Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Unmatched drama in Wales

During the World Cup I made a passing mention of Bernhard Langer's putt at Kiawah Island, made with an entire continent willing him to make it, and another one willing him to miss. It's not often that kind of drama comes round but so it was again at the denouement of an epic Ryder Cup yesterday. The normally gentlemanly, almost genteel atmosphere of this game is temporarily replaced by adrenaline-fuelled chest-beating, chanting and rabid excitement of the type usually reserved for football in what's possibly the one event which makes Brits feel European.

And the way the matches are set up is absolutely perfect for such extreme examples of sporting drama as were played out yesterday, should the competition be close. Watching that McDowell putt on the 16 was absolutely agonising, I actually missed it drop into the hole because I had my hands over my eyes, thinking he'd lipped it. When it was all over I felt absolutely knackered from the nervous energy expended just watching it, so I have no idea how the players even stand up and hold a club, let alone make good shots, under such enormous pressure.

This is sporting endeavour at its absolute purest and finest - players who win millions in other tournaments absolutely desperate to win one in which they're paid nothing, performing under the sort of intense pressure they'll never feel in any other event, no matter how much money is at stake. Footage of the players' passion and will to win, and most of all, ability to handle that pressure, should be compulsory viewing for our national side the next time they pull the shirt over their heads.

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