View From The Fairway - Ryder Cup Qualification Needs To Be Changed
Golfshake's Derek Clements comments on the latest headlines in golf and shares his observations!
LEE WESTWOOD is a racing certainty to be named as Europe’s captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Italy and nobody is better qualified for the job. He has played in 11 matches and was a vice-captain in Paris in 2018. He knows what it is like to be part of a winning team. Crucially, he has also been on the receiving end. He has worked with some outstanding captains and he has also played for captains whose performances could have been better. So he knows what works and what doesn’t. So when he says that it is time to look at the qualification process we should listen. As Westwood says, an increasing number of European golfers now spend most of their time plying their trade on the PGA Tour. The current system, which features two qualification tables - a world points list and a European points list - means that there is no guarantee that Europe field their strongest possible team. Westwood is calling for at least four wild cards. Padraig Harrington had three for this year’s match while his American counterpart, Steve Stricker, was given six. It meant that Stricker went to Whistling Straits knowing he had named the strongest possible American team. The bulk of that side will still be in their prime in two years’ time. If Europe are to have any chance of beating them, the qualification process simply has to change.
ANYBODY who saw it can’t fail to have been moved by Rory McIlroy’s interview after his singles victory at Whistling Straits. The Northern Irishman was slated to go out second-to-last in the final-day singles but was persuaded by Shane Lowry to lead the team out. Lowry told him he was one of the best ever to play the game and it was his duty to lead from the front. McIlroy had a bitterly disappointing Ryder Cup but anybody who ever doubted his commitment to the cause can surely have no doubts now. He felt that he let his teammates down but nobody goes out and plays poorly deliberately. Let’s be honest here - Matthew Fitzpatrick must be starting to wonder if he will ever win a point, but do you think he won’t be giving it 100% to ensure he is in the team in Italy in 2023? Not a bit of it.
TONY FINAU was meant to be part of the field competing in the Alfred Dunhill lInks Championship at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns but withdrew citing health reasons. Finau looked as fit as a fiddle and was one of the stars of the American Ryder Cup team. I can’t help but wonder if he perhaps overdid the celebrations. And if he did, who can blame him?
WHO would ever have believed that Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia would share the Ryder Cup’s Nicklaus-Jacklin Award for sportsmanship? Johnson scored a maximum five points at Whistling Straits and was a shoo-in. Garcia, already Europe’s record points scorer, enhanced his reputation on and off the course. It has taken far too long, but it seems that Garcia has finally grown up. He played his matches in exactly the right spirit and was seen to console his teammates in the wake of Europe’s record defeat. The Spaniard played the game with a smile on his face - don’t regard that as him not caring. He cares as much as anybody but has finally learnt to play the game in the correct spirit and is to be commended. Johnson was the senior member of the US team and, by all accounts, was an inspirational presence in the team room - who would have thought it?
YOU have to admire the optimism of the men and women behind Europe’s online Ryder Cup shop. Two days after Europe’s record defeat in Wisconsin I received an email encouraging me to buy branded polo tops, jackets etc. You may not be surprised to learn that the asking prices on all items had been slashed, but I still don’t expect to see too many of my fellow golfers wearing 2020 Ryder Cup gear.
THE ticket ballot for the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews has now closed. According to the R&A, there has been huge demand for tickets for what promises to be a memorable tournament. If you entered the ballot you will have to wait until the end of October to find out if you have been successful.
IT IS hardly surprising that the World Handicap System continues to raise eyebrows. Michael Hoey and Maeve Danaher won the team event during the Dunhill Links Championship after finishing 36 under par! Ryan Fox and former cricketer Shane Warne finished on the same score, but Hoey and Danaher won as a result of Hoey's final round of 64.
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