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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Off for a Ryder

THE Majors are done for another season and the tour heads on to the cash cow that is the Fed-Ex play-offs, where millions of pounds are on offer.

Paul Rawlinson
Paul Rawlinson

But to the traditionalist, there is only one event now worth looking forward to – The Ryder Cup. From humble beginnings, through American domination and the inclusion of the Europeans, the Ryder Cup has become one of the great sporting spectacles.

To be held at Medinah from September 28-30, the Europeans are looking to retain the trophy they won at Celtic Manor in 2010. Medinah Country Club, in Chicago, Illinois, has held past US Open and US PGA Championships, with Tiger Woods winning there in 1999 and 2006.

The USA team has taken shape nicely and the eight qualifiers have been named as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley and Zach Johnson. Davis Love has four picks who are announced on September 4. With Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk looking to be selected, the Americans will prove strong opposition.

After a season where I was thinking the USA looked much stronger, the Europeans now have the slight edge. Rory McIlroy’s stunning eight-shot win at the US PGA laid the platform for Sergio Garcia to win on American soil and our team seems to be hitting form at just the right time.

Jose Maria Olazlabal now knows nine of his 10 automatic qualifiers after Garcia won the Wyndham Championship. He, along with McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari, Paul Lawrie, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Peter Hanson will be at Medinah. The final automatic qualifying place is occupied by Martin Kaymer, who can only be overtaken by Nicolas Colsearts this week.

With Kaymer not playing at Gleneagles, Colsearts has a great chance to make the team and, even if he fails to overtake the German, the word is that he will get a wildcard pick along with Ian Poulter.

Whoever gets selected, the matches will provide a fitting end to the season and prove a great spectacle for the sport.

On a local front, the weather is still playing a big part on the competition circuit with most courses missing days through closure over the last weekend.

I’m optimistic for an Indian summer and the remainder of the golf season to be played in nicer weather. Here’s hoping!

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