This game is all about finding form at the right time. At the start of the year very few of the current European Ryder Cup Team were firing on all cylinders and not many would have been aware of Ludvig Åberg. Now you could argue they are favourites in Rome.
In the past having the likes of Westwood, Poulter and Garcia made the European Captain’s job a lot easier when it came to the pairings, as established pairs were in place and it was like having extra vice captains in the team, which may have helped when it came to safeguarding rookie nerves. So, it will be interesting to see how Luke handles the pairings, but it could also explain why Lowry made the team.
Having said that, these rookies are not lacking in managing nerves or playing in front of large crowds.
Some critics say Meronk should have made the team instead of MacIntyre. I think Meronk deserved a place in the team, Robert played his way in, teeing it up in more events to increase his Ryder Cup point tally. You can’t forget Robert’s last win came at the Italian Open in Rome, so it’s a course that certainly suits his eye and that is a huge benefit.
Both Meronk and Aaron Rai could have made it onto the team if they had mirrored MacIntyre’s tactic’s and focused on the DP World Tour schedule instead of trying their hand on the PGA Tour this year.
But if they had won a PGA Tour event or two that tactic would also have worked, but it didn’t, and there are no guarantees to make the team unless you play your way in.
For the American team it was great to see Brooks getting picked regardless of the whole LIV Golf argument. He deserved to be included from his world ranking, especially when you take into consideration the limited points he was eligible to play for.
This year Brooks is the only player in the whole Ryder Cup I’m currently working with, so it was pointless being in Rome. You are never going to be helping a player at the Ryder Cup on their game. For some, it’s moral support and Brooks is a person that does not need moral support. He’s a strong character and he will be fired up by the atmosphere. I will just be watching on the sofa at home with a cup of tea and my mobile on standby as usual.
I will be meeting up with the Fitzpatricks at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, along with the rest of my players and I’m sure they will fill me in on what went on behind the scenes at the Ryder Cup.
The Dunhill is an event that we’ve done well at over recent years. Danny Willett won back in 2021 and Victor Perez in 2019. Unfortunately, Danny is out due to needing a shoulder operation, but I’ve got a feeling the Fitzpatricks will do well.
Since we shortened Alex’s driver length and increased the loft, he’s finding more fairways and just going from strength-to-strength. He has always been long off the tee and is a great iron player, so it’s easy to see why he is currently 75th on the Race to Dubai after just playing ten events.
A good result in Scotland might get him into the DP World Tour Championship and that would be a remarkable achievement.
One thing is certain, nearly all the Ryder Cup players on both teams will be teeing it up on the PGA Tour next season. This will give young players the opportunity to make a name for themselves on the DP World Tour, but the knack for Keith Pelley and company will be to find a way to entice the young European stars that are making names from themselves on the Korn Ferry and American College scene through invites. You just need to look at the current European Ryder Cup team to locate the talent pool. Rahm, Hovland, Fitzpatrick, Åberg and Straka all went to college in America.
One player to keep an eye on is a young Belgium player, Adrien Dumont de Chassart, who studied at the University of Illinois. He has only played nine events of the Korn Ferry Tour this season and is eighth in the rankings. Out of those nine starts he has won once and finished inside the top 10 on six occasions, just missing the cut once.
It makes sense for my academies to expand into America. Considering most of my players are out there, it’s something I’m considering, but there is a severe problem. You just struggle to get a decent cup of tea in America. n