Ryder Cup afterglow

Euro stars ready to take that major step forward

Langer backs his glorious golfers to convert international success into individual prestige

It was a scene reminiscent of The Last Supper as Bernhard Langer gathered with his dozen disciples after the dénouement at Oakland Hills, albeit one which would have been painted more accurately by Bacchus than by Leonardo da Vinci.

It was a scene reminiscent of The Last Supper as Bernhard Langer gathered with his dozen disciples after the dénouement at Oakland Hills, albeit one which would have been painted more accurately by Bacchus than by Leonardo da Vinci. Three days of Ryder Cup play during which the character of Langer's men had been a revelation were followed by one evening of revelry, from those "fun, funky Europeans", as one American newspaper had described them.

Yet, at that post-Ryder press conference there was one specific moment when the laughter momentarily ceased. It came when the Europe captain was asked whether any of his team could "kick on" and "make sure there's a couple of European major winners on the team at Ireland's K Club in two years' time"?

Langer could have sidestepped the enquiry, and offered platitudes, suggesting that Cup success cannot be simply translated into individual honours; that his team were all about profundity of talent rather than the super-stardom epitomised by Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, and Sandy Lyle, who had illuminated teams of the Eighties and Nineties.

Instead he issued a challenge. Langer didn't have to name individuals, because those concerned knew that eyes within the media audience had picked them out like lasers, men like Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, and Padraig Harrington, the tournament's leading scorers who had collectively amassed 13 of Europe's 18 1/2 points and had made a significant impact on the progress of the three days; all characters replete with potential and none older than 33.

"I believe very strongly that we have major winners in this group of golfers," declared Langer. "This is a very young group and they can all win majors. We play 50 weeks in a year, and there's only four majors, so you've got to be on top of your game that particular week, but I believe it's just a matter of time."

Hal Sutton's "Dream Team" may have skulked away, having been "spanked", as the US media expressed it, yet the fact remains that when golf returns to its more familiar format of strokeplay and the culture of the individual, it will not be merely Tiger Woods, with his eight majors, but another four members of the US team who boast the ultimate decoration.

Despite it having been a productive year of tournament wins for European players, Harrington's immediate pre-Ryder Cup success in the German Masters bringing the European team's aggregate to 11, there was not a major winner among them. For all the German's faith, it is a daunting "ask" of his men to secure one of only four majors a year - and three in the United States, at that - despite the renewed confidence surging through their veins. Yet, Westwood, for one, has already demonstrated, after the Belfry in 2002, that a triumphant Ryder Cup can help fill the sails of a career in the doldrums. Can last weekend have the mainsail billowing?

Two years earlier, the 31-year-old had been world No 4, and had earned £2m. His horizons were boundless. Then decline, to below 250 in the rankings, which corresponded with the time he took off for the birth of his first son. "I had a long break and when I came back I lost my timing," he recalled. "I didn't play very well and it didn't take very long for my confidence to go. It's hard to get it back."

But with a renewed resolve, and the aid of guru David Leadbetter's expertise, he did; the first evidence of his upturn in fortunes observed at the Ryder Cup at the Belfry. Which begs the question: can it be the same this time, particularly given his contribution as the man who made such a symbolic impact?

It was Westwood who, on the 18th, ensured that Europe retained the Cup at Oakland Hills with a four-footer to claim victory against Kenny Perry. He revealed later that he had no idea what a momentous shot that was.

The question is whether this can galvanise the man from Worksop to the zenith of golf's achievements. "I know my game is good enough to win a major," he said. "It's just getting in there and giving myself the opportunity." Garcia harbours similar sentiments. Always strong off the tee, the Spaniard's short game proved remarkable over the three days, to Phil Mickelson's chagrin in Sunday's singles match, which the Spaniard won 3 and 2 having been two holes adrift. Perversely, on the PGA Tour, Garcia's putting statistics have not been auspicious. He admitted: "I've been working on my short game. I feel that things are starting to come round. I'm hitting a lot better putts."

Garcia had plenty to say, during the tournament and afterwards. At one stage, the mischievous Frenchman Thomas Levet was compelled to declare: "Sergio, you're like my wife. You talk too much." It was fascinating to observe the Spaniard attain the heights he did while still managing to play to the gallery, this character who shares some attributes of his compatriot Ballesteros, though rarely his arrogance.

The American crowds adored him, even as they attempted to manage the emotions of defeat. Of course, in more onerous circumstances to come, the responses may be different from this mercurial figure who has too often been a dark star. But for the moment, he appears to have resigned from membership of the brat-pack. That can only enhance a career in which achievement has fallen slightly short of prodigious promise.

Colin Montgomerie, his defeat of David Toms in his singles match having secured victory for Europe at the climax of an inspirational weekend for the Scot, assumed an impressive, elder-statesman tone afterwards. "I think anybody who gets four and a half points is bloody good. We have a couple here [Garcia and Westwood] that have achieved that feat and there's not many Europeans have done that."

Montgomerie added, referring specifically to the 24-year-old Garcia: "But to be the youngest on the team and to have that effervescent personality that he does, adds a great deal to our team, and he's a very reliable character. Even when Sergio went 2-0 down early on, we knew the game wasn't over and he proved it yet again. So, that's what he means to us."

Garcia and Harrington are, in Westwood's view, members of a team of "12 world-class players". After a surreal three days, Westwood and his team-mates have to exhibit that quality as individuals. The battle for international and team pride has been won. Now is time for Europe's players to capitalise on the moment to enhance their own prestige.

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum