Europe’s dream foursome
They’ve never won a major themselves, but four European players stood tallest with the Ryder Cup heat turned up high. Their teams have gone 8-2 against the Americans since 1995.
American fans loved to jeer him, probably because the man who came so close in majors was 20-9-7 lifetime in eight Ryder Cups, including 6-0-2 in singles. He captained Europe’s 2010 victory and will do TV commentary at Hazeltine this week. “I’ve taken the first shot, I’ve holed the winning putt, I’ve been captain of the team, I’ve won it back,” he said. “I could write a book about every one, all nine of them.”
He has been runner-up three times and finished third six times in majors. Few have been better in Ryder Cups, and this is his 10th for Europe. He has won seven of the nine so far while partnering with everyone from Nick Faldo and Sergio Garcia to Darren Clarke, Europe’s captain this week. “We never, ever apologized to each other because we never had to,” Clarke said.
Colorful and fiery, he is sidelined this year by an injury. Instead, he’s one of five vice captains, but don’t expect him to be any less loud. Europe’s top point-getter each time from 2008 to 2012, he made five straight birdies that closed out an afternoon match and just might have turned the tide for Europe in its comeback at Medinah in 2012. He went 4-0 that year. “The best moments of my career have come” at the Ryder Cup, he said.
So close in majors — 22 top-10s, two thirds, four seconds — he’s playing in his eighth Ryder Cup. Europe won five of his seven so far, and he has made match-altering putts and improbable up-and-downs that eluded him playing for himself in majors. “Everybody knows how much the Ryder Cup means to me,” Garcia said.