History
Jamie Donaldson (Getty Images)
History

Europe

September 28, 2014 – Donaldson completes McGinley's masterplan

The sweetest of strikes. The look skyward. The thud and roll. The celebration.

The winning Ryder Cup moment is more often than not remembered for a putt or a concession but in 2014 it was Jamie Donaldson's approach to the 15th at Gleneagles that will always take centre stage.

It was appropriate that the build up rather than the finish should be the thing to seal glory in a year when Captain Paul McGinley left no stone unturned in his quest to make it three in a row for Europe.

The Irishman's attention to detail and meticulous preparation has gone down in Ryder Cup history and even extended to him making sure there were blue and yellow fish in the tanks in the European wing of the Gleneagles hotel.

He went out of his way to get to know Victor Dubuisson and cultivate a partnership between the rookie and Graeme McDowell, a process that was months in the making.

He took the perceived risk to select a rookie as a Captain's Pick but that rookie was a Scot in Stephen Gallacher - who had only missed out on automatic qualification by a whisker - and he balanced that out by also selecting veterans Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.

It has been said by players and pundits alike that no European Team has ever been better prepared but it was the Americans who won the Friday morning fourballs 2½-1½, with only the new pairing of Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose taking a full point.

It was in the foursomes where Europe came to the fore, with the long-planned partnership of Dubuisson and McDowell taking down Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley 3 and 2, a pair that were undefeated in four Ryder Cup matches together.

Rose and Stenson won again and McGinley put Donaldson with Westwood to defeat Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar.

Westwood - playing in his ninth Ryder Cup - had previously helped steer rookies Martin Kaymer and Nicolas Colsaerts to wins in their first matches and he helped do it again.

America cut the deficit on Saturday morning – with just Rose and Stenson claiming a full point to maintain their 100 per cent record - but the afternoon was once again a sea of blue.

Donaldson and Westwood, and McDowell and Dubuisson once again produced their alchemy, with Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy also taking a point to make it 10-6 heading into the singles.

For once their was little drama on Sunday as McIlroy and McDowell stretched the lead to six points and the Americans never got any closer to Europe than where they had started the day.

Donaldson had shown he was a man for the big occasion by winning the D+D REAL Czech Masters to earn his place in Scotland and he showed his mettle again, putting that approach to a foot on the 15th to get Europe to 14½ points.

The eventual winning margin was 16½-11½, a victory so great it prompted the Americans to form their Ryder Cup taskforce, and they would win the trophy back in 2016.

Meticulous McGinley was like no other Captain before him and he may have changed the role and the Ryder Cup forever – on both sides of the Atlantic.