THERE are times when you really should bite your tongue. When you’ve been a member of a winning Ryder Cup team, for instance, without actually contributing anything. Step forward Peter Hanson.
The 39th biennial bout at Medinah turned sour for the Swede when he didn’t play at all on the Saturday. He was so angry that he had to lie down in a darkened room for a couple of hours.
In fairness to Hanson, part of the reason he did that was to stop the nervous energy pouring from his body spreading to some of his team-mates. Once he’d calmed down a bit, he was man enough to swallow his pride and head out on to the course to cheer them on. He did exactly the same after losing his last-day singles match against Jason Dufner.
For the second Ryder Cup running, Hanson ended up on the winning team following Europe’s stunning fightback in Illinois. He celebrated with his team-mates after Martin Kaymer had holed the putt that retained the little golf trophy and smiled along with the rest of them at the closing ceremony. Yet, as the birthday boy – he turned 35 yesterday – arrived in Scotland along with Kaymer and Paul Lawrie for this week’s Dunhill Links Championship, you just wondered if he’d be the man to dampen the party spirit. We got the answer after he’d opened the pro-am event with a level-par 72 at Carnoustie yesterday.
Hanson said he’d warmed up on the Saturday morning as he was “sure” he’d be playing in the afternoon fourballs for the second day running. He’d only found out that wasn’t the case “20 minutes before” those matches teed off and claimed “we were not actually told” that neither he nor Kaymer would be playing at all on the Saturday.
“As long as you win as a team, that’s all that counts, I know that. But I got very upset,” admitted Hanson as he reflected on a low point in his career. “I didn’t take it very well. I just locked myself into a dark room and stayed there for a couple of hours. I lay down on a bench in the locker-room as I didn’t want my bad energy to spread to the guys when they came in for lunch after the foursomes.”
He said he’d been in “game mode” when the fourball pairings were revealed without his name being listed. “I was actually filling in the pin sheet in my book and that’s probably why I got so upset,” he continued. “It’s a tough one to take when you don’t get to play and I think everybody would have been affected exactly the same way as I was. We are all competitors.”
Hanson conceded that all Ryder Cup captains find themselves in a “tough” position when they have to sit out four players from each foursome and fourball session. However, having put in so much effort to make the team for the second match running, he said it had “hurt” to only play in two matches out of a possible five.
“I haven’t spoken about it with Olly since, we didn’t have the time and I didn’t want to bring it up when we were celebrating. I might not send him many Christmas cards but that’s just the way it is,” he declared.
If Hanson retains his spot on the team for the 2014 match at Gleneagles, he is hoping the European captain will be Paul McGinley, one of Olazabal’s four right-hand men in Chicago. He’s been impressed with the Irishman at the past two Ryder Cups and believes his “attention to detail” can engineer a home win in Perthshire.
“I think Paul would make a great captain,” he observed. “He knows a lot about the Ryder Cup and really loves the role of helping players. I don’t think he’d be as emotional as Olly. Paul is a bit more even but he always seemed to say the right thing at the right time. And you should see the book of statistics that he keeps, if you ask him who played the fourth match in 1999 he’ll know it. He’s very good at reading players and who they would be suited to playing with.”
As the Ryder Cup continued to be the talk of St Andrews, one European Tour player was honest enough to admit he’d been tucked up in bed long before the drama unfolded on Sunday night. Richie Ramsay has since seen the highlights and agreed it had been “incredible”, but getting plenty of sleep is actually part of his plan to play on that stage himself one day. “I know this will sound strange, but I went to bed at 9.15, having left St Andrews at seven in the morning to practise at Carnoustie. So I didn’t see all of it,” said the Aberdonian after maintaining his recent good run with a seven-under-par 65 on the Old Course. “I would have loved to watch it as it’s one of my favourite tournaments. But the only way I’m going to compete with these guys is to try to get better. In order to do that, I need to be going to bed.”
The newly married Scot – he got hitched at Hazeltine, where he won the US Amateur in 2006, the weekend before the Ryder Cup – recently broke into the world’s top 100 after winning the European Masters in Switzerland. He’d love to play in a Ryder Cup and is ready to put in the hard work that is required to give himself chance of achieving that “dream”.