View From The Fairway - Intriguing Ryder Cup Ahead
With the Ryder Cup approaching, Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his latest View From The Fairway.
THE Ryder Cup promises to be an intriguing contest, with American skipper Steve Stricker facing more than his fair share of headaches. The feud involving Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau has been well documented and Stricker may find himself hoping that Koepka does not recover from the injury he suffered at the Tour Championship, resulting in him having to withdraw. It was quite clear at the BMW Championship that there is also little love lost between DeChambeau and FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay. It should come as no surprise to anybody that Stricker decided not to give one of his wild cards to Patrick Reed, the self-appointed Captain America. Stricker said that one of the main reasons he didn’t select Reed was because the player has only recently recovered from pneumonia. But at the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, Reed was told that Jordan Spieth didn’t want to partner him, and there was no reason to believe that things will be any different at Whistling Straits. One of the reasons Europe has enjoyed so much success in the Ryder Cup is the spirit of camaraderie in the team room. The Europeans leave their egos at home and root for one another. On paper, the USA should be red-hot favourite to regain the trophy. But once again, the rifts between their players may get in the way.
IT SHOULD come as no great surprise that The Open is returning to Royal Portrush in 2025. The 2019 tournament, won by Shane Lowry, was one of the most successful Opens in history, with more 200,000 spectators cheering home an Irish winner. It is a magnificent course, and Irish golf fans are surely the most enthusiastic on the planet.
PATRICK CANTLAY has had an astonishing season, winning four times and being crowned FedEx Cup champion. He won the Tour Championship even though he didn’t produce the lowest 72-hole score but he proved his mettle by holding off the challenge of world No1 Jon Rahm, and he did so in some style. The American has risen to fourth in the world rankings and is sure to be a key member of the US Ryder Cup team, where he will no doubt once again have to go head to head with Rahm at some point. But it hasn’t always been a bed of roses for Cantlay. In 2013 he suffered a chronic back injury that very nearly brought his playing career to an end. He was only able to keep playing by changing his golf swing - a swing that had taken him to the top of the amateur rankings. And then, in 2016, just after he had been told not to play again for the rest of that year, he was crossing a road with Chris Roth, his best friend. Roth was struck by a hit and run driver and died a short while later. Cantlay watched it all unfold and, unsurprisingly, suffered horribly from depression - he had watched his friend die and he couldn’t play golf. It has been a long journey back and it may go some way towards explaining why Cantlay keeps him emotions in check on the course. Make no mistake, this is a formidable competitor who has his priorities in order.
CATRIONA MATTHEW’S European Solheim Cup team were rank outsiders to successfully defend the trophy on American soil but delivered another body blow to the host nation with a fabulous against-the-odds victory at Inverness Golf Club in Ohio. On paper, the Eurpean’s shouldn’t have had an earthly but, inspired Irish Rookie Leona Maguire, they gave the Americans another bloody nose. It was just a shame that the American fans found it so difficult to acknowledge the outstanding golf played by Europe’s finest.
INEVITABLY, there were calls for Matthew to remain at the helm for a third stint as Solheim Cup captain but the Scot has already made it clear that she won’t be doing it again. When asked if she would be captain again in Spain in 2023, she said: "No. That's over to someone else.” The next Solheim Cup takes place at the Finca Cortesin club in Andalucia. It is the right decision. As Tony Jacklin, who led Europe four times, will confirm, this is a role that becomes all-consuming. Matthew simply wants her life back. There is no doubt that her successor will have huge shoes to fill going on the praise her players lavished on her in the aftermath of Europe’s famous victory. Georgia Hall was among those to pay tribute, saying: "Our captain's done a fantastic job with the pairings and the order so we couldn't have asked for a better captain. She swapped some of the pairings which worked really, really well and to our advantage - she was amazing. She's just so chilled all the time and is really positive with all of us.”
THERE was further good news for women’s golf with the news that Sky Sports has announced a three-year extension of its existing rights deals for both the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the Ladies European Tour (LET). The extension of the LPGA deal will see Sky Sports continue to be the home for all five women's golf majors: the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, the Evian Championship, ANA Inspiration, the US Women's Open and the AIG Women's Open until 2024. The Women's Scottish Open and the Solheim Cup will be shown on Sky Sports Golf in a three-year deal extension (including 2021) up to 2023.
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