Save for everything aligning seamlessly at Wentworth next week, I think we can probably assume that Robert MacIntyre’s chance of a Ryder Cup wildcard has now gone.
Bob could still win on the West Course and give Padraig Harrington a last-minute selection crisis similar to Colin Montgomerie’s in 2010. Then Monty and his senior vice-captain Darren Clarke had picked their team but Edoardo Molinari eagled the last hole to win the last event – the Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles.
The minute word came through that the announcement that Sunday night had been delayed by an hour, we all guessed that Edoardo was in and – it later became clear – Paul Casey was out.
That kind of drama disappeared for a decade. Instead the wildcards were named in a grand, largely choreographed ceremony on the Monday after the last qualifying event.
But Paddy’s having none of that, and is scheduled to name his three choices in the immediate aftermath of the completion of the BMW PGA.
A decision based on the future rather than now
Back to Bob. After the Wyndham Championship he stayed in the US to bid for a PGA Tour card by playing the three Korn Ferry Tour play-off tournaments. Missed cuts in Idaho and Ohio followed.
You can obviously second-guess his decision now. Some people who know Bob and his advisers better than I do told me the option to stay in the US and not chase a win in the Czech Republic or Switzerland was not an admission that the Scot actually wasn’t on Harrington’s radar.
I don’t agree. Bob needed a win, a big one, if he was going to get more than just admiring words from Harrington. A Korn Ferry Tour play-off win wouldn’t have cut the mustard.
Quite correctly, in my opinion, Bob chased a PGA Tour card instead, looking at the bigger picture and the future. In the end he didn’t get it, but I still think he made the right decision.
Some think now that Rasmus Hojgaard, the young Dane who won at Crans-Montana, is now a possible wildcard choice. He’s hugely admired, has won three times in a year and is just 20. It’s Thomas Pieters in 2016 all over again.
Has Paddy got his picks already?
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) August 30, 2021
Maybe. But I think Paddy’s decided to name his picks on Sunday night because he’s already decided on them.
It’s taken as read Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter will be two. Many felt 2018 was maybe the last go around for a good number of the Europe team. In defiance of this, both Sergio and Poults have played much, much better than they did coming into Paris.
The Third Man? I suspect Harrington wasn’t trying to be misleading when he talked after the Open about focusing on experience. He has just two rookies in his nine automatic qualifiers – if Shane Lowry hangs on. But he has just three players who have played more than one Ryder Cup in Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Casey.
We’ve talked before in T2G about the massive discrepancy between points won by experienced wildcards to any rookies, even those who qualify automatically.
Since 2002, experienced wildcards have a 66% success rate in points won. Rookie of all colours are barely over 50%, and they’re only that good because of Pieters (4-1) at Hazeltine and Tommy Fleetwood (4-1) in Paris.
Recent obvious outliers
Both of those examples raise a red flag as obviously enormous outliers. The one time that an experienced player has floundered as a wildcard for Europe was Westwood at Hazeltine, which can also be disregarded as an outlier (it happens a LOT more to the USA for some reason).
Padraig is analytical by nature, as we all know. He’s know these stats and he’ll want a tried and tested player to add further backbone. I’m thinking a Justin Rose, a Henrik Stenson, a Francesco Molinari.
All three need a bit of an oomph at Wentworth, maybe, but like Sergio in 2018, they’re probably worth the risk anyway. The Ryder Cup is a very different animal.
Irritating, but bullying? Didn’t used to be called that…
Bryson DeChambeau: Patrick, can you stop walking?
Patrick Cantlay: Walks in birdie putt.
Here for it. pic.twitter.com/tWyaLe0cdc
— The Plugged Lie (@PluggedLiePod) August 29, 2021
The lengthy, dramatic play-off between Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau at the BMW Championship may have been the making – at long last – of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup project.
But even that drama is in danger of being blotted out by Bryson-world. There was a more than awkward moment when he petulantly asked Cantlay to “stop walking”. There followed an expletive outburst at a fan after he was finally defeated.
The big crowds in Baltimore seemed to be torn. Some were thrilling at his bashing the ball monster distances, and some delighted in taunting him. The cheers when he dunked his ball a couple of times were actually startling.
Brooks Koepka has kept his own counsel recently in his feud with DeChambeau, but the barn door is swinging freely and the horse is a distant memory on that one.
Some think the heckling of the crowd and shouts of “Brooksie” at Bryson is tantamount to bullying.
Minor stuff compared to what Monty put up with
OMG THE ROARpic.twitter.com/88a3X2GcS1
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) August 28, 2021
Seriously? It’s undoubtedly irritating to Bryson. But is it really that bad to be called something as harmless as your rival’s name?
Minor stuff, compared to what used to be directed at Colin Montgomerie in America and still is in many places at Ian Poulter. Compared to the hostility I’ve seen and heard at Ryder Cups in the USA, it’s nothing much at all.
In Monty’s case, he used to get roundly criticised as being “rabbit-eared” for occasionally reacting to the torrent of heckling directed his way. DeChambeau reacts much more readily, but now it’s “bullying”. Go figure.
Of course, no hostile heckling is ideal and we’d rather not have it at all. But the tournament organisers keep on serving beer. And there are plenty numpties trying to be heard on TV microphones who are perfectly sober as well.