Ryder Cup LogoRyder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Story Image Darren Clarke of Europe signs autographs for fans during the first official practice day of The 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club

Instant Inspiration for Woosnam

The first practice session brought a buzz around The K Club with the Irish Trio of Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley in particular giving cause for encouragement.

Michael Gibbons, Press Officer
19 September 2006

Ian Woosnam’s first Ryder Cup practice pairings provided instant inspiration to both his European Team and the home crowds at The K Club. With Ireland’s Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley playing together, along with Lee Westwood, in the third European fourball to tee off from the tenth hole, there was an immediate buzz of electricity surging through the European Team.

The crackling atmosphere certainly brought the best out in McGinley, who, having been concerned with his form in the build up to The Ryder Cup, was striking the ball beautifully, while his partners all rose to the magnificent reception they received with every shot they hit.

Likewise the rest of the Team, who all looked comfortable in the company of the partners Woosnam chose to pair them with.

Colin Montgomerie and David Howell joined the English 2004 WGC – World Cup winners Paul Casey and Luke Donald, while rookies Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson played alongside the Spanish pair of Sergio Garcia and José Maria Olazábal.

The European Captain was delighted to hear of McGinley’s return to form, and revealed that his initial practice pairings can give some indication as to the way he is thinking of shaping the side for Friday morning’s Fourball matches.

“I think you can read a little bit into that,” said Woosnam. “It's important that I go out as strong as possible on Friday morning, and I think as I said in the team room last night, it's important that the guys are honest with themselves and honest with me about how they feel like they are playing.

“I deliberately put the three Irish guys out together with Lee and I felt it was to great put Darren with Lee. They have played a lot of golf together; they are a great team and great friends. Paul has played a lot of golf with Padraig in these matches, and I thought Paul, you know, as we all know has been struggling a little bit, and I felt with him going out with those guys, will give him the encouragement and support and I think that's proved today that he's back there

“Des Smyth tells me Paul is hitting the ball very well, which is very encouraging and I'm very pleased for Paul.”

Woosnam’s first pairings are all potential match-winners, and the Welshman took the time to explain the thinking behind his initial strategy.

“A lot of pairings out there that just naturally go straight together, but again, you have to look at these three rounds coming up and see who is playing the best,” said Woosnam.

“That's what I want to see, who is striking the ball the best over the next three days of practice and then put them together. The Swedish guys play a similar sort of game. They are both long hitters and are good if they miss the fairways because they are good at getting out of the rough and obviously they speak Swedish and they get on great together.

“It's the same with Olazábal and Garcia. I see that as a little bit of a Seve-Olly relationship but this time Olazábal is the leader and Garcia is the young up and coming bull.”

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.