NEWPORT, Wales -- With the entire Ryder Cup resting on his and Hunter Mahan’s final match, Graeme McDowell carried himself like a stouter, shorter Clint Eastwood, sinking his 15-footer on 16 with gritty cool to go 2 up with two to play and then hitting the green on 17 to seal the victory for Europe. Well, it was all an act. At the Europeans’ boisterous post-round press confernce -- not to be confused with captain Colin Montgomerie’s Castro-like closing ceremony speech -- McDowell was asked about the pressure of those closing holes. "Tell them what you just told me,” a Heiniken-drinking Lee Westwood grinned. “He said he could barely hold, uh, the club.” McDowell won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June with similar composure down the stretch, but he said that playing his singles match Monday in the Ryder Cup was another level of pressure than even a major championship. “I can safely say that I’ve never felt that nervous on a golf course in my life,” McDowell said. “We said that we weren’t going to check out leaderboards, but the screens by every green were quite big and it was kind of tough not to notice.” McDowell was on the 10th green when he saw how close the scores were and realized his match could be the deciding one.
“I mean, obviously I hoped that I wasn’t going to be needed,” McDowell said. “At that point I got extremely nervous and coming down the stretch there, I’ve never felt nerves like it in my life. “I was out there trying to win it for me, for my 11 teammates, for Colin, for Europe, for all of those fans out there,” he continued. “It was a different level completely to what Pebble Beach was, and that is why this golf tournament is extremely special and will continue to be one of the greatest, probably the greatest, golf event on the planet.” Westwood said that while McDowell had it tough on the course, it was nothing like having to watch his teammate play the pressure-filled match.
“I hated every minute of it,” Westwood said as reporters laughed. But he was serious.
“I don’t know how my wife and parents do it, watch. It’s just awful watching,” Westwood said. “[McDowell] has the easy part. He was playing.”(Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)