Donald’s smooth style
Luke Donald may not have been the first choice for the job, having initially lost out to Henrik Stenson but then being drafted in after the Swede’s move to LIV Golf, but he’s shaping up to be a good Ryder Cup captain. He’s going about it in a measured and methodical way, similar, in fact, to Paul McGinley and, boy, did the Irishman deliver the goods for Europe at Gleneagles in 2014. There’s also a nice mix to his current backroom team, having inherited a wise campaigner in Thomas Bjorn and also the statistical nous of Edoardo Molinari after they’d already been appointed by Stenson then adding Nicolas Colsaerts, who has the knack of brightening up any room with his sheer presence. It’s definitely so far, so good for Donald.
Bob’s in the running
Stephen Gallacher was the last Scot to tee up in a Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014, but there can be no denying that Bob MacIntyre, in particular, now has a strong chance of being involved in this year’s match in Rome. Winning the Italian Open on the Ryder Cup course at Marco Simone Golf Club last September was an early boost for the Oban man in the qualifying campaign and, having now backed that up with a strong Hero Cup performance, he’s definitely in the running to be one of the rookies in Italy. MacIntyre says he’s determined to play with a smile on his face this year and he certainly ticked boxes on and off the course in Abu Dhabi. As did Ewen Ferguson, who admitted he’d been a “bit naive” in his singles loss but has also had his appetite for team golf in the pro ranks well and truly whetted.
While some people were disappointed that it wasn’t called the Seve Trophy due to it effectively being a reinvention of that, these sort of events need a sponsor to make them happen and credit must go to Dr Pawan Munjal, the chairman and CEO of Hero MotoCorp, in that respect. Though the atmosphere didn’t match that at a Ryder Cup, everything had been set up to try and give the younger players in both teams a feel for what it’s like in that transatlantic tussle. The team rooms in the on-site Westin Hotel, in particular, were a touch of class, with the locker-rooms feeling a bit like being in a football dressing room. “It had a bit of a Ryder Cup feel to it,” said Mark Crane, a Prestwick man who caddies for Alex Noren, “and I was quite surprised how well it had been set up, to be fair.”