Euro­pean rook­ies at Ryder Cup just want to have fun

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Martin Kaymer thought he was sup­posed to de­liver ex­tra­or­di­nary shots at the Ryder Cup be­cause that’s all he ever saw. He was a Ryder Cup rookie at Celtic Manor in 2010, sens­ing per­haps even more pres­sure be­cause he had won his first ma­jor a month ear­lier in the PGA Cham­pi­onship. The week went as well as Kaymer could have hoped. He didn’t lose any of his three team matches, ex­cept he was trounced by Dustin John­son in sin­gles. The most valu­able les­son he can im­part on Europe’s six rook­ies at Hazel­tine is that good shots — not nec­es­sar­ily spec­tac­u­lar ones — usually are good enough. “I thought the en­tire week, I need to make some­thing spe­cial hap­pen,” Kaymer said yes­ter­day. “When you watch the Ryder Cup, most of the time you see the high­lights and you only see great shots, bunker shots holed from the fair­way and things like this. So you think you need to do that, too. “And I hope that the rook­ies ... I know it’s very dif­fi­cult, but some­how that you try to find a way to calm your­self down and en­joy what you do.” It’s a mes­sage for half of the Euro­pean team. Europe also had six rook­ies at Celtic Manor, and it went on to beat the Amer­i­cans. Nei­ther team, how­ever, has had at least six new­com­ers and won the Ryder Cup when play­ing be­fore a vis­it­ing crowd. The Euro­peans had seven rook­ies, in­clud­ing 19-year-old Ser­gio Gar­cia and Bri­tish Open cham­pion Paul Lawrie, in 1999 at The Coun­try Club out­side Bos­ton. Mark James, the cap­tain, elected to sit out three of them un­til Sun­day sin­gles. Jarmo San­delin, Jean Van de Velde and Andrew Coltart all lost their matches as the U.S. ral­lied from a 10-6 deficit to win. Bern­hard Langer had five rook­ies on his team in 2004, and two of them sat out the en­tire first day — Paul Casey and Ian Poul­ter. “I will, along with the help and guid­ance of my vice cap­tains, try and put out the strong­est eight play­ers ... as I see fit for the po­si­tion the team is in,” Dar­ren Clarke said, not promis­ing that all six rook­ies will see ac­tion Fri­day. But he also ex­pressed full con­fi­dence. One of his rook­ies is Danny Wil­lett, who won the Masters. An­other is Matt Fitz­patrick, who won a U.S. Am­a­teur. And then there’s Thomas Pi­eters, whose only chance to make the team was to im­press Clarke over the fi­nal two weeks. He was run­nerup in the Czech Masters and won in Den­mark. “They are prob­a­bly go­ing to be the future of the Ryder Cup go­ing for­ward and I feel very for­tu­nate that they are here,” Clarke said. “I have full be­lief in all those rook­ies. They are very, very tal­ented play­ers and I’m sure they will do their ut­most to rep­re­sent Europe the best that they can this week.” The mes­sage from Kaymer, Rory McIl­roy and oth­ers ap­pears to be sink­ing in: Don’t try to do too much, and have fun. And the term “rookie” isn’t quite the same as it was in 1999 be­cause of the global na­ture of the game. There are hardly any strangers in the Ryder Cup. “I don’t feel like ev­ery­thing is new,” Rafa Cabr­era Bello said. “I don’t re­ally feel like a new kid mov­ing into a new city. I haven’t played Hazel­tine be­fore, but I’ve played in the U.S. many events and I’ve played huge events in the U.S., as well. On that part, I’m glad that those mem­o­ries and those ex­pe­ri­ences are helping me to stay calm and re­laxed this week.” All that could change, of course. McIl­roy tried to talk down the im­por­tance and the pres­sure of the Ryder Cup go­ing into his first ex­pe­ri­ence in 2010, and the emo­tions he showed that week in­di­cated that it was more than he ex­pected. That’s what he is try­ing to get across to the new­com­ers. “You think you know what it’s like and you think you’ve played un­der pres­sure, but you haven’t. You haven’t played un­der what this is go­ing to be like,” McIl­roy said. “It’s just try­ing to make them ready for that and try­ing to make sure that they are com­fort­able with where they are. But once you get over that hurdle, that hump of the first tee and ev­ery­thing that goes on with that, you’re just down to busi­ness and you’re just try­ing to do what you do ev­ery day of your life, which is play good golf.”

Europe vice-cap­tain Ian Poul­ter talks to Europe's Matthew Fitz­patrick dur­ing a prac­tice round for the Ryder Cup golf tour­na­ment Photo: AP

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