Four players. Four questions. One topic. In this week’s Fourball, James Savage, Steve Carroll, Alex Perry and Mark Townsend take to the tee to dissect the Ryder Cup, including who they’d prefer in their team out of Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson. But first…
Is Ryder Cup vice-captain the job nobody really wants? Everyone would rather play, right?
James: I think someone like Graeme McDowell will be absolutely thrilled to be involved. If you had a chance of making the team and narrowly missed out then maybe you’d not be so keen to be there. But I don’t think any of the European or USA vice-captains will be resentful of the fact they are not playing.
Steve: I thought it was illustrative that Garcia, having done the role in 2010, nipped in the bud any suggestion that he would be a vice-captain again if he didn’t make this team. Not everyone’s a Bubba Watson – just happy to be in the team room. I’m certain if you gave Graeme McDowell or Luke Donald the choice, they’d be straight in to pick up their clubs. Vice-captains these days should be about getting the next skippers ready – as we’ve seen with Olazabal, Clarke, Bjorn and so on. I find this idea of looking after veterans who haven’t made the side a little perplexing.
Alex: To answer the question bluntly: Yes, of course they’d rather be playing. But every time a golfer gets asked if they want to be captain one day, I’m always pleasantly surprised at the high regard in which they hold the role. If being an assistant is a precursor to getting the top job, then I think they’re all OK with that.
Mark: If you’re off your game and 43 years old then I’m sure you’d rather have a walkie-talkie in your hands than a 6-iron. You’re not going to be captain unless you do this bit and all these boys are all pretty much Ryder Cup legends so anything to help the cause, have a few quiet words with some rookies or just pass on one nugget is beneficial. Chris Wood said Bjorn was amazing at Hazeltine which bodes well for the Dane’s man-management.
In 2016, it was Thomas Pieters. Which European player are we going to be raving about after Le Golf National?
Alex: I think Ian Poulter probably knows it’s his last Ryder Cup, and for that reason I’m expecting Medinah-level miracles from him. I don’t see why any of the rookies wouldn’t shine on this stage, for either team, but I’ll go with Tommy Fleetwood as top points scorer of the eight debutants.
James: I think Alex Noren could be a key player for Europe. His grit and determination is exactly what is needed. A few years back he must have felt like his time had passed. Now here he is making his debut at 36 after being one of the most consistent players in the world over the last 18 months or so. I feel like this is what he’s been working towards and I can’t imagine anyone is relishing the challenge as much as he is.
Mark: Molinari. I reckon he’ll be a cracking bet to top the points for Europe and he’s unrecognisable from other Ryder Cup ventures. Which is just as well as he’s never won a match. I’m quite a big fan of course form so Noren and Fleetwood should have a cracking week. There’s also the small matter of having, on paper, the best player in the world which is nice.
Steve: I’m hoping for massive things from Tyrrell Hatton. Everyone is always talking about his temperament but, if put to good use in Poulter-type fashion, he could become ‘Captain Europe’. Let’s put it this way, he’s not going to want to lose a single hole – never mind a match.
Does it matter if the captain makes a gaffe at the opening ceremony, and who wants to be a vice-captain? The Fourball team get stuck in on the next page…