Has Hero Cup increased or decreased Ryder Cup selection dilemmas?

Ivan Morris
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Captains Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood at the Hero Cup (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

There was a lot of ballyhoo about the ‘importance’ of this weekend’s Hero Cup Match between GB&I and Continental Europe.

It would help European Captain, Luke Donald, to select his best possible team for Ryder Cup action in September, it was claimed. I think it may only have succeeded in confusing matters – unless you are of a mind to say that it clarified them?

First of all, it is written in stone that six ‘automatics’ will select themselves via the rankings. If any of Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Viktor Hovland, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood are not amongst that ‘stone cold’ six, whichever of them does not ‘make it’ – then they are sure to be among the first selected, anyway. That’s six done and dusted!

If the Hero Cup ‘Dress Rehearsal’ is what it was cracked up to be – four unbeaten members of the Continental Europe side may have put down their markers, written in perhaps a less solid stone: Victor Perez, Francesco Molinari, Guido Migliozzi and Nikolai Hojgaard – all scored 3 and a half points out of a possible four. That could be ten, blue and yellow, uniforms taken!

When you talk about other Captain’s picks, it is virtually inconceivable that Seamus Power (and to a lesser extent, Alex Noren, would not be selected considering their consistent form on the PGA Tour in recent years. That’s it! That’s the twelve to play U-S-A in Italy, leaving incumbent Tyrrell Hatton on the side lines, and the formidable, Justin Rose, too.

Not to mention leaving strong Hero Cup performers for GB&I, Matt Wallace and Bob MacIntyre without a plane ticket and ‘short of free clothes’. Continental wannabes Sepp Straka, Adrian Meronk, the other Hojgaard twin, Rasmus, Antoine Rozner and the high-flying Belgians, Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry, may be left cooling their heels until another day – unless they can find some super-charged form by the end of August that turns them into automatic selections too.

P.S: it is mid-boggling to realise that eight (!) members of Padraig Harrington’s 2021 Ryder Cup team (including vice-captains) at Whistling Straits have joined LIV Golf and won’t be considered for duty in Italy. Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Bernd Weisberger, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer. That is a lot of valuable talent and experience ‘gone’ with the wind. U-S-A hasn’t taken anything like the same ‘hit’.

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