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How the Ryder Cup favours the team
Around the Academy:

The winning European Ryder Cup team
The winning team: Europe win in historic fashion
Europe's top golfers overcame America's group of superstars at the weekend to win the Ryder Cup.

So how did captain Bernhard Langer get his boys to work together to beat a team including Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Sports psychologist Paul Dent explains how teamwork can often achieve amazing results.


Togetherness was perhaps the deciding factor when it came to the two teams in this year's Ryder Cup.

The USA played as a team of individuals and the Cup was lost during the first two days during the fourballs and foursomes where you have to play with a partner.

The body language of the American team, particularly with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, showed they weren't together.

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods
Not exactly best buddies: Phil and Tiger

On the flip side, the Europeans arrived at the Ryder Cup together, they practised together and they built a team spirit and drew strength from it.

What that does is eliminate the fear of failure. They didn't fear letting each other down.

Even if somebody hit a bad shot they still supported each other.

Whereas there were some fantastic pictures of Tiger's face after Mickelson hit a wayward tee shot on the 18th during Friday's foursomes.

Tiger's face just said: "What I am meant to do here?"

If that had happened to Darren Clarke or Lee Westwood, who were up against them, they would have talked about it and supported each other.

Then the next time, the player would focus on the shot rather than the outcome of, "If I miss this, my partner's going to be really annoyed with me."

Control

Golf is an individual sport, so creating a team atmosphere takes a lot of work away from the course.

You need to create a sense of belonging to one unit and wanting to do well for each other.

The captain's role in that is huge. Everyone in the European team was talking about, "the team".

Tiger Woods and Chris Riley
Tiger shows he can play as a team with Chris Riley

That's down to Bernhard Langer's influence.

He was very clever in who he paired together. The pairings not only got on, but they supported each other too.

Then there was the crowd's influence. By pairing Irish duo Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, Langer knew they would draw strength from the Irish crowd following them.

America's captain Hal Sutton said he paired Tiger with Phil Mickelson to create a spark.

But if you don't get on with someone, then you're not going to be supportive of them when they hit a bad shot.

Individual sports are tougher as there are no team-mates to hide behind and that is reflective of the player's personality.

You need to be very driven, some would say selfish and self-focussed.

It comes down to a question of control. If your whole life is spent trying to be in control of your situation and then you are relying on someone else, then it is a huge conflict.

It's down to trusting your partner and that's very hard if you have three or four days to practice.

It's even worse when the likes of Phil Mickelson decide to take a day off on Wednesday because it's his normal individual routine.



Ryder Cup history
2004: USA 9-18 Europe
2002: Europe 15-12 USA
1999: USA 14-13 Europe
1997: Europe 14-13 USA
1995: USA 13-14 Europe

Open Quote
We were so close, it's amazing how we play for each other. I'm not saying the Americans don't, but we acted as one from the moment we got on the plane to fly over here.
Close Quote
Colin Montgomerie
Four-time Ryder Cup winner



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