I have been fortunate enough to be part of 12 Ryder Cup campaigns now and what I witnessed at Hazeltine over the last few days was without doubt the most united European team that I have ever seen.
They may have come up short this time in terms of the result, losing 17-11, but the atmosphere among the players was amazing. They were so comfortable in each other’s company – it was magnificent to see.
Great credit has to go to Europe captain Darren Clarke, who was extraordinary. He left no stone unturned and did all he could to set the players up to retain the trophy – unfortunately USA holed more putts and probably played better over the three days.
On a personal level, it was incredible to be there as one of Darren’s vice-captains. Everyone was so generous to me and it felt very special to be part of the week.
We didn’t perform to our best, but the grace with which the players accepted defeat to the Americans – after putting so much into building up to and working towards this event for two years – was fantastic.
Hard to come back from first morning
USA out-putted and out-played us, and it was always going to be very difficult to keep the Ryder Cup after losing all four matches of Friday’s opening foursomes.
We got back to within a point on Saturday afternoon, but losing the fourballs 3-1 made it a tall order going into Sunday’s singles matches.
I have heard it said that USA’s first victory since 2008 could revive interest in the competition over there, but that was not necessary at all.
They had lost eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups going into this one but there was no doubting their excitement and determination to win. Well done to them, but they’ll never lose interest.
Everyone on the European team will learn from this. The six rookies – Danny Willett, Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan, Thomas Pieters, Rafael Cabrera Bello and Chris Wood – aren’t rookies any more and will have gained enormous experience from this.
We’ll come back in France in two years’ time just as hungry to win again, and to a man these players will be stronger than before.