Darren's Blog

Regular updates on what I have been up to around the world.

Counting Down
7 July 2016

The countdown to the Ryder Cup started with a year to go, then it became months, now it's weeks and very soon it will be days.

Time certainly flies and we're getting closer and closer to the big week.   So where do we stand?

Things started getting a little bit clearer about team potential when Chris Wood won the BMW at Wentworth, the Tour's biggest tournament and one the car giants do a fantastic job promoting.

I knew Chris from the start of his professional career and, although, it's not quite certain yet, I'm sure he will be a strong addition to the team.

Just going back to Wentworth, it will be interesting to see what new changes they are going to make to the course because it's been one of the most talked about venues for a few years now.

And on another tangent, I'd just like to set the record straight about my own golf which promoted my withdrawal from the year's second major, the US Open.

Because of trying to do my duty as best I can as Ryder Cup captain, I have other things going on that demand more of my attention than my own game so personal desires have had to be put on hold.

Obviously I'm a golfer and want to play, but I have to cut myself a bit of slack and if I can't practise at the level I need to then I just can't perform at the highest level.

It's ridiculously frustrating, but my priority is to do everything I possibly can to ensure Europe comes home with the Ryder Cup.

That plus my memories of my first US Open at Oakmont convinced me that it was in nobody's interests for me to play this year .  It's one of if not the most difficult courses and I didn't see the point of hacking it around.

The bonus of not playing was to be able to watch most of it very closely on television and it was wonderful to see Shane Lowry and  Lee Westwood performing so well.   I'm sure they will be pushing for Ryder Cup places in the coming weeks.

While I would have loved either of them to have won, I was very pleased for Dustin Johnson to finally get over the line after so many near misses in majors.   He's a great guy and a wonderful golfer.

Thongchai Jaidee, one of the nicest guys on Tour, was also a winner recently, but I was just as delighted to see a few experienced Ryder Cup players making a run during the French Open.

It looks like Europe's going to have a few rookies in the team and although I'm delighted at the way it's shaping up, it's essential to have a good balance, particularly in America.

I'd love as many of the experienced guys to hold their hands up and show just how much they want to get in the team.  I want it to be a difficult choice once it gets down to my three picks.

It's going to be hard enough anyway because I know just how disappointing it is not to be selected when you've just missed out on an automatic spot and are playing well.

I'll have vice captains to advise me, but I won't be frightened to over-rule them if I think it's necessary.   Being captain, I know I'll have to make tough decisions.

Now it's back to the day job to prepare for Royal Troon, the scene of my first opportunity to win a major when I went out in the last round with Jesper Parnevik.

It wasn't to be for me as Justin Leonard played wonderfully well to become a deserved Open champion.

I've been over there already for a few days doing things for the R & A and the course is in great condition so it should be a great links test, my favourite form of the game.

I'm also looking forward to doing battle against The Postage Stamp, one of the best par threes in the world.  It's only a wedge, but always proves that short holes don't have to be 250yards long to be tough ones.

Wish me luck and good luck to all there both inside and outside the ropes.

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