Luke Donald was a rock for Colin Montgomerie’s team with three points from a possible four to improve his overall Ryder Cup record to played 11, won eight, lost two, halved one. Yet the Englishman paid tribute to his Irish team-mate for keeping his composure in his deciding singles match against Hunter Mahan.
“I think as a team, you could see things slipping away a little bit,” Donald said, “but we had great faith in Graeme. I mean, he’s proven himself over this year, especially as a major champion. He can get it done when he needed to and hat’s off to Graeme for holding on and playing great golf down the stretch and winning that point when he needed it.”
The plaudits continued, with USPGA champion Martin Kaymer no doubt summing up the feelings of those Europeans who lost their singles matches, as he did to Dustin Johnson.
“Luckily we had Graeme in our 12th spot back there to get the trophy back to Europe,” Kaymer said.
“It’s not the best feeling if you lose but the team won and that was the most important thing this week.”
Like Kaymer, Ross Fisher was a debutant at Celtic Manor and having collected two points in team play before losing his singles match with Jeff Overton, he admitted the Ryder Cup had a profound effect. “It’s been a life-changing week for me,” Fisher said. “I felt I’ve stepped up and played pretty good. I was disappointed not to get a pont today but thankfully I had 11 guys backing me up and especially G-Mac. You can’t say anymore. Nerves of steel, absolutely fantastic.”
Lee Westwood brought perspective to proceedings when he said McDowell “had the easy thing. He was playing”. The European number one and newly-minted world number two may have played in seven Ryder Cups but admitted watching his team-mates was something he could never get used to.
“I hated every minute of it,” Westwood said. “I don’t know how my wife and parents do it, watch. It’s just awful watching. It’s so much easier playing because you’re in control.”
Watching McDowell was a particular trial, Westwood said. “It’s always difficult when it’s within grabbing distance,” he said. “When you’re a player you know what Graeme is going through and that’s what makes it awful because you know how nervous he’s going to be yet you can’t do anything.
“So you’re really helpless. This is about the whole team here and at that moment Graeme had the whole team’s success or failure in his hands.
“That’s a lot of pressure.”