Ole, ole, ole, it’s here at last.  It’s Ryder Cup weekend and I’m at home without wall to wall Sky but there’s the golf club and the pub, 5 Live on the radio (brilliant and no ads or – insert here your own favourite least-liked talking head) and the internet to bring me more than enough gossip in the build-up.  The only trouble with toddling round to The Horse and Jockey to watch (the landlord James is a mad keen golfer) is that I can’t go in my pyjamas and dressing gown but that’s a small price to pay.  (Sky were so economical with the truth that sports nut though I am I’ll never have another contract with them.  It’s better for my bank balance and better for my health because it makes it more difficult for me to watch rugby from every hemisphere; wait until the end of the over; just see how this set goes;    keep an eye on the football in Scotland or wherever; and stay up into the middle of the night watching golf from an inconvenient time zone.)

Which earring will come out on top (stars and stripes being put away for weekend!)

Which earring will come out on top (stars and stripes being put away for weekend!)

I’m so excited it’s untrue.  Come on Darren and the boys.  I can’t believe the people who think it won’t be close again.  I’ve got it as a tie, with us (this is a blog so no need to be even-handed, sorry Davis) retaining.  It’s not a rule I approve of; in fact I think it’s nonsensical.  If it’s a tie, share the trophy.  Why on earth should the holders start each match 1/2 a point ahead?  There haven’t been many ties but I was glad to hear that David Leadbetter also plumps for it being too close to call.

New recruits to Arnie's Army.  Long live the king!

New recruits to Arnie’s Army. Long live the king!

The week started on a sad note with the death of Arnold Palmer but on reflection the great man got his timing just right because it’s the perfect occasion to remember him with due pomp and circumstance, with so many of the great and the good of golf on hand.  Arnold was a fiercely competitive animal who won plenty but it was his charm, courtesy and caring that dominated the tributes.  However you measure charisma he had it in trailer-loads; in his youth he was handsome and dashing and nobody could rock a cardie like Arnie; his swing was hardly textbook but it worked; and he didn’t know the meaning of caution or playing the percentages.  Seve anybody?  

Perhaps the Palmer factor will tip the result in favour of the USA, who knows?  Even now it’s hard to figure out how Europe won at Medinah or Celtic Manor or (in the Solheim Cup) at Loch Lomond or Killeen Castle.  The golfing gods move in mysterious ways.  Arnold played in an era when the USA dominated the Ryder Cup and was never on a losing side but he did lose, notably to Peter Alliss and Peter Oosterhuis (twice) in singles and he even halved with Harry Bannerman, who was no mean golfer.  Palmer was not invincible but he lived his life as though he was and loved every single minute.

If every single player gives every last drop of effort this weekend and accepts the result with grace and equanimity (at least outwardly) and has a josh and a beverage afterwards, with a re-match planned, that’ll be a fitting tribute to the lad from Latrobe who became the king of golf.  

Arnie being signed off in style at Hazeltine

Arnold Palmer signing off in style at Hazeltine.