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I make no excuses whatsoever for the indulgent coverage of the Ryder Cup that you are about to enjoy within this celebration issue – forget the rain and the mud and all of that tedious hanging about, the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor will be remembered as one of the greatest sporting events of all time and it illustrated beyond any shadow of a doubt that team golf, at this level, is unrivalled in its capacity to generate sporting theatre. As more than one reader has observed – who needs the Olympics?

That mainstream tournament golf is inherently so selfish may just be one of the reasons why wall-to-wall coverage of the professional game does relatively little to spark the curiosity of casual observers and thus fails to attract the seedbed of new players golf desperately needs. In contrast, the emotion, the drama and the sheer unpredictability guaranteed in a Ryder Cup reveals to the biggest audience of the season (by a margin) the true compelling nature of our sport in its finest form – the very essence of the game that long ago seduced you and I. Let’s just hope that Sir Terry Matthews’ investment and the stirring exploits of Monty and his team returns golf at large the result it deserves in the long run.

Golf International September 2010 issue

As for that deciding singles match, can you even begin to imagine the pressure Graeme McDowell was under as he made for those last three holes at Celtic Manor? As was widely reported in the run-up to the event, this was a stage built precisely for such a purpose, although not even Sir Terry could have imagined the final scene would be so dramatic as it played out on that electric-blue Monday afternoon.

If you haven’t stood on the 16th tee on the Twenty Ten Course you won’t fully appreciate the scale of the task that meets you – 499 yards, a par-four, supposedly, with thick rough either side of a snaking fairway and a green that tilts menacingly from left to right. Right on cue, with the score at 13.5 apiece – and with his body so numbed by the pressure he could barely feel his hands – GMac produced two of the finest swings of his life followed by a pace-perfect putt to effectively settle things. It was spell-binding. Celtic Manor can lay claim to witnessing one of the greatest birdies the game has ever seen. And 10, minutes later, one of the nuttiest celebrations a golf match has ever produced.

I still get nervous watching the re-run on Sky Plus. But if there’s ever a piece of footage that gets me fired up for a game of golf, that closing stretch will do it. For all the glory Monty & Co deservedly enjoyed as a winning team, their gift to all of us was a reminder of just how great a game it can be.

Enjoy the issue.

October 2010

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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