America lost in Ryder Cup universe, says Lehman

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The American Ryder Cup captain yesterday said his team needed to radically reappraise their approach to the the tournament in the wake of Sunday's humiliating defeat by Europe. In doing so, Lehman acknowledged that there could be no quick-fix solutions, following America's third successive defeat, their second trouncing in a row and fifth loss in six meetings.

"I think when you've lost again, you need to sit down and think about everything and figure out the entire Ryder Cup universe and figure out, 'Is there something we can do better?'"

Lehman was thought to be the man to stop the rot after "Hapless" Hal Sutton's performance at Oakland Hills two years ago but even the more considered, thoughtful approach of the 1996 Open champion failed to produce any improvement, and he was at a loss to explain the defeat and the decline.

"I need to just sit back, let a few days go by and just try to figure what we could have done better," he said. "You always probably have to think about what we could have done better. I'm not really sure we left too many bases uncovered. But at the end of the day you still have to put that ball in the hole and that didn't work out very well."

Lehman, who played in three Ryder Cups between 1995 and 1999, added: "Our team came ready. Our team came very ready - I guess we weren't quite ready enough. I do know everything we did, we did for a reason and with the best possible intention. We were very motivated with a clear goal. Everything you need to do to perform at your maximum level we were prepared and ready to do."

Some insight into what went wrong for the Americans came from Stewart Cink, who provided one of the few bright spots for the his team on Sunday afternoon with a convincing victory over Sergio Garcia in the singles. He felt the team spirit in the European side was a vital factor. "If you could bottle that and distil it back home it would be awesome," Cink said.

The record-equalling defeat left the Americans with a huge challenge to regroup ahead of the next tournament in Valhalla, but Lehman admitted there is no chance he will retain the position in two years' time. "Of course it was a thrill, and I know that will never happen but it's two years that I wouldn't trade for anything." he said.

Europe's win was followed by wild celebrations on Sunday, which their captain Ian Woosnam left at 3am. "I was going at two, but finally went an hour later - and although my room was two floors up I could still feel the floor rocking," he said. "I've nothing left to achieve now and I almost feel like retiring. But that'll probably change in a couple of days. I've already spoken to Sam [Torrance, the 2002 captain] and he felt the same. I feel 50 years older. There were times I didn't eat properly and had a churning in my stomach. It was not until the last couple of hours when I saw all the blue on the board that I felt relief."