Europe’s team flew into Illinois last night. Actually, scratch that…three members of Europe’s team plus skipper Jose-Maria Olazabal flew in.
 
This is significant. Gone now are the days when the entire side plus wives, girlfriends and officials used to rock’n’roll their way across the Atlantic, bonding all the way. Jose-Maria once established a putting record on Concorde during one of these flights; Sam Torrance proposed to Suzanne who is now his wife; all sorts of other happy incidents occurred so that by the time the plane landed, Europe’s major bonding session was over.
 
But with the Fedex Cup and the fact that so many of them now live in the United States the whole atmosphere of this 39th Ryder Cup has changed. Forever. Fact is that more Europeans will need to be introduced to Niclas Colsaerts, that they know their American neighbours in Florida better than they do the elegant Belgian.
 
So I asked Olazabal if he had missed out on a major opportunity to have his side gel? Of course, he wasn’t going to admit that but he did edge his way towards it when he said, yes, it was “strange”. At which point a European official whispered in my ear…”We should have flown to New York and have the others meet us there and then flown in as a team.”
 
He’s right. The old days when Europe hit the USA like a raiding party have gone forever. And with this has gone the sense of us against them. Now it is ‘hi buddy, good to see you’ and the reassuring air of confrontation has gone, evaporated by a changed world and the players determination to cash in on the wealthier US circuit.
 
Is this a pity? Damn right it is. I’m not saying we want another War On The Shore – although secretly I wouldn’t mind – but we do want an edge, a sharp edge but too many players from both sides have shared too many family barbecues for there to be anything other than a faint sense of a reunion party. And I for one am sorry to see that happen.
 
And it seems that Davis Love agrees with me. “For my first Ryder Cup as a player, Tom Watson took us to New York and we all flew on Concorde and before we got on the plane he said “this is going to be a grand adventure, it’s going to be incredible”. I miss that, we all gather and fly over there, they gather and fly over here. That was a really cool thing.” Spot on, Davis.