Irish Golfer Magazine (Monthly Print)

December 2016

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Page 76 of 99 • December 2016 • IRISH GOLFER MAGAZINE • 75 10 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE 2016 RYDER CUP Rory McIlroy has matured into a great Ryder Cup leader: For a man who once naïvely suggested that the Ryder Cup was merely an exhibition, McIlroy now most definitely 'gets' the Ryder Cup. Having already played on four Ryder Cup teams, McIlroy is now a veteran of the event and led by example at Hazeltine. He was subjected to the vilest abuse by a small section of the hostile Hazeltine crowd but generally ignored it and let his golf do the talking. He brought Thomas Pieters under his wing and they gained three points as a pairing. He also took the lead spokesperson role for the team at the post Ryder Cup press conference. Overall, it was a week in which Rory came of age and he looks certain to be their principal team figure for many years to come. Some American golf fans are complete idiots – The abuse directed at European players by a small section of US 'fans' at the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine was absolutely outrageous. I witnessed the bile and vitriol at Brookline in 1999 but the nastiness at Hazeltine even trumped that. I have absolutely no problem with home fans cheering a bad shot from the away team – that's all part of the home advantage in a Ryder Cup - but in a game that prides itself on etiquette, sportsmanship and good manners, there is absolutely no place for vulgar personal insults. Ridiculous shouts of 'mash potato', baba-booey' and 'get in the hole ball' on the tee box of a 585-yard Par 5 are bad enough but there is an immediate need for a zero tolerance policy on the nasty stuff. 8 It won't be easy to wrestle the Ryder Cup back from the Americans: The current crop of American Ryder Cup stars have that perfect blend of experienced players who are still performing at the very top of their game and a breed of accomplished and fearless young guns like Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka. There are a couple of others ready to join the US Ryder Cup ranks like Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger, so they will have a formidable team in the years ahead. Now that many of their young players have sampled Ryder Cup success for the first time, they won't want to relinquish the trophy in a hurry. Europe had won eight of the previous ten Ryder Cups and we could be headed for a similar period of American dominance. One way or the other, an American win on this occasion was good for the overall long-term popularity of the Ryder Cup. 10 9

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