Ryder Cup 2021: Europeans urged to 'make number count' in powerful video

Make a number count. That’s the message captain Padraig Harrington has delivered to his players heading into the 43rd Ryder Cup in a powerful video aimed at putting into context what it means to represent Europe in the biennial event.

Sergio Garcia speaks to the media ahead of his 10th Ryder Cup appearance at Whistling Straits. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

Watched first by his team on Monday night after they arrived at Whistling Straits before being released on social media, the video is aimed at reminding the European players about them being part of an elite group.

It makes reference to 570 people having been in space, 5780 having climbed Mount Everest, 445 footballers having won the World Cup, 353 European track and field athletes having won a gold medal in the Olympics and 225 men having won majors.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In contrast, this week’s edition at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin will take the number of golfers to represent Great Britain & Ireland/Europe in the Ryder Cup to just 164, with every single one of those players having been allocated a number in the order of appearance.

As revealed in the video, Bernard Gallacher is No 68, with fellow winning Scottish captains Sam Torrance and Colin Montgomerie having been given No 94 and No 106 respectively.

Delivered, as has become the norm with anything that the European Tour or Ryder Cup Europe get involved with, in a perfect tone, Harrington’s numbers game has had a profound impact on even his most experienced players.

“He played a video for us last night to put it into context,” said Rory McIlroy, who is No 144 as he plays in a sixth Ryder Cup. “570 people have been into space. I think over 5,000 people have climbed Everest. 225 have won a men's major. When you sort of break it down like that, it's a pretty small group and it's pretty cool.

“It’s a small collection of people that have played for Europe in the Ryder Cup. I think that's what brings us very close together, and that's been one of our sort of big focus points this week is just being here is very special and being part of a European team. Very few people can call themselves a European Ryder Cup player.”

Lee Westwood will equal Nick Faldo's record by making an 11th Ryder Cup appearance this week. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

Of the 12 players doing so in this week’s edition, Lee Westwood has the lowest number, having been given 118 as a result of making his debut in 1997 and now equalling Nick Faldo’s record with an 11th appearance against the Americans.

“You have a far greater chance of going into space or climbing Mount Everest than you have representing Europe in the Ryder Cup,” said the Englishman. “Yeah, it's something to be very proud of, being able to pull on the clothing with the European team crest on it.”

Given No 120, Sergio Garcia said the video had hammered home to him exactly what it meant to represent Europe, the Spaniard doing so for the 10th time after becoming the all-time record points scorer as he took his haul to 25.5 in the 2018 win in Paris.

“It was very powerful,” he said of Harrington’s video. “I’ve always known that being a part of the Ryder Cup team is very difficult, but I didn't know that only that little amount of players have made it. So that showed you how difficult it really is.

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

“That's why every time I'm a part of a team or the rest of our team-mates, that's why we give it the respect that it deserves, because it's so difficult to be a part of it. It's an honour, and we treat it like that.”

Harrington said the idea had “worked out very nicely” and revealed that the 164 names are also on a roll of honour on a wall in the European team room at Whistling Straits.

“It was a lovely way to start the week,” said the Irishman, who is No 134, before adding with a smile: “We have more.”

As always seems to be the case, the Americans seem puzzled as to why players from different countries - Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger are making history on this occasion as the first representatives from Norway and Austria respectively - come together so effectively under the European flag.

Xander Schauffele, left, and Collin Morikawa are among six rookies in the US team for the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Picture: Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

“We play for each other,” said McIlroy in reply to that question being asked for the first time this week, fuelled, of course, by Europe having come out on top nine times in the last 12 meetings.

“I think that's the best thing that you can do. You play for the guys that are beside you. You play for everyone that's helping our team try to win this week. You're obviously playing for your country and your continent and I guess your Tour in some way, as well. But, most of all, we play for each other.”

Led by Steve Stricker, the Americans are being represented this time around by a side that contains eight players from the world’s top 10 and, though six of the 12 are rookies, they include Open champion Collin Morikawa, Olympic gold medallist Xander Schauffele and FedEx Cup winner Patrick Cantlay.

“It would be massive,” said McIlroy of how big an achievement it would be for Europe to come out on top on Sunday night. “I think winning any Ryder Cup is huge and it's a monumental achievement for all that are involved, but I think over the years winning a Ryder Cup on the road has just become more meaningful for some reason.

“We experienced it in 2012, which, from a European perspective, is probably one of the best days in the Ryder Cup that we've ever had in history. I'd certainly love to have that feeling again.

“This tournament isn't played on paper, it's played on grass, but, on paper, you look at the world rankings and everything, we're coming in here as underdogs with a lot of things stacked against us, so I think that would make it even more of an achievement.”

While admitting this event gets him more animated than any other, McIlroy won’t be getting involved with the home crowd, admitting he learned a lesson in that respect in his singles match against Patrick Reed at Hazeltine in 2016.

“I'll try to conserve some energy,” he said. “Whether I play all five again, we'll see, but it's a lot of golf. It's a lot of energy just playing, then trying to beat who you're playing against. If you try to beat the crowd, as well, it seems like a bit of an impossible task.

"I sort of learned quite a few things from 2016 about conserving energy. I felt like I hit a wall on the back nine against Patrick that day, and I want to make sure that that doesn't happen again.”

A message from the Editor:

Get a year of unlimited access to all of The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis, exclusive interviews, live blogs, and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.