Should you be able to choose your partner in the World Cup?September 16, 2018 The Scoop
Who's out, who's in? Steve Carroll and Mark Townsend lock horns over the thorny issue of World Cup selection in this week's Alternate Shot
The 59th World Cup gets going on November 1 with Denmark the defending champions. Australia will host the biennial event for the third straight time and 28 countries will take part. The first and third days are alternate shot, the second and fourth days best ball.
That’s the straightforward bit. The top-ranked player from the world rankings selects a partner to make up the two-man team – any player of his choosing so long as they’re in the top 500.
If there are less than five possibles in the top 500, a player may choose any of the next five players in the rankings.
So we’re asking, is this a fair system?
Yes, says Steve Carroll
We spend the whole build-up to the Ryder Cup musing about the pairings. Who will play best with whom? Do these personalities get on? Which ball will they use?
It’s an obsession but it usefully illustrates how important it is to get the right people together so they can perform at their best when it counts – in the heat of competition.
Why would the World Cup, one of the few pairs’ events on the golfing calendar that utilises both foursomes and fourballs, be any different?
I know there’s been some controversy – and some big name players have been overlooked – but it’s the top ranked player’s prerogative to select the partner with whom they feel most comfortable.
You wouldn’t put a duo together who didn’t get along simply on the basis of their world rankings, would you? It’s hardly a recipe for success.
Again, you only have to look back at Ryder Cups to see pairings that have gone spectacularly wrong. How did that work out for their respective teams?
I like the selection process as it is. It adds a bit of intrigue and, given we all secretly like life to be a bit of a soap opera, also gives the potential for a juicy spat when someone who thinks they should be selected gets spurned.
Let’s not change things.
No, says Mark Townsend
Back in the day the World Cup was a big deal with some heroic partnerships doing their utmost to try and secure international glory.
Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus won four out of five times, Davis Love III and Fred Couples were even more impressive prevailing for four straight years.
This year Kyle Stanley, the 15th highest-ranked American, is their team captain. He has gone for Matt Kuchar as his partner. Tyrrell Hatton will captain England given that Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey don’t fancy it. As things stand Marc Leishman (22) is the highest-ranked player in the field.
So you could safely say there isn’t a huge appetite for the event.
It could do with many things, a better slot on the calendar would be a good start.
A better system would also help. I get that it’s a team event, there is no individual given the format, but this isn’t all down to playing the right ball or how far you both hit it, it’s just down to personalities.
How would you feel if you had the best season of your life, were one place behind your countryman on the world rankings and then he gave you the cold shoulder in favour of his mate 200 spots further down?
As for all the big-name no shows, there is still an awful lot of money available and most players would give anything to tee it up for some late wheelbarrow action as well as plenty of prestige, hopefully not in that order.
You’re representing your country, so even if you’re not best mates with your partner, you can forget about that for one week and give yourselves the best chance of success which means picking the strongest available team.