Can you imagine telling Sir Alex Ferguson who his starting 11 was going to be when he was Manchester United manager?
It just wouldn’t have happened.
Wonder if Fergie would have taken on the Ryder Cup captaincy if told he could only pick some of his team. He’d have hated the situation European captain Padraig Harrington is currently in, not knowing who his nine automatic players are, and therefore juggling his three picks, and probably spending more time with a calculator than he needs at this time in his captaincy.
As we near Sunday night’s team announcement at the end of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, there are so many possibilities on who will play in Harrington’s team it’s like one of those convoluted murder mystery plot lines, where we only find out at the last minute that it wasn’t the butler that did it, but the gardener, or the maid, or the visiting old auntie.
I won’t go into the machinations of who can make the European team because, well, life is far too short. The Courier’s excellent golf writer Steve Scott provides an excellent precis here.
As my other friend and colleague John Huggan notes in his Golf Digest story, Lee Westwood isn’t happy with how this week at Wentworth has panned out. Westwood said:
“The way we've set up the qualification this time around there are too many variables. This tournament is too heavily loaded compared to everything else we've done
“It's something to maybe look at in the future. Some of the guys turning up here don't need this week right now, knowing what the Ryder Cup is like. They don't need this two weeks before a Ryder Cup. It is going to be draining for a few, and you want to be going into the Ryder Cup fresh. You can see how players are reacting to it out on the golf course. There are people shooting scores who clearly have other things on their minds.”
Graeme McDowell agrees:
“I’m not sure I’d have wanted as many variables if I was the captain,” he said. “I’m not sure I’d have wanted so many question marks cropping up two weeks before the match. Obviously it is fantastic for Wentworth and the BWW PGA Championship, but I’d liked to have had eight or nine of my guys locked in by now and let the picks get after it this week. But hey, it’s exciting stuff.”
Exciting yes – for number crunching geeks.
As the late Jock MacVicar would have said: “It a bit of a guddle.”
Here’s a simple solution: let the captain pick all 12 players. After all, the United States is already halfway there this year. Steve Stricker has just chosen six of his team.
If Colin Montgomerie had his way, he’d have picked all 12 of his team when he captained Europe at Celtic Manor in 2010. He’s on record as a fan of 12 picks
Twelve picks would be the easy answer Westwood is looking for, especially since he’ll be the next European Ryder Cup captain in Rome.
But that’s not fair, I hear you say. That there has to be an honest and open qualification process, that if there were 12 picks then quite a few guys wouldn’t be playing in this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Rubbish! Besides, there are a few key Ryder Cup players not at Wentworth this week. Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey are all missing in action and will tee it up at Whistling Straits.
Anyone who plays in the Ryder Cup has to be a European Tour member anyway, and that provision would still stand if the captain had all 12 picks. The BMW PGA Championship is an important tournament in its own right and players will still compete in it whether it's the final event of the qualification process or not. Indeed, those vying for one of those 12 potential picks would still be using it impress the captain in the same way Bernd Wiesberger is using it press his claim for a seat on the flight to Wisconsin.
Twelve captains picks would certainly have put a stop to the nonsense going on at Wentworth this weekend.
#JustSaying: “Out of the shadows come heroes.” 2002 Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance