In 2006 at the K Club the Welshman captained Europe to a joint record margin of victory. He explains to Golf Monthly how lessons from that triumph could be applied to this year’s contest at Whistling Straits.
Who better to ask how Europe can win the Ryder Cup than the man who captained Europe to the joint record victory margin?
This was by 18½ to 9½ points, at the K Club in 2006, equalling their margin of victory of two years earlier at Oakland Hills under Bernard Langer.
“It would have been the record had Paul McGinley not given that putt on the 18th,” complains Ian Woosnam.
With the match already won, McGinley had conceded at 25ft putt on the 18th green to Henry to halve the match after a streaker had run across the green, disturbing Henry.
Woosnam had not even decided who he would pick as his second wildcard when he entered the press conference to announce his wildcards. So has sympathy for Harrington over making these picks.
“I am just glad it is not me having to make that decision!” he laughs.
“It is a personal choice really. But it’s a big one on Poulter I think. You have left out Justin Rose one of the best players and one of the most experienced players.
“You have got to think of the course and all of those guys can play that golf course.
“Whistling Straits is an unbelievable golf course. It’s on Lake Michigan and like an America sea links golf course. It blows so you have got to have your ball under control.”
Do captains ask advice from past ones? “No, not really,” admits Woosnam.
“The trend now is that captains have had a vice-captain role. So they have got experience from that to add to what they have already learnt from playing under various captains and listening to what goes on – like I did from Tony Jacklin.”
For Woosnam, Tony Jacklin was “the most wonderful captain.”
The Welshman, a 25-year old rookie appreciated how Jacklin “would come up and have a chat about how I felt. I was a young kid, what did I know? But he still asked me. He made you comfortable, he made it easy.
“Tony is the role model for all captains. He is the best captain we have had, no doubt about it.”
But if Harrington had asked him: ‘Ian, tell me how we can win the Ryder Cup?’, what would he have replied?
“At the end of the day it’s all about the pairings and the attitude of people. You need to get your players to play together as a unit.
“It’s like football – you may have billions of pounds worth of players but if they don’t play together properly the team won’t score goals.
“When I was captain I did not want any player to believe that they were somehow special.
“I think that is where I got the best out of my team – they were prepared to play with anybody and there were no superstars on our team.”
And what would his main advice be to Harrington himself be?
“Just be natural. Don’t over think it.”
Ian Woosnam was speaking to Golf Monthly at an event to promote the imminent release of 19THOLE, a free app will which will allow golfers to arrange games with each other at courses throughout the UK.