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Good fellowship boosts Europeans

You could probably debate the subject well past the time Europeans sang in celebration into Sunday night. No doubt, it will be a topic again when the 2006 Ryder Cup is played in Ireland.

The European Ryder Cup team, which trounced the United States by a final score of 18{ to 9{ at Oakland Hills Country Club, relishes the team aspect of the competition.

And who is to argue, now that it has won four of the past five Ryder Cups and seven of the past 10 dating to 1985?

"We're a closer-knit team," said Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, who has played on four winning European teams and went 3-1 here. "We're one of the closest teams in international sport. We must be. It's amazing how well we play for each other, and that's huge.

"I'm not saying that the Americans don't. They play for the country or whatever. But we really do play for each other. And it's amazing how we pull for each other from the word go, from the moment we get on that plane on Monday morning how we are as one. It's amazing how our record here belies our ranking in the world."

True, on paper, it should not be this way. Certainly the outcome should not be so lopsided.

The United States had four players ranked in the world's top 10 and eight in the top 20; the Europeans had just one player in the top 10 and four in the top 20. Europe had four players ranked 60th and lower.

The United States had four players who have won major championships, while no one on the European team has captured a major. There were four Europeans who didn't even qualify for all four of the Grand Slam events this year.

But the Americans fell behind in the team competition 6{ to 1{ on Friday and never could cut into the deficit. On Sunday, they lost the overall singles competition for just the seventh time in 35 Ryder Cups.

"I think there is more camaraderie on the European side than the American side, without any question," said Tony Jacklin, the two-time major-championship winner who captained the European side four times in the 1980s going 2-1-1. "I think the American guys all want to do well. But they are all these individuals who do their own thing all the time. They fly around in their own bloody planes doing their own thing. The Europeans get together. If you're off in Switzerland you're looking for somebody to eat dinner with. That was the way. In Germany, Paris, European countries, you hung out with the guys."

It works for the Europeans. For the Americans, it is a simple matter of execution. Or lack of execution.

"You take 12 of the best players in the world and you put them out there and they have got to play," said Davis Love, the sixth-ranked player in the world who went 1-3-1. "You could do all kind of pairings, all kind of formats, but if Tiger Woods and Davis Love and Phil Mickelson don't lead this team, it's hard for the next three or four guys to do it and it's hard for the rookies. If you're going to point blame at anybody, you'd better point it on the guys who are on the golf course."