Edition 1496
13 October 2018
Edition: 1496

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Ryder Cup worries

by Neil Connolly, in Sport · 03-05-2018 15:39:00 · 0 Comments

As always, the gap between the Masters and the rest of the Majors seems to grow ever larger. After all of the excitement of the annual trip down Magnolia Lane, which was particularly good this year, it really has seemed quite dull.

Ryder Cup worries

With The Players Championship starting in a week’s time and Wentworth at the end of the month things are, at least, hotting up. Even the talk of the Ryder Cup seems to be somewhat subdued. It might be because the weather has been so poor or that Tiger seems to have gone into hibernation that enthusiasm, certainly from my side, seems so low.
The Ryder Cup fear really has taken hold of me now. If you have been reading this column, you will be familiar with my concerns about the newly formed ‘Ryder Cup Task Force’. This task force’s sole reason for being is to create a momentum by succession planning and using all of the experience gained from past Ryder Cups and implementing them into the up and coming matches. The very thing which should have happened after Paul Azinger’s demolition of Faldo’s team in Valhalla 2008.
Their win at Hazeltine was planned, then what they did to the Rest of the World’s Team in the President’s Cup, where they had, albeit won, before they stood on the tee for the last day’s singles. That was planned too. So their eyes are now focused on winning the Ryder Cup in Europe for the first time in twenty five years.
Please don’t think that I’m all doom and gloom here, it’s a foreboding feeling and one which I can’t seem to shake. Normally, I would say, “well our hometown players will have the advantage” that normally would push the scale in our favour. But we are not on home soil. We are in Paris France for the first time, which I feel is not the same as playing in Ireland or Spain. At the K Club we had the Irish support backing up the European support. At Valderrama (the first ever non UK venue) we had Seve, wanting to hit every shot, as our iconic Captain. In Ireland we had McGinley, Harrington and Clarke as the island’s players. Clarke, who had recently lost his wife to cancer, bravely stepped up to play. At Valderrama we had Olazabel and Garrido as the home town players. In Paris, I can’t see a French player making the grade. So effectively, everybody will be playing on foreign soil. No home court advantage anymore.
I am only stating my feelings here. The US Team for the last President’s Cup match had the incredible backdrop of the Statue of Liberty, nothing more rousing to their national pride than that, really. Le Golf National is as much in Paris as Luton Airport is in London. So the use of iconic European landmarks are not in our favour either. The crowd will be partisan, no doubt, I also feel that the Americans will be a little like ducks out of water, seeing that a foreign language is being spoken. After all, there is nothing more disconcerting than being insulted in French and not knowing what has been said.
If we were to talk about the Captains of each team, there is a lack of knowledge or congeniality between the Captains and the supporters. The ‘Great Dane’ or Thomas Bjorn has been a fixture of the European Tour for over twenty years now. He has won fifteen times on the tour, is hugely respected by his peers but, and it is a big but, has only represented Europe three times as a player. They were all wins, to his credit, with the last win occurring in 2014. The only point being made here is that we don’t really know the man.
The worst-case scenario would be; that the European team is made of rookies (as was the last squad), it is being Captained by a past player not really known to the European golfing masses, on a golf course which is not technically on home soil.
Looking at the potential line up there are five rookies in the team. The sense of foreboding continues…

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Edition 1496
13 October 2018
Edition: 1496

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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