Ryder Cup 2014: Ten things we learned

EUROPE WON the Ryder Cup for the eighth time in the last 10 contests last week at Gleneagles.

European captain Paul McGinley is held aloft by his players on the stage after the Trophy presentation. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Here, we look at the 10 things we learnt from the victory of Paul McGinley’s side.

1. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail - McGinley was meticulous in his preparation, including arranging for the occupants of the fish tank in the team room to be in European colours. More seriously, he did not spend too much on the golf course once play was under way, leaving that to four of his five vice-captains so that he could be planning the next session, something which made him feel as if he was “half a day ahead.” In contrast, opposite number Tom Watson appeared to be making things up as he went along, leaving rookie stars Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed out on the Friday afternoon despite their resounding win over Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher.

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2. Tom Watson needed media training - Watson also came off second best when dealing with the media, the size of which he admitted was the biggest difference between 2014 and when he was previously captain in 1993. The 65-year-old’s answers were long and rambling and often descended into a trip down memory lane.

Captain Tom Watson cuts a dejected figure after losing the Ryder Cup. Picture: Ian Rutherford

3. Sport beats war - McGinley continued the European trend of using legendary sporting figures to speak to the team in the week of the event, inviting former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to address the playersand caddies at Gleneagles. Colin Montgomerie used Welsh rugby legend Gareth Edwards in 2010 and set up a teleconference with Seve Ballesteros, while Jose Maria Olazabal took a leaf from former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola’s book in 2012. In contrast, the United States brought in two injured veterans at Gleneagles to continue a military theme, with Corey Pavin inviting Iraq veteran Major Dan Rooney to address his team in 2010.

4. Rookies are not a liability - Although Stephen Gallacher failed to win a point, the other five rookies were a massive success. Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker were the top three points scorers for the United States, while Jamie Donaldson won threepoints - including the winning one - and Victor Dubuisson went unbeaten in three matches.

5. There is a thin line between genius and madness - Everything apart from the Poulter/Gallacher pairing came off for McGinley, but imagine what would have happened if the result had gone the other way. Picking fish in European team colours, management-speak phrases like “When the storm comes, we’ll be the rock,” would all have been the subject of ridicule if Europe had lost.

6. Respect for Mickelson has been lost - Mickelson went down in my estimation at the Open this year for not shouting fore as his drive on the fourth hole at Royal Liverpool flew into the crowd, the five-time major winner claiming no one would have heard because it was windy. Then came hisattack on Watson in the US team press conference on Sunday. Even if he does have some valid points, that was neither the time nor the place to air them.

Rory McIlroy celebrates with Jamie Donaldson on the 15th. Picture: Jane Barlow

7. Whatever Michael Jordan is trying to do, it isn’t working - Given that Jordan jabbed Poulter in the chest during the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in an unsuccessful attempt to intimidate the Englishman, he should not be allowed anywhere near the US team again. The only Jordan who should have been part of it was Jordan Spieth.

8. Nobody looks good in a mini-kilt - Rory McIlroy admits he can’t remember how he ended up topless, sporting a mini-kilt and red wig, during the European celebrations on Sunday. The outfit did no favours for Rickie Fowler or Bubba Watson either. Twitter and Instagram have a lot to answer for.

9. It is possible to get Martin Kaymer’s name into a song title - One of the better songs created to serenade the European team members involved inserting the US Open champion’s name into the lyrics of Karma Chameleon by Culture Club. Honestly.

10. Tiger Woods was not missed - Anyone even think of him during the three days of wonderful action at Gleneagles? Thought not.