As the Guinness and compliments flowed in equal measure at The K Club, Ian Woosnam and his triumphant team were able to bask in some high praise from an unlikely source – Tom Lehman’s father.
Lehman senior approached Colin Montgomerie before the Sunday singles had finished and told the Scotsman that he was fortunate enough to be part of the “best European team ever assembled”.
Montgomerie, who knows a thing or two about European teams after playing in eight Ryder Cups, agreed.
“I think we have strength and depth on our European Tour. We could have almost put out two teams this year as good as the one sitting here tonight,” commented the record eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner.
“We have superb strength in depth now in Europe that we didn’t have when I first started playing in 1988. We look forward to Kentucky in two years’ time.
“We never thought it would be possible to equal the record score at Oakland Hills, not for many, many years, but we have done it the very next time. I am very proud to be part of this team.”
Bernhard Langer had led Europe to a record-breaking 18½ points to 9½ triumph on that memorable Sunday in Detroit, and Woosnam was delighted to be ranked firmly alongside the German after a repeat performance in County Kildare, Ireland.
Captain Woosnam said: “Eighteen months ago, when they asked me to be captain, any victory would have been fantastic. To walk away with the same record as Langer is unbelievable. It is a dream come true for me.
“I have won a Major tournament, I’ve been Number One in the world, but I’ve got to say, this is the proudest moment of my life.”
Paul Casey, who arrived in Ireland having made a £1m deposit in his bank account following his wonderful win at Wentworth Club in the HSBC World Match Play Championship, knew exactly what Woosnam was getting at. The Englishman won three points out of four and, at the age of 29, has many more Ryder Cups to look forward to.
“Winning as an individual is a wonderful thing and last week was a great victory for me. However, I haven’t experienced anything in my career like winning The Ryder Cup. There’s just nothing than compares to this. And to share it with 11 guys, and the whole backroom staff, is just a very, very special thing. This is history,” added Casey.
Every single one of Woosnam’s 12 charges played well and delivered at least half a point. They won the first day by 5-3, the second by the same tally and the Sunday singles by 8½ points to 3½.
“From top to bottom they played extremely well. They played very inspired golf and around the greens they were magical. I’ve always felt in the past that they putt well and they chip well in every Ryder Cup. But this was something truly exceptional. I was just amazed at the short game,” said US Captain Lehman, who was magnanimous in defeat. Just like his father.