Excitement is building on both sides of the Atlantic this week and, as the final preparations are made at Gleneagles, we are all set for the Ryder Cup to tee off in Scotland on Friday. The players of both the US and European teams have now arrived and the media are gathering in hordes for one of the most eagerly anticipated editions of the biennial match-play tournament.
Following the ‘Miracle of at Medinah’ two years ago, when the Europeans clawed their way back to win from an almost terminal start, the Americans will be looking to restore some pride. For their part, Europe are hoping to live up to their status as marginal favourites with the bookies. Champions Speakers has access to a wealth of highly regarded golf speakers, including the likes of Ryder Cup legend, Tony Jacklin CBE, ready and able to add their golfing insight to your corporate event. With Gleneagles as the centre of so much attention, we spoke to Tony to gauge his thoughts on this weekend’s 3 day competition.
Much has been said in the build-up to the Ryder Cup about home-soil advantage favouring Paul McGinley’s European team but Tony does not put too much faith in that theory. He told us “Paul can certainly set up the course to his liking and, if he sees it as advantageous, he can always dictate fairway widths and the green cutting heights to suit the Europeans but I believe those factors only have a marginal effect.”
“Some might say that, were the weather to be inclement, Europe stands to gain. It is often said that Americans don’t tend to grow up playing in as unpredictable conditions as we do over here, especially in Scotland, but that’s in the lap of the gods. We’ll have to wait and see.”
While the odds show Europe as front-runners to retain the Ryder Cup, Tony hopes they make every provision to ensure success. “On paper the Europeans are favourites but I wouldn’t make them hot favourites. A lot can, and does, happen over those three days, as the Americans found out to their misfortune last time out. Europe must guard against complacency and the experienced players need to keep an eye on the debutants. It’s very much a team effort.”
He does, however, think the Europeans look more settled with their preparations. He told us “I think Paul McGinley can be rightly contented with his team. All appears to be well in the European camp and the presence of the World No.1, Rory McIlroy, will give confidence to the team. You’ll always have questions about first-timers but you have to blood promising players like Gallacher and the Welshman Donaldson at some stage. McGinley has good back-up from experienced vice-captains and that’s always important.”
“As for the Americans, captain Tom Watson’s preparations could have been better. He’s had a rough month perhaps. Jordan Spieth’s form has been poor of late, for example, and Dustin Johnson’s absence is a cause for debate. Jason Dufner’s neck injury couldn’t have happened at a worse time and Watson doesn’t have the talents of Billy Horschel at his disposal. They have experience in the team and Watson can always hide players over the first two days, if he wants, but that’s not ideal in any way.”
Tony Jacklin’s comments form part of a more thorough Ryder Cup interview he gave to his own website. You can read the full version here.
This weekend’s tournament will light up golf and, no matter the outcome, will again prove to be one of the most exciting sporting events on the calendar. Good luck to the Europeans!