Stage the Ryder Cup to raise morale… with a little tickle to the rules


The show must go on: Think big and stage the Ryder Cup to raise morale… (with a little tickle to the rules)

  • There is a feeling in some quarters that the Ryder Cup should be postponed
  • But imagine the role the contest could play in raising morale later this year
  • The two captains should have the freedom to pick their teams in their entirety 

The Euros have been kicked down the road and the Olympics will assuredly follow suit. 

No wonder there is a doom-laden feeling in some quarters that the Ryder Cup should be postponed for 12 months as well, and we write this off as the lost year of sport. 

After all, might it not free up some space to cram in a rearranged major or two? 

Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood celebrate victory at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris

Thankfully, those in charge are not currently thinking along those lines at all. It’s time to think big not small, and how the Ryder Cup draws in millions of sports and non-sports lovers alike, who don’t normally watch golf. 

By late September — if we’re all, please God, up and running again by then — imagine the role the biennial contest could play in raising morale, and particularly with the loss of the other two major sporting events? 

Rather than run for cover, it’s the sport’s duty and responsibility to stage the Ryder Cup if at all possible. What about the qualifying process, with so many tournaments lost? Sure, it’s going to need a rethink — but it’s hardly rocket science. 

The easiest solution would be to scrap automatic qualifying and give the two captains the freedom to pick their teams in their entirety, which would certainly create plenty of debate. But, given the qualifying process had proceeded smoothly for six months without interruption, it would hardly be the fairest solution. 

Europe captain Thomas Bjorn kisses the trophy after winning the 2018 Ryder Cup

With hopefully at least a month’s golf before the autumn showpiece, including two or three majors, there would be time for those who have done little to this point to show some form. There’s one change that should be made. 

Europe’s Padraig Harrington gave up one of his captain’s wild cards because he believed in the integrity of the 12-month qualifying period. 

Now it has been compromised, he should have four picks instead of three. Worrying about the whys and wherefores of qualifying, though, ought to be secondary. 

Last week, Gary Neville called for a festival of football when the time was right, and if players had to play every day, then so be it. That should be golf’s attitude, too. N

ever mind worrying about staging majors either side of the Ryder Cup and fretting about overkill. If we’re in a blessed place by then where it’s safe to play and watch sport, we’ll be desperate to celebrate and revel in the fact. 

With the Olympics about to be postponed, let’s not forget the biggest event of all that can now take place this year is the Ryder Cup. Time to put on a show, if we possibly can.

Pretty handy either way!

When Vijay Singh was in his prime, he walked up to me on the practice ground — I was hitting some shots before a pro-am — took a club from my bag and proceeded to hit a three iron I couldn’t have matched if I’d stayed there all day. 

Nothing surprising in that, you might think, but for the fact that I’m left handed and was playing off a handicap of three. 

I thought of that moment last week when watching Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson show off their astounding prowess playing with left-handed clubs on social media. 

Vijay Singh (above) has shown he can play the game both right-handed and left-handed

If you’ve ever played the other way round from your conventional style, you’ll know how impossible it is standing on what feels like the wrong side of the ball. The bash brothers, meanwhile, looked like they could take their left handed games on tour. 

The TrackMan measuring device showed Koepka was hitting eight irons 190 yards, and Johnson blasted a left-handed drive over 300 yards. 

The way they play the game right-handed is impressive, of course. But, quite honestly, the way they hit left-handed has left me in awe

To play or not to play? It’s a dilemma that club golfers have been wrestling with for the last couple of weeks. 

For every person pointing out that golf involves a natural amount of social distancing and plays an important part regarding mental health, there’s another worrying about whether it’s a good look, given the Government guidelines about non-essential travel and social contact. 

I’ve put my qualms to one side and slipped in a couple of enjoyable games over the past week at my club, Wallasey, where I think they’ve got it right. They’ve closed the clubhouse, the elder members are largely staying away to self-isolate, there’s no touching of flags, and the bunkers have been declared ground under repair so there’s no need to handle rakes. 

Nobody lingered in the car park before or after their round, either. No doubt it will be taken out of our hands but, for now, I’m going to continue siding — at a safe distance — with those who want to keep playing 

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