I know I’m getting older – along with everyone else – and time is rattling past a darned sight quicker than a Solheim Cup fourball but I can’t believe it’s already two weeks since Europe’s teetering-on-the-edge win in Perthshire. Suzann Pettersen’s clubs will probably be on eBay by now, Charley Hull has got married – congratulations to Mr and Mrs Smith, wishing you every happiness – and everyone else has scattered far and wide, clubs in tow, airlines permitting, swinging away wherever they can find a fairway.
All the people involved will remember the great last gasp at Gleneagles for as long as they have a memory but it’s already being consigned to history as golf moves on, the Rugby World Cup attempts to muscle in on football’s dominance and apparently there’s a lot happening at Westminster, involving Supreme Court rulings a lot more calm, considered and impressive (unanimous even) than the unedifying cat-calling – and worse – on the floor of the House of Commons. Just because rugby’s become obsessed with big hits do the rest of us have to spend our time being unremittingly confrontational? I still talk far too much but I’m trying to listen more – honest – and learn what’s behind any apparently nonsensical, indefensible opinion……Going well so far….Nelly Korda, who was one of the US stars of the show at Gleneagles, along with her big sister Jessica, moved on to the Continent where she won the Lacoste Ladies Open de France at Golf du Medoc, near Bordeaux, by a whopping eight shots from Celine Boutier, the Frenchwoman who won all four of her matches on her Solheim debut at Gleneagles. Korda won 48,750 Euro and Boutier 29,250, so bear in mind that not all golfers are being showered with gold. Of course, if they got their weight in wine as well, that’s not to be sneezed at, even if the winner is a slim Jim. Useful for presents if the players are teetotallers themselves.
It’s back to business this week for Catriona Matthew, Europe’s Solheim Cup captain, whose post-victory interviews included an appearance on Woman’s Hour, where she coped womanfully and diplomatically with Dame Jenni Murray’s obvious disinterest in golf. Ah well, you can’t win ’em all. Catriona usually presents a quiet, calm, reserved face to the world but she has passion and competitive fire in abundance and even she couldn’t hide that as her team pulled off an incredible win on her home turf.
I hope she’ll be in charge again at Inverness in Ohio in 2021 and I hope Juli Inkster, captain of the USA for the last three matches, will stick to her decision to stand down. She’s been terrific, winning twice and losing narrowly in Scotland but she has the sense to know when enough is enough and it’s time to train up her successor.
Let’s also hope that Tiger Woods has enough sense to ignore the siren voices that are encouraging him to be a playing captain at this year’s Presidents Cup in Melbourne. Surely no captain in their right mind would pick Tiger, the reigning Masters champion admittedly but a man with a body so broken that even his iron will couldn’t guarantee it would stand up to the rigours of team matchplay. If he adds himself to the team roster, he’ll be handicapping himself as a player and a captain and confirming that the whole thing is just an expensive exercise in – well, in nothing whatsoever. Tiger was once unbeatable, the superman of swing but those days are gone and he should concentrate on being a super skipper, non-playing.Inkster and Woods may – or more likely may not – be heartened to learn that the USA mangled Europe at Whittington Heath last Saturday, on Ladies’ President’s Day (there should be enough apostrophes there to satisfy Lynne Truss, author of the best-selling Eats, Shoots and Leaves and confuse any greengrocers still taking on the supermarket’s*). It was a bit odd waving the Stars and Stripes and shouting USA, USA, USA instead of Ole, Ole, Ole but my partner and I tried our damnedest, played well and won a golf ball. Well, two golf balls – one each. And we were a long way from winning the bucket and spade awarded to the player who was in the most bunkers.
A few days later, after a month’s rain in ten minutes, or some such statistic, we played a Texas scramble at Drayton Park GC in Tamworth and the bunkers, oh happy day, were out of play because most of them were flooded. The course itself had coped remarkably well and we didn’t come off mud up to the eyeballs. We all came off dry, smiling and feeling we’d played nicely but we didn’t come within a sniff of a prize. It was a shotgun start but none of us heard the shotgun (or the hooter or whatever was meant to let us off the leash) – water in the works perhaps. One of the rules was that the person whose drive was chosen could not hit the second shot, so it meant that you had to think about where you wanted to use your big bombers – if you were lucky enough to have any. It was designed to give the shorter hitters a chance and had the added advantage of speeding up play. Another great day.
Finally, please give a cheer for the club professionals who will be having their nerves shredded in the PGA Cup in Austin, Texas this weekend. GB and I are going for a hat trick of wins against the USA and the visiting captain Cameron Clark is from Moor Hall GC in Sutton Coldfield, just a few miles from where I’m writing this. Cameron was playing in 2015 when GB and I won in California and he was a vice captain at Foxhills in Surrey two years ago. He and his team are now used to winning and the Americans are so worried that they called in Austin native Ben Crenshaw, twice the Masters champion and the winning Ryder Cup captain at Brookline, to rally the troops.
*Is this a deliberate mistake, a shameless smart Aleck’s idea of joke or is it just a weary error, missed by an editor longing for her bed?