Level-headed Hanson ready for “critical test”
Peter Hanson will be playing his second Ryder Cup but is expecting a very different experience in front of away crowds this time
Having grown up in Sweden’s cool climate, Peter Hanson is naturally a very unflappable, calm, and collected individual, and he knows he will need every inch of those level-headed characteristics when the boisterous Chicago crowd find their voice this weekend at Medinah Country Club.
Hanson made his Ryder Cup debut in the dramatic triumph of 2010 at The Celtic Manor Resort, Wales, when the home faithful roared the Europeans on to a 14 ½ - 13 ½ victory over the Americans, but the five-time European Tour Champion realises a completely different test awaits in his first away match in Illinois.
“I think I have to wait and see,” said the said the 34 year old, when asked if he found opposing Ryder Cup fans particularly hostile or difficult to handle.
“It's my first Ryder Cup over here, and playing at home last time was just amazing with the crowd behind you. I think that's going to be one of the critical tests for our side and of course we discussed this quite a bit within the team room.
“We’ve got some boys in the team that have played quite a few Ryder Cups over here, and we are trying to get as much information as possible from them of what to expect and how to handle the different situation playing over here.
“If we are going to get that Cup back overseas, we know we have to perform very well.”
On a personal level, Hanson knows he will be heading into the 39th edition of The Ryder Cup in excellent form, having recently bolstered his tally of professional wins at the KLM Open in the Netherlands despite a week of worry due to the health of his young son.
“On the Friday [of the KLM], my little son was put into hospital with a respiratory virus and it just changed my perspective completely,” he reflected. “And with the build-up to here of course, it even affected the tournament over there.
“But in the end, this game is just a strange game, because when you think about other stuff in between shots – and I was thinking about him all the way around, especially Saturday – it just changed everything and all of the sudden, golf doesn't become that important anymore. That might actually be one of the reasons why I won that tournament.”
Hanson has had a season brim-full of top ten and top five finishes, including a tie for third at the Masters Tournament in April and a tied seventh finish at last month’s US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island and the Swede knows he faces a different experience to Celtic Manor.
“It's very different playing a second one,” said Hanson. “I had actually never been to a Ryder Cup before I played in Wales, so I didn't really know what to expect. When you know what it's all about, just walking into the media centre and seeing the size of it and all you guys showing up and the attention that Ryder Cup brings, it’s just different.
“I think preparation wise, I'm a lot better prepared for this one, but on the other hand, I also know what kind of pressure it is and how much this means. Sometimes it can be nice to be a rookie and just sit in the back of a room and watch the other guys.
“This time, we've only got one rookie on the side, Nicolas Colsaerts, so he can take the back seat and enjoy it and watch. I think the 11 of us that have done this before, it's going to be a very different thing and we are going to be a lot more involved.”
José María Olazábal brought his complete 12-man team, plus the four Vice Captains in Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Paul McGinley, together at their team hotel on Monday evening and Hanson said the camaraderie that The Ryder Cup has become known for is well in evidence in Team Europe already.
He said: “It started off very informal. We had a few guys coming over from Europe and a few of us came down from Florida and a few from Atlanta. So it was just a gathering of the troops, a lot of information for the first hour, but then the atmosphere was very relaxed over dinner and there were quite a few laughs.
“It certainly feels like the team is really coming along and feels like we have a great team spirit going.”
There was a glint in his eye, too, when Hanson was asked how he would respond if Olazábal called upon him to strike the opening tee shot of The 2012 Ryder Cup when play gets underway on Friday morning.
“I thought my first tee shot when I played with Miguel in the foursomes was very nerve wracking, and I just can't imagine what it would be like to hit that first one on Friday,” he said.
“But we kind of love the nerves, as well, when you tee it up in Majors, and this is obviously one step up on the Richter Scale again. It’s something to get ready for certainly; I’d just try to put a nice, easy swing on it and see if I can find the ball!”