Neil Lennon has revealed his involvement in the last-day drama when Europe won the Ryder Cup six years ago in what was termed the Miracle of Medinah.
The Hibernian manager is friends with Glaswegian Craig Connelly, who was caddying for Martin Kaymer. The German golfer was dropped from the Europe team on the second day after a poor performance on the opening day partnering Justin Rose. Connelly phoned Lennon, who was manager at Celtic at the time and preparing for a Champions League clash against Spartak Moscow in Russia, for inspiration to give the downhearted Kaymer.
“We were in Moscow to play Spartak when Craig rang me,” Lennon recalled.
“We’d gone out early I think. We were flying out on the Sunday and Martin had been dropped for the Saturday so he rang me and asked if I had any advice. I just said: ‘Get him out of the dressing room for a start because there’s a lot players slamming doors and that’s not a good environment for him to be in. People show their emotions in different ways, just get him on the practice range.’
“There’s nothing you can do about being dropped. He just had to focus on the Sunday and I said: ‘Paul McGinley holed the putt, Sam Torrance holed the putt and they’re not multiple major winners like Martin was, so you just never know – it might be your turn’. Turned out it was. So we’re all sitting there at two o’clock in the morning watching the Sunday on a computer.
“He misses the first putt and the only person I was looking at was Craig and I’m thinking ‘this is make or break. This could really shoot him in to the stratosphere as a player and caddie.’
“He’s left with a four-footer and I’m thinking ‘all this advice I’ve given him could count for nothing’ but sure enough, he holes it. He showed great mental strength to do that. It was just one of those amazing sporting moments that day and you see all the emotions afterwards with [Jose Maria] Olazabal. It was just brilliant and then we went and beat Spartak Moscow away from home for the first time [in a Champions League group game], so it was a good couple of days actually.”
Lennon, pictured, had left Celtic by the time Gleneagles hosted the Ryder Cup four years ago and so was free to get up close to the action. “That was probably one of the best sporting experiences I’ve had outside football,” he recalled. “I was actually inside the ropes watching Kaymer playing Bubba Watson in the singles on the Sunday and it was just amazing.
“I’d just left Celtic and there were lots of Celtic fans in the crowd going ‘on yerself Lenny! Lenny, Lenny, Lenny!’ and Bubba Watson turns around and goes ‘who the f*** is Lenny? Who the f*** is this guy Lenny?’ True story. I’m about 30 yards back not knowing where to look!”