In a guest column for The Telegraph, European Ryder Cup captain writes a diary-style entry that recaps the “proudest moment of (his) career.” He describes the atmosphere in the team room after each match and divulges some strategy and his reasoning behind the pairings.
We were all in the team-room and I was the only one standing. I always stood when I was speaking. There was silence and although I could sense the players wanted to speak, on this occasion it was just me. This meant the world to them. I knew it did. It meant the world to me. We weren’t expecting to be losing and I felt they were not playing for each other the way we would have liked. So I made a few changes. I changed Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer. I wasn’t happy with Poulter and Ross Fisher together, so we changed that too. We put Poulter at the back with Kaymer, which worked well and we put Westwood with Luke Donald out first. I thought if they lose, well, all credit to the Americans!
Westwood and Donald came up against their top team, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods, which delighted me. They thrashed them 6&5. That was a huge plus for us as the first game in a session is crucial. Westwood and Donald have huge respect for each other. I said to them, ‘Right go and beat their top players. This is worth a point and a half to us’. If the Americans saw Tiger and Stricker lose then that would be huge.
When we went four up in that match on Saturday night, followed in quick succession by Graeme McDowell and Rory, who were also well in front, that in my view was the basis of our victory. To get back to 6-6 we were back on the board. What’s more the crowd could see it.
I found this tidbit interesting. Which confirms what many Americans speculated during the event:
I had the scoreboard reconfigured as there were too many ads on there. The IT guy worked all night to get it done. When we were up in all six matches on Saturday night those blue boards lifted spirits and made everybody believe we could do it.
Finally, Monty explains why he put Graeme in the anchor slot for singles. Turned out it was a brilliant decision.
Then came Monday. Graeme put it very well. Shooting for victory down the stretch at the US Open was like playing nine holes with his dad with a half-set on his back compared to what he had to do at the Ryder Cup.
We had an hour after play on Sunday before I gave my singles order. I had three scenarios; a line-up if we were losing, one if we were tied and one if we were ahead. From 6-4 down I was hoping like hell we would get in at eight all before the singles, in which case Graeme would not have been at 12. I felt I needed a banker as insurance if the Americans came back at us. He was it.
Graeme was uncertain about what I was asking him to do. He went away from that meeting thinking ‘Damn it, the thing is going to be over by the time it gets to me’. I had to tell him that if things started to go wrong at the top then I was relying on him at the end to win us the match. I have been out late myself. Everybody is watching the first four or five games. Then you walk into a storm on the 14th tee and suddenly everybody is watching your game. I was so glad to have had that back-up.
For Stricker to beat Westwood was a bad start for us. That first game is so important. They knew it too, that’s why they put Stricker there. It was such a momentum swing. When it mattered, Woods and Mickelson also delivered for America. Suddenly it was back-foot stuff, but I always had my banker in Graeme.
More important than his US Open win was the victory at the Wales Open on that golf course. I know that coming back to places where you have won gives you confidence.
The takeaway? Graeme is money! And Monty is a genius!
Think about how much confidence McDowell has after staring down Tiger and draining two huge putts in a row in Tiger’s face at the Chevron. Best part is that Graeme saw Tiger’s caddie Stevie Williams take off his bib, which was an attempt to mess with Graeme’s head. Sorry, Stevie, but those antics don’t have the same intimidation factor anymore. Especially on McDowell, who showed his toughness repeatedly in 2010.
Alright, it is Captain Pavin’s turn to divulge. Oh wait, his strategies are state secrets! Even when the competition is over. Seriously though, I’d love if Pavin gave us a peek at his diary. On second thought, it is probably boring.