Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Sport: Roger Alton

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Sport: Roger Alton

Article excerpt

Well, that was a lot of fuss wasn't it? The Ryder Cup is a strange old creation, only fractionally less momentous than D-Day, judging by some of the hoo-hah, but it can turn even Nigel Farage into a proud European. The Little Englander agreed, very gamely, to appear in a Paddy Power advert, for which I'm told he didn't get paid a bean, and urge everyone to 'swing for Europe'. Mocking Americans called Hunter, Webb and Bubba -- 'those aren't names, they're noises' -- Nige sighed for heroic European names, such as Henrik, Sergio and Justin. Sometimes you think it is all going the way of football, with ugly tribalism, shaved heads, 'banter' and lunatic chest-pumping celebrations. (Step forward Ian Poulter.) Please guys, what's wrong with a quiet round in a silly pullover, followed by a modest handshake and a gin and tonic (not slimline) in the clubhouse?

Well, it is the Ryder Cup, I suppose. Justin Rose was the main hero last weekend, undefeated in five matches and forming a fine partnership with Henrik Stenson, the greatest Anglo-Swedish love-in since Abba. But wherever you looked there were Europeans stepping up and doing a job. Graeme McDowell, of Ulster, and the enigmatic Victor Dubuisson, of France, were undefeated together; Sergio Garcia was the heartbeat of the side; Rory McIlroy played and led like a world No. 1; and Wales's Jamie Donaldson, who won his first professional tournament at 36 and was less than a household name even in his own household, delivered the killer blow.

The 12 good men and true of Team Europe represented nine nations (-Better Together, whatever your political feelings about the EU) but they had one goal: to keep the US in their place. Europe have won eight of the past ten Ryder Cups and the Yanks can't understand why.

Keegan Bradley's caddie had one view, allegedly. A caller to BBC Radio 5 Live said that he had been walking back after the match alongside the bag carrier, who was grumbling that Tom Watson, the US captain, was 'a dick'. …

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