(Reuters) - The European Ryder Cup players felt a “sense of duty” to carry on a winning tradition as last week’s event in France, team member Ian Poulter said on Wednesday.
Speaking after returning to his American base in Florida, Poulter described how the Europeans were inspired by a video featuring past captains Jose Maria Olazabal, Sam Torrance and Brian Huggett.
Torrance spoke of how the Ryder Cup was not about taking part but about winning and “nothing else” while Olazabal broke down in tears as he remembered Europe’s trailblazer Seve Ballesteros, his fellow Spaniard who died of brain cancer in 2011 at the age of 54.
“A lot of that still burns inside as a European player,” Poulter told Golf Channel.
“When we see little videos that get played in the team room during the week, some of the legends and greats from Europe who have paved the way for us to play, you feel their sense of pride.
“It’s our duty as a European player to be strong, to represent, to show passion, because the U.S. had the upper hand in the Ryder Cup for so many years.”
Poulter recorded two wins in France to help Europe beat the United States 17-5 to 10.5 — the sixth consecutive home win for the Europeans.
The Ryder Cup was expanded to include players from continental Europe in 1979. It previously was a one-sided contest between the U.S. and a generally inferior team from Britain and Ireland.
Ballesteros became the heart and soul of the European team, the five-times major champion leading the team to victory in 1985 and charting the course for future success. Europe have lost at home only once since.
“Our fortress in Europe, we just try extra, extra, extra hard and make sure we come together strong as a team,” Poulter said. “The team bonding goes right through the team. It’s very special.”
The Englishman, at 42 the oldest member of the European team, capped off a memorable week by beating world number one Dustin Johnson on Sunday.
Poulter remains unbeaten in Ryder Cup singles with five wins and one half, the third best record behind American Tom Kite and European Colin Montgomerie, and he felt added pressure after notching only one point in his first three matches.
“I had to be resilient, had to be strong, had to hit shots down the stretch. That was truly a special win for me, to put a point on the board to help (captain) Thomas (Bjorn) and the rest of the team mates.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond