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Graeme's a man of steel

By Andy Farrell

It was at THAT press conference. You know the one last week when Graeme McDowell admitted that Rory McIlroy had outgrown him as a Ryder Cup partner.

The Portrush native's candid assessment of his relationship on the course with Holywood's finest generated headlines galore, but there was another gem from G-Mac at the same media briefing which virtually slipped under the radar.

He said this: "I've been blessed, thankfully, with some level of fortitude. I got it from my mum. She's a pretty tough cookie and an MS sufferer. The one thing that she did give me is perspective and some strength of mind. I would love to get a chance to test it out again this weekend."

He got that chance... and boy did McDowell take it.

Not for the first time son Graeme did mum Marian proud.

In the past G-Mac has sealed the deal. Remember Celtic Manor 2010? Who could forget how he held his nerve under extreme pressure to win back the Cup for his continent.

This time, at Gleneagles, he was to be the leader of European men, a clever decision by the canniest of captains Paul McGinley, who outfoxed USA counterpart Tom Watson just about every step of the way.

McGinley knew that the Yanks, spanked in the foursomes on Saturday evening and trailing 10-6 overnight, would come out firing. Hurt pride would see to that. He needed a strong character up front at number one, someone tough enough to get going when the going got tough.

McDowell, who became a dad recently, was that man. He may have trailed early on to gifted youngster Jordan Spieth, but like the fighter he is G-Mac hung in there and came good to win his match. The message that victory sent out to his team-mates was every bit as important as the point he added to the European total.

Rory, like Graeme, won three valuable points for Europe over the three days, as the senior partner, alongside Ryder Cup legends Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, and on his own in the singles against one of America's high hopes for a score on the board Rickie Fowler.

Just like during his two Major triumphs this season, Rory proved too good for Rickie.

On the evidence of this year in Scotland, it seems like Europe will be keeping the Ryder Cup for some time yet.

The Americans were outfought, out thought and ultimately outplayed. What appeared like a lack of team spirit did not help either.

Europe were united, all behind McGinley. USA were a fractured bunch, with the relationship between certain players and Watson suffering a breakdown.

In 2016, Darren Clarke is odds on to captain the European team, which will surely have McDowell and McIlroy in its ranks.

Look out America... Northern Ireland's coming to get you. Again.

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