Team Europe > News
Mark James, 1999 European Ryder Cup Team Captain (
Mark James, 1999 European Ryder Cup Team Captain (

James Marks Langer's Card

September 01, 2004

If there is one man who knows exactly what European Ryder Cup Captain Bernhard Langer will face when he leads his team into action at Oakland Hills Country Club, it is Mark James. For the Englishman was the last Captain of a visiting European Team to American shores at Brookline in September 1999.

Although the result was not the one wanted by everyone in European colours, as the United States emerged from a tension-packed three days victorious by 14 ? - 13 ?, James picked up several pointers which he hopes might help Langer and the 2004 European Team fly back across the Atlantic with that one precious piece of additional hand luggage, namely Samuel Ryder's gleaming golden trophy.

Being one of the most meticulous golfers on Tour, Langer will have prepared everything down to the finest detail for his men and James admitted this will be crucial.

"If there was one thing I found out it, it was that the captain has got to make sure that he thinks of everything which might arise during the week," said James. "Even if it might appear the most mundane of things on the surface, the captain and his backroom team have to have thought of it and prepared for it.

"If any of the players need anything or want anything, then the captain and his backroom team have to have it or be able to get it so that the only thing the players have to concentrate on is what is going on, on the golf course, nothing else.

"On that theme, it is also important that the captain makes the players feel that he is in control of everything, so they do not have to worry. Listen to them, certainly, and indeed it is important that you listen to your players, especially the more senior ones who will probably have more input, but at the end of the day, it is the captain who is in control.

"Like the selection of pairings for example. Of course we had a discussion with all the players over the week over who they wanted to play with and who they felt comfortable paired up with, but once again, when it comes to the crunch, it is the captain who has the final say."

One aspect which will be similar for Langer, as it was for James in 1999, is the fact that the European Team will not have control of the golf course, the decision on set-up of Oakland Hills lying solely with Hal Sutton and his backroom team.

"If they feel their team has higher hitters, they will firm the greens up, and if they think they are longer hitters than us, they will water the fairways," said James.

"At The De Vere Belfry in 2002 the whole team, along with myself, Sam and Woosie, had regular meetings on how to set the course up. We all met and liaised closely with John Paramor and I must say that JP did a brilliant job and got it exactly as we wanted it which wasn't easy.

"In the past the course set-up could make a big difference but these days both teams are good players and are longer hitters in general than say it was four or six years ago, so I think the way they set it up may be less important than it has been in the past.

"Apart from that, I think the most difficult thing for Langer will be the wild card picks. I found it very difficult because I had three or four players who had little or nothing between them.

"I think his job might be a little easier because there are usually a couple of players who stand out, and the way the list is shaping up I don't think he will have to go too far down the list to find good players.

"How to tell them? Well, I spoke personally to the guys who just missed out, which of course included Langer. I actually didn't ring the two guys who got the wild cards (Andrew Coltart and Jesper Parnevik) because I figured they weren't going to complain that I hadn't warned them! But everyone is different and I am sure Bernhard will do things his own way.

"Whichever players make the team automatically and whichever ones are chosen, they are all used to travelling around the world so travelling over and playing somewhere else will not be a problem."

The one thing James and Langer do differ on is the fact that this year's Captain, and his Vice-Captain, Anders Forsbrand, both have American wives, Vikki Langer and Stewart Forsbrand playing the vital role in looking after the European Team's wives and partners for the week, and doing so in their own home country will be a distinct advantage.

"I'm pretty sure that the both the Captain and Vice Captain having American wives is unique and they, like their husbands, will be keen that everything runs smoothly, so that everyone can try and enjoy The Ryder Cup. I wanted everyone to enjoy it when I was Captain. It is not easy, but hopefully it will happen this year for everyone involved."

2004 Team Europe Sponsors
News Sections
Recent News
Memorable Moments
Memorable Moments

Check out our exclusive video collection of the greatest moments in Ryder Cup history.

Jack Nicklaus & Tony Jacklin

Today's Memorable Moment: September 1969- In a memorable display of sportsmanship, Jack Nicklaus concedes ... more

Spectator Guide
Spectator Guide

Everything you need to know about attending the Ryder Cup Matches is right here in the spectator guide.

The Course
Course Tour

Take a hole-by-hole tour of Oakland Hills Country Club, site of the 35th Ryder Cup Matches.


Nearly eighty years ago, English seed merchant and entrepreneur Samuel Ryder founded the Ryder Cup. Learn how it all began.