Glorious Gleneagles basks in remarkable Ryder Cup

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EUROPE yesterday put on a show fit for the home of golf with a resounding victory to retain the Ryder Cup.

Captain Paul McGinley hailed each of his players as “a colossus” after the holders triumphed at Gleneagles, reaching the 14½ points needed for an outright win by late afternoon.

First Minister Alex Salmond presents the trophy to European captain Paul McGinley. Picture: Jane Barlow

First Minister Alex Salmond presents the trophy to European captain Paul McGinley. Picture: Jane Barlow

Having built up a convincing lead over their US counterparts ahead of the final day’s action, Welsh rookie Jamie Donaldson guaranteed Europe glory by striking the shot of lifetime on to the 15th green, defeating Keegan Bradley 4&3.

Amid jubilant scenes in Perthshire, an emotional McGinley said the win was down to the players and support staff pulling together for the one purpose.

Embracing a grinning Donaldson, he said: “Proud is the first word. I want to say it’s been a real honour to get these 12 players, they have all been a colossus, all of them, the caddies, the backroom team, five vice-captains, it’s been a huge team effort.”

Pointing to Donaldson’s smile, he added: “This ugly face – to see how happy it is, and the pride that we give to everybody and the happiness of the people in the stands ... I’m giving it for everybody else, it’s not for me.

Martin Dempster: Glorious Gleneagles rises to occasion

The win is Europe’s third successive victory and their eighth of out the past ten Ryder Cups. The outcome of the tournament – the first time in more than four decades the Ryder Cup has been staged in Scotland, and for only the second time in its long and storied history – was decided at 4:30pm, earlier than expected, with four matches still to play.

Donaldson, competing in his first-ever Ryder Cup, hit a stunning approach shot from 146 yards on the 15th which landed just a few feet away from the hole. Bradley duly conceded, sparking the European celebrations.

“I hit the wedge shot of my life to close the game out, I can’t really put words to it, it’s unbelievable,” Donaldson said. “Everyone played their heart out to retain the Ryder Cup and that’s what it’s all about.

“The lads have got on so well all week. There has been a great craic in there, it is an incredible week. It is hard to describe how good the Ryder Cup is – there is nothing else like it in golf. It has been amazing to be a part of it.”

Donaldson, who broke off from his own TV interviews to embrace his parents,was quick to praise the captaincy of McGinley, describing him as “sensational” and “incredible”.

First Minster Alex Salmond, who presented the Ryder Cup wearing blue tartan trousers with a matching tie, was among famous well-wishers to praise the winning side,

He went on to congratulate McGinley’s team after what he described as a “thrilling” final day’s play.

“This year’s tournament will be remembered as the best ever,” Mr Salmond added, who said the legacy will continue with the Open Championship at St Andrews and the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry in 2015. He said: “Gleneagles and its magnificent setting have shown the world the very best that Scotland has to offer.”

“Each day 45,000 spectators from 75 countries have enjoyed some of the best sporting moments and half a billion homes have seen the splendour of the course via TV on each day of the competition. There can be no better advert for Scottish tourism. It was predicted that the economic impact of staging the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles would be £100 million and I am confident that we will reach that figure or indeed exceed it.”

Scotland’s hosting of the tournament has seen a reported rise in the number of visitors to the country’s golf courses and a five per cent increase in passenger numbers compared to the same period last year. The food and drink industry also scored, with thousands of portions of Scottish smoked salmon and Perthshire strawberries served to competition guests, all washed down with Scottish whisky.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead said: “Around 260,000 meals have been served during the tournament – that’s more than a quarter of a million opportunities we have had to serve up the finest food and drink Scotland has to offer to players, officials, media and spectators from across the globe. And it was great to see the menus and service areas highlighting the provenance of their quality Scottish ingredients – it is clear a new benchmark has been set for all events held in Scotland to aspire to.”

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said: “The Ryder Cup is an iconic event and it was always our ambition to use it as a platform to showcase our land of food and drink. We’ve had many spectators comment on the quality of produce on offer, with suppliers big and small from the four corners of Scotland supplying the event.”

Tourism body VisitScotland said the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games had put Scotland on the map like never before and helped build confidence in the industry. Chairman Mike Cantlay said: “Scotland has shown that we can win any global sporting, business or cultural event and that we have the infrastructure, security and event management capability to host everything from the smallest conference to a world-class sporting spectacle.”

“Our events prowess is irmly established and we now need to work together to ensure that we use this success to convert these new Scotland fans into visitors to the 
country.”

Andy Murray, fresh from his own win at the Shenzhen Open in China, offered his congratulations to the Ryder Cup winners. The champion tweeted: “Great job Europe ... sounds like a very clinical performance at gleneagles! Imagine the celebrations could get a bit messy tonight!”