealed the win for the USA in Kentucky.
Furyk beat Jiménez 2&1 as the 44 year old Spaniard could not find a birdie on the 17th to take the tie down the final hole.
The American said: "It feels great - I've been on the other side.
"I am just so happy for my team-mates, it could have been any one of us in that spot.
"I feel bad for Miguel - I think the world of him and I think the world of his game and it's a bad feeling to be in that spot."
US captain Paul Azinger believed the key to his side's shock success was their solidarity, with Europe expected to retain the trophy.
He said: "I'm just emotional, I've been pretty good until just a minute ago. We just had a plan and we stuck to it.
"It was amazing. The golf was spectacular on both sides and our guys just came out on top. They took an 'everything to gain' attitude into this competition.
"I came in with a plan. These guys came together as a group and we stuck to a message - what is important is to win - and we stayed on message.
"I told every guy they were on a free roll this week because nobody expected that much.
"In the end it comes down to putting and heart and our guys had a lot of heart this week."
Azinger admitted he had been unable to predict what would happen on the final day despite starting the singles with a 9-7 lead.
He continued: "The European team is still a phenomenal Team.
"It seemed like every one (singles match) to me was toss up, toss up - I had no idea."
Faldo continued: "Congratulations to Paul and his Team.
"Their shot making and putting has been unbelievable so you have to give them credit for that.
"You look at what happens when you come down these final holes - you're talking about the difference being a good shot, a chip, a putt - everyone has given 100per cent but they were slightly better.
"We've come out maybe one guy short. It could have been different if we had got into those last four guys but we took that risk."
Faldo admitted he had enjoyed the week and expects Poulter to take his game "to the next level" following his performance for the team.
He continued: "The whole event has been incredible and it's been great standing next to these guys who are playing on a knife edge and have given everything.
"It's been an awesome week. We should still celebrate - I wanted it to be a great experience and everyone has given their all and we should be proud."
On Poulter, Faldo added: "Poults came out here strong mentally, a team man. The guy is a player and could be ready to move his game on to the next level."