What might a Senior Ryder Cup look like?
We look at the possibility of this ever getting off the ground and how it could make an incredible week even more special
1) This week we had the announcement that a new international team competition was happening. The World Champions Cup will debut next year over three days with six-man teams from the United States, Europe and the Rest of the World.
The players will all come from the over-50 ranks and the team captains make for an impressive line-up – Jim Furyk, Darren Clarke and Ernie Els.
The format and venue is yet to be finalised but will include singles and team play and matches will be played over nine holes twice a day rather than the usual 18 and points are awarded for each hole won. The team with the highest total of points wins.
Will this take the place of a Senior Ryder Cup? Team events like this can come and go and they’re still waiting for a sponsor, media partner and venue so who knows? The format is maybe a bit too funky/nothing like a Ryder Cup to prove to be a threat.
2) If you’ve been to a Ryder Cup before then you’ll know that not an awful lot goes on in the days leading up to it. The teams will go about their business at opposite ends of the course, there will be a lot of photos taken, a big dinner with the wives and girlfriends, a lot of signing of this and that as well as a very functional opening ceremony.
The fans will flock there anyway for a glimpse of their heroes and a few Euros might change hands between the players in some light-hearted matches but that’s about it. Before the Friday morning, when the atmosphere flips on its head and it’s business time.
There is plenty of scope earlier in the week to get at least two days of matches done. Colin Montgomerie has stated in the past that this could be done.
“The crowds are there and the stands are up so we could come in and play. There would be no cost as everyone is there anyway and it would give the crowd something to cheer on – we think it’s overdue and that we could do this.”
3) The interest is supposedly there for a Senior Ryder Cup on both sides with Davis Love III and Fred Couples having showed an interest in the past, along with Bernhard Langer who has dominated the senior circuit for over a decade. There is a thought that some classic Ryder Cup matches could be replayed but that would lend itself to more of an exhibition than a proper match with proper qualifying.
4) What about the rest of the world superstars and the omission of the likes of Els? To make anything like this happen you would need a title sponsor and the really, really catchy element of this is that you could be cashing in on one of sport’s three biggest competitions. Every two years the Ryder Cup gets everyone talking about the game and, if you went down Montgomerie’s route, you would have the world’s media and TV cameras already in place for such a concept.
5) The format would have to be right. Nine holes doesn’t seem right, nor does a points tally. You want to see juggling of pairings and you don’t want to see anyone left out. To call it (loosely) a Ryder Cup you’d have to stick with the foursomes and fourballs ahead of the singles. One round of each would get the job done with ideally 12 players on each side.
6) To qualify you would have to include an element of the Legends (European) Tour players, otherwise it’s just going to be the usual names and you’re back in the exhibition territory. Having 12 on each side makes the European qualifying a fairer one – the Americans all play together so that’s more straightforward – so you could have four each from the Champions and Legends Tours and four captain’s picks. The latter leaves plenty of room for the more sexy names who will be needed to make this a success while it would also add plenty of spark to money lists that rarely get much of a mention.
7) If televised how great would it be? If you’re a fan who’s paid well over the odds to be there it would be an incredible day out? You've already got Phil Mickelson lined up with a whole host of amazing names all just a few years away from turning 50.
The practice days might be a bit lame in that they are just practice days but they’re also strangely electric. Any shot is greeted with rapturous applause as most of us can’t contain ourselves given it’s Ryder Cup week. It wouldn’t get in the way of the main event but it would be a pretty unique and special way to welcome in the week.
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