Ryder Cup legends story
Past captains Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam with partners Ian Botham and Gareth Edwards at The 2010 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

Ryder Cup legends salute Europe's heroes

Ryder Cup legends of the past have paid tribute to Colin Montgomerie’s new breed of heroes following Europe’s dramatic 14½ -13½ victory over the United States at The Celtic Manor Resort on Monday.

By Steve Todd, europeantour.com

Former Ryder Cup players taking part in the inaugural Cannes Mougins Masters on the European Senior Tour this week were quick to praise the class of 2010, labelling them a credit to European golf and admiring the strength in depth on the modern European Tour.

Ian Woosnam, who led Europe to their last Ryder Cup win at The K Club in 2006, led the congratulations for Colin Montogmerie’s Team after watching the action in person in Newport as an ambassador for Wales.

“I think they did a fantastic job and Wales did itself proud, it was just unfortunate about the weather,” he said. “It was brilliant to see Europe win in Wales. I think the players, Monty and all his assistants did a wonderful job.

“We won it on that third session really. Then Graeme McDowell was put in that position on the Monday to do that. The guy was nervous but it is something he will never forget. It was a great week for The European Tour.”

Another former Ryder Cup winning Captain Sam Torrance added: “What a win – it was just fantastic. It couldn’t have got closer at the end and we showed our class in the US Open Champion coming through against Hunter Mahan. It was out of this world.

“I loved what Graeme said - which shows to the world how much The Ryder Cup means - when he said winning the US Open was like playing with his dad on a Monday compared to the pressure of The Ryder Cup.

“It was a great performance by Monty – everything went right – and the team was magnificent. Well done to all of them. The standard of golf and the shots we were seeing was outrageous. As a former Captain it was fantastic seeing it all work out.”

Costantino Rocca, who famously defeated Tiger Woods in the Singles in 1997, said he was proud of the entire European Team but, naturally, gave a special mention to the debuts made by the Molinari brothers who became the first Italians to play in The Ryder Cup since the 53 year old made the last of his three appearances 13 years ago.

“Europe played very well in a very tough match,” said Rocca. “The singles were a bit tougher for the Europeans but they came through.

“For the Molinari brothers’ first time in The Ryder Cup they played really well.  Francesco left two or three short putts but overall he hit the ball fantastic and he didn’t feel the pressure even when Tiger was knocking in the birdies. I know how hard it is when Tiger gets going like that.

“Edoardo was unlucky – Rickie Fowler made some amazing putts. He finished with four birdies which doesn’t happen every day – though you have to remember he did something similar to get into The Ryder Cup!

“I was very proud of both of them and the whole team.”

Irishman Des Smyth, who was one of Woosnam’s Vice Captains four years ago and played in The Ryder Cup in 1979 and 1981, reserved special praise for McDowell, who held his nerve in the deciding match against Mahan to seal European victory. 

“It was a terrific week and I watched every shot,” he said. “It was compulsive watching. From a television perspective it was fantastic and the European Team did a great job. They were nearly caught though – if they didn’t get those 5½ points on the third session they might have been. That was crucial.

“It just shows you what a strong American side they were playing. The standard of golf was amazing.

“Graeme was great but everyone was fantastic. I thought Rory did brilliant and Padraig did well because his game wasn’t really there and he was under pressure but he came through pretty good, then of course Graeme was amazing at the end, under a lot of pressure. My caddy Ray was working for Paul McGinley and has been telling me all about it and I’m very proud of them all.”

Gordon J Brand, who played in The 1983 Ryder Cup, said: “It was very exciting and I always thought it would be close. I actually thought America might do it in the end – it was getting a bit scary. It’s harder when you are favourites but we held on great.”

Barry Lane, a member of the European Team in The 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry, added: “It was just fantastic. The team was unbelievable. In the old days we would be struggling to find 12 good players, now we are leaving out players in the World Top Ten and still won. 

“It shows the depth in European golf but we also saw the camaraderie. They just get up for it. The Americans played well but that afternoon when they won 5½ points was huge.

“The Europeans played really well and only won by ½ point. Graeme McDowell was fantastic. He said it was not him it was a team event but it was still fantastic for him. What a year he has had and the whole thing was great for European golf.”

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