European Ryder Cup strategy: Keep calm and carry on

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European Ryder Cup strategy: Keep calm and carry on

2018 Ryder Cup

European Ryder Cup strategy: Keep calm and carry on

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Want to know why Europe has won eight of the last 11 Ryder Cups, and hasn’t lost on home soil in 25 years? It’s simple. They don’t try too hard.

That’s not to say Europe doesn’t scrap for every point. Au contraire. But they don’t have to try hard off the course. There’s no need.

“The strength of Europe has been we all get behind one another and even whatever differences we may have, we put them to the side for the week, and we’re a cohesive unit,” Rory McIlory said. “That’s obviously served us well for the Ryder Cup.”

No need for task forces or pod systems on this side of the pond. European camaraderie has been a constant since Tony Jacklin and Seve Ballesteros.

Four-time captain Jacklin and talisman Ballesteros instigated a team spirit that, arguably, carried European teams to victory even though they were complete underdogs.

Europe’s joie de vivre is inbuilt. It’s not something that can be taught. It’s one of the reasons European captain Thomas Bjorn made Sergio Garcia one of his captain’s picks, as McIlroy explained.

“He has been the heartbeat of our team for a while,” McIlroy said. “He has been a constant. A lot of these Ryder Cup teams, it’s about continuity and about bringing the same mindset to each one.

“He likes to have fun. He never lets the environment or the atmosphere get too serious. That’s one of the big things about European Ryder Cups over the past few years. We’ve basically left any sort of egos at the door, and no one’s allowed to have an ego.

“The more you can keep that atmosphere in the team room, the better, and Sergio is great at bringing that atmosphere into the team room and just bringing that dynamic to everyone else.”

Jacklin was instrumental in making sure his European teams were treated on even terms with U.S. teams. That meant five-star travel, accommodation and uniforms. He also had a policy of not focussing on the opposition, but solely on his team. Garcia’s the same. When asked if he felt there was more cohesion in U.S. teams nowadays, Garcia clearly couldn’t care less.

“To be totally honest, I don’t live on the other side,” Garcia said. “It may seem they’re doing a little bit better. I don’t know what goes on in their team room or what’s happening, but I know what goes on in our team room and, for us, it’s easy. It comes naturally.”

Bjorn’s approach matches Garcia’s. He may be the man in charge, but he’s taking a minimalist approach to man management.

“I’m not here to try and change any of those 12,” Bjorn said. “They are here because of who they are.”

Justin Rose is making his fifth Ryder Cup appearance and, as such, is one of Europe’s senior players. However, he’s not trying to fulfil any pre-defined role. His attitude this week is strictly French: laissez-faire.

“I haven’t tried to be anything I’m not,” Rose said. “I think it’s really important to be who I am.”

“That’s what Thomas has encouraged me to do. He’s encouraged me to be myself, and that’s why he’s been such a fantastic captain.

“He didn’t put pressure on me to do anything that wasn’t right for me personally, and therefore trusted all my decision making to get here and be ready to play and ready to earn points. That extends to the week and to the team room. Just be natural and be yourself.”

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