Points Update
Ryder Cup
Points Update

Europe

Captain's Blog: July

Hi everyone and welcome to the latest of my monthly Blogs as we continue the countdown to The 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National. With only 73 days to go now until the first tee shot, excitement is building.

Great position...

Coming off the back of three of the biggest events of our season in France, Ireland and Scotland, I have been asked a couple of times what we have learned over these weeks. I think the answer is they have confirmed exactly what we thought was the case – that European golf is in a pretty good place right now. There are a lot of guys jostling for position and it seems like every week there's a new name entering the frame for September. From a Captain's point of view that presents a host of opportunities as there are still 20 to 25 guys who could make the team. That number will obviously be whittled down the closer we get, but that is a great position for European golf to be in.

Many considerations...

People also ask me if I took more notice of events during the Open de France than any other tournament, considering where it was played. My answer to that is; of course I looked at the golf course and how people performed on it, but it is just one of some 15 to 20 considerations into what makes a potential Ryder Cup player. Just because you have a good or bad record around Le Golf National doesn't hold a significant sway one way or the other in terms of making the team. For me it is more to do with what form you come into the match in. The best players, when they are on form, can play any golf course in the world.

Unique experience...

As I’ve said before in these pages, I’ve spent a lot of time in France over the past 18 months, getting a feeling for what The Ryder Cup is going to be like. The atmosphere is definitely building, and we got a taste of that during the Open de France but, to be honest, The Ryder Cup is so different.  Any venue I've gone to before we've played a Ryder Cup in the past you remember it for certain things but then, come the week itself, the look and feel are completely different. I spent a bit of time standing on the 18th fairway trying to imagine what it will be like with tens of thousands of people around the green, playing in the singles match on which the whole outcome of the contest hinges. It certainly gets your head going! Le Golf National is definitely a unique golf course. It very much feels like a course that was built for this occasion. It's going to stand up very well to The Ryder Cup and it's going to be an experience for those 24 players that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Grab the moment...

This week, the eyes of the world will be on the greatest golf tournament on the planet – The Open Championship – and I will be no different. What also is no different is my message to the European players, which has been consistent from day one; namely that individual achievement in their careers is the most important thing. I don't want any of them thinking Ryder Cup this week. I want them all thinking Claret Jug. That should be the mind set they go in with. This is the reason professional golfers work so hard on the range over the years – to have an opportunity to win a Major Championship. The Open Championship is the pinnacle of a player’s career and they have to go out and try and grab that moment. The Ryder Cup will come after that.

A different beast...

It goes without saying I wish every single European player in action at Carnoustie this week the very best of luck and would like nothing more than to see a European winner crowned on Sunday night. On that topic, I have been asked on a number of occasions if it is important for September that that actually happens? I would answer that by saying I have been involved in a host of Ryder Cup teams where we didn't have many Major Championships between us and we were still successful. The Ryder Cup is a different beast. It's a different way of playing the game as a team, and as a result you do things differently. The most important thing for me is having winners in the team and you don't get on a Ryder Cup Team these days without having won big golf tournaments, Majors or otherwise.

Dedication and desire...

I don’t have the luxury of many days off at the present moment, but I did take the opportunity of one last Monday when I was invited to Wimbledon. It was a fantastic day out and to be in the Royal Box with some of the other players – Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood – made it extra special. As professional sportsmen, we all understand the dedication and desire needed to get to the top, which is why we all had particular admiration for three of tennis’ greats we were lucky enough to watch that day – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. Class acts all of them. Aside from that day, it is very busy either playing at events or taking care of the myriad of things that need to be done and as we get closer to September. But it’s great fun, and a great place to be.

 

 

Worth a watch...

I started my intro this month with reference to the ‘countdown’, so it seems appropriate to continue that theme here. The first episode of the ‘Countdown to The Ryder Cup’ TV series, which is being produced by European Tour Productions, aired earlier this month on Sky in the UK and Ireland and on over 40 different stations around the world. It is an excellent look at the build-up to September, from my own experiences and those of the players, to many different people involved in many different areas behind the scenes. Episode two is due to air on Tuesday July 24, and across that week, with the final three episodes premiering on Tuesday August 14, Thursday September 6 and Monday September 24 respectively. They are well worth a watch.

Allez les Bleus!

Finally, as I said above, I have spent a lot of time in France over the past 18 months and therefore, to all the people I have met along the way and indeed to the entire nation, I want to offer my congratulations on the World Cup triumph. Looking forward to hopefully giving everyone in France more to cheer come September!

Until next time...