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Tee To Green: No fear for Team Europe from US’s Presidents Cup rout

Tommy Fleetwood and Europe took down the second strongest US Ryder Cup team ever in Paris in 2018.

So what did we learn from the “walkover” Presidents Cup that we didn’t already know?

Well, that the International team appeared to show a decent amount more backbone than Europe did at Whistling Straits last year, for one.

17 ½-12 ½ looks a lot better than 19-9 did. It appeared after the first couple of sessions that a new record deficit might be coming.

But extrapolating Pres’ Cups to Ryder Cups has never been a particularly useful exercise. Nor has flexing figurative biceps like comparing average world ranking.

The second best US team ever by this particular measurement was Paris 2018, and we all know what happened to them.

Team Europe not that damaged by LIV

The Internationals were already holed before the waterline coming in with the loss to LIV of Cam Smith, Joaquin Niemann and Abraham Ancer.

You could make a serious argument that of the three continental teams, LIV has damaged Greg Norman’s old International side the most.

The US or Europe are not unscathed. But as we’ve said in T2G before, for Europe it’s a changing of the guard that was overdue anyway.

The last few weeks have underlined that, I believe. The solid core of the European side is now McIlroy, Rahm, Fitzpatrick, Hovland, Lowry, Hatton and Fleetwood.

Thomas Pieters has had a fine return to form this year and Francesco Molinari seems to be gearing back up in preparation for his home Ryder Cup. Thorbjorn Olesen (a team member in Paris, remember) is returning strongly from his nightmare of the past three years.

The next generation coming through

Moreover, some of the younger players we thought might edge their way into Whistling Straits are now playing really well.

Our own Robert MacIntyre and Italy’s Guido Migliozzi have won in the last two weeks. Dundee’s favourite Frenchman Victor Perez has been great all year.

Denmark’s Rasmus Hojgaard is capable of spectacular stuff, and his twin brother Nicolai is not shabby either.

You can’t help but be impressed with the potential American team. But really, what’s the difference in any of the past 30 years when they’ve failed to win in Europe?

The US are always strong. Okay, they weren’t so formidable in Ireland in 2006, but other than that.

A mixed event is best suited to the Games

As for the Pressie Cup’s format, does it need changed? There’s widespread support for it becoming a mixed event, as the top women are predominantly International (ie non-US or Europe). This would balance an unbalanced competition.

I would wholeheartedly support such a move, but the stumbling block is the Pressie Cup is wholly the PGA Tour’s baby. And despite their experiences of the last few months, the blazers at Ponte Verde Beach still seem loathe to share anything with anyone.

A close collaboration of this sort with the LPGA might be a way of keeping the women’s game out of the voracious clutches of LIV.

That’s if the Saudis are actually serious about courting the women’s game other than the pittance (compared to what they pay the men) they put into it now. A closer link between the men’s and women’s main tours should be pursued anyway.

It would surely bolster the PGAT’s own position, one would think. But it appears Jay and the boys don’t do self-awareness.

I still think by far the best place for a mixed event is the Olympics. It would fit the calendar, and moreover it’s potentially a real point of difference for the Games from week-to-week golf.

Imagine the pairings. Nelly and JT. Rory and Leona. Cam Smith and Min-Woo Lee. Rahm and Carlota Ciganda. Tom Kim and Jin Young Ko. Lydia Ko and Ryan Fox. Matt Fitzpatrick and Georgia Hall.

The begging letter

The ‘begging’ letter from LIV Golf players to Official World Golf Ranking chairman Peter Dawson last week was right about one thing.

They’re definitely being “slow-walked” for a decision about LIV’s inclusion or otherwise for world rankings. But the OWGR board were never going to be frog-marched into a speedy decision.

I don’t buy that this is all some grave injustice or ultimately damaging to the “integrity” of the rankings.

The OWGR has always been entirely what its constituent members have made it. Walking out of that constituency and then demanding it simply bend to your will seems incredibly naive to me.

And what does the ‘integrity’ of the rankings mean anyway? Golf’s worldwide administration has always been chock full of questionable elements that supposedly might damage its integrity, but has always sailed on regardless.

The players who plainly didn’t realise their ranking would nosedive the minute they walked away should have done their homework. And I certainly don’t see any prospect of a mass public clamour for them either.

Russell Weir

I have to admit to being slightly thrown off kilter by the news of Russell Weir’s premature death last week.

When I started this beat three decades ago, Russell was a dominant figure on the Tartan Tour, the Scottish PGA’s domestic circuit. It doesn’t seem that long ago.

Russell could have easily thrived on the big tour had he been of a mind to play it regularly. But he had a great club job at Cowal in Dunoon, and was pretty content with his lot.

It used to be that you could make a tidy living as a club pro with the Tartan Tour winnings topping up the club salary. But it was a seriously tough competitive environment as well, and you had to be a great player to win as much as Russell did.

There were plenty of thrusting, ambitious players who came past on their way to big things in those pre-Challenge Tour days.

But they rarely got one-up on Russell. He was a much-admired and popular figure in Scottish golf, reflected by the tributes last week.