Europe attempt to make history at the K Club
The Europeans will be playing for their third straight victory over the United States, a feat that should be aided by the fact they will be playing before largely favorable crowds at the K Club outside Dublin, Ireland.
18 September 2006
Europe will attempt to make golfing history at The K Club this week when they bid for a third successive victory over the United States in The Ryder Cup.
Since 1979, when players from the Continent joined the biennial contest for the first time, European Teams have been hugely successful in the game's greatest team event and, indeed, in the past ten matches from 1985 to 2004, Europe have won six times and tied once. Never, however, have they tasted victory three times in a row.
Now Captain Ian Woosnam and his 12 charges have the chance to do just that thanks to the memorable 15 ½ - 12 ½ victory at The De Vere Belfry in England in 2002 and the record 18 ½ - 9 ½ success at Oakland Hills Country Club in Detroit in 2004.
Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, David Howell, Robert Karlsson, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, José Maria Olazábal, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood will have the knowledgeable and passionate backing of a 45,000 strong Irish gallery each day to aid them in their quest, a factor acknowledged by the European Captain.
"The Irish are tremendous supporters of the game," said Woosnam. "I have a great affinity for Irish golf and especially the Irish golf fans. What is more, the Palmer Course is just about as good as it gets for match play golf - a brilliant setting for The Ryder Cup."
Only two of Woosnam's team will be sampling the unique Ryder Cup atmosphere for the first time, namely the Swedish duo of Karlsson and Stenson, but with two wins each apiece on The 2006 European Tour International Schedule, they have proved their games are in fine fettle.
Also doing that were Casey, Karlsson and Montgomerie, who all featured in the semi-finals of the HSBC World Match Play Championship at Wentworth Club last week, Casey, of course, going on to win the event, beating American Shaun Micheel in the final to claim not only a first prize of £1 million, but also pole position on The European Tour Order of Merit.
In total, the 12 Members of Ian Woosnam's Team have 32 Ryder Cup appearance under their belts compared with 20 for Tom Lehman's American Team, a reason perhaps, despite the fact the United States Team feature the leading three players in the Official World Golf Ranking - Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson - that Europe will start favourites with the bookmakers for the first time.
The most experienced player on the home side is Montgomerie, the 43 year old making his eighth appearance under the European banner. In his seven previous appearances, the Scot has played 32 matches, winning 19 and halving five to yield an impressive total of 21½ points.
Should he win four more points at The K Club, it would make Montgomerie the all time leading points scorer in Ryder Cup history, surpassing the current best total of 25 points held by the 2008 European Captain Nick Faldo.
The most experienced player in the United States ranks is three time Major Champion Mickelson for whom The K Club will represent his sixth consecutive appearance for his country since his debut in 1995. In his previous five outings, the left hander has won nine of his 20 matches and halved three to amass 10 ½ points.
The United States will feature four Rookies - J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson, Vaughn Taylor and Brett Wetterich - who will join Chad Campbell, Stewart Cink, Chris DiMarco, Furyk, Mickelson, David Toms, Scott Verplank and Woods, and Captain Lehman ensured them it will be an occasion none of them will ever forget.
"To me, The Ryder Cup is the ultimate golf experience," said Lehman. "The things I appreciate most about it are the passion and the enthusiasm, the nationalism and the songs that you hear on the golf course, the flags and the people painting their faces.
"That's what makes The Ryder Cup so special. It is my honour to be part of this historic competition as The Ryder Cup makes its debut in Ireland, one of the most beautiful countries in the world."
Sunday Video Recap
Check out all the great highlights from Sunday's European victory. Watch
- 1969: Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus on the final hole of the final day.