It was hope rather than expectation at the start. At the end of day two it was expectation rather than hope. About halfway through the Sunday matches there was nervousness that it was slipping away, but within an hour there was relief, then happiness and I started to enjoy the victory. In the end, it was overwhelming, a thrashing, Europe 17.5 USA 10.5. The crowd sang, the champagne flowed. Tommy Fleetwood rode the crowd like a 1980’s rock star, Ian Poulter grabbed someone’s fancy dress outfit and posed for pictures – it was a red postbox. Why? Poulter has been nicknamed ‘The Postman’, because at the Ryder Cup, he always delivers.
I decided to go to bed about 4.30am, but couldn’t sleep, still buzzing. Thinking about the last few days and another European victory – the USA still haven’t won in Europe since 1993.
As always, there are two sides to the coin. For every bit of praise for Thomas Bjorn’s Captaincy, there is criticism of Jim Furyk. For each article lauding Fleetwood and Molinari, there’s another looking at Woods and Mickelson and sticking the boot in.
At work, I started thinking about why, why has this European team done it again. They are rarely Ryder Cup favourites on paper, and by paper I mean World Rankings and Major Victories. They had home advantage, a passionate set of fans, a golf course set up to suit them (which is their right, the Americans do exactly the same), but they have won in the US three times since 1993, so they have shown an ability to win on the road which their opponents haven’t been able to match in 25 years.
They have quality in their ranks, excellent players who have won plenty of tournaments. All positives, but then there’s the spark, the magic, the thing that none of us outside that environment will ever, fully understand. What a lot of us do understand however, is being in a team. Whether it’s a sport, or a workplace, or a family, it can be enjoyable, an ordeal, or somewhere in-between. I’ve been lucky over the years, not too many bad eggs, but sometimes one comes along and they can drag everything down and you battle to turn it around. In the USA’s case, you hear about it – Phil Mickelson in 2014, Patrick Reed today. I don’t think it’s rose tinted glasses, but I can’t think of the same from the Europeans when they lose. Yep, the press have got on their backs when they’ve lost, the Captain will be criticised, but they’ve kept any issues in-house and come back stronger next time. They’re not like the All Blacks, in that you don’t field the same team two matches in a row, but there’s a core of experience that breeds the newcomers and they promote that word, the word I’ve avoided so far, the culture. That’s where there are similarities to the All Blacks. No dickheads. Leadership group. Learning from adversity and coming back next time, without fail. They operate in different sports, different financial worlds, but when all is said and done, they are very, very similar and both teams are credits to themselves, their families, and their country/continents.
Take away the obvious reason and think about it, who would you rather be a part of? Europe or USA? All Blacks or England/France? Why? I would want to be a part of these teams rather than their opponents because of what they represent and the experiences they share – the by-product just happens to be that they are successful, very successful, a win win if ever there was one.
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