American passion shines through
Let no one be in any doubt over America's passion for this biennial contest. Of all the extraordinary images generated by this compelling match, none resonated more than that of Corey Pavin's vanquished team facing questions at the closing news conference.
The ferocity with which Jim Furyk slammed down the microphone after being asked about his country's commitment to the Ryder Cup being called into question shook the desk and made it abundantly clear how he felt.
Then there were the tears of poor Hunter Mahan following his defeat to Graeme McDowell in the deciding singles match. When asked to recall his thoughts on the tumultuous climax, Mahan was so choked he found it hard to speak.
It was Phil Mickelson who came to his rescue, deflecting attention away from his stricken team-mate by asking for the next question.
That should have been Pavin's responsibility but, in keeping with his performances all week in the media centre, he came up as short as he did with his choice of waterproofs.
Pavin may have been a different animal in the team room but he took an ultra-cautious approach when it came to his media duties.
This is why I turned to Tom Lehman, the 2006 captain and one of Pavin's assistants at Celtic Manor, to glean an assessment of what this single-point defeat meant to the US.
"I don't know how many guys cry when they lose a tournament but there a lot of guys who cry when they lose a Ryder Cup," Lehman observed. "Myself included, even as an assistant captain. It's difficult to take.
"People have been on the case of the American team for a long time about not caring or not showing emotion and I really appreciate that those guys [in the press conference] were vulnerable and genuine in showing how much they do care."
Lehman had huge sympathy for the distraught Mahan. "He needs to hold his head high. He played the US Open Champion. He played a guy who was one of the favourites of the fans here in Europe and it was him against tens of thousands.
"Hunter can be disappointed but he should not be embarrassed or ashamed. He should walk around knowing that he is one of the elite golfers in the world."
Lehman is quite right but, as he departed Celtic Manor, it was all Mahan could do to put one foot in front of the other. This is what the Ryder Cup does to you. It is a truly unique sporting event that ultimately is all about the contest. And what a contest it proved.
The USA arrived as champions but left perhaps as a stronger team. Photo: Getty
The 2010 Ryder Cup built on the renewed impetus the match was given by America's win at Valhalla two years ago. It ended a period of overwhelming European domination that was threatening to make the jewel in golf's crown look a little dusty.
The defeat of Sir Nick Faldo's team renewed Europe's appetite for the event and helped stoke up the passion that was so evident at Celtic Manor.
Some felt that European captain Colin Montgomerie did not make the most of home advantage with his course set-up. But by encouraging his players to engage their "13th man" - the Welsh crowd - the Scot made sure that the benefit of playing on this side of the Atlantic was not squandered.
It was a wholly uncomfortable week for Montgomerie simply because he fears defeat - and we must not forget that America won three of the four sessions. He is right when he says the cup was won on that Super Sunday, when Europe swept to 5.5 points out of six.
On several occasions, Montgomerie said to me: "Never again." And, of course, in the modern era the captaincy is a one-off gig anyway.
Montgomerie says the job should go to Jose Maria Olazabal next time around - and he is probably right, even though the Spaniard's poor health prevents him from spending much time on tour. Olly made a significant difference when he was brought in mid-match to become Monty's fifth vice-captain.
Tactically astute, possessing his own stellar Ryder Cup record and boundless passion for the event, he ticks every box to play the lead role in two years. He is also a continental European, which is another important consideration for the Tournament Committee when they assess who should take over for the Medinah match in 2012.
The one certainty is that whoever lands the role will have to steel his team for the onslaught that will head their way from an American team desperate to regain the trophy.
This was a young US line-up. The likes of Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and, of course, Mahan will have matured further and will form a nucleus that will have all the motivation they need.
Tiger Woods will also be around. This was the second successive Ryder Cup in which no American has contributed more points than him.
Yes, he was helped along the way by Steve Stricker but the important thing is that Woods at last had a partner capable of doing exactly that.
Woods does get the team thing, it is just that he is reluctant to show much enthusiasm for it in public. Then again, he doesn't publicly show much enthusiasm for anything these days other than for remodeling his golf swing - and that is clearly progressing well.
Mickelson remains the enigma but this defeat hit him harder than any of the others in a Ryder Cup career that stretches back to 1995. I have questioned his commitment in the past - and there was scope to do the same at Celtic Manor given his poor results in the fourballs and foursomes - but I think it would be wrong to do so again.
We now know this is a man who is battling an arthritic condition and, since his diagnosis earlier this year, his results have not been what we have come to expect from a player vying for the world number one spot.
Mickelson appeared as disappointed as any of the Americans bar Mahan, who was utterly inconsolable. You might have thought he had lost his entire personal fortune.
But not a cent or a dime was at stake. It was just a golf match between two teams desperate to win. And it proved to be one hell of a match.
Medinah can't come quick enough.