On Thursday night as I watched the Opening Ceremony of the Ryder Cup I immediately felt confident that Europe might win. A ball had not been teed up yet but if you ask me the Cup was won and lost in the Captain's speeches.

Zac Johnston did nothing wrong but his attempt to speak Italian and his speech in general lost 10 & 8 to the speech of European captain Luke Donald.

There was a real intelligence about Donald's speech. This is a very clever man. There was also a deep sense of being orientated to the place. His Italian was longer and seemed more fluid and much more than a gesture. Donald also mentioned the caddies and I had a sense that he knew his team, his wider staff and all of those that would support his twelve players.

That intelligence was immediately proven in the pairings for foursomes and four balls. 

Lots has been said about the American players taking 5 or 6 weeks rest before the event. What I liked more was how Donald had used those weeks.

Keeping his players competitive was one thing but pairing them up in the BMW PGA, using a competitive tournament two weeks before the Cup to bond the team in a competitive atmosphere. This was a well thought through build up. That intelligence again.

If I thought this over Friday and Saturday it became even clearer on Sunday. As I looked at the pairings for the singles on Sunday morning I actually wondered where Europe might win four points. I was concerned. 

Now why would that be after having won three out of the first four sessions. It was because when you see the American team lined out they have world beaters. How could they have been 5 points down? How could Scottie Scheffler have lost 9&7 in the Saturday Foursomes? He slugged it out down the 18th to a half match with John Rham on Sunday.

There is a thing that you hear about in Belfast schools. It is called added value. Basically if you come to our school we can add a valuable increase to your expected results from what you have attained up to then.

That speech by Luke Donald, his preparation before and his influence during the week, added a value to almost every European player.

Robert McIntyre might say it himself. It was a huge step up in his levels of golf pressure. At times he looked like a wee boy among men. Yet, Robert McIntyre came out of his debut Ryder Cup with 2 wins and a half match, one a singles win against the US Open champion. Now, that is added value. 

This was in the end a hard fought win, though the final score looks very decisive. With a 5 point lead going into the final day the Europeans needed their final three players to fight hard to bring the Cup home. Overall, this was a huge win, against the seemingly stronger American players on paper. 

Do not underestimate how much a captain's intelligence won Europe this Cup. My hope is that he'll take on a brash New York crowd and see if we could possibly win again in two years time on American soil. Lead us again Luke!


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