And so the golf season rolls on jostling for space with the footie, the Rugby World Cup, the cricket, the US tennis, the cycling and sundry other endeavours.
A few of my friends will be attending the Interflora World Cup in Manchester this weekend, where qualifiers from twenty countries have spent months preparing and practising artistic creations that will blow your mind – and many a hefty budget. It’s been described as a cross between the Olympics and the Chelsea Flower Show. Good luck to them all – it’s wonderfully inspiring to have a chance to see passionate folk reach for the stars in their particular sphere, whatever that may be.Frequently, however, passion and endeavour are not enough to help you achieve your dreams.
I feel for Adrian Meronk this week. His world came crashing down on him when he failed to merit a pick from Luke Donald, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain. Bidding to become the first Polish player to play in the biennial competition, Meronk failed by a whisker to achieve one of the six automatic berths on offer but did feel he had done enough.
He finished fifth in the European Tour points list – the top three made the team automatically; he finished eleventh in the World Points list – the ten ahead of him made the 12-man team; he won three times in the last twelve months and defends his Irish Open title this week at the K Club; one of his three wins was the Italian Open on the Marco Simone golf course which happens to be the Ryder Cup venue; and finally, he leads the category for hitting greens in regulation with an astonishing 73%. To put that stat in perspective, Tiger Woods only achieved 75% once in his long and illustrious career and that was in 2000, his year of years.I’m not going to enter into any diatribe over who should or should not be in. There are as many opinions as there are golfers and, as Patricia keeps reminding me, they are the captain’s picks, not yours, not mine. The only way to be completely sure you’re on that team is to have qualified automatically and I do hope Meronk can channel his upset and disappointment into a good defence of his title this week. For what it’s worth, I think he’s a class act.
Another class act on display in the last seven days has been the United States Walker Cup side which overcame a three-point deficit after the first day to trounce the GB&I lads on the second day, hoovering up ten of the fifteen available points. That all added up to a final score of USA 14.5 to GB&I 11.5 – as seen in the featured picture at the top with a proud captain, Mike McCoy holding the trophy aloft.
In the Madill household the home side’s effort is categorised as a BBU – a performance that is recognised as “brave but unavailing” and believe you me, being Irish sports fans we are very well acquainted with BBUs. I’m readying myself for a few of them in the rugby.
Many pals were up at St Andrews for the Walker Cup and it was joyous for them being able to walk up the fairways alongside the players instead of being corralled around the perimeter, unable to get within 50 yards of those swinging and grafting. It is simply the best way to experience high-class golf and the only time at the Old Course where, as a spectator, you really have the opportunity to experience the intricacies and nuances of the most famous course on earth.Unfortunately, I wasn’t up in the old grey toon last weekend but I had a run of being present at four consecutive home Walker Cup matches – from 2003 at Ganton to 2015 at Royal Lytham. Sandwiched in between those two venues were the matches at Royal County Down in 2007 and Royal Aberdeen in 2011. GB&I triumphed in three of these clashes and lost the other by a solitary point – it really was a golden era for the home side but the overall tally still makes for dispiriting reading if you are from this side of the pond: USA victories 39, GB&I victories 9, with one match halved.
It does make you wonder how long such a one-sided contest can remain relevant and perhaps it’s time to do as Jack Nicklaus suggested re the Ryder Cup all those years ago and include players from continental Europe. It’s a topic, I suspect, that is constantly lurking near the agenda of meetings of the great and the good in the amateur game. However, with no news forthcoming at the moment from that quarter, I think we can safely assume that the 50th contest in 2025 at Cypress Point will remain a GB&I versus USA clash.
The sister is already making noises about attending and is covertly mounting a campaign to elbow the match to the top of my list of must-dos for that year. It’s tempting………very tempting – and could my golfing education really be called complete without attending an away match?
But before that rolls around there is a great deal of nail-biting ahead for those of us who are spectators, whatever the sport or passion.
How far do you think a single-stem rose “creation” would carry me in Manchester?