Battle at the Manor
You can have your World Cup’s with the Argentina’s, Brazil’s and Uruguay’s. You can have your Formula 1 expanding into Asia. You can have your Olympic games with pretty much everyone.
But you know what, this weekend at least, I only care about one thing. Two teams. Rivals. Europe united, America determined. It can only mean the best team event in the world, the 2010 Ryder Cup.
The build-up started two years ago, after the USA regained the Ryder Cup after six years of European glory. A pretty flawless display, especially in the singles, saw them win 16 1/2 to 11 1/2. And all of this, without the then saint of the sport, Tiger Woods.
Things change, Woods is back. No longer a saint but a sinner. Jibed at by rookie Rory McIlroy, but don’t underestimate him. He isn’t a team player, the last time USA won with Woods in the team was at The Country Club in the controversial 1999 Ryder Cup. The crowd will be on his back for all 18 holes and more, his opening pairing against Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher will be lively. The big question for him is simple. Can he put it all behind him and help his team. He’s shown he can play well individually (as well as shockingly bad) this season, who is going to turn up?
The crowd will play a massive factor, Team Europe, all of them behind the twelve players. All of them against the other twelve. The noise will be crazy, and all behind what I think is one of the strongest European side in years.
Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington. All major winners, and two of them a winner in this current year. Sure, Harrington was a controversial selection, people saying he isn’t as good as he used to be, he’s not the right man when we have the likes of Paul Casey are missing out on the action. But I’m with Colin Montgomerie on this one, I’d have picked him as well. I have faith in him. Like with the selection of Ian Poulter in 2008, critisced left right and centre and turned out to be the best European golfer. Harrington has five Ryder Cups under his belt. He can give the boost to the young lads, give them the experience, and under pressure, on the final day, he has been there before. I don’t think I’d want anyone else.
Then there are my two favourite golfing brothers, Edoardo and Francesco Molinari. World Cup winners in 2009 for Italy and I must admit, I’m surprised Montgomerie won’t be using them for all four team events. There is that much faith in them as a team, they know each other inside out. What more can you ask for?
And then there are the many other rookies, the simply brilliant Rory McIlroy who’s 80 during The Open ruined his chance of winning it, and that has been his only fault all year. Ross Fisher and Peter Hanson are all solid golfers, perhaps not exceptional, but a welcome addition to the European team.
And the experienced. 46 year old Miguel Angel Jimenez, who has earned the right to be here and can give the experience. Lee Westwood, his seventh Ryder Cup, he’s seen it all before. Ian Poulter and Luke Donald also seeing a little return to form.
Twelve players I trust to help get Europe back into glory. And captained by Colin Montgomerie, excellent. Bring it on.
But despite all this bigging up, come on Europe and all that malarky. The USA will still want to retain what they hold, they don’t want to give the Ryder Cup back into the expecting arms of the Europeans. They’ve got a handy squad as well.
Along with the temperamental Tiger, there is the World number 2 and Masters winner Phil Mickleson, who has had about a dozen attempts to become the world number 1 and not taken one of them. Jim Furyk and Stewart Cink will also be there bringing in the experience.
There are a few rookies too, some that are still fairly unknown on the European scene, especially in the youngsters of Jeff Overton, Dustin Johnson and my personal favourite Rickie Fowler. With his, unusual, dress sense, especially with his favourite orange outfit and a too big for his head cap. I think he is a talented golfer as well, certainly capable of causing some big problems for Europe.
And it all starts tomorrow, 7:45 with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer against Phil Mickleson and Dustin Johnson at the gorgeous Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales. First time the Cup has ever visited the land of the Dragons and all that. Are Newport ready? Probably not. But the golf course and that is, it looks stunning. The rain might put a damper on events (that was a pun, you can applaud that if you like) but this should be some event to watch.
Come on Europe, bring back the Ryder Cup. This might not be war, but its pretty close.