Another Solheim Cup is in the books…….. but I wonder how it will be remembered?

In his Saturday morning report Iain Carter, 5 Live’s excellent golf correspondent, said that the venue and levels of organisation were “shambolic”, insulting to the players and fans and that a great many people would be going home disappointed for whatever reason.  Early in the week the spectators were not allowed to take either water or sunscreen into the venue (although this was later rectified) and then, to further compound that bit of nonsense, the concession stands ran out of water!  And the choice of golf course was ludicrous, with massive changes in elevation making it supremely difficult to follow a match from beginning to end.  It looked to me as if the players were being asked to play golf in a velodrome.

Certainly, in my role as armchair critic, I knew instantly that Sky were not providing the television pictures as the production was woeful and certainly not up to Sky’s usual standard.  They were, it turns out, at the mercy of the host broadcaster which can often be tricky.  At one point in the Saturday afternoon fourballs the two Americans teed off on the driveable par 4 opening hole and the cameras never left the players.  Who knows where their drives finished?  It shall forever be a mystery.

The cauldron that is the 1st tee of a Solheim Cup. At least the spectators could see where the tee shots ended up! [Oisin Keniry, LET]

Against this background the players from both sides put on a show that was at times brilliant, often scintillating and certainly unforgettable.  Who in their right minds gives any American team a four-up start?  But that’s exactly what Suzann Pettersen’s side did and it was two-and-a-half exhausting days later that the final result concluded in the first-ever halved match in Solheim Cup history.  Fourteen points apiece.  Well, you can’t REALLY expect to win a Solheim or Ryder Cup when your top players don’t perform.  No wins from Georgia Hall (who was two up with two to play but only managed a half), Charley Hull or Céline Boutier in the final series of singles was the stuff of nightmares for their captain.

There are now calls and cries that a halved match is beyond unsatisfactory and that some sort of play-off should be manufactured.  I don’t agree – I don’t think either team deserved to lose and I see no reason why they shouldn’t share the spoils until the next encounter.  And let’s abolish the holders retaining the trophy nonsense.  Why on earth should they?  A draw and a shared trophy are perfectly fine by me.

It seems to be a recurring theme that European-hosted Solheims and Ryder Cups are short on effective organisation for everyone attending the event in a non-working capacity but the euphoria of victories – and ties – washes away and papers over the shortcomings.  I’m glad I wasn’t there, but I’m thrilled to the rafters for two special people – Carlota Ciganda and Marta Figueras Dotti.

For Carlota Ciganda it was the week to end all weeks. [Tris Jones, LET]

I’ve known Carlota since she was fourteen years of age, watching her take her first steps in junior European golf.  And I’ve known Marta, the current chair of the Ladies’ European Tour and “Señora Golf” in Spain since we first played against one another more than forty years ago.  This Solheim Cup in Spain has been the pinnacle of all their ambitions and for Carlota to emerge the heroine with her closing brace of birdies – well, you couldn’t write it.  You could, but “too far-fetched” would have been the verdict of even the most romantic of Holywood script writers.  And yet, it happened – on an amazing Sunday afternoon in sunny Andalucia.

I had predicted months ago that Europe would win.  I was wrong…….but it didn’t feel as though I was.  Congrats all round to both sets of players.

To the organisers – get your act together and start paying proper attention to your supporters and fan base……….or risk losing them.

The focus is now exclusively on Rome and having met up with the sister on Monday evening in the heart of the Eternal city we have now had two days of sight-seeing in this most incredible of places.

Tuesday saw us take a Skip the Line tour of the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s basilica.   Skip the Line would challenge the trades description act as in reality it is Stand in a Marginally Shorter Line tour, but it had to be done.  Our guide rushed us through the Sistine Chapel at a rate of knots but even that didn’t lessen the sensory overload.  As Patricia said, there was really no need to visit the museums because the entire city is a museum.

No, not the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel – no snapping in there.  Just the ceiling in one of the many rooms/galleries in the Vatican.

It was a long ole day and I must confess that I occasionally rued the fact that Michelangelo had lived until the age of 89 in an era when 40 was the average life expectancy.  If he’d been “average” we wouldn’t have had quite so many masterpieces to file past.  But, as we all know, there was nothing remotely average about Michelangelo.

The following day we did a tour of the Colosseum, the Archaelogical Gardens and Palatine Hill.  Amazing, jaw dropping and fabulous from beginning to end with our wonderful guide Barbara.  What a city, what a place and what a privilege to be here.

No cracks about three old monuments needed, thank you!

Now we have the prospect of a gladiatorial contest of a different hue and, come Sunday, there will undoubtedly be many cheers ringing out from the Marco Simone golf course.  Centuries ago the crowds of old in the Colosseum bayed for the Emperor to give the thumbs down, thus sentencing some poor soul to death.  This Sunday I’ll settle for a few rounds of Ole. Ole.

Bring it on.