It has taken some time to write this, time I needed to get over not being one of Paul McGinley’s wild card picks. Ian Poulter I accept had to be chosen – great Ryder Cup record but to be fair I have won as many majors as Poults and my Ryder Cup record is even more impressive. Like Ian and my first golf hero, Eric Brown, I have never lost a singles in the competition. But I have not lost in the foursomes or four balls either!
Don’t know why I wasn’t selected and Paul hasn’t phoned to explain. I suspect I have been too honest in my blog and Paul has clocked that I am having some problems on the greens. As putting is such a key feature in close matches he probably felt he had to leave me out. Pity he didn’t see my latest blog and my 31 putts at Carluke. Would have made selection automatic.
Shame – as I have been so involved with the event since 1957. The match at Lindrick. The first time Great Britain won since 1933. I was ill in bed with scarlet fever and as a treat on the Saturday of the match (only two days then – 4 foursomes on the Friday then 8 singles – 36 holes – on the Saturday) our radio was moved into my room so I could listen to the coverage. Dad and Archie sat with me. Remember the excitement as Eric Brown took down Tommy Bolt to lead the revival which saw us overturn a 3-1 deficit into a 71/2 – 41/2 win. There was nothing like the media attention it gets nowadays when it is generally accepted to be the third most watched sporting event in the world after the World Cup and the Olympics.
I was hooked from then and followed every match avidly. And suffered as we were royally trounced time after time until the pool of players was widened to include Europe. And finally at the Belfry in 1985 we won it again and I was there!! I had left the Inland Revenue the previous year to join Deloitte Haskins and Sells (which evolved eventually into PWC). We had a marquee for entertaining clients at the event but as far as I could see it was mainly partners in the tent! Fantastic to be there. Be part of the excitement. A thrill I have only felt on limited occasions in my sporting life. A unique occasion. Torrance’s putt. The culmination of three days of hope and desire.
I was also there in 89 and 93 when we actually had some clients at the event!! I can remember walking the course with Nigel Wray, one of the UK’s foremost investors, and giving him my thoughts on various players. Nigel was a keen sportsman – owner along with Nick Leslau of Saracens Rugby club-but not a golfer. We were watching Corey Pavin playing his second shot to the 6th and I was explaining how poor a swing Pavin had and how his game was bedded on pitching and great putting.
‘Look at how he struggles with this type of shot ‘ I famously said as Pavin hit a six iron to the partially hidden green. And holed it for a two!!! Nigel’s smile was worth rubies.
My association got even stronger in the nineties. I found out that the PGA weren’t happy with their existing advisors and managed to get PWC into the proposal process even though there was a perception that the PGA was too small a client for the firm and wouldn’t get the attention it deserved (as if from a golfer!!) We pitched and won and I became the lead partner for the PGA and as the PGA ‘half owned’ the Ryder Cup, the partner on that as well. I became a good friend of Sandy Jones, the Scot who was Chief Executive at the time, and Phil Bragg, the FD. I also put time into persuading PWC worldwide to be a sponsor of the Ryder Cup, creating events with fellow partners and pros and, most importantly, organising a European event for clients – the culmination and final was a team Stableford event on the Brabazon in September 1999 with the tees and pins set up in Ryder Cup positions. The winning team had invites to Brookline with the official party. (My team won!! Micheal Lynagh, Phil Bragg, my son Jim and I – another post needed to give it the full exposure it deserves). I had an invite to go to Brookline anyway but didn’t!! Work! And I had just become the father of twins. I didn’t think it was correct for Jim to take up the chance given he wasn’t a client. But! Even though we lost in the infamous ‘Battle of Brookline’ I should have encouraged him to go and gone with him.
So this year. Will we do it? The team will miss my influence (a bit like not having DJ Spoony in the locker room!) Although I am not a fan of the course, which is on a par with that other large field, Celtic Manor, I think we can construct a victory.
I have had the pleasure of golfing with players who have experienced the pressures of Ryder Cup matches – Peter Alliss and Nick Faldo – and talking to them about it. Another blog.
I don’t understand all the ballyhoo round the USA team ‘targeting’ McIlroy and Poulter and wanting to ‘take them down’. Sure, beating them would be good – but only one point – same as any other victory. And, the European team is not going to disintegrate if these two lose. Plus as draw is secret, how can they be identified? – doesn’t make any sense and reads like pure baloney.