2014 Ryder Cup – European Team Review


For those of you living under a rock for the past few days, Europe won the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles last weekend! There is a saying that “you’ll never beat the Irish” and this could well be the case when Paul McGinley is involved with the Ryder Cup, 6 wins for the Irishman as player, vice captain and most recently as the successful captain this year.

More from European tour

Luckily I was involved with Paul on another golf project, this one was in Ghana, and I saw then just how he was nearly obsessed with the finest of details – I’m sure he took this outlook into his Ryder Cup captaincy from the time he was appointed to the role in February of 2013. A look inside the European Team Room at Gleneagles gave a significant insight into how well prepared he was to keep the cup in Europe this year.

I’m sure McGinley took a lot of his days playing Gaelic Football in Ireland into the role as the team spirit in these teams is a big factor in winning – of course the amateur Gaelic footballers don’t get paid for playing, a little like the golfers at the Ryder Cup although they go back to the day job the next day which generally softens that blow! Paul also used managerial greats such as Alex Ferguson of Aberdeen FC and Manchester United fame to speak with the team last week in Scotland, better than Michael Jordan for me anyway!!

Some of the big successes were undoubtedly the pairings of Stenson & Rose, Dubuisson & McDowell and Westwood & Donaldson who contributed 7 points out of the 10 made during Days 1 & 2, they also contributed another 3 points during the Singles as well for a significant haul of the 16.5 points scored overall by Europe.

There seemed to be a tactic to keep the team as fresh as possible and this seemed to work as Team USA players like Spieth, Reed, Walker & Fowler seemed to run out of steam at the end of Day 2, during their Foursomes matches, while players like Bradley & Mickelson were possibly used wrongly as a Foursomes pairings with their undoubted strength being as a Fourball partnership – that being said, they did win both their Foursomes matches at Medinah in 2012.

McGinley’s choices of Vice Captains was also in stark contrast to those of his American counterpart. Jimenez, Olazabal, Harrington and Torrance have significant Ryder Cup experience as captains, vice captains and of course as players too (Harrington was the only one not to have been a vice captain before 2014). Des Smyth was also a superb choice, even though he has not been on the main tour in a while he is somebody that is very close to Paul and proved to be a trusted lieutenant during the week. Having 5 Vice Captains meant that during the Fourballs and Foursomes each day there was always an additional vice captain on hand to ensure the 4 players who were sitting out the session still felt very much part of the team.

I’m still of the view that if a Captain loses a Ryder Cup it doesn’t automatically make you a bad Captain – Curtis Strange and Tom Lehman were excellent Captains of Team USA in 2002 and 2006 respectively, for example. There was, however, no way Europe were not going to win in Ireland in 2006, such was the huge support and the emotionally charged atmosphere that week. The same could be said for the week just gone at Gleneagles, the Ryder Cup has not been staged in Scotland since Muirfield in 1973 and there was just a meant-to-be atmosphere at Gleneagles last week – Paul McGinley’s preparation along with his Vice Captains did lay the foundations for yet another memorable Europe victory.

Whatever happens in the coming weeks I’m sure the 2016 European Ryder Cup Captain will be calling a certain Irishman for a bit of advice when the Captain for Hazeltine is announced, maybe the incoming American Captain might do the same!