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The Ryder Cup rules, OK

Mike Clayton

Mike Clayton

Written on Tuesday, 08 June 2010 08:40

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This column comes from London and I am reminded as soon as the plane lands at Heathrow that golf every second year here in Europe revolves around The Ryder Cup, the biennial match between Europe and America.

The local press is obsessed with every permutation involving the players with a chance to make the team as well as every utterance from the Captain.

Colin Montgomerie is that man this time around, succeeding the spectacularly unsuccessful Nick Faldo, and not only is he attempting to win back a trophy for Europe, he is in charge of an event that underpins the financial security of the European Tour. Countries bid for the right to hold the European share of the event with the fervour of countries vying for the rights to hold The World Cup or The Olympics and the tour expects the winning bidder to hold big championships in the years between winning the bid and holding the event.

The selection is more complicated than it used to be because a number of the best European players compete for the majority of the season in America. In the past, all the best Europeans played in Europe and it was a simple task to pick the top 10 on the money list and the last two places were left to the Captain just in case a big star hadn't made quite enough to win a place by right.

Justin Rose, won last week in Ohio and certainly he is amongst the best dozen European players but he is still no certainly to make the team to play in Wales in the northern autumn. Brian Davis has been second twice in America in the last month but is not even close to making the team.

Luke Donald has secured his place after a brilliant run over the last three weeks. He threw away the tour's biggest event, The British PGA, at Wentworth when he made a double bogey at the next to last hole - a twisting par five that is not only one of the most recognized holes in Britain is also one of the most architecturally questionable.

Either way he won the next week in Madrid and was third behind Graeme McDowell and Welshman Rhys Davies at Celtic Manor in Wales.

On what looks to be a difficult course but not a particularly interesting one McDowell did a 63 on Sunday which edged the local hero who was one better at 62. Davies in his first season on tour has quickly earned a reputation as a truly phenomenal putter and while anyone who is shooting 62 looks fantastic with the putter this kid looks like he is going to hole every putt he hits. Bob Charles was like that and so was Ben Crenshaw and as a wise old bloke once said ‘a man who can putt is a match for anyone.'

The selection is finally decided in August and aside from the Open Championship week at St Andrews it will dominate the golfing press.

More interesting is that England has four players amongst the top 10 in the world - Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Donald. Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy is also in the 10 and Rose's win last weekend in one of the elite events puts him back where his swing suggests he should be.

Never have the English been so successful - well not since the days of Vardon, Taylor and Ray - and it will make the Ryder Cup a fantastic event. The Americans won it back last time at Valhalla, the undistinguished, but PGA of America-owned course in Kentucky.

The President's Cup comes to Royal Melbourne next year and that is a triumph for professional golf and its relationship with quality golf course architecture. One thing you could never say about the modern Ryder Cup is that quality architecture was a priority when it comes to picking a venue. The next European venue in 2014 is the newest course at the famed Gleneagles resort in Scotland and the best local golf writer John Huggan calls it ‘the fourth best course in Auchterarder'.

It may be great golf to watch if you are looking for great matches and great shots - but if you are into studying how the best players tackle the more interesting architectural questions you best wait for next spring and Royal Melbourne.

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