Hosting down to two venues – but there’s a stumbling block in the UK bid

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It’s now a two-horse race to hold the Ryder Cup in nine years – but England’s chances have hit a snag. Alex Perry hopes we can work it all out in The Slam

Hello, welcome to this week’s edition of The Slam. It feels like all I do at the moment is bounce from the Saudi Super League to the Ryder Cup. Sometimes I feel a bit sassy and combine the two. 

We’re back on the Ryder Cup this time, folks, and it never fails to amuse me how far ahead the Americans plan for these sorts of things. They already have a host venue for 2037, for example.  

Many of the players that will pull on either red or blue that week are yet to even pick up a golf club. Some are currently babies. Or toddlers. Maybe they’ve just started school. Maybe my own soon-to-be three-year-old son is one of them. Perhaps I should get him a Congressional course guide for his birthday.   

We do things differently on this side of the Atlantic, though. We like to play it cool. Forget this two decades nonsense, we’re happy to give golf courses a paltry seven or eight years to get their houses in order. 

So far we have 2023 and 2027 – in Italy and Ireland respectively – in the bag. 

So naturally one of the big talking points in recent months has been about where our next home tie will be hosted.  

While nothing was rock solid, those little birdies informed us it was between four-time host The Belfry, the yet-to-be-built Hulton Park in Lancashire, and an unnamed venue on the continent.  

The breaking news this week is, as I learned this week through a reliable source, that The Belfry is out of the running. I’ve contacted them for confirmation, but it looks like we’re down to two.  

The stumbling block on the Hulton Park project – which I wrote about in a previous edition of The Slam – is that the locals aren’t that keen. 

“The vision,” they promise us alongside a £1.6 billion uplift to the economy, “is to create a world-class sport and healthy living destination capable of hosting the Ryder Cup alongside a golfing academy, new primary school, new community facilities and a mix of housing to suit different needs and community facilities.”

Which is all lovely for local and adopted Lancastrians, but from a purely golf-related – and selfish – perspective, the argument is simply that we want a Ryder Cup in England again. 

Yes, I know, England has hosted 15 of the 21 Ryder Cups on this side of the Atlantic – and five of the 10 in the tournament’s current guise of Team Europe vs Team USA – but by the time 2031 rolls around it be pushing 30 years since Sam Torrance’s men edged their rivals over the Brabazon.       

In the meantime, our tour of the continent will have taken us to Ireland (twice), Wales, Scotland, France and Italy.

It’s just too long. 

Yes, I know, there are a lot of countries in Europe and it has to be spread out among them. And, while true, are we taking it to the right places? 

One could argue that France didn’t deserve to host in 2018 on the basis they’ve contributed just three players for a grand total of 3.5 points – two and a half of those from Victor Dubuisson – since 1979. 

And even Costantino Rocca’s six-from-three and Francesco Molinari’s phenomenal clean sweep in 2018 isn’t enough to convince me we should be heading to Rome next year.   

Why are Sweden, with 19 appearances from 10 players, never in the conversation? Or Northern Ireland, with their 23 from eight? 

I’m digressing from my point – which I realise is making me sound like a Brexit-obsessed Little Englander – but as a country we have contributed 76 players who have made how many appearances? Well, let’s just say I stopped counting at 200. 

With the days of the Ryder Cup going to the likes of Walton Heath and Ganton a distant memory, it seems Ryder Cup specialist arenas are the future. And Hulton Park is our last hope of the wait tipping over into a third decade.  

Do the right thing, Bolton. Or all you will be remembered for is making us question our love of garlic bread. 

Hoff in a huff

Absolutely outstanding stuff at the WM Phoenix Open this week when Charley Hoffman had a bit of a rant at the PGA Tour on his Instagram post after finding himself on the wrong side of the rules.

There is just so much going on here. Telling the Tour the players need protecting because his ball rolled into some water while simultaneously tagging the Saudi Golf League in the same post is one hell of a leap.

Wait. Does… does he think the Saudis won’t apply the Rules of Golf in their league? Just put me down for a birdie on every hole, mate.

Still, he had some support from expected sources.

This is beyond parody now. Clowns.

Who won this week?

The action at TPC Scottsdale was as marvellous as ever, and the tournament highlight was undoubtedly Sam Ryder’s ace at the stadium 16th.

That’s quite a bar tab…

And I’m not entirely sure why the Scottsdale Police Department were doing their own live reporting, but they did manage to catch the moment in this wonderful clip…

In the end it was Scottie Scheffler who earned his first PGA Tour title after a play-off win over Patrick Cantlay.

On this side of the Atlantic (and Mediterranean, and Persian Gulf), the DP World Tour’s Middle East swing came to a climax with a crushing five-shot, wire-to-wire win for Ryan Fox.

Meanwhile the first LET event of the year in Kenya came down to the very last putt…

Right, that’s enough from me for another week. Hey, you can follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing. (But only if you have nice things to say.)  

If you’re braving the cold in the coming days, play well. 

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