Tuesday 16 January 2018

Ryder Cup was nearly a complete disaster -- Bjorn

Mark Garrod

Ryder Cup vice-captain Thomas Bjorn has claimed that the Celtic Manor event was "pretty close to being a complete disaster."

But before anybody starts to think that Bjorn has lifted the lid on massive rows behind the scenes as Europe won back the trophy, the Dane was referring to the weather.

For the first time in Ryder Cup history the singles had to be held on the Monday after rain made the course unplayable on Friday and Sunday.

With the first contest on Welsh soil being scheduled as late as October 1-3, there was a lot of anger from fans whose Friday tickets were not valid for the extra day. One said he had seen only five shots and that he thought spectators were "treated with contempt," while another felt "absolutely betrayed."

Now it has been revealed that the cost of Monday's play ran into six figures -- reason enough for organisers to do all they can to reduce the risk of the same happening at Gleneagles in 2014. The plan is for it to be only slightly earlier in the year, but Bjorn would love to see it in August rather than September whenever Europe hosts the event.

Stressing that he was stating a personal preference rather than the view of the tournament players' committee he chairs, he said: "It's only here once every four years and I think there should be consideration given to that.

"The match worked in Wales, but it was pretty close to being a complete disaster and if you can have trouble in Wales at the start of October, you can have trouble in Scotland at the end of September."

Further talks are to be held between Europe's Ryder Cup committee, the PGA of America and the (US) PGA Tour, whose scheduling of the FedEx Cup play-offs is seen as the main problem to going earlier in the calendar.

"It's a discussion for the bigwigs, not for me," said Bjorn, but there will be other cup matters on the agenda for his committee early in the New Year.

First up will be the captaincy. Is Jose Maria Olazabal in a position to succeed Colin Montgomerie? The Spaniard has only just returned to action after further problems with rheumatic pains.

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady said: "Just about every player on the European Tour would love to see Jose Maria as the captain."

Then there is the qualifying system, the subject of much debate in August when Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Justin Rose did not return to Europe for the last two weeks of the points race. Harrington and Donald were given two of Monty's three wildcards, but Casey and Rose both missed out and there is talk of different criteria being used for 2012.

"We will listen to Monty and whoever the new captain is," Bjorn added. "There are strong views coming from all angles."

Irish Independent

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