Thomas Bjorn Named Ryder Cup Captain
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
THOMAS BJORN has been named as the captain of Europe's Ryder Cup team for the 2018 encounter with the United States to be staged in France.
Some eyebrows will be raised at the choice of Bjorn, a 15-time winner on the European Tour. He has played in three Ryder Cup matches, and finished on the winning side in all three, and he has also been a vice-captain on four occasions. However, there is a sense that he is being given the job because he has "done his time". And that surely cannot be right, especially when there are other candidates who are better qualified and more deserving of the honour.
Darren Clarke's European team were thrashed at Hazeltine, with the captain making some bizarre selection choices during a match that, for the long-term future of the event, needed an American victory. In truth, there is probably little that Clarke could have done to influence the outcome of this particular match. The Americans were the better team, plain and simple. But the result could, and should, have been far closer.
Bjorn is a respected figure on the tour, of that there is no doubt. But he is a taciturn character and there have to be serious questions asked about his ability to cope with the intense media scrutiny that will come his way. Clarke will now admit how difficult he found it at times, and he is a former Open champion and a far more outgoing character than Bjorn. The Dane was one of Clarke's vice-captains at Hazeltine, which would indicate that he either agreed with some of the Northern Irishman's rather more eccentric selections or, worse, that he failed to make his voice heard by telling Clarke that he was making some serious mistakes.
Paul McGinley, who masterminded Europe's victory at Gleneagles in 2014, left no stone unturned in his preparation for that encounter. Before a ball was struck, he knew the strengths and weaknesses not just of his own 12 players but also of the men who were representing the United States. No matter what Tom Watson did, there was nothing he could do to surprise McGinley. So why not ask him to do the job again?
Since the days of Tony Jacklin and Bernard Gallacher, the European Tour has steadfastly refused to appoint any captain for more than one match. The United States saw something in Davis Love as a losing captain in 2012 and were bold enough to ask him to do the job again in 2016, when he turned out to be the perfect leader.
If the European Tour is so determined not to ask McGinley to serve again, then why on earth would they not turn to Padraig Harrington or Miguel Angel Jimenez. The Spaniard is an idiosyncratic character, but he is much-loved by his fellow players and would inspire loyalty. Harrington is the most meticulous man I have ever met and it is scandalous that he has been overlooked this time around.
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