In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Ross Fisher reflects on Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup victory as he returns to the Celtic Manor Resort 10 years on.
Celtic Manor is a great place to come back to, and you can’t help but get up for playing when you are reminded about The 2010 Ryder Cup. You only have to look around you to see it – whether you go into the hotel, the clubhouse or the lobby area, there’s lots of photos, a lot of signed stuff, and it all brings back really good memories. Because I played in The Ryder Cup I even have my own locker here, which is pretty cool.
You never forget the amazing feeling of the cheer on the first tee, surrounding by over 4000 people.I definitely get to some greens and memories come back, like holing a winning putt on 17 to win our match. It was just an awesome experience.
I’d never attended a Ryder Cup until I played in one. I was asked to go in 2008 when Nick Faldo was Captain, but I knew that if I was to go I wanted to go and experience it as a player. I did watch a lot of them on TV over the years too, but I don’t think anything prepares you for it. I knew it was going to be big, but I think it surpassed what I thought it was going to be.
There’s a lot going on during the week with photos, media, dinners - which all take more out of you than practice - but those distractions definitely take your mind off things and you don’t want to miss anything because it’s your first Ryder Cup.
Hitting your first tee shot here now is very different to 10 years ago. It was cold, a bit wet, and I remember being greeted by the massive grandstand. The noise and the atmosphere were electric and surreal, but I really wasn’t nervous about playing. Honestly I was more nervous about getting the ball on the tee before Ivor Robson called my name while my hands were shaking and my heart rate was going. Then I hit my first shot and managed to pull it left. It ended up in a spectator’s umbrella, I was able to take a free drop, then found the green and won the hole.
That first match I played in was with Ian Poulter against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, and I think if we hadn’t come off the course, it could have been a different result. I was really chuffed to play with Mr Ryder Cup in my first match because Poults and I had good history together in World Cups together. I think we would have had a good lead without the weather delay, because you could tell they weren’t enjoying the rain and had on these horrendous waterproofs so were getting soaked through.
It was a tough day because you get yourself up for it, tee off, and then we got called in and were off the course for at least seven hours, and you’re just trying to make sure you eat and drink plenty. It was such a physically and mentally draining week, but the course superintendent did an unbelievable job at getting us back out there because the amount of rain that fell was ridiculous. Then Poults holed the big 30-40 footer on 10 to get us all square before we had to head in for the day, which was at about 7pm. The turning point the next day was when Stricker chipped in, and unfortunately they finished better, so it was disappointing but a great experience.
The partnership with Padraig Harrington was one I didn’t see coming, because I don’t even think we played in practice groups together. I was told that Poults and I were splitting and I was going with Paddy. I was just happy to be told that I was playing, let alone with a three time Major champion. We just gelled from the start. We were reading each other’s putts, and with Ronan Flood on his bag and Wobbly on mine at the time, we had so much fun together. We formed a really good partnership and won 3&2 in our first match against Mickelson and DJ, and then 2&1 in our second match against DJ and Furyk. I was delighted to get two points out of four for my first Ryder Cup.
The most significant thing for our team was the amount of time we lost with the weather on the Friday. We were playing catch up so I think the best thing that happened for us was the Sunday, when we had to play two foursomes matches and four fourballs before singles on Monday. We dominated that session, winning five and a half points out of six and that was the turning point. We still had to go out on the Monday and perform, and in singles America always seemed to get Europe, but thankfully GMac brought it home for us.
Winning individual tournaments is definitely up there in my career highlights, but being a part of a Ryder Cup team - and a winning Ryder Cup team in Europe - is special. I think the only thing that could possibly top that is winning a Major. It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
I’d like to make another Ryder Cup team. European players are stronger than ever, so I’m going to have to play very well, but my goal is to make another one.
There’s a lot of good youngsters coming through. Sam Horsfield going win, missed cut, win, over the past three weeks - he’s a special talent. He’s not the only one, there’s a load of young talent coming through so I think European Tour is in a good place and it’s only going to get stronger. Personally, I feel like the old guard, trying to keep pace with them and keep them on their toes.
I had a few years after 2010 where I had a bit of a lull in my game. We call it Ryder Cup-itis, because I had such a high at The Ryder Cup and then I went the following week to the Dunhill Links – and I love the Dunhill Links – but I felt so flat. I couldn’t get up for it because it just wasn’t the Ryder Cup. I’d say I slipped down for a year or two years, but thankfully managed to pull my game back, and winning the Tshwane Open in 2014 was huge. With Nike deciding not to do golf equipment I had more freedom and flexibility to try whatever I wanted to, which seems to have worked.
The 61 at St Andrews a couple of years ago was special, too. It’s a pretty cool thing to be the course record holder at one of the most famous golf courses in the world. Everything just went out of my body when I had a chance for a putt at 59 and missed that, and to miss a tiddler for 60 was disappointing but I at least I know I can go better than 61. It’d be nice to go back one day and see a scorecard or photo in the clubhouse.
So, when I assess my career since The Ryder Cup, there’s a lot of positives. I’ve had some good results, and if it wasn’t for one person – Tyrrell Hatton – I could have won three tournaments, and three massive ones, the Dunhill twice and the Italian Open. I’ve come close a few times, so if I keep knocking on the door hopefully one day I can get back in the winner’s circle.
I’ve been working really hard getting ready after lockdown for these UK events. My goal was to play all six, and there was a lot of positives to take from last week. I had moments where I could have shot really good scores, so I’m just trying to take the positives from finishing strongly on Saturday and Sunday. The course played very differently last week, a lot firmer, a lot fierier than 10 years ago, but this week I know we’re in for a strong breeze so hopefully it will play a bit different.
It’s a strange time but I think we’re all just so thankful to Keith, everyone at the Tour and the sponsors putting their names to tournaments that are allowing us to play golf and keep going. I know everyone’s got their playing rights for next year but as golfers we want to get out there and play and I’m no different. I’d love the crowds to come back, hopefully they will one day cause we miss the cheers and support, but right now I’m just looking forward to playing some more events, finishing this year off, and hopefully things might get back to normal come 2021.