Thomas Bjorn, the European captain, is set to have a permanent reminder of leading his side to a resounding 17½-10½ victory in the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National near Paris in the shape of a tattoo.
As the Europeans celebrated a sixth successive victory on home soil and ninth in the last 12 matches, it emerged the Dane had promised his players he’d indulge in some body art that showed the score if they could upset the odds against a star-studded American side.
“I don’t know when it’s going to get done, but we had some extra motivation this week to make sure we put our hands back on that trophy,” said Ian Poulter, pictured right, one of the last-day singles victors as Europe won the closing session 7½-4½ to regain the trophy.
Justin Rose confirmed what his compatriot was referring to was, in fact, a tattoo, before Rory McIlroy, another member of the triumphant team, jokingly suggested that it might be on Bjorn’s bald head. Asked about it, a smiling Bjorn said: “Let me put it this way, it’s going to go on a part that only Grace [his partner] will see. I might have to send them a picture then you’ll all see it as well, I guess. The worst decision I made all week!”
In fairness to him, it might actually have been the only bad one Bjorn made in his entire captaincy, getting his reward as Europe overcame one slight wobble on the last day to record their biggest win in the event since an 18½-9½ triumph at The K Club in 2006.
“It’s up there, I have to say,” admitted Bjorn in reply to being asked where he rated this team, bearing in mind that it had recorded a convincing victory over the strongest US side in terms of world rankings in the event’s history.
“We got it right this week. We worked as a team. We knew we were up against very strong opponents, but we went out on the golf course and believed in ourselves and what we stand for as a team.
“We never, ever looked towards their team about what they were about. We were about us as a team and what we do. This is the best team room I’ve ever been in. It was calm. It was determined. It was focused. It was fun. Everything that this Ryder Cup was, is what I think the Ryder Cup should be about for a European team.”
The win was a perfect way for Europe to reassert their recent ascendency in the biennial event after a heavy defeat at Hazeltine. “We went through a transition last time,” added Bjorn, one of Darren Clarke’s vice captains on that occasion. “That is difficult, especially when you go away. But this team was just a very, very solid team.
“All of these guys that are here, they are quality golfers. They are putting their stamp on the world scene and there are a couple on this team that are right on the way to the top of the game over the next few years and they will be massive parts of these European teams in the future.
“It’s a great group. It’s a group that believes in themselves and what they stand for, and they carry the torch on for what the European Ryder Cup teams is all about. They understand the history. They understand what we’re about, and that’s what will do them great going forward.”
Bjorn’s four picks – Sergio
Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey – contributed nine-and-a-half points. In contrast, the three US wildcards only picked up two points, both from Tony Finau. “I think I got it right,” said Bjorn of his selections. “I couldn’t have dreamt of what they brought on the golf course. And, in the team room, they bring experience and understanding.”
Jim Furyk, the US captain, had no complaints, heaping praise on the Europeans. “Hats off to what they accomplished this week. Thomas was a better captain and their team out-played us. There’s nothing else you can say. They deserved to win. They played well. When we put some heat on them early this afternoon, they responded.”