Summer's in full swing – so are you an early riser or a twilight golfer?
Each week, four of the NCG team get together to ask each other the pressing questions. The only rule is the question must be golf related. In this edition, Dan Murphy, Keel Timmins, Alex Perry and Steve Carroll take to the tee…
Dan: Would Ian Poulter be an asset to Europe’s Ryder Cup team in September or do you think the Americans would pick him off?
Steve: If he makes the team on points than I’d be happy to see him face the Americans in Paris. For grit and obstinacy, there is no one better. But he wouldn’t be one of my wildcards, That would be a pick based largely on what happened six years ago.
Keel: He’s called The Postman for a reason. Poulter’s Team Europe record is sensational and he’s a certainty to be on the team. Over the past year, he’s enjoyed a resurgence, and if he enters September in the form he’s in now, I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll walk away from Paris unbeaten.
Alex: At Wentworth, Poulter was asked for the reasons for his recent upturn in form. He replied: “Determination. Hard work. Ryder Cup.” Poulter’s had a great year so far and I’m confident he’ll qualify, but if he doesn’t I would take him as a wildcard. As I said in a recent episode of The Slam, he’s the last name the Americans want to see on that European team sheet.
Alex: Do you think the BMW PGA Championship should move from Wentworth?
Dan: No I don’t think so. Wentworth is the spiritual home for the event and it’s good to have an annual fixture in (or near) London. The crowds are great every year and the event still have a buzz about it.
Steve: Before the course revamp, there was a feeling – and I think it was shared to an extent by the European Tour – that it was approaching the time to find pastures new. But so much money has been spent on redeveloping the West course at Wentworth, to the general acclaim of the players, that it would be foolish to move it now. Remember, also, that the event will shift in the calendar from next year and we can expect the course to look even better.
Keel: I think the European Tour have stumbled upon a winning formula at Wentworth, so for them, it’s a case of why fix it if it isn’t broken? Every year, they lure a good field, the crowds are brilliant, and clearly the players love coming back. Personally, I’d like to see it move as there are so many brilliant venues in the UK, but I can see why Keith Pelley and co are reluctant to.
Keel: In the summer, do you prefer to tee off at first light or in the twilight hours?
Alex: A lovely warm morning, first group on the tee at around 6.45am, finished by 9. Having said that, a Twilight round is always welcome. As long as it’s not raining.
Dan: It’s got to be the evening for me. I’m thinking long shadows across rippled links fairways, a final putt holed in golden sunlight and a pint by the sea. I’m basically at Moray.
Steve: I’m definitely a morning person when it comes to my golf. I like to be coming off the course at lunchtime and feeling like I have got the rest of the day to myself. Unless, of course, the afternoon involves more golf. And it usually does.
Steve: The Fort Worth Invitational is yet another PGA Tour event this season that seems to be passing me by. Are we all starting to tire of the relentless target golf we see in the States, or is it just me?
Keel: I don’t think that’s fair. Some events on the PGA Tour are boring, I agree, but this week’s event is far from boring. Colonial Country Club is a classical par 70 that demands shot-shaping and absolutely cannot be overpowered. That’s why we’ve had winners such as Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker in recent years. Even so, the PGA Tour showed just last week that they’re open to moving to interesting layouts – Trinity Forest was a stunning links that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Scotland.
Alex: Apart from the really big tournaments, regular events seem to pass me by from Thursday to Saturday anyway. It’s only on Sunday I really start to get into it. It’s like football, really. I probably wouldn’t tune in for Stoke City vs. Burnley, but Manchester United vs. Liverpool is always going to get my attention.
Dan: Individually, just about every last event on the PGA Tour is incredibly impressive. They have succeeded in making them all feel special. For the players, that is amazing. For the spectators at each event, that is amazing. For the viewers like us, it just means you can take it or leave it. This week’s event means not a lot in the grand scheme of things and if you miss it then worry not as next week’s will be just as bright and shiny. One week’s event tends to look just like the last one and it goes on for almost every week of the year. In TV terms, it’s too much for most of us.