Golf Care ambassador Bernard Gallacher played in the Ryder Cup eight times and was Ryder Cup Captain three times consecutively between 1991 and 1995. We spoke to him this morning to hear his thoughts on Europe’s superb victory over the USA at Gleneagles.
Why did Europe win this Ryder Cup?
My viewpoint is that we won largely because we played so well in the foursomes. We were undefeated in the two sessions and built up a substantial advantage as a result – it was 7-1 over those two afternoons. The Europeans showed themselves to be better foursomes players on both days and that was key.
Then, in the singles, Paul McGinley’s decision to start with Graeme McDowell was an excellent one. He’s a very brave and strong-minded player. He came back from four-down to beat Jordan Spieth. That was a huge boost to Europe and was clearly demoralising for the Americans.
In addition, Hunter Mahan also lost a four-hole lead against Justin Rose. That was another important match for both sides. If both those games had gone in the Americans’ favour, things might have been different.
Were you ever nervous that Europe wouldn’t emerge victorious?
The leaderboard did look a little worrying for a spell early on the final day. Jordan Spieth was four-up, Patrick Reed was two-up and Hunter Mahan was four-up. There was quite a bit of red up there. But, being four points ahead was a big advantage for Europe and a significant deficit for America to overhaul.
Were the Americans up against it from the word go?
Going into this event I felt there were two key factors conspiring against the Americans. One was that they were missing three big players in the shape of Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner. They were definitely badly missed.
Then the course at Gleneagles provided a home advantage to the European side, as so many of them know the layout well from the Johnnie Walker tournament played over it each year. That was a big plus for our team too.
A word on the Captains…
Paul McGinley’s captaincy was completely flawless and Rory McIlroy did the job that Paul wanted him to do: To go out and beat Rickie Fowler substantially to get that point on the board quickly leaving the rest to fight for the three points needed to retain the Ryder Cup.
I think the criticism that Tom Watson is facing, particularly that which came from Phil Mickelson, is pretty unfair. The Americans need to assess their position in the cold light of day, not immediately after they’ve been defeated. That was the wrong time to criticise the captain. It was unfair to speak out against his captain like that.
Do you think it’s true that the Americans aren’t such a unified team as the Europeans?
I think on the outside there might be a feeling that the American players don’t gel as well as the Europeans. But, in reality, they were a strongly bonded side.
When you lose in the Ryder Cup, and I’ve been in this position, you’re always looking for reasons and excuses. But I think the Americans lost simply because they weren’t as good a side as the Europeans.
We had home advantage and we had the number 1 player in the World, (by a long way I might add.) Having Rory there was a big help. He is a significant presence in the team room.
But I think it’s overstated the fact that there wasn’t a good team spirit in the American side. I don’t think that’s true. Tom Watson expects his players to go out and do a professional job and he can’t do more than that.
You’d just have to say that at the end of the day the Americans weren’t good enough and it was a simple as that.