By TERRY LYONS, Digital Sports Desk editor-in-chief
BOSTON – If and when Texas secedes from the Union, you can be damn sure Jordan Spieth wouldn’t be playing for the United States of America in the Ryder Cup. The PGA of America (sans Texas) would draw a line as straight as a two-foot putt at Hazeltine limiting the roster to true blue.
That isn’t the case this week, as the 41st Ryder Cup tournament tees-off in Chaska, Minnesota and the team of the European Union casts its line-up, complete with seven of the dirty dozen Europeans hailing from the United Kingdom, not to mention its Northern Ireland bred coach, Darren Clarke who is downplaying the potential controversy as political rhetoric and economic policy rather than a simple geography lesson.
“We’re still one continent,” said Clarke, back in June when his compatriots voted their way out of the European Union in a move tabbed as “Brexit.” “It makes no difference to us whatsoever because the UK is always going to be a part of the European continent. So. we’re (going there) as Europe. We’ll still use the European flag because that’s our continental flag.”
Perfectly acceptable logic for the team captain, looking to lay-up some talking points, rather than aggressively taking a run at the pin.
Clarke, by his own logic, opens the door for North American golfers from Canada or Mexico to claim a coveted spot on the non-European side and thus calls into question the concept of the historic Ryder Cup, a biennial juggernaut of an event, sometimes called golf’s super bowl. Clearly, the current Ryder Cup brand and its match play format remains a concept the PGA of America and golf’s Royal and Ancient hierarchy wants and needs to protect at all costs.
The question arises: Should the Ryder Cup be expanded to a continental competition? It could be a tournament expanded and open to a more globally inclusive roster of continental compadres to include South American, Australian, Asian and African duffers, albeit the latter would be mostly represented by South Africans who dominate the sport on their continent. Or should the Ryder Cup remain in its current format as a rivalry between the USA and (geographic) Europe?
If the latter is the case, maybe the door should be open for the biennial President’s Cup to become an Olympic-style qualifier, either for national teams or for the aforementioned continental divide? A round-robin between North America-South America-Europe-Asia-Africa and Australia surely would peak interest in the after-thought that is the current President’s Cup format.