Mickey Walker: Ryder and Curtis Cup top my New Year wish list
At the start of a New Year, like a lot of the UK’s golfers, I will be making some resolutions. In addition, I have a wish list of things that I would dearly love to see happen within the game of golf and sport in general, but especially for my football team – Gillingham!
For over thirty years Dame Laura Davies has been our most successful and best known female golfer. That is not to say at times other British women golfers haven’t eclipsed Laura in their accomplishments or in the world rankings.
Catriona Matthew has consistently been higher in the world rankings since the early 2000s, but no one has come close to winning the tournaments that Laura has won worldwide, or being as popular.
I would love to see Melissa Reid and Charley Hull realise their potential and become consistent winners, both in Europe and worldwide. British and European women’s golf needs a superstar to step into Laura’s shoes to elevate the game and inspire girls and women to take up golf.
Nowadays, the Curtis Cup gets the least attention of the four bi-annual transatlantic team competitions. Great Britain and Ireland’s results since the contest began in 1932 haven’t been great, but with the USA having in excess of a million female golfers, it would be an anomaly if the results weren’t one-sided.
On June 10 to 12, the 2016 matches will be played at the Dun Laoghaire course in Dublin. With the Great Britain and Ireland team being led by the world’s top-ranked amateur, Leona Maguire, the passionate Irish support and a recent history of wins in the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle in 2011 and the Curtis Cup at Killarney in 1996, I’m hoping that Great Britain and Ireland will reverse their defeat of two years ago.
One of the things that is hurting the game is the average time it takes to play 18 holes” I am a huge Sergio Garcia fan – who isn’t? But I just wish that he would be more positive when contending in the Majors and occasionally show us his wonderful smile when being interviewed.
For all his talent and success, perhaps Sergio needs to visit a sports psychologist to help him win a Major?
Like all golf fans, I’m looking forward to another enthralling Ryder Cup match. With a number of players on recent European Teams struggling with their games, and America also looking as though some regulars, such as Phil Mickelson, are likely to be absent, we will probably have the biggest number of rookies participating for a while.
With home advantage and being led by Jordan Speith, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed, America will be genuine favourites to regain the cup, but I’m sure that European captain Darren Clarke will have other ideas. Come on, Europe!
I’m passionate about sport, and golf in particular. One of the things that is hurting the game is the average time it takes to play 18 holes, whether in the amateur or professional game, is approaching five hours rather than taking the three hours or less that it took when I started playing golf some 45 years ago.
Of course there are exceptions to be found at certain courses. I really do think that the professional bodies running golf need to take steps to speed up play. Even if the professional tours took on average five minutes less per round, it would be a move in the right direction. Those of us in a position of influence owe it to the future of the game to take responsibility and get golfers moving.
No sports fan could have failed to be excited by Great Britain’s recent win in tennis’s Davis Cup. Although we weren’t quite a one-person team, we wouldn’t have won without Andy Murray’s incredible support and performances.
Surely it is time for all of Andy’s critics to acknowledge his contribution and success rather than keep moaning about him. No one gets to be ranked No 2 in the world if they don’t perform well and often. Andy’s work ethic and sacrifice in order to achieve what he has done already is to be admired.
Here’s wishing him another major win in 2016 – he deserves it.
Finally, people who know me well are aware that I spent most of my early life growing up in Kent and that my football-mad father first took me to watch Gillingham, who were then in the Fourth Division, as an eight-year-old. I became a regular attendee and fan, and often travelled with my parents to watch the Gills play away from home against such glamorous opponents as Grimsby and Luton Town.
Those early years fostered a love of football, but especially for the ills. s I write, we are ying high in League One. I would be in heaven if we were promoted to the Championship and got to play against some former Premier League clubs.
Come on, you Gills!