Ryder Cup: Europe's Strictly session a new twist on team bonding

Westwood reveals visitors' quirky night of dancing that betrays an inimitable spirit


Ian Poulter in sequins. There's a thought to send a shiver down American spines. Don't worry, Davis, he didn't sparkle in a satin two-piece, but he did step out for the cause in an impromptu Strictly Come Ryder session, revealing once again how far each is prepared to go for the other in the European team room.

The idea of a diversion in the American camp is to throw Matt 'Kooch' Kucher a table tennis ball and invite all-comers to beat him. The boys in blue, instead, pulled on their dancing shoes and, in a febrile session, gave new meaning to that golfing staple, the shoulder turn. According to Lee Westwood, Poulter is unlikely to progress to an audition with Brucie (below). "I don't know whose idea it was, but it was fantastic fun," Westwood said. "I was told I've got good hips. I'm not going to show you them. I dance a mean cha-cha-cha, I can tell you."

Westwood has some expertise in this area, having being immersed in the rhythms of the ballroom as a junior, a feature of his youth that he let slip last year. "In retirement I'd love to have a go. My nan and grandad used to run an old-time dance school, so I did do a bit when I was a little boy. I was even 'highly commended in a couple of dances: the Lilac Waltz and the Boston Two-Step. And I've still got the medals to prove it."

The evening in Medinah did not yield anywhere near the same bounty. "We split into teams. Poulter wrecked our chances by introducing break-dancing to ballroom. It brought the whole thing into disrepute. Martin Kaymer was hilarious, the worst by far. I've never seen anyone so stiff and wooden. But Miguel Angel Jimenez, one of our vice captains, had that Latin beat off to a 'T' and his team won it."

Much of the repartee in this build-up phase is heavily choreographed. This little beauty was delivered in a quiet aside away from the formal interview stage. Had Westwood not been poked innocently the night of the stars would have gone unreported. It is details like these that ought to worry an opposition that has yet to crack the team-building code despite a book dedicated to the art written by former captain Paul Azinger after victory in Valhalla.

What the Americans worked so assiduously to acquire four years ago, a tangible sense of unity, is an inherent feature of the European set-up. Present captain Davis Love III has spoken throughout about his excitement at being around his team, yet that enthusiasm appears anchored to the technical gifts of his players and the expectation that they will bring those talents to bear in victory. Europe bring something rather more ephemeral, a quality that cannot be bottled. But it is intuited, and in the fist-pumping presence of Poulter has, perhaps, its greatest expression.

Machismo led Poulter too far down the metaphor chain yesterday when he expressed his desire to claim a point as a want to "kill" his opponent. Rory McIlroy dug him out of the hole. "I think kill is a little strong. I'd like to beat them," McIlroy said. And not with a stick. Poulter was nearer the mark when he described holing putts in this environment as, "scoring a penalty in the Champions League final".

When Poulter passes through the Ryder Cup prism he is transformed into a kind of golfing superhero, which endears him to the audience like no other. "It's absolutely magnificent to be wearing this jersey with a crest on it. It is always a proud moment to be part of a great team. I guess I'm going to be one of those guys out there enjoying the electricity. Chicago is a great sporting town and this is going to be a very loud week. It adds to the adrenaline rush and I can't wait to be part of the fun."

Poulter was out with Justin Rose again yesterday morning in a fourball against Martin Kaymer and Peter Hanson. The Americans have elected to start the show with the foursome format, which requires only one member of the team to hit a tee shot. As the visitors, somebody in the European team is going to have to hit first. When asked all of them say they would happily take it. In Poulter's case, he means it. "I would love it. I would relish the opportunity. I'd be honoured to do that."

At the opposite end of the he-man scale, in attitude at least, is Nicolas Colsaerts. Though the Belgian hits the ball further than any on either side, his status as the rookie in the European team imposes on an already quiet demeanour a certain reticence in posture. Yet there is much to commend Colsaerts, not least a cosmopolitan outlook born of his Belgian upbringing and a vocabulary littered with Americanisms from a bygone era like "dude" and "cat".

Colsaerts is on some journey. Three years ago he was ranked outside the top 1,000 in the world. He likens his elevation to "coming back from the dead". He talks about being crushed under the weight of low self-esteem, of a time when he felt unworthy of his professional status. "It's difficult when you're 25 and you know you still have a lot of years in front of you but you don't produce anything like the kind of form you need to get you there. Watching tournaments on TV thinking you don't deserve to be there."

The first tee experience, when it comes, will test his nerve yet listening to Colsaerts you suspect that it won't take him anywhere he has not been before. "At some point you realise that you want to be the player you have always dreamed of being, so you have to work at it, put your heart into it. After that you become a man, sort of thing."


Lee Westwood revealed last night the European players enjoyed an evening of dancing to boost team spirit. Here is the top 10 of what they may (or may not) have boogied to:

1. CLUB Tropicana by Wham

2. GREEN Onions by Booker T Jones

3. I Like it ROUGH by Lady Gaga

4. IRON Lion Zion by Bob Marley

5. The BIRDIE Song by The Tweets

6. DRIVE by The Cars

7. ALBATROSS by Fleetwood Mac

8. The TROLLEY Song by Judy Garland

9. Rock Around The BUNKER by Serge Gainsbourg

10. The WEDGE by Phish

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
businessHow bosses are inventing unusual ways of making us work harder
REX/Eye Candy
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?