FHM (and Ian Woosnam) take on America at golf
Tips from Woosie
How does your mentality change when playing match play?
You take more chances and risks. You need to win that hole so it’s all or nothing, you play more aggressive golf.
Are there any tricks used to win the mental battle with your opponent?
We’ve all got to be gentlemen of the game but some players like Ian Poulter are great match play golfers because they have a never-say-die attitude. Seve [Ballesteros] had the same mentality as I did… very good match players make lots of birdies and depending on what sort of course you’re playing, it’s important to be consistent like Luke Donald.
How much difference does being the ‘home’ team make?
Golf is golf, wherever it’s played in the world. It’s just the same as playing football - you don’t try to think about it - but most of the pressure from playing at home comes from the expectation of the fans. It can either jeer you up, or it can work against you if you’re not playing well.
Do you feel added pressure because your team-mates are relying on you?
Like any team sport, when you play you’re so determined to do well for your team mates, and that of course puts pressure on you. It’s so important to just play for yourself and concentrate on your own game because you can put yourself under too much pressure. You can only go out and do the best that you possibly can… You can’t force it.
What’s the rivalry with the Americans like? Do you mix with them immediately before/after the Ryder Cup?
The Americans want it (victory) so much. They have a great tradition in the competition, especially having won the Cup so many times and so easily in the past. Naturally, they want to keep that alive. However some years back there came a point when European players wanted to prove their worth and that’s when things started to change.
Golf is a gentleman’s game but the rivalry is strong and spirited. While the tournament is being played, each team keeps to themselves and focuses on the game. Then, after it’s finished, we all have a drink together and there’s no hard feelings, win or lose.
This man scares Americans
What gave Europe the edge at the Ryder Cup last year?
Over a number of years, we’ve changed our mentality. Europe comes together and plays as a team. We’re closer together than the Americans. We play a lot of match play in practice rounds, whereas in the US they have a culture of stroke play – even if they’re playing a four ball. That’s why they’re very good at stroke play, but it gives us a slight advantage in match play. Europe was able to come together and play as a team which was essential.
What’s been your greatest Ryder Cup moment?
I’ve been fortunate enough play in eight Ryder Cups, but my personal greatest moment was obviously as captain of the winning team in 2006. Winning at The Belfry in ’85 was phenomenal as it was Europe’s first victory in some 46 years. That was unbelievable.
And your most disappointing?
Despite playing a part in several winning sides I never won a singles match in the Ryder Cup. I’ve won three World Match Play Championships (and became the first player to capture the title in three different decades) so I’ve proved there’s nothing wrong with my Match Play record. But it goes back to the pressure of playing in the Ryder Cup and trying so hard to win every point for the team which means you can lose focus.
Any tips for playing the 2010 course at Celtic Manor?
Hit it long! Celtic Manor is a very difficult and long course. It’s imperative to get the ball into the right position on the green to leave yourself with a chance of a birdie. You have to do everything right because if you don’t that course will bury you!
It also helps to play in the dry, unlike the guys in 2010!
What’s more important: winning a major or winning the Ryder Cup?
Golf is inherently an individual sport so I think most professionals will say that success is measured on how well an individual player does.
Winning the Masters was the highlight of my career but that takes nothing away from The Ryder Cup as I’m proud to have flown the flag for Europe and been part of so many great teams.
Ian Woosnam will be playing in the 2011 Senior Open Championship at Walton Heath Golf Club on July 21-24. To buy tickets and watch the legends in action go to www.europeantourtickets.com
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