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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Bjorn’s World Cup of Mixed Foursomes proposal

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The variety of the team competition format (foursomes and 2-ball, better ball) plus the marvellous golf course at TPC Louisiana that played close enough to links conditions for the Zurich Classic the week before last were most enjoyable and intriguing.

No wonder I was delighted to see a tweet by former Ryder Cup Captain, Thomas Bjorn, extolling the virtues of ‘team golf’ and asking the question: “I wonder how and why the World Cup of Golf doesn’t exist anymore? Bring it back as a combined men and women’s event.”

I couldn’t agree more with only one proviso; all four rounds should be played in the foursomes format. Playing alternate shots with one ball heightens the test of the combined team spirit and temperaments of the players involved.

First held in 1953 as the Canada Cup, the World Cup of Golf hasn’t been staged since 2018 when Belgium, represented by Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters, landed the title in Melbourne, Australia. I do not know why it wasn’t held in 2019 and it is probably a victim of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021? But, it is missed.

Harry Bradshaw and Christy O’Connor Senior were winners for Ireland in Mexico in 1958. Although I was not a golfer at the time, I can vividly remember the excitement that victory caused and the photographs in the newspapers of the happy pair when their aeroplane landed in Shannon with the largest trophy I’d ever seen up until then.

It was nothing compared to the festival atmosphere when the jamboree was held at Portmarnock in 1960, which is now recognised as the beginning of the golf boom in Ireland, not least because the hottest of favourites, USA (represented by Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead) won.

GUI President, Dr Billy O’Sullivan, said at the time: “Ireland has a small golfing population, about 200 clubs, the majority of them with nine-hole courses but, what we lack in numbers we make up in enthusiasm.” Golfing facilities began to spring up like mushrooms in the aftermath of the 1960 Canada Cup in Ireland. Other Irish winners of the Canada (aka World Cup of Golf) were Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley at Kiawah Island in 1997.

In recent times the tournament has, unfortunately, lost some of its appeal. Thomas Bjorn’s inspired intervention may influence a sponsor to consider the potential of a mixed World Cup of Golf? What an exciting addition it could be to see a mixed pairing coming down the finishing holes representing their country’s golfing honour. It would be pleasantly different, that’s for sure.

 

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