Golf Unlikely to Feature in BBC's End-of-Year Sporting Celebration
IT HAS been a pretty special year for European golf. Francesco Molinari won The Open at Carnoustie, Georgia Hall won the Women’s British Open, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy all won on the PGA Tour, Tommy Fleetwood produced some spectacular golf all over the world. Oh, and Europe won the Ryder Cup in sensational fashion. There was also the small matter of Rose becoming world No 1.
Yes, American golfers won The Masters (Patrick Reed), US Open and US PGA Championship (Brooks Koepka) and yes, Tiger Woods dominated the headlines with the comeback of the year and a great victory at the Tour Championship. But for Europe in general and England in particular, 2018 was a magnificent year. Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace, Tyrrell Hatton and Aaron Rai have all won on the European Tour. Indeed, Wallace managed the feat three times. The nucleus of Thomas Bjorn’s victorious Ryder Cup team was British - McIlroy, Fleetwood, Hatton, Casey, Poulter, Rose, with Matthew Fitzpatrick and Scotland’s Russell Knox just missing out.
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year will be named on Sunday, December 16. During a star-studded evening, a host of awards will be handed out, including team of the year and young personality of the year. For the first time, the BBC has decided to wait until the night of the event before naming the shortlist. It seems a trifle odd but may be designed to stop what they described as “voting irregularities”. This time, viewers will only have a limited time to make their choice and cast their votes.
So what chance do you think there is of golf or a golfer featuring anywhere?
Team of the year? Don’t be silly. Europe may well have outplayed and out-thought arguably the best team ever to represent the USA in the Ryder Cup; Molinari may well have won five points from five and formed a spectacular partnership with Fleetwood; Poulter may have thrashed Dustin Johnson in the singles; Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson may have failed to score a single point between them. Europe were just wonderful, sending Jim Furyk’s team back across the Atlantic with their tails between their legs.
But I will be putting my mortgage on a team that not only didn’t win anything but didn’t even reach a final. Team of the year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony will, without a shadow of a doubt, be the England football team. Now don’t get me wrong. I may well be Scottish, but I got behind Gareth Southgate and his team just like everybody else in the country did. I would never want to take anything away from what they achieved, but the draw worked well for them and when they came up against a world-class team (Croatia), they lost. And then they lost the match nobody wants to play - the third-fourth place playoff.
Southgate and his team played with smiles on their faces and united a nation. For a couple of glorious weeks during the summer of 2018 we dared to dream. It was wonderful. But they came up short. They lost. Bjorn’s team were magnificent. And they won. But they won’t be winning anything at all on Sunday.
And the main award? We don’t yet know who is going to be on the list but it’s safe to say that it will feature Dina Asher-Smith, Harry Kane, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Lewis Hamilton, Geraint Thomas and maybe Lizzy Yarnold. They all deserve their places, but so do Hall, Rose and Fleetwood.
Will there be any golfer on the list? If not, that is a disgrace. Anybody who witnessed Hall’s performance as she won the Women’s British Open will tell you that they count themselves as being privileged to have been able to watch one of the all-time great final rounds at Royal Lytham. Hall was magnificent.
Golfers have never fared particularly well in this end-of-year sporting celebration and it should surprise nobody that the sport is now all but ignored by it since the BBC’s relationship with golf is now all but non existent. It is essentially restricted to highlights packages stuck away on BBC2 - and usually at times when most of us have either gone to bed or are watching live PGA Tour action on Sky Sports.
There are ample opportunities to reward a few golfers - coach of the year, lifetime achievement award, the Helen Rollason award, the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero award to honour the most dynamic, forward-thinking and driven volunteers from across the UK and World Sport Star of the Year. Molinari should be a shoo-in the for World Sport Star of the Year but does anybody really believe he will win it? Don’t be silly.
Perhaps if McIlroy or Rose can win two or three majors in 2019 they might at least make it on to the shortlist next year but don’t expect to see anybody who swings a golf club for a living getting anywhere close to winning an award on this star-studded evening in Birmingham. It’s just a fact of life.
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