Ryder Cup LogoRyder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Story Image Vice Captains Des Smyth (left) and Peter Baker (right) will be plotting Europe's quest for a third successive victory with Europe's Captain Ian Woosnam.

Smyth helps Woosnam piece jigsaw together

Vice-Captain Des Smyth, an Irishman who has spent most of his time playing golf in America, is keeping a watchful eye on proceedings as the race to qualify for The European Ryder Cup Team enters the final stage. Smyth is a former two-time Ryder Cup.

10 August 2006

European Ryder Cup Vice-Captain Des Smyth is able to provide a unique insight into this year's contest at The K Club. As an Irishman playing most of his golf in America, he knows more than most what to expect once play gets underway on September 22.

Smyth has also played in the competition twice, in 1979 and 1981, so there are few better qualified people to help Ian Woosnam and the European Team plot the downfall of the United States for a record third successive time.

"I also know the Vice-Captains on the other side quite well," said Smyth, revealing the extent of the extra knowledge he has gained while playing in the U.S. on the Champions Tour, where he has won twice.

"They (Corey Pavin and Loren Roberts) have got the upper hand as both of them won an event on the same weekend recently, so it's just as well it's not the Vice-Captains who are playing, otherwise we would have a real problem! Seriously, though, I am looking forward to congratulating Corey when he gets to The K Club.

"Back in Ireland it is buzzing -- they can't wait for this to happen and I know from playing in the States that they're also buzzing. It's going to be a wonderful event."

Smyth has been keeping a watchful eye on the players most likely to feature in the United States Team and has seen the passion of their captain, Tom Lehman. "I know Tom Lehman is working very hard to build camaraderie in the American Team and he is doing a really good job."

From now on, though, Smyth's primary focus will be on The European Tour's official website, www.europeantour.com, as the final pieces in the European Team jigsaw fall into place.

Speaking at the Wentworth Senior Masters, Smyth said: "The players are down to the last five tournaments now and there is going to be a lot of pressure on the people who want places. It might not be nice for them, but that's what we want.

"We want players who can handle pressure, who can get results under difficult circumstances. I will be going on to the internet each Monday morning taking down their scores and their Order of Merit positions, seeing how they played that week. It is important. Last time a few players weren't even close and played themselves into the team over the last five weeks. That is the thing you are looking for: you would rather have players who are in form.

"I did speak to Ian a few weeks ago and he is happy with the way the team is taking shape. The players you want are playing well, so that is going to make his job difficult because he has some tough choices. However, it is a good thing for the team because he could have six really class players to pick from."

Smyth acknowledges that the competition has grown substantially in stature since he represented Europe at The Greenbrier, West Virginia in 1979 and Walton Heath two years later. On both occasions it was the Americans who emerged victorious.

"I was on the first and second European Teams (after selection was expanded outside of Great Britain and Ireland) and back then The Ryder Cup wasn't as big as it is now. However, it was still fantastic. When you are one of those 12 players you feel very good as you know the whole Tour wants to be there. It is huge for me to be involved again.

"The Ryder Cup is great for the game and great for The European Tour. We probably feel a bit more towards the event than the Americans, but that is probably because they are losing. If they were winning I think they would be talking about it more."

Video Highlights

Darren Clarke Sunday Video Recap
Check out all the great highlights from Sunday's European victory. Watch

Memorable Moments

  • 1969: Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus on the final hole of the final day.