Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday Golf Roundup

Today was multiple nap day for me. I woke up around 2am this morning with a really nasty headache but didn't do anything about it until about 4:30am. I kept hoping it would go away on its own. So, I lost a lot of sleep and thanks to Tiger Fest, I was able to take multiple naps during the day. Speaking of Tiger Fest, just some notes on the WGC Amex Championship: Brett Quigley is currently 3rd at 12 under par. I was watching Dana Quigley today on the Golf Channel and noticed that he and Brett have similar hair characteristics. Not exactly the same kind of hair, but some similarities. Adam Scott had the low round of the day with a 6 under par, he's currently at 13 under par for the tournament. Luke Donald is 8 under, Jose Maria and Sergio were even on the day's round and didn't make a move. Paul Casey continued his slide with a 1 over par round today.

Southern Farm Bureau Classic (aka, the tournament that should be on tv this week): DJ Trahan continues to lead. His picture on the PGA Tour website looks more like a mugshot. He should have that re-taken and smile the next time. Brad Faxon didn't move on moving day. He had an even par round. Rocco Mediate had a 5 under par round. And David Duval was even on the day as well, but still a good tournament for him so far.

The Knowledge of a Tour Caddie in the Palm of Your Hand

Opting to watch golf infomercials rather than the WGC Amex tournament, I watched the Sky Caddie commercial. I have seen this infomercial dozens of times and today it just dawned on me that this slogan seems a bit insulting to tour caddies. Are the caddies so limited in intelligence that it all can be contained in just a 4 ounce piece of plastic? It reminds me of the Geico "even a caveman can do it" commercials.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A New Campaign

I plan to wage a new campaign starting right now. I want to see J. B. Holmes on the 2008 Ryder Cup team. The matches will be held in Kentucky, Holmes' home state, and I think that with his win at the FBR Open where he continued to play aggressively right to the very end, we saw that he does have the fiesty attitude needed for matchplay. He has two years to play his way into the top 20 on the list and give himself a chance to get picked if he doesn't get into the top 10. I hope he makes it.

Golf Roundup

WGC Amex tournament:
Yawn, another week of the network showing all tiger all the time. While we get to see him stop at the portapotties and such, other golfers entered in the tournament will actually be playing golf. Imagine that. Golfers that I would like to see, but won't get to see: Brett Quigley, currently in 6th place at 8 under, Ian Poulter might get on tv just to show off his outfit. He's 7th at 7 under. David Howell is current T2 so he might get a bit of air time if he's paired with Tiger. Lucas Glover is 5 under along with Jose Maria Olazabal. Sergio is at even par after a really bad day. Hope he does better on the weekend, too bad they won't show him on tv. And Paul Casey continues his streaky nature by going into the weekend nearly dead last at +7. Really hope he does better. I have a feeling I won't be watching too much of this tournament. I can't stomach the Tiger Love Fest that is bound to ensue.

Southern Farm Bureau Classic:
This should be televised. It's more exciting to see these guys desperate to make enough money to secure their cards than it is to watch Tiger, yawn, win another tournament. Been there, done that, wouldn't spend money on that Nike t-shirt with the exclusive TW logo. Anyway, Brad Faxon is currently tied for second at 9 under par. DJ Trahan is the current leader. David Duval made the cut and is currently hovering around 10th place. John Daly is playing with a broken hand, but I haven't been able to find out how he broke it. It didn't look taped or anything when I saw clips on the Golf Channel. Rocco Mediate is playing the weekend along with Paul Azinger.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I Agree With Tiger

Yeah, you all need to read that post title twice. I said I agree with Tiger. Here's what I agree on:
Golf Central aired an interview with Tiger where he said that as far as he was concerned, the win streak ended with the HSBC thing. I agree with that. Then he said what he missed most about being in Europe was the sun and warmth and being able to wear t-shirts and shorts. I agree with that. Not that I've ever been to Europe, but I've been freezing ever since I lost all that weight and got skinny.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ryder Cup Press Conference Transcripts

Teams Discuss Ryder Cup Editor’s Note: When the 2006 Ryder Cup matches were completed, with the European team once again thrashing the Americans by an 18½ to 9½ margin, both teams sat down with the media and discussed the proceedings. Here’s what the two teams had to say. Let’s start with the losing American side.

U.S. Ryder Cup Team Interview
MODERATOR: Tom and your team, many thanks for coming down and joining us this afternoon. Commiserations on the result, I know it's not the one you wanted, but congratulations on your team's performance this week and what you thought at the closing ceremony, it was was a truly great event, so congratulations to your team for that. Your thoughts on the week and how it's gone, please.

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: What is there I can mix with this water right now, because I probably need something. But thoughts on the week, you know, I guess more than anything I feel like our team gave it all that we had. It was the one thing we wanted from the very start was we didn't want to leave anything behind. We wanted to give it our very best effort, play with heart, have courage, and I feel like we did that. So many matches went down to the wire and it was tight for the most part, but I guess The European Team just played better. At the end of the day, they played better. They played great golf, they made a lot of putts, and I think to a person on this team we just tip our hats to the way they played. They played a phenomenal golf tournament.

MODERATOR: You mentioned the atmosphere the matches were played in. Could we touch on that before we take some questions?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I don't think I can recall one episode on the golf course between players or fans or anybody that was anything less than perfectly sportsmanlike. The players played tough, they played hard, they showed respect to each other, the fans were emotional and passionate and excited, but they showed respect to the players. I thought everything about it was just right.

MODERATOR: Tom, thank you for that.

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: No questions? Thank you very much. (Laughter).

Q. Simple question. How will this defeat play out in America?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I guess we'll find out. I'm not really sure. You know, we just simply had two rules on our team this week. Number one was to be honest and be truthful in what we had to say to each other and the team; the other one was play with your heart. And we did that. We did both those things. So I'm not sure how it will play out, and quite frankly I'm not really too concerned how it will play out, because I'm very proud of the effort that our team gave.

Q. Could you kind of talk about the depth of The European Team?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: They were a very strong team, and from top to bottom they played extremely well. They played very inspired golf. But they simply, around the greens, were magical. I've always felt in the past that they putt well and they chip well every Ryder Cup. But this was something truly exceptional. I was just amazed at the short game.

Q. Tiger, it's been well documented how much you hate to lose. How much did this bother you, not only this year, but Oakland Hills as well?

TIGER WOODS: Not real happy. I believe, what am I, 1 and 3 or 1 and 4 in Ryder Cups? So, no, it doesn't sit well, nor should it. We went out there, we played, and they just outplayed us. They made more putts than we did. When it comes right down to it, in all of these Cups that I've been a part of, it's whoever plays 18 the best and whoever makes the most putts for the week. If you look at the way the Matches went for the entire week, the Europeans did better on both of those occasions.

Q. A couple of questions on some of the highlights from today. Scott, if you could talk about your hole in one, and Tiger, if you could talk about your 9 iron. (Laughter.)

SCOTT VERPLANK: What did you do with the 9 iron? (Laughter.) Did you make one?

TIGER WOODS: I was playing. (Laughter.)

SCOTT VERPLANK: Just a lucky shot. I hit a nice looking shot. It never left the flag. But, you know, to go in is pretty lucky. It was, I was 3 up at the time, trying to get the thing over with, and you know, I knew I hit a good shot. I was hoping it would be close where I could win another hole and it went in. So, you know, I just turned around then and told Padraig, "Well, it's your shot now." He actually hit a beautiful shot in there to about eight feet. When it didn't go in, I said, "Well, that's one's good," and we went to the next hole. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: Tiger, thoughts on your 9 iron?

TIGER WOODS: Well, that was interesting. Stevie was I hit 9 iron, my second shot into 7 and we went up to the green, my ball spun off to the right side of the green, just off the green. I handed my ball to Stevie to have it cleaned and he was going to rinse the 9 iron in the water, and he did. He went to take a step on the rock to reach in there and rinse it off, and he slipped on the rock, and it was either going to be him or the 9 iron, so he chose the 9 iron. (Laughter.)

Q. Whatever happened to the club?

TIGER WOODS: We got the club back. We got it back on 15. So I figure it must have been a European who was diving for the club. (Laughter.)

Q. Did you ever need it?

TIGER WOODS: I did. I had a perfect number, 127 on 11. I went with just a tiny little 8 iron, worked out okay, made birdie, so it was all right.

Q. Who brought it back?

TIGER WOODS: The diver, and he was wearing a dry suit, which is understandable here. The water's not real warm, not like Florida.

Q. Were you able to use the club after that if you needed it?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Stevie dried the grip, it was fine.

Q. Two questions. Tiger, at this same press conference two years ago, you got two points and you said you contributed to the European victory. Do you feel that way? And for Tom, you talked about, I know you're not a second guesser, but at some point, someone is going to come to you as the U.S. captain, what would you have done differently, how could you help me; what would be your response?

TIGER WOODS: As far as my part of the question, yeah, they got 18 and a half, and I contributed two. I was part of that.

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Oh, you want me to answer that question? Repeat it again. You said something about future Ryder Cup Captains coming.

Q. I know you don't second guess, you don't like to second guess, but at some point, our future captain is going to come to you; what advice would you give him?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I think I need to think about that some. The one thing I would say about our team is that we definitely came here extremely prepared. We came very prepared and very ready to play, very motivated, with a clear goal. Everything you need to do to perform at your maximum level, we were prepared, we were ready to do. I'm not really sure we left too many bases uncovered. So in terms of what I would tell somebody else, I need to think about that. I need to just, you know, sit back, let a few days go by, whatever, just try to figure out what could we have done better.

Q. For Tom and for Tiger, some of us have followed this event for more than 20 years and it's become a great world event after being nothing. After two straight wipe outs like this, are we beginning to be in danger of seeing the event go back in the other direction if America doesn't become more competitive?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I guess my first response is that sounds a little insulting in some ways. We have extremely talented players on our Tour. I go right down the line here. I'm continually impressed by the caliber of play and the heart and the courage these guys have. So you know, things all have a bit of cycles, and there will be a time when we'll be sitting here saying to the Europeans, you know, is this in danger of becoming a little bit in trouble, because the American team is on top. So you know, that will happen. Our guys are great guys and great players.

MODERATOR: Tiger, do you want to add to that?

TIGER WOODS: Tom said it all.

Q. Phil, just wondering, obviously your record obviously was not nearly what you had hoped or thought it would be. I'm just wondering how shocked you were at how things unfolded for you and if you felt like you played well and just generalize the week for you.

PHIL MICKELSON: Mark, I don't know what to say. That's a tough, tough question to answer. I don't know what to say. Obviously I expected to play to get more points than a half. But I felt like we were in every match. I felt like we had chances on every match to win, to get momentum, and things just didn't go our way. And I look back on the matches, and it seemed to all come down to the greens. We would have putts from closer range and we would miss after they had already made, or things like that seemed to happen a lot. It comes back down to the greens.

It's going to make me work harder in putting in the off season because I just didn't putt the way or make anything this week, and that was certainly frustrating. But, on a high note, I really enjoyed the captaincy that Tom Lehman put forth. He was an incredible captain in that we all had so much fun. He was such a great leader, he gave us direction, he provided us with every opportunity to play well.

We developed friendships this week when we came over earlier, not just this week, but from when we came over a couple weeks ago. And I just think that his leadership was tremendous, and I'm sorry that we didn't play well. Again, it comes down to making putts and hitting golf shots and so forth, and we were outplayed and got beat. But as far as leadership, I thought he was just tremendous, and we had a great week as far as the American side. We had a lot of fun together, but unfortunately we didn't come home with a victory, and that's what's the frustrating part.

Q. For Jim Furyk, the past couple of times you lost to a great team here, but you have beaten a great team in the Presidents Cup. What's the difference; is it the way you approach the two events? That's a pretty good group of world players that you've beaten, but the Europeans, that's a different story.

JIM FURYK: Difficult question. It's a difficult question. Early in the week, or weeks ago, I was quoted as saying that I felt like we approached the Ryder Cup tight; that we didn't play loose; that our team had a different look on their faces when the gun went off in the first round for the Presidents Cup than it did in the Ryder Cup. You know, I think a lot of us made an effort to make sure that didn't happen this week, and we were led by 12 of us are going to stand up here and tell you that our captain has done a phenomenal job. I wish we would have played better for him. I don't think that was the case this week. Everyone wants answers out there, what happened, why, what's the difference between 18 and a half and nine and a half, and I don't think there's a guy up here that can give you that answer on what's different.

But it's definitely going to have to be a point of reflection in the future, and obviously, next year, we'll send 12 guys to the Presidents Cup, and hopefully they can take care of business there. But come Ryder Cup time, it's on everyone's mine. We're going to have to take care of business in two years and reflect and figure out what the difference is.

Q. Tiger, just the European performance this week was immense as a team, but could you assess in particular the contribution of Darren Clarke both on and off the course for Europe and indeed for the Ryder Cup?

TIGER WOODS: Well just Darren being here was just an inspiration in itself. His play was remarkable, really, considering the loss he's had recently and the things that he is going through, he and his entire family.

For him just to be here is one thing, but on top of that, to go out there and play as well as he did was absolutely remarkable. It was fantastic. Hats off to the quality of player that he is. That's what I kept telling him, that you're a hell of a player, and unfortunately he went out there and did it. (Smiling.) I just think that in the whole scheme of things, when Darren and I sat down at dinner the other night, the whole scheme of things, it puts things in perspective real quick for you when you lose people who are close to you. It's changed his life, and it's made it tougher, but also in a sense it's drawn him closer to his kids, and I think that's something that's going to be even better for him in the future.

Q. For J.J. Henry and Zach Johnson, J.J., were you surprised when Paul McGinley made the concession on the 18th? And for Zach, could you talk to us about the atmosphere that prevailed on the first tee today when you went out to take on Darren Clarke?

J.J. HENRY: Well, I think it shows really what the spirit of this competition is all about. What a gentleman, obviously, Paul is. We all know how much it means to Paul being here, from Ireland. Of course, we did have some extracurricular activities going on at the same time there. You know, it was just, we had a great match, we were neck and neck virtually the whole; I was down early and came back and led and we were virtually all square the last four or five holes. You know, it's just a great match, and you know, well played match. It was obviously, I tip my hat off to him. It was a remarkable thing he did.

ZACH JOHNSON: The first tee, is that what you asked? Okay, sorry. Yeah, that was pretty very inspiring for him I would imagine. It was a very warm welcome. I expected it to be loud, but it was like 80,000 people stadium amassed around one tee box. I felt like I was the away team, you know, playing for the world championship or something in some sport. It was pretty remarkable. Frankly it was like that on every tee box for him. Well deserved, too.

As Tiger said, it's one thing for him to play, but two, to play how well and how hard he played this week is extremely inspirational. I think as a player, we all know what he can do, and how good he really is, but he's an even better person, which it was a fun match, regardless. It was a lot of emotion, obviously more for him, and I don't know, I could have had my A+ game and not so sure I could have beat him. The gods were on his side. He's a great guy.

Q. Tiger, you know a thing or two about how to win major golf tournaments. Do you have any theory as to why the form we see these Europeans put in at Ryder Cups doesn't transfer to major championships? Not every player has one, the likes of Harrington, Clarke, McGinley, Montgomerie, Garcia. Any theory on why these guys can't win a major?

TIGER WOODS: You have to ask them that, what's in their heads. I know that I've been fortunate to win a couple here and there. (Laughter.) I know what it takes to win those events. I won one Ryder Cup, so I kind of know what it takes. When you boil down to it, it becomes 18 holes and it's match play. There's one thing you do realize when you're in a format like that; anything can happen. We see that at La Costa in The Match Play there. Anything can happen in 18 holes. And I think that's what you see, and especially when you have partners that are involved.

The Europeans just seem to feed off of one another. They make more putts than we do. And unfortunately we're just not able to make putts when we had the opportunities to make them, to turn the tide. We've had, from what I've seen just on the highlights alone, how many chances we've had to turn momentum around in the matches. Even the matches that I've been involved in this week, how many times we've been in position to make those momentum turning putts and we just haven't done that, and the Europeans have been doing it all the years that I've been on the teams.

Q. Tom, do you think that the American public's anticipation of the next Ryder Cup at Valhalla will now be increased or diminished?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I'm not really sure I have a sense for that. Maybe you as writers maybe even know better than we would as players. I really don't know. I know from a player perspective, I'm sure we'll just keep on going up. There's only so much you can take. But in terms of the public, I don't know.

Q. Stewart, could you talk about going out and getting Sergio this morning? And Tom, if you could talk about were those the kind of red numbers you were looking for from everybody?

STEWART CINK: Well, it was really a dream match up today for me, because I felt like I had something to prove after going 0 2 my first Ryder Cup singles matches. I really wanted to go out there and stay focused and give it 100%. I knew it was going to be tough against Sergio, because he's one of the top two or three guys on their team, and obviously with his record this week, he showed that it's not just a fluke; he's played great. And the crowd support was there for him, along with Darren, probably the two most cheered players on their team. It just felt great to go out and get a great start, really wonderful start for me, four out of the first five holes I made birdie on. He really didn't have an answer. He made a few mistakes.

You know, match play is a lot of times very much about who gets a little bit down on themselves for getting down. The guy that gets down four or five holes early in the match, it's hard to come back from that hole. So felt really good to go out there, and with Tom's trust, putting me in the No. 2 spot to hopefully get a point, and to get one, I felt it was probably my best match play experience of my life today.

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: The second part of your question, did we need to see red numbers, yeah, we did absolutely needed to see red numbers. We needed to see a lot of red and the numbers increasing. We played some tough tough matches. David Toms' match, the first match out, was quite a golf match. David played extremely well, and you know, it could have gone either way. But we needed to get momentum. I mean, sports are all about momentum. You've heard it from everybody. It's all about momentum, it's all about delivering the body blow, so to speak. I remember McGinley talking to him in the match where he was playing, I think Zach made a putt on 17 for birdie and Paul made a downhill slider to halve the hole to take the match to 18. We were talking about that afterwards, and he was just talking about, you know, how it was a huge momentum putt for them.

And that's I think what Tiger was saying; everybody is saying it. Momentum swings on those kind of putts. Momentum swings when you have a chance to either take one away or top somebody. And we just did not make them.

Q. Chris, you came in, you figured to be one of America's kind of go to guys, you were still scrapping even when the outcome was no longer in doubt today. I kind of pose the same question as was posed to Phil. Between the two of you guys, you had the potential to get six points and you came away with a half point. Can you give us your take on that?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Obviously I didn't play well. Yeah, very disappointed in my play this week. I was very excited going out with Phil. I felt like we had a great partnership at the Presidents Cup and we were going to go out and do some damage this week. It goes back to momentum. We just never got momentum. We were riding the wave, and we just never got over it. We just kept getting there. We'd get there and have a chance, and then by not doing it, it would take away the momentum and just never got into it.

Unfortunately, I started to finally feel some, but I was 5 down at the time today. And I started getting you win a couple of holes, and that's what we never did the whole week. We never put two holes back to back the whole week, and that's where you pick up momentum. I was disappointed with my play, but again, you have to take your hat off to them.

MODERATOR: Tom and gentlemen, thank you very much for your time.

European Ryder Cup Team Interview

MODERATOR: Well, Ian Woosnam and his victorious Ryder Cup Team. Ian, it's been an historic day for you, for the team, for the Ryder Cup. Is this now the pinnacle of your life?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I've got to say, this is the pinnacle of my life, because I've won many tournaments around the world. I won a major tournament, I've been No. 1 in the world, and I've got to say, this is the proudest moment of my life.

DES SMYTH: Here, here. Well said. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: And the method in which it was achieved, as well.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, when you have 12 fantastic players like this and the back room staff of what I've got, they made my job very easy. And I appreciate coming out strong today, and with a great victory again that we've had, I'll have a word with Paul McGinley later. (Laughter.) It could have been a record. But let's just say, I'm very, very happy.

MODERATOR: Thank you for these remarks, Ian.

Q. Paul and Lee, a lot has been made of Darren's contribution, inspiration, but can you talk about Colin's contribution to the team and what he means to this team, both Lee and Paul. Lee?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Careful, lads, carefully. Make it good.

LEE WESTWOOD: Monty is simply a leader on the course and off it. Excuse me, my voice is going rapidly. He's proven today to be an inspiration when he goes out first. He's a pretty quick player as well, so he likes going out first.

SERGIO GARCIA: He was really quick.

LEE WESTWOOD: Old man, David Toms, he was running around. Was that eight in that last singles?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Apparently so, I got lucky. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Colin, your game today, it was important to get off to a flyer, and you did it.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It doesn't matter what position you play on the team, and I was just delighted to be part of this team, never mind where I played. Ian thought it was good I went out first, I'm probably the quickest player on the team, and it was important that I got off to a good start and got some blue on the board early, which I did from the third hole onwards. And never allowed it to get back to square. All I would like to say is I'm very proud to be part of the 12 here yet again, and to equal the record score in Oakland Hills. We never thought that would be possible again for many, many years, and we've done it the very next time and I'm very proud to be part of that team.

Q. Besides Henrik's winning putt, what was the most defining moment of your weekend?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I've got to say, I think you all know that question. I don't think I need to answer it. I think you've seen that emotion on the 16th green.

Q. Ian, or Woosie?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: That's my name.

Q. I'm getting confused. Your style of captaincy was completely different to Tom Lehman's captaincy. I thought he was a fantastic captain and I've been watching him closely for months, and your style of captaincy is less is more captaincy and it was obviously the right way to go about doing it. Would you like to make a comment on that?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Basically, when you've got, again, 12 great players, it makes your job easy. It was difficult to come in here with a game plan. I had to see how the guys were playing at the time. I have to say, I was disappointed to leave any player out in the foursomes in the first day. You know, I left out three players who were in the top 14 of the world, and that was a very difficult decision. But I did think this course was a very long course, and it demanded length off the tee. And I used that, and I think it's worked out successfully. Every single person here today has contributed half a point or a point, which is unbelievable.

Q. Question for Paul and then Henrik. Paul, has it crossed your mind since that you could have created a record if perhaps you'd made J.J. make that putt, and what are you going to the Captain? And to Henrik, obviously a very momentous occasion for you. Can you just give us some idea of how you feel that you're the man that holed the winning putt?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yes, it has crossed my mind. I have been told on several occasions. (Laughter.) And I'll tell you what, it's not finished yet. But, you know, it was a gesture that was done in the right spirit. It was done I'd been thinking about it before he crossed, before that clown came over, the streaker.

LEE WESTWOOD: It wasn't even a woman? I haven't seen it yet. I'm glad. (Laughter).

PAUL McGINLEY: I asked Des what to do. He wouldn't make a decision on it.

DES SMYTH: (Laughing .)

PAUL McGINLEY: Thanks for helping me out, Des. I don't want to make a big deal about it to be honest. It was a great team performance. We won by a huge margin. We really thumped them, and I'm very proud of all the rest of the players on the team. And maybe I'll just take this opportunity to just mention Heather, Darren's wife who has passed away. She would be right in the middle of all this if she was here, and Big D, you've been great this week, and we're so proud of the way you've handled everything. And not only that, but the way you've played as well. All credit, we're one big family, and we miss Heather dearly. (Applause.)

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Paul, I'll let you off now.

HENRIK STENSON: Just everybody went out today to try to do the job in the matches, and I was no different. Holing the winning putt on that hole or not, it doesn't really matter. As Paul said, it was a magnificent team performance, and it just happened to be that way. I'm also very pleased and proud to be part of this team and the way we played this week.

Q. Darren, I'm wondering if you can talk about how you ignited in that match of yours. Suddenly you came on incredibly well, and then at the end, when you talk about your golf, if you can just reply to what Ian said.

DARREN CLARKE: About what, about how I was feeling on the 16th green?

Q. The emotion at the end.

DARREN CLARKE: Obviously the emotion was huge. I'm delighted Woosie chose to give me a pick, along with Lee here. It's been fantastic to be part of this team. The support I've had this week from my teammates on this table, from their wives, from the American team, the American wives, captains, vice captains, everything. The crowd has been very, very touching. It's meant a lot to me, and to contribute to the team and score some points for the team has been great. As I said whenever I told Woosie I was able to play for the team, if I wasn't able to benefit or contribute to the team, I wouldn't have accepted. I'm just glad I was able to give my teammates a few points.

Q. And what about your golf this afternoon?

DARREN CLARKE: My golf this afternoon was okay. I found it very difficult, I got off to a pretty decent start. I got up a lead. I was looking at the board sorry, Woosie, but I was looking at the board a little bit. I found it very difficult to not get ahead of myself and keep my emotions in check whenever it was obvious it could come down to my putt. I lost myself a few times out there, but I managed to keep on going and do what I had to do.

Unfortunately Henrik here fortunately Henrik holed the winning putt. I didn't think you got that one there I thought it had gone over your head. (Laughter.) Henrik holed it, but I'm just delighted to have helped my teammates here. We have been an unbelievable team this week and to perform the way that we have done and play the way we have done, every guy from No. 1 to No. 12, not that there's anybody in any order from No. 1 to No. 12, has been fantastic to be part of the team. (Laughter.)

Q. How has it been playing together and representing apart from Europe, a small country in golf tradition, compared to Scotland or Ireland or these big countries, and how do you feel about representing Spain in this European victory?

JOSE MARIA OLAZÃBAL: Well, it's not the first time. (Laughter.) I think Spain has been well represented all through the years, well before Sergio and I, with Garrido and so on, and Rivero. There's many, many Spanish players that have played on the European side. We're just happy to follow that trend, that line. It's a very special event, very unique. The more you play, the more you realize that, and especially when years go by. You know, hopefully we'll do great things for golf in Spain, but the most important thing is just to support the team and contribute to the team, and that's what we're here for.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well said. Should I answer in Spanish? Come on, Renee, you're not getting this? I thought you were working on your Spanish. (Answer in Spanish.) Should I say it in English? (Laughter.)

DAVID HOWELL: Well said.

SERGIO GARCIA: It was, wasn't it?

Q. A question for Woosie, and this will be in English.


Q. On the day you accepted the job, you said you would be very happy with a one point win. Are you amazed you are sitting here with another nine point win, and can you talk about the potential of the team, as well the talent they have showed this week?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, 18 months ago, when they asked me to be captain, any victory would be fantastic, and to walk away with the same record Bernhard Langer has, I think it is, isn't it, is unbelievable. It is a dream come true for me. I've been worried about it. Been worried about it for 18 months, because it's an unbelievable responsibility to be a captain. It's all right standing there as a player, because you're only one person you can letdown is yourself. I've had some criticism over the last few months, but that's gone and past and we've got the victory we wanted to and I have 12 tremendous guys to help me, thank you very much.

And it just shows, I've been saying for a long time now, there was so many players that were in the team, and I could have gone down, how many guys have won so many tournaments, you know, we could have had two teams out here. I'm not saying that we would have got this result, but it just shows the potential of European golf. I think we got strength and depth for a long time to come, and I think the future of the Ryder Cup is going to look great for Europe.

Q. Similar question for Colin.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think there's just 11 potential players on this team, and me. I'm well past that potential stage.

Q. You said you were surprised about the nine point victory again, but do you think this shows that potential may have swung to that there is now a wider gap and a wide gap between your side and theirs in terms of talent and depth, and do you think that this might signal a European domination for a period of time?

SERGIO GARCIA: For the last seven years, at least for the last seven years.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, we've won five out of the last six.

SERGIO GARCIA: That's true.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If it wasn't for a very difficult Sunday at Brookline, we'd have been six out of six. So that's fairly dominant. (Laughter.) I think that we have strength and depth on our European Tour. And as Ian so rightly said, we could have put almost two teams out this particular year as good as the one sitting here tonight. We have a superb strength and depth now in Europe that we haven't had when I first started playing in '88, and we have a superb strength and depth. And we look forward to Kentucky in two years' time.

SERGIO GARCIA: And hopefully we won't get asked if the Nationwide Tour is the second best tour in the world anymore.

LUKE DONALD: Behind Europe.


Q. You told us on Tuesday that you made a special DVD for watching with a special theme was and could you tell us if it was history or if you have your own Welsh ministration on it or if you had Paul McGinley's record on it? Could you tell us what the theme was of the DVD?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: TWI made a collection of obviously fantastic moments of the Ryder Cups of the past, and the guys who have

SERGIO GARCIA: Woosie, you're telling our secret.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Oh, exactly, I forgot about that, Sergio.

SERGIO GARCIA: Don't tell, please.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: We just made an emotional tape which was a tape which was just made to fire the guys up, and I think it did the job. I think that's proved in the score.

Q. A question for Paul Casey and David Howell. You two guys are battling it out at the top of the Order of Merit, but you came together this week. Does that signify how The European Team gels in a competition like this?

DAVID HOWELL: Well, at the end of the day, when you sit up at the Ryder Cup, all individual results and how things are going, Order of Merits and tournament victories just become irrelevant. We're 12 guys here and we're playing for Europe, and it's just irrelevant when we get here. You know, I was delighted, Paul over took me last week (laughter), which I hadn't thought about at all. (Laughter.) But, you know, I was just pleased at punch to play with Paul again yesterday. It just goes to show that it's just not an individual game, the Ryder Cup. It's all about the team, and I think we do that better than whether we do that better than the Americans is up for debate, but we do that as well as anybody, and pleased as punch to play with Paul and I just wish I could stop saying "pleased as punch," to be honest with you. (Laughter.)

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think you've got to sum it up with what Paul Casey put it in the paper last week. He would rather win a proud as punch, yeah. (Laughter.) He would rather win a Ryder Cup than win a million pounds. That's just unbelievable. It just shows how much commitment this team has got.

PAUL CASEY: There is no tournament in the world that winning as an individual is a wonderful thing, and last week was a great victory for me.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Pleased as punch there.

PAUL CASEY: I haven't won majors, I haven't won Order of Merits, but in my career, I haven't experienced anything like winning a Ryder Cup. There's just nothing that compares to this. And to share it with more than 11 guys, I mean, the whole back room staff, it's just a very, very special thing. This provides this is history, and this provides many wonderful memories.

SERGIO GARCIA: Pleased as punch.

Q. Paul, can you talk about what it means for you guys to know that you guys have someone like Colin on the team that performs as well as he does in this competition?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Be nice. I'm old.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: You think you're old?

PAUL CASEY: Woosie, do you want to answer that? You know Colin better than I.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Do I want to answer it?

SERGIO GARCIA: They have got Walt Disney, we've got Colin. (Laughter.)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think I'll take that as a compliment.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think Colin Montgomerie, I think he has been an unbelievable player for Europe, and he's won, is it eight Order of Merits?


CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: And if there's anybody that deserves to win a major tournament, it's Colin Montgomerie. Never been beaten in a singles, ever, in a Ryder Cup.

SERGIO GARCIA: Here, here.

(Team applauds Colin.)

Q. Darren, could you just explain to us, please, what Ian Woosnam's captaincy has meant to you, how it's helped you, and on a lighter note, just what you made of his attempt to down a pint of Guinness in one go, please.

DARREN CLARKE: He took ten seconds too long to down that pint of Guinness.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: A 10th quicker than you did, and I'll prove it now if you want to get them out on the table. (Laughter.)

DARREN CLARKE: I'm a little bit younger than you are. Just mind your age here.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: There's nothing like experience. (Laughter.)

DARREN CLARKE: If you keep up with me, you'll be doing okay, don't worry about that.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: We'll see about that tonight.

SERGIO GARCIA: There's a challenge here.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: No doubt about it.

DARREN CLARKE: Guinness, that's why picked me for the team, there was no other reason whatsoever.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: When I said we're going to have a party, we are going to have a party, boys.

DARREN CLARKE: What was the question? (Laughter.)

Q. That was the most interesting part, but just what the captaincy of Ian has meant for you and how it's helped you get through this.

DARREN CLARKE: Woosie has been great. All of us sitting here, he's spoken to us, he's told us what to do, but he's had 12 players here this week playing well, and I've been part of this is my fifth Ryder Cup, and I can't remember an occasion before where we had 12 guys all playing so well. So I think Woosie's only dilemma this week was who to rest and who to play. You can see from the result that he chose wisely. Thankfully, thanks to Woosie giving me Lee to play with for my first couple of days, which has been a great friend and ally and all sort of stuff with Lee, Woosie's plans and everything came together. And he's been a great captain. I'm sure all of the rest of the players would agree. He's done everything absolutely perfect. And I think the bottom line is, the score reflects that, and if you take a look at what we've done this week, I think it's pretty huge to follow that up with the result in Detroit a couple of years ago, to follow that up and do it again this week. I think that says everything about Woosie.

Q. Question for Colin similar to the one Darren has just answered. You've played under a number of captains, can you sum up Woosie's captaincy?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I just have to reiterate what Darren has just said. I think that respect, the one thing that a team need of a captain is respect, and there was 12 members of this team that respected Ian Woosnam as a person and as a captain. We wanted to win for him, and that's what we do on this team. I don't hole a putt for me; I hole a putt for Ian; I hole a putt for Darren or Lee or Padraig or well, I tried to hole a putt for Padraig, I missed. (Laughter.)

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: (Raising a hand.)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We play for each other, and we played for Ian Woosnam this week, and we're all just thrilled, thrilled, for him, and for Glen. And yes, we're going to have a good party later on.

Q. This is a question for Luke. Luke (chants of L u u u u uke.)

LUKE DONALD: (Bowing.)

SERGIO GARCIA: Use the force.

LUKE DONALD: The only player with my own chant, it's pretty special.

Q. You played amateur golf for England and you played college golf in the States. How do you think the respective systems would prepare a player for this sort of competition?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: (Chanting L u u u u uke.)

Q. You played stroke play as a college golfer in the States; I just wonder how do the respective systems prepare you for something like this?


DARREN CLARKE: That's a curveball.

SERGIO GARCIA: Think about this one.

LUKE DONALD: It's a few years ago since I've been amateur.

Obviously I worked my way up through the rankings in England through the EGU and their systems, and then I went to America for four years and I think the college system

SERGIO GARCIA: (Nodding off to sleep.)

LUKE DONALD: The college system over there was great. More and more guys from Europe and England are going over to America because they do have a great college system and I think I wouldn't be as good a player as I am now if I had not been there. But it's not for everyone and um, well, I don't know what else to say, really.

SERGIO GARCIA: Don't say anything.

LUKE DONALD: Okay, I won't say any more. (Laughter.)

Q. Sergio, can you just talk about your match this morning? Cink obviously had a hot putter and he had that chip in on the last hole and came back and hit that long putt. Can you just talk about how that hole went?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I don't think he had a hot putter; I think his putter melted, must have melted. I've never seen anything like it. We came out in the rain, and you know, he starts birdie, birdie on me, and then I birdie 3 to get it back to 1 down. And I'm thinking, well, here we go. And then he goes birdie, birdie again. So I'm playing pretty decent on tough conditions and 1 under par through 5, and I'm 3 down.

So when I got to 5, I thought, well, should I make this short and go help my partners or should I at least try to get a bit farther down the road. So I saw Woosie on 8 and he gave me a bit of a fist pump and a bit of a charge, and I won that hole and I thought I was coming back nicely. I made a great he got quite lucky on 10 to make par after hitting the fence on the left. And then I birdied the next, which was nice, to get back to 3 down. And then he holes a 60 footer on me on 12 and then another 40 footer on the next; I have to make a 20 footer to halve. And then to finish up on 15, I chip in and he rolls off a 20 footer, so thank you very much, and see you in two years. (Laughter.)

DAVID HOWELL: What happened on the 6th? You missed that one.

SERGIO GARCIA: I missed about a five footer.

DAVID HOWELL: I'd like that. (Laughter.)

Q. I want to pass this off to the older players on the team, whoever would like to answer.

SERGIO GARCIA: Pleased as punch.

Q. Colin, you are an older player now, Darren, Monty, Lee?

DARREN CLARKE: What about him? He's older than all of us. (Pointing to Olazabal.)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: At least ten years younger than I am.

Q. Where does this team rank, this European Team rank, among the teams that you've played on?


COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Tom Lehman's father came up to me on the 17th, behind the 17th, and he said that gentleman, Tom Lehman's father, and he said to me that this is the best European Team that's ever been assembled, and I'd have to agree with him.

Q. Why?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Because we're bloody good. (Laughter and applause.)

Q. Padraig, you're too quiet over there. Come into the party. Can you talk about

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: How I won the Ryder Cup? Yes.

Q. What was it like for you as an Irish player? What was it like for yourself there, Padraig, just coming in as an Irish player, expectations around you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm actually relieved. That would be my biggest emotion now, because I really wanted to win the Ryder Cup in Ireland. I didn't want a situation, we won the last two Ryder Cups and I felt the U.S. Team would be up for this one, and I really didn't want to lose a Ryder Cup in Ireland. You know, this is a big occasion for Ireland. It's the first time it's here. Who knows when it will be back. So it was very important that we won the Ryder Cup in Ireland. For me as an Irish person, it was a big deal. So one of the emotions I definitely felt after it was all over is relief that we won it, that we didn't lose, because it hasn't been here before, and it won't be here for another few years anyway. So, yeah, it's a big deal to us. It's great that we've won. I'm sure, like all the European players, we're very proud to have won, but all the more special for the Irish guys to have won in Ireland.

Q. Gentlemen, you're going to have a celebration tonight. I would like to know


Q. Who will be the last man standing?

DARREN CLARKE: (Raising hand.)

LEE WESTWOOD: (Raising hands.)

DARREN CLARKE: I may not be standing, but I'll still be there.

LEE WESTWOOD: He's getting a little bit old now. He normally falls asleep in the car and I have to carry him home.

LUKE DONALD: Ian has an advantage with his center of gravity.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I'm already on the ground, aren't I?

Q. Colin, on Wednesday or Thursday, I think it was, you referred to the potential of having a role on the course. You said you would reveal more on Sunday what that role specifically was. Can you reveal that now?


SERGIO GARCIA: Next question? Next question?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Just getting out there and holing putts, winning the match, that's what it's all about, isn't it.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's my role, really, to be honest with you. I didn't mean to expand on that so much. I just felt that I have a role here, and Ian obviously felt that I had one to go out first again. And it doesn't really matter where you are, but it was important I got off to a good start and that's what it was. Hopefully it gave the team a little bit of a breather that there was blue on the board early and very, very quickly, and that was my job. Whether I'll play in one of these again, I'm not sure, but it's always nice to lead off and to win.

Q. For any of you guys, all of you guys have played in the United States, some of you have lived there from time to time, you all talk about how special it is to win the Ryder Cup. Is it because you're beating the United States? Would it mean as much if you're beating Asia in a Presidents Cup kind of thing, or is it because it's the United States?

SERGIO GARCIA: The Presidents Cup, with all due respect, is not the Ryder Cup.

Q. So that would be a yes, because it's the use.

LUKE DONALD: The Ryder Cup is the U.S. versus Europe. That's just what it is.

SERGIO GARCIA: There's nothing sweeter than beating the Americans. (Laughter.)

Q. Lee, I was just thinking, you look a bit the way you normally do after the celebration. I wonder what the problem was health wise after Munich, if you're only going to play when you feel sick?

LEE WESTWOOD: Thanks, yeah. I'm feeling a little under the weather, but Darren

DARREN CLARKE: Face it, you know he's a hypochondriac. All the rest of the guys on the team know he's a hypochondriac. He's always going to be sick. It just so happened that he got through it today. You know he's always sick. He always plays his best when he's sick. Why do you ask him? You know he's sick. (Laughter.) Do you think that's going to stop him from having any less pints of Guinness tonight? No.

LEE WESTWOOD: I'm feeling all right, thanks, David.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think I'd just like to say that, you know, that we are a team, and I've had a great support team, as well, behind me, Peter Baker, Des Smyth, Sandy Lyle and David Russell, and they have been brilliant. And your support of the press, as well, you've been brilliant this week, as well. Thank you very much. And I know Paul spoke a little bit, what he said about Heather, but every single one of us have dedicated this to her, and Darren, thank you very much. (Players applauding.)

The transcripts for the above interviews are courtesy of ASAP Sports.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Some Comments from a Winning Vice Captain

Spirited Sergio was the heartbeat of the team
By Sandy Lyle, Europe vice-captain

(Filed: 25/09/2006)

Whenever I see Sergio Garcia playing for Europe, I am reminded of the words of Martina Navratilova, expressing the belief that you are either committed to your sport, or merely involved. "And therein lies a world of difference," she explained. "Think of ham and eggs. The chicken is involved, the pig is committed." In the nicest possible way, when it comes to the Ryder Cup, Sergio is a committed young swine.

Sergio Garcia
Always audible: Sergio Garcia

If Monty has become the 'Rock of Europe', then like Seve Ballesteros before him, it is Sergio who has emerged as the spiritual leader, all pumping-fist aggression. At 26, he may have been a baby at the K Club, but whenever there was a serious opinion to be expressed or, contrastingly, a light-hearted aside needed to ease the tension in the team room, guess whose voice was invariably heard above all others?

While Field Marshal Montgomerie was always going to be first out of the trenches in the singles, Sergio, having taken a maximum four points from the previous two days' action, left no one in any doubt that he wanted to be right behind the big fella at No 2. He was not to know that Stewart Cink was lying in wait to shoot him down.

Although he was naturally disappointed not to make it five out of five, Sergio was swiftly back to his bubbly best, popping up here, there and everywhere to encourage his buddies as we moved towards the magical 14½-point mark.

To Henrik Stenson went the honour of joining the 'Man Who Holed The Putt That Won The Ryder Cup' club, but no player did more to make our latest victory possible than Sergio, whose overall record in the contest now reads: played 20, won 14, halved two, lost four. And the wonderful thought for future captains to bask in is he could still be playing in 2020!

And what can I say about Monty? Leading from the front yet again in his eighth Ryder Cup, he maintained his unbeaten run in singles dating back to 1991, when he halved with Mark Calcavecchia on his debut, with a fighting one-hole victory over David Toms. I know that deep in his heart of hearts Monty still dreams of winning a major, but he can rest assured that his place among British golf's all-time greats – not to mention the nation's undying affections – is already assured.

Woosie and his team of advisers have been at pains to create a family atmosphere in the camp, which explains why Sergio, Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson, our only three losers on a wondrous final afternoon, were treated like the heroes they were when they returned to the bosom of their 'family'. Over three days, everyone played their parts and then some.

The manner of our victory was also a personal triumph for Woosie, who was captain fantastic (apart from one or two of his 'fashion' decisions, that is) from day one. Before the contest began, Woosie told me: "Nothing in golf compares with standing on the first tee on the opening day. You feel like throwing up – I always had a swift look around to check the whereabouts of the nearest bush. Playing in the Masters is easy by comparison because the only person you can let down is yourself."

Well, I think my wee pal has discovered something equally nerve-racking – being captain. If anyone watching or listening was disappointed that we didn't have the nail-biting finales of 1995 and 1997, say, then they should have been out on the course at the K Club, where the air of excitement was unremitting.

So what of my own ambitions to be Ryder Cup captain one day? Nick Faldo will lead the team at the Valhalla Club in Kentucky in two years' time but, having been so closely involved at the K Club, perhaps my turn will come at Celtic Manor in 2010. If we can have a Welshman in Ireland then why not a Scot in Wales? I would regard the honour as my third major.


Let's hear it for Eric Axley who won the Valero Texas Open today. I put him in the spotlight in the sidebar at the beginning of the year along with Arron Oberholser and I'm pleased to see him do well finally. Justin Rose also did well this week. I didn't get to see much of this tournament. I was watching the Ryder Cup Friday and Saturday and today I was on the treadmill, then feeding the dogs and doing other things that needed to be done around the house before the Live From the Ryder Cup coverage began on the Golf Channel. But I did get to see Eric's pink and pinstriped fashion statement. The US Tour needs a fashion plate like this. All the European players are so incredibly dressed.

My Thoughts on Ryder Cup Sunday

The Europeans wore red today. I thought that was great. Last week at the HSBC, Paul Casey wore red and some guy emailed the golf channel analysts and commented about how that was "Tiger's color for Sunday", as if he owns a color for Pete's sake.

I would be lying if I didn't say I was disappointed in Sergio's singles match, but Stewart Cink was holing everything. No one could have beaten Cink today, not even Tiger Woods. And Sergio had done more than his share the first two days to help his team to victory. Jose Maria won his match against Phil Mickelson, making Spaniard Watch very successful today. I'm glad Scott Verplank won his match. That sent a message to Lehman that he shouldn't have gone back on his promise to play Verplank in both matches on Saturday. As for Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood, the captain's picks, they left no doubt as to the worthiness of their being picked and won darn near everything. There were tons of highlight shots made today, many of which I'm sure will be seen on the Golf Channel tonight.

The one black mark on the day: The streaker. That doesn't really happen in the US in golf tournaments. Thank goodness.

Now we get to hear for the next two years, well in about 20 months we will start hearing, all the reasons why the US can't win a Ryder Cup, what needs to be done to change things, blah, blah. As long as the American team members look at the Ryder Cup as something to win, and not something to love, like the Europeans, they will always lose. Scott Verplank only had two matches and he won both. The story of Scott Verplank this week: He told Tom Lehman that he was born to play the Ryder Cup.

Some of this might be a bit harsh, but there are some good points

Another European rout out of the way

TIM DAHLBERG AP Sports Columnist

Well, at least that one's out of the way. Happened pretty quick, too. Turns out the Americans can't play singles very well, either.

No big deal. Besides, it was kind of neat to watch how good the Europeans were at chugging Guinness.

Now Phil Mickelson can go back on vacation. And Tiger Woods can jet over to England and win another title, assuming he can dry out the 9-iron his caddie dropped in the water on the seventh hole.

The rest of the team can catch the redeye charter home and probably still make the Southern Farm Bureau Classic.

There's money there. Three million bucks, no pressure.

Courtesy cars, nice hotel rooms. People who actually cheer for you.

It might even be dry.

Best of all, you don't have to worry about carrying the weight of your country around on your shoulders.

Life will return to normal - as normal as it gets for the average pampered millionaire PGA Tour pro.

So the United States lost another Ryder Cup. So what.

It has become routine - three in a row if you're counting at home and eight of the last 11.

The only person who couldn't understand that on Sunday was Chris DiMarco, who played the role of arrogant American to the watery end on the 18th hole before even he conceded the agony was finally over.

Instead of matching its biggest singles comeback ever to win the cup, the U.S. team responded with its worst day of Ryder Cup singles ever.

A fitting end to a crummy week. The only bright spot was the Americans didn't have to stick around The K Club to watch the Europeans chug Guinness and spray champagne all over themselves on the clubhouse balcony in front of delighted fans.

"I'm not even sure what to say," U.S. captain Tom Lehman said.

There wasn't a whole lot to be said. The rout was on from the opening better ball on Friday and grew with every roar from the rain-soaked crowd.

Now comes the search for an explanation. Losing is one thing, but being trampled by the same 18 1/2-9 1/2 score two Ryder Cups in a row cries out for some serious self examination.

It does if anyone still really cares, that is.

Woods said he did this time, though the argument still can be made that the best player in the world doesn't focus on this team event anywhere near like he does for the major championships that he tends to dominate.

Mickelson did interrupt his vacation for this, though he might have been better off on holiday at the beach for all the good he did the U.S. team. Mickelson studies golf courses religiously for the majors, but you got the feeling he had to be told where the first tee was at this club.

Mickelson did say his dismal showing - winning just a half point in five matches - would make him work harder on his putting in the offseason. Which had some wondering why he didn't do that in the nearly month off he had before leaving for Ireland.

The team rookies, meanwhile, had to be so shellshocked that they might end up at the Texas Open instead of in Louisville two years from now watching the thing on TV. That's what Chris Riley, one of the scapegoats from the 2004 team, was doing Saturday when he was asked if he had any motivation to make another team.

"You know what? There really isn't," Riley said. "I know that's sad to say, too."

Almost to a man, the U.S. team insisted afterward they were proud to play for their country. They also insisted Lehman did everything right as captain, and everyone was more than ready to play.

The problem, they said, was Europe always seemed to have the momentum.

That, of course, happens when one team's players keep beating up on the other team's players. The Europeans weren't even afraid of Woods and Mickelson, because they seem to have figured out you can be a team even in an individual sport.

The United States is still trying to figure that out, something that used to be a lot easier when it trotted out guys with names such as Hogan, Snead, Palmer and Nicklaus to beat a hapless group of Brits every few years.

Once this became a real competition, though, things got dicey.

"Everyone out there wants answers. What happened, and why," Jim Furyk said. "I don't think there's a guy up here who can give you an answer."

Outside of finding some camaraderie and chemistry in bottles and having them delivered to the locker room at Valhalla, there may not be any.

It's pretty simple, though. The Europeans are better at this because they care more about it and care more about each other.

That won't change in two years. It may never change.

Until it does, expect more routs.

Ryder Cup Wrap Up

Celebrations start after crushing victory

Courtesy: Evening Echo News

6:16:33 PM

Darren Clarke’s face crumpled, his shoulders heaved and he grabbed caddie Billy Foster and hung on as the tears flowed and the emotion shuddered through his body.

The Ryder Cup was won and if fate had denied Irishman Clarke the honour of sinking the winning putt – that privilege falling to Sweden’s Henrik Stenson - then the rawness of the last few months inevitably tumbled out on the 16th green.

It had been the dying wish of Clarke’s wife Heather that he played in this match.

And as a captain’s pick Clarke had epitomised the resolve of a European team whose 18.5-9.5 victory over the United States was as decisive as sport gets.

Clarke, who beat Zach Johnson 3&2, fell next into the arms of captain Ian Woosnam who screamed sweet somethings into his ear above the roar of the packed gallery.

He was engulfed by Woosnam’s wife Glendryth, his family, his team-mates and Tiger Woods, who held him in the tenderest of embraces.

It was a moment which transcended sport. An unforgettable moment on a memorable day.

And if in the end the result was too crushingly decisive to contain the unpredictability which lends sport its ultimate allure then do not blame Woosnam’s team for that.

He did not care.

“It’s never been as good as this before,” Woosnam insisted. “I knew it was going to be loud but I didn’t think it was going to be this good.”

So forget the squelchy mud, the stair-rods falling from a leaden morning sky and the water in the bunkers.

And savour the passion from the moment Colin Montgomerie stepped on to the first tee to be met by a roar which could have launched a moon rocket.

He tipped his umbrella to the fans, his face creased into a huge grin and the crowd burst into a chant of ’Col-in Mont-gom-erie’ to the tune of Verdi’s ’La Donna e mobile’.

It was hard to imagine the warmth and the volume of that reception being surpassed as the crowd around that tee box counted out their European heroes.

But that was to forget the wave of sympathy and affection for Clarke.

Quite how he kept body and nerve together to launch his first tee shot only he knows.

But he did, just as the European team kept crashing drives and sinking putts to exert a stranglehold over an American team who are proud and talented professionals but who simply have lost the ability to apply themselves to the team format.

For some, such as Sergio Garcia, who had carried so much of the European challenge, the singles was the straw which broke the back. The man who had reeled off nine consecutive winning Ryder Cup matches was finally sunk by Stewart Cink, Garcia’s zest deserting him as he went five down in the first seven holes, eventually losing 4&3.

Garcia, however, had made his contribution, brilliantly and consistently, on the first two days. It was time to leave it to others. They did not let him down.

Not Montgomerie, who led from the front as he always seems to do, bringing home the first European point with a one-hole victory against David Toms which contained all the humour and enthusiasm which his pursuit of majors lacks.

Not Paul Casey, the hole-in-one man from Saturday and the £1million man from Wentworth, who flexed those burly forearms and gave world number three Jim Furyk a 2&1 beating.

Nor Luke Donald, tidy and composed and surely a major winner of the future, who saw off Chad Campbell with a brilliant putting display.

David Howell was magnificent, Jose Maria Olazabal the fearsome force of old as he dispatched Phil Mickelson.

But in many ways it was Lee Westwood who typified the nature of the European effort. He had woken with flu symptoms, a temperature over 100 degrees but did it bother him. No way. He was five up in seven holes against Chris DiMarco and if his effort faded to a two holes victory then it was impressive for all that.

Somehow you just could not see an American digging so deep, wanting it so much.

It should be said the crowd was magnificent, raucous but dignified, turning the fairways of the K Club into as hallowed an arena as Lansdowne Road or Croke Park as the afternoon wore on and detonations of applause resounded across the fields of Co. Kildare, hailing birdie after birdie.

There was the odd American successes, captain’s pick Cink an obvious one and Woods at last found a smattering of his real form in beating Robert Karlsson.

But, in truth, too many Americans fell as limply as leaves in autumn as for the first time the Europeans won every session.

And so the champagne-swigging, Guinness-downing, characteristically Irish party began.

It was Woosnam’s day, Europe’s Ryder Cup. And it was a privilege to be present.

Europe defeats United States to retain Ryder Cup golf tournament title

European Ryder Cup team player Darren Clarke kisses the trophy. (AP/Laurent Rebours)

STRAFFAN, Ireland (AP) - Favourites or underdogs in the Ryder Cup, it doesn't matter to the Europeans.

They wanted to win for Darren Clarke and the memory of his wife, for a captain who relied on instincts, for each other. Boasting their best team ever, they backed it up by turning the Ryder Cup into another rout Sunday, winning 18 1/2-9 1/2 to make history as the first European team to win three straight times.

There's no question who owns this Ryder Cup - the trophy and the tournament.

Europe won 8 1/2 points from the 12 singles matches - the total the Americans needed for an unlikely comeback - and the final score matched the largest margin of victory set in 2004 at Oakland Hills.

Only a gesture of sportsmanship kept Europe, which has won five of the last six Ryder Cups, from the biggest rout by either side since this format began in 1979. J.J. Henry needed to make a 25-foot birdie putt to halve his match, and Paul McGinley conceded the putt.

Luke Donald holed a 10-foot par putt that gave Europe 14 points, all it needed to keep the shiny gold trophy. Moments later, Henrik Stenson closed out his match to give his team an outright victory, and the celebration was on.

The tears flowed, too.

Clarke wasn't sure he should play in this Ryder Cup after his wife, Heather, died of cancer on Aug. 13. He went nearly two months without playing as he tried to cope with such a loss, leaving him a single father of two young boys.

But he agreed to be a captain's pick and then won every match he played.

After beating Zach Johnson on the 16th hole, Clarke broke down in tears as dropped his head on caddie Billy Foster's shoulder, then walked into the arms of captain Ian Woosnam, sobbing amid cheers and songs.

"It's done a lot for me for people to show me how much they care," Clarke said. "And it's done a lot to show how much they cared about Heather, and that means a lot to me. It's been a difficult week. From the minute I got here, I was determined to get myself ready, and I was. I played the way Woosie wanted me to."

He had plenty of help from the rest of the Europeans.

"I don't know if there's ever been a European team that played better," U.S. captain Tom Lehman said. "Our team came ready. Our team came very ready. I guess we weren't ready enough."

The Europeans showed their superior skills in celebration, too.

Captain Ian Woosnam uncorked the champagne on the 18th green, and the bubbly came down harder than Sunday's early rain. Clarke stood atop a balcony and guzzled a pint of Guinness as the Irish crowd roared.

"We've put on a great show," McGinley said.

The match didn't end until Chris DiMarco conceded the 18th after twice hitting the ball into the water. DiMarco tried to keep alive his tough-guy image, shaking his fist after a birdie on the 17th kept his meaningless match alive, apparently not aware the Americans had been embarrassed again in the Ryder Cup.

"A lot of our guys played good individually," David Toms said. "As a team, we didn't play great at times. We didn't pick each other up like they did."

Colin Montgomerie won his opening match and tied a Ryder Cup record with his sixth singles victory. Sergio Garcia failed to become the first European to go 5-0 at the Ryder Cup, losing to Stewart Cink. But his perfect record in team matches staked them to an insurmountable lead.

The Americans countered with Tiger Woods, who had his first winning record in a Ryder Cup, but that wasn't nearly enough.

It was the first time in the 79-year history of the Ryder Cup that Europe won outright three straight times. Going for three in a row in 1989, they settled for a tie to retain the cup.

Not this time.

Europe was so dominant it won all five sessions for the first time in history, and it completed its biggest rout ever in Sunday singles, the format the Americans once owned.

"We weren't just trying to get to 14 1/2, we were trying to get as much as we can," Donald said after holing the cup-clinching putt, giving him a 3-0 record this week. "We truly believed they would have to do something special to come back and win."

The Americans' lone highlight was Scott Verplank, who made a hole-in-one on the 14th hole to beat Padraig Harrington. Verplank won both his matches and had the only perfect record among Americans, raising questions about why Lehman made him a captain's pick and then only used him twice.

The lowlights were not limited to the scoreboard.

As if getting whipped for the third straight time wasn't bad enough, the Americans got embarrassed in other ways. Woods was preparing to chip from just short of the seventh green when he handed his nine-iron to caddie Steve Williams, who promptly dropped it in the River Liffey.

Woods could only laugh. By that time, there was no way Europe was going to lose its grip on this trophy.

Woods went on to a 3-and-2 victory over Robert Karlsson and finished the week at 3-2. He spent the final hours walking around The K Club and listening to gallery sing and chant "Ole," the new anthem of this event.

"Ohhh-lay, Ole, Ole, Oh-laaaay, Ohhh-lay, Ohhh-lay."

The Americans faced long odds, trailing 10-6 going into the 12 singles matches, and tried to rally behind the memory of Brookline in 1999 when they faced the same deficit and staged the greatest comeback ever.

That was Boston. This was Ireland.

The lone rookie on that U.S. team was David Duval, who was No. 2 in the world. This American team had four unheralded rookies and couldn't even rely on its stars. Of the top six players who qualified for the team, four of them did not win a match. The biggest flop was Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who went 0-4-1 and has won only one match in his last two Ryder Cups.

The biggest difference of all was the colour on the scoreboards.

The Americans needed them to be awash in red, hopeful that would inspire the back end of the lineup. Just like the first two days, however, European blue was in vogue.

"You had to make birdies early. You had to get ahead in your match," Woods said. "By the looks of it, the Europeans are doing that."

Montgomerie went out first and delivered the first point for Europe, taking the lead with a four-foot birdie on the third hole and never trailing in his 1-up victory over David Toms. In the third spot, Paul Casey completed an unbeaten week at The K Club by building a 4-up lead at the turn and handing Jim Furyk his first singles loss, 2 and 1.

The only Americans who did their part were Woods and Stewart Cink, the first time a U.S. captain's pick played all five matches. Cink birdied four of his first five holes and buried Garcia, 4 and 3.

Furyk had said the Americans looked "constipated" when they played at the Ryder Cup, and that included him. Even after a 20-foot birdie putt to halve the 14th hole, Furyk looked uptight.

The Americans talked about having fun for a chance, and they sure did - until the matches started. They learned anew that it's difficult to smile when the other team is winning, especially when Europe is winning big.

Jose Maria and the Cup

Ryder-Olazabal enjoys second successful Cup comeback
Sun Sep 24, 2006 8:48 PM BST

By Norman Dabell

STRAFFAN, Ireland, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Jose Maria Olazabal's singles success against world number two Phil Mickelson on Sunday rounded off a memorable and emotional week for the Spaniard who was once warned he might never walk again.

Olazabal's defeat of Mickelson made it three points out of three as a new Spanish team was born to take over his Ryder Cup record partnership with Seve Ballesteros as he made two of his points with Sergio Garcia in the fourballs.

"I think Spain has been well represented all through the years, well before Sergio and I," Olazabal told the European team news conference.

"There has been Seve, Garrido, Pinero, Rivero, Canizares, many Spanish players have played on the European side.

"It's not my first time!

"We (himself and Garcia) are happy to follow the trend. The more you play, the more you realise what a unique event this is.

"Hopefully we do great things for golf in Spain but the most important thing is to support the team and contribute."

Olazabal, who was tearful after his opening success with Garcia on Friday, spoke of the emotion he felt at making his Ryder Cup comeback after an absence of seven years.

"To hear the crowd on the first tee on Friday and get the old feelings was very special," he said.

"The Ryder Cup has always been very emotional. I think back to when I couldn't even go out because I couldn't walk even a few steps."

Olazabal, whose 11 pairs victories with Ballesteros and two halves is a record, had to withdraw from the 1995 Ryder Cup because of rheumatoid polyarthritis in the joints of his right foot.

Having made one winning return to the Ryder Cup fold in 1997, Olazabal, who had not played since the 1999 match the Europeans lost at Brookline, has done it again.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bold Statements from ?

Yanks can't play nice together

September 23, 2006


STRAFFAN, Ireland (AP) -- It's a lesson they should have learned in pre-school. Somehow, though, it's hard to imagine Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods coming home with a smiley-face sticker for playing well with others.

Grown-ups get points for doing just that in the Ryder Cup.

Mickelson and Woods won't be going home with many of those. Barring a Brookline-like miracle, they won't be carrying the Ryder Cup with them, either.

Often brilliant as individuals, the United States' best just can't seem to find a way to play with each other. It happens every time, despite the best efforts of any number of American captains to figure out a solution.

Mickelson and Chris DiMarco were a disaster. Woods and Jim Furyk looked more like journeymen than the top two players in the world.

Captain Tom Lehman didn't send either to the corner for a time out. Perhaps he should have, because when your stars take a pounding, the rest of team begins getting queasy.

Especially when the rest of that team isn't as good as the rest of the other team.

"You don't like looking up there and seeing your superstar teams getting it handed to them," Scott Verplank said.

That must have made the sight of Mickelson especially scary. Here's a guy who won the Masters, should have won the U.S. Open and is arguably the best player in the world whose first name is not Eldrick.

When Lefty left the course Saturday afternoon, though, here's the grand total he contributed in four matches -- one half of one point.

Let's put that in perspective. Vaughn Taylor is a Ryder Cup rookie and thought to be the weakest link on this team coming in. He played in one match -- and won the same half-point as Mickelson.

You might have thought Lehman would sit Mickelson down as his struggles became more apparent. You might have thought that, but Lehman apparently didn't.

He didn't even consider it.

"No," was the short answer.

Lehman, of course, plays golf for a living. The captain thing is a part-time gig that will end sometime early Sunday evening. By all accounts, he has tried his best to make a go of it and win his country a Ryder Cup.

So maybe we shouldn't be so harsh. But there comes a time to cut your losses, and Lehman just couldn't bring himself to do it.

It's not because Lehman is too nice of a guy, because he didn't mind telling Verplank as he played the 13th hole Saturday that he was reneging on a promise to play him twice. And it's not like he didn't see Mickelson imploding, because he's been out there watching for two days.

No, the American team has a star system. And Lehman decided long before he even got here that he was going to live and die with his stars.

That meant Mickelson played every match. It also meant Woods and Furyk were going to be joined at the hip for this Ryder Cup, no matter how many wayward shots they hit or short putts they missed.

Woods was the nearest thing to a lock inside five feet all year on the PGA Tour. But he missed a half dozen of those putts in his four matches. Even a win in the last match of the day couldn't disguise the fact that the American team got only two points from possibly the best player ever and the guy right behind him in the world rankings.

Do the math yourself. The top three players in the world combined for 2{ points for the U.S. Team. Sergio Garcia won four on his own for the Europeans.

You don't bench Woods, of course. But did Lehman ever think of splitting he and Furyk up?


If Lehman's pairings seemed uninspired, so did his team. The points weren't coming from the top, and the other guys couldn't help noticing.

Woods is 6-12-1 when playing with others, while Furyk is an even more anemic 3-11-1. Mickelson is 6-9-4, and 1-8-1 overall in his last 10 matches.

For some reason, the Europeans have no such problems with their best players. They enjoy the camaraderie of team play. They like hanging out together, and they enjoy winning together.

All the fist bumps and fist pumps the Americans exchange don't equal the warmth of one hug between the Euros. And when things go wrong, it's usually every American for himself.

"If you're out there and your partner misses a shot you know the only thing you do is just give them a laugh and just encouragement," Garcia said. "You don't give them any weird looks or anything. That's not the way to go, and that's not the way to win Ryder Cup."

That was a thinly veiled jab at Woods, who does not suffer fools on the golf course easily, even if they're wearing the same uniform.

The Americans are getting used to taking punches in team play. They can't seem to play well together.

They will get no smiley faces this time around.

And they won't have any smiles on their faces on Sunday either.

Sergio News Story

Shades of Seve from inspirational Garcia
By James Mossop

(Filed: 24/09/2006)

Easy Ryder. With Sergio Garcia comes the exuberance of youth, a pure talent and a sense of comradeship crucial to the bonding of the European team.

A huge sense of drama, too, none greater than on the par-five 16th hole during yesterday's afternoon foursomes at the K Club. It seemed that his partner, Luke Donald, had put him in an impossible position with the ball landing on wood-chippings, water to clear from an awful lie and little margin for error.

Sergio Garcia
Coming out on top: Sergio Garcia reacts to his morning win

Suddenly the spectators were roaring in salute at the Garcia genius as he landed the ball 15 feet from the hole. Donald, his seamless partner, stepped up to sink the putt for birdie and the Americans, Phil Mickelson and David Toms were looking at defeat, two down and two holes to go. The Europeans closed it out 2 & 1.

Garcia has won tournaments in the United States and Europe and has been in contention on the final day of majors but, he says, the Ryder Cup is the pinnacle of his sporting world.

He won four and a half points in 2004 and when he birdied the first hole on Friday morning it was the signal of things to come.

He let no one down, striding to victory first with his compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal and then with another friend, Luke Donald, the Englishman who shares his home in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana whenever they play there in the European Masters.

Garcia, an avid Real Madrid supporter, has brought football-style celebrations to the winning moment and the Irish people and his colleagues have embraced his sense of enthusiasm.

He was back with Olazabal for yesterday morning's four-ball matches, recreating images of a previously successful Spanish partnership involving Seve Ballesteros and a young Jose Maria. Latin passion coloured their play. Their win made Garcia 3-0 for this year's event.

Olazabal took yesterday afternoon off so that Garcia was reunited with his foursomes partner, Donald and there was no diminishing of the fun in all its intensity.

You realise how much the Ryder Cup means to Garcia when you listen to him talking and he says: "It's the Ryder Cup. That's it. There is no better word.

"I can't live without it. It makes for an unbelievable week. It is special because it is difficult to get into the team. Winning is definitely more satisfying than winning an individual event.

"I have been fortunate enough to be in two winning Ryder Cup teams and the experiences I have had have been great. Even when we lost at Brookline [1999] it was great. I was just out on tour and got to know a lot of the players."

Ballesteros was his original inspiration. Garcia went to see him after being selected for Brookline and Seve talked him through what to expect. It would be totally different to anything he had ever known, said the great man.

It helped him settle into the pattern of the Ryder Cup after years of individual competition so that Garcia has become a formidable force and someone the latest captain, Ian Woosnam, has come to rely on as Bernhard Langer did before him.

After watching Garcia excel with Olazabal and Donald, Woosie said: "Sergio just lifted his own game unbelievably which he always seems to do when he plays in the Ryder Cup. He has the spirit, the Spanish spirit, out there with Olazabal. What a great pairing. What can I say?

Olazabal, senior partner in terms of age and experience – he is 40 to Garcia's 26 – remains full of praise for his partner, saying: "Despite age difference I have grown closer to him in the last few years. He has a young spirit. He is full of energy. He loves this event because of the whole atmosphere, the crowds, the team event."

As they went out together again yesterday against Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco they were greeted as though they were the sons of Irish soil.

Sergio birdied the 413-yard second to give Europe the lead, DiMarco brought the match back to all-square with a birdie at the short third but, emphasising the teamwork aspect, Olazabal put Europe back ahead, one up, with a birdie on the fourth.

Inspiration was never very far away. Their dovetailing was memorable. They played with smiles while the struggling Americans frowned.

When Olazabal birdied the short eighth, Garcia recruited his partner and his caddie, Glen Murray, for their advice on a putt of 10 feet on the ninth before holing it to move into the back nine three up.

Olazabal, in his first Ryder Cup for seven years, was loving it. Mickelson had been off his game all morning, though frequently shaving the hole, but he found his touch with a birdie on the par-three 14th (213 yards) to peg back the rampant Spaniards.

It was only a temporary setback. Garcia hit a brave shot to the 16th green from an area trampled by spectators to land in a bunker. He splashed out for a "gimme" and the Americans conceded with the hole halved in birdie fours.

After a quick lunch Garcia was out with Donald again, taking on Mickelson and Toms. The Europeans went ahead when Mickelson found the water on the seventh and America ran up a double-bogey to Europe's par.

Some of the fun left the Garcia-Donald partnership when Toms raked in couple of longish putts to wipe away Europe's two-hole lead. Tension had replaced humour and with four holes to go they were all square.

Then normal service returned with Garcia's brilliance and Donald's solid support carrying Europe to another vital point.

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Ryder Cup Day Two

Sergio continues his outstanding play by winning his two team matches today with Jose Maria and Luke Donald as his partners. Interesting to note that at no time in any of Sergio's 4 matches did the US lead. It was either all square or European Blue.

Just when I said yesterday that the teams aren't wearing their flag colors, both teams come out today wearing blue. I still want to know what material the European team uniforms are made of. They look a lot classier than the US team, that's for sure.

Paul Casey had a hole in one in his afternoon match today. I don't think it made that much of an impact on the result, Casey and Howell had a big lead. But it was exciting to see. I'm happy that Casey is playing better today. Hopefully it will continue tomorrow as well.

As for tomorrow's pairings for the singles matches: No one is giving Robert Karlsson a chance against Tiger Woods, but as Brian Hewitt pointed out tonight on the golf channel, Karlsson beat Jim Furyk last week at the HSBC in the first round. And I think I remember the analysts last week say that Karlsson is the birdie leader on the European tour?? Tiger may be in trouble as Johnny Miller kept saying today that it's all about birdies. (Yes, I listen to Johnny Miller, even if the American team doesn't.) Europe only needs 4 points to retain the cup. Hopefully they will get them tomorrow. Everyone was talking to Tom Lehman about Brookline and how wonderful the comeback was. The thing I know about Brookline is the part about how the Americans displayed the most outrageous example of rudeness ever by charging onto the green before Jose Maria had attempted his putt. The match wasn't over, but the arrogant Americans didn't care. Personally, I would hope no one would want to duplicate such a breach of etiquette. The Americans dare criticize Sergio's emotional displays after they way they acted in 1999. Sounds like a bunch of sour grapes and excuses because they just can't get the job done.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Brandel's Comments

When Tiger Woods wins everything, everyone is so in love with it and says how great he is. When Sergio does well in the Ryder Cup today, Brandel Chamblee says someone needs to beat him.

The media sucks.

Jose Maria and the Ryder Cup

The Canadian Press

STRAFFAN, Ireland (AP) - Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal were the most prolific partnership in Ryder Cup history, known as the "Spanish Armada" for going 11-2-2 in team matches.

So when Olazabal and Sergio Garcia won the only match that didn't go 18 holes on Friday, the question was obvious.

Is this the next great Spanish duo in the Ryder Cup?

"I'm running out of years," said the 40-year-old Olazabal, playing his first Ryder Cup since 1999. "We'll see. It was really nice to play with Sergio, and it was beautiful to be part of the team again."

Olazabal and Garcia never have been particularly close, so the pairing was peculiar. But they looked like long-lost brothers at The K Club, walking off greens with arms draped around shoulders, chattering away in Spanish as they helped each other read putts.

The golf was nothing short of splendid.

"He made things very simple for me," Garcia said.

Garcia opened the match with a long birdie putt, and Olazabal added birdie on the next hole. They never trailed in their fourball match against David Toms and Brett Wetterich, and the 26-year-old Garcia essentially closed them out with a 10-foot birdie on the 15th.

Olazabal said it was different playing with Ballesteros, one of the most creative players in history who won five majors and could get up-and-down from almost anywhere (including a parking lot at one British Open).

"Seve and I, we're pretty similar," said Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion. "When we're off the tee, we had to counteract with a lot of guts and heart. Playing alongside Sergio, it's like watching golf at its best. He played extremely well. He drove the ball very straight. He rarely missed a shot. I have to say, it's more relaxing. Not so much excitement, maybe."

Sergio and Luke

By Phil Casey, PA Sport, Dublin

Sergio Garcia revealed just how much the Ryder Cup means to him after inspiring Europe to a 5-3 lead after the first day at the K Club.

Garcia was the only player on either side to win a maximum two points, teaming up with Jose Maria Olazabal in the fourballs to beat David Toms and Brett Wetterich, and then renewing his unbeaten foursomes partnership with Luke Donald to see off Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk.

The Spanish star has now won an amazing 13 points from 17 matches since making his debut as a 19-year-old at Brookline in 1999, four more than Woods has managed despite playing in one more contest.

"I just love the Ryder Cup," said the 26-year-old. "I could not live without it. It's amazing. That drives me to try even harder and it's always nice beating Tiger.

"It was a tight match and you could see he was really getting (it) on on the back nine. It was great to get one (point) from him. I'm just very lucky, I get really good team-mates all the time and I just go out there and help them a little bit and that's how it works."

Garcia's press conference with Donald gave an insight into why the team spirit of the European side is always highlighted as a factor for their success.

After a question in Spanish from one journalist, Donald jumped in. "I'll take that!" joked the Englishman.

And as Garcia gave a long-winded answer, Donald began signalling for his team-mate to wind it up because time was running out.

Donald had been left out of the opening fourballs despite being ranked ninth in the world - just one place behind Garcia - and admitted: "I was disappointed, I wanted to be out there as much as possible but it's a tough decision Woosie has.

"So far it's working well so you can't argue with what the captain has done.

"It's difficult to come straight into the foursomes and get any rhythm. I hit a terrible tee shot again down the first" - "You were just looking for an angle!" insisted Garcia - "and there is a lot more pressure on individual shots," said Donald.

"But I found some rhythm at the end and started driving it well and made some putts. When you have three feet for birdie on 16 and 17 it's nice when your partner hits it pretty close.

"It was great for the team that everyone played on the first day. It gets people used to the competition and the pressure. For all of them to contribute today is great. To be 5-3 up is a good position for us."