Russell - overlooked

Russell – overlooked

He thought he’d done enough, he hoped he’d done enough – but a phone call from Darren Clarke, the 2016 Ryder Cup captain, last Monday brought the news he didn’t want to hear.  Russell Knox had been passed over for this year’s Ryder Cup team in favour of not one, not two, but three players more than twenty places below his current standing of 20th in the world.  The American-based Scot has won twice in the States in the last year and only five European players are ahead of him in the world rankings.  “It was a really, really difficult phone call for me to make, as hard a phone call as I’ve ever had to make in golfing terms,” said Clarke.

Jordan Spieth, world No 3, declared last week he was certain that Russell would make the European team and that it was a no-brainer.  Just goes to show –  if you want to be certain of being on a team you simply MUST bag one of those automatic slots.

Jordan Spieth celebrating Knox' exclusion?

Jordan Spieth celebrating Knox’ exclusion?

Sport, and golf, is littered with people who have been left off teams they think they should have been on.  My own Russell Knox moment occurred in 1977 at the slightly less elevated level of the Ulster side of eight players for the interprovincial matches.  I was confident of selection.  I had played twice before and become a slight trailblazer by being one of the first women ever to go to the States to take up a golf scholarship.  I had opened my winning account in America, too.

The team was to be posted in the local paper – no letters or phone calls for us.  And there it was – seven names in alphabetical order.  And where I was expecting to see “Madill” – well, blow me, it was there all right but the initial preceding it was “P”.  Even my parents were astonished that Patricia was on the team.  “It’s a mistake, it must be,” I cried ungallantly.  “I expect it is,” replied an unconcerned Patricia as she retreated back behind the pages of “Shoot” magazine.  And then it hit us. There were EIGHT players on the team and the paper only named seven.  They had left one out – it was a misprint!  THAT explained it.  Of COURSE I was on this team – I was SO much better than Patricia.  My name had been omitted in error.

Only it hadn’t!  The powers-that-be had decided to cut costs that year by sending seven players because only six ever played at any one time.  And despite my American performances (out of sight out of mind, Russell?!) I was not picked.

Back to Russell.  What was his reaction to this shattering news delivered by Darren Clarke?

“I’m disappointed but I understand.”  Classy.

What was my reaction to my omisssion?

Weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth plus displays of righteous indignation, all reignited in an instant even after nearly forty years!  Anything but classy.

And yes, Patricia still reminds me of it often!

1973 Ulster team – one I did make. Can anyone name all the players, I wonder?