Captain's Blog: September
Excitement and anticipation…..
I was in France again at the beginning of last week, spending a day with some of the young Elite Squad members of the French Golf Federation. It was a fantastic trip and it was nice to have an opportunity to speak to some of the young golfing talent from France and also to see just how much they are looking forward to The Ryder Cup being in their home country. You get a great indication of things to come for next September through their excitement and anticipation. I also spent a little bit of time on the course at Le Golf National. The work is continuing on and around the course itself which is great to see. The range is now being built and there are lots of other things that are progressing. We are used to playing the Open de France there at the end of June, so last week gave me a more realistic feel for what conditions will be like in September when The Ryder Cup is played.
I was hopeful of getting back into action in the British Masters at Close House this week, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. I’ve had neck issues for a while now and they resurfaced as I was getting ready for the Pro-Am which meant I had to withdraw from that and the tournament itself which was very disappointing. This came on the back of a foot injury which forced me to retire from the first round in Switzerland three weeks ago when I was playing with two of our up and coming talents – Jordan Smith and Renato Paratore – and that was particularly frustrating. I have said all along that one of the most important things is that I am out here playing alongside the guys who are trying to make the team. Don’t get me wrong, you get a useful perspective watching from the sidelines, but there is nothing quite like being out there on the course with them. So, I will be looking after myself and planning my schedule carefully over the next 12 months to allow me to do that. As for getting back into action, I remain hopeful of being back inside the ropes for next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St Andrews.
Although by the actual calendar, this week is the Year to Go for The 2018 Ryder Cup, the celebratory two-day event planned is coming up in Paris and Versailles on October 16-17. I am looking forward to it very much and, in particular, having everybody together, from both sides, who are involved in The Ryder Cup. In the end, when it comes down to the week itself, we are Europe, they are the US, we will do our thing, they will do theirs and we will be competing against one another. But in so many other ways we are working together to try and embrace one of the biggest events in world sport – and the Year to Go Celebration is a perfect example of that. As much as Jim and I will be very competitive during the match week, we have a lot of respect for each other and as a result we try and make all these things happen in the best possible way.
An important legacy…..
I mentioned earlier about spending some time in France last week and I want to end with a further reflection on that. When you meet people in that country, many of whom have devoted ten years of their lives to The Ryder Cup, it is quite humbling when you see the pride they have and what next September will mean to them. In many ways, The Ryder Cup is like a child’s birthday party – you go to one and the next one has to be a little bit better and so on. The people in France want this Ryder Cup to be the best there has ever been and to work with people who have that determination is great to see. I am only the Captain and in the grand scheme of things my job really is to look after the 12 players, but The Ryder Cup is so much more than that. It has a legacy for golf in France, it has a legacy for golf in general and it has a responsibility to the game worldwide. I am a curious person by nature. I like hearing what other people do and how they get stuck into things and, in Ryder Cup terms, it is even more interesting because everyone involved – either directly or indirectly – will eventually affect what we are all trying to achieve. It is quite a thought.
Until next time……..