Monday 18 December 2017

Thrilling Ryder Cup kept me up all night, says Michael Hoey

Martin Kaymer celebrates winning his match against US golfer Steve Stricker to retain the Ryder Cup
Martin Kaymer celebrates winning his match against US golfer Steve Stricker to retain the Ryder Cup

Mark Garrod

IT WASN’T only Europe's Ryder Cup heroes who went short of sleep on Sunday night - so did Michael Hoey, who today began his defence of the Dunhill Links title at Carnoustie.

"I couldn't sleep because the adrenaline was going at 1.30 in the morning," said the Ulsterman, glued to his television like millions of others.

"It was unbelievable. I actually thought we could do it when I saw Luke Donald, Poulter, Rose and Rory (McIlroy) out early.

"I thought they were better players than the American guys' top order and I thought if they get blue on the board they could actually turn it around.

"But obviously (Phil) Mickelson hit a chip shot that was in all the way and just spun out at the end and Rose holed the putt.

"It was just fractions - if that didn't happen they wouldn't have done it.

"It was amazing and good for European golf. I remember two years ago I was hitting balls alongside Monty (Colin Montgomerie) and he had just won the Ryder Cup in Wales.

"He was saying how key that was for the Tour to try to get sponsors. Hopefully this again will really help, but winning five of the last six shows the European Tour players are probably better."

Former British amateur champion Hoey was the shock winner in Scotland last October, pushing McIlroy into second place and Graeme McDowell into third.

He also won in Morocco earlier this season, but inconsistency in between and since ruined his bid to be part of the Chicago action.

McIlroy and McDowell chose not to enter the Dunhill Links this year and Lee Westwood was a late withdrawal, leaving only three of Jose Maria Olazabal's side in the field.

They are Paul Lawrie, Peter Hanson and Martin Kaymer, whose putt against Steve Stricker ensured Europe kept the cup.

"It was such a fine line between being the hero or the biggest idiot," the German said yesterday. "Fortunately it went the right way".

Lawrie, meanwhile, has spoken about how tough it was to compete at Medinah because of the crowd.

"I didn't get abused, but you get 'top it, shank it, you're a loser', stuff like that, every shot you play," the 43-year-old former Open champion said.

"Every single shot you hit last week, that's what you get just before you go and hit it.

"That was the same the last time I played (in Boston in 1999) and I think a few of the players had a bit more than that.

"We spoke about it a lot at the team meetings at the start of the week.

"Jose was very clear - 'don't even look at them, don't take them on. Don't make out it's hurting us. Just hit your shot and walk on'.

"It's pretty tough when someone is screaming and blowing in your ear that you're a loser, but there's not much you can do.

"It makes it all the more satisfying on Sunday night when you're standing there with the Ryder Cup in front of you and they are not. I think it helps us, to be fair.

"I think they (the American team) said it's the same when they come here. Apparently that's how it is, but I can't see that."

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