Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez to look back at Europe’s spectacular victory in last week’s Solheim Cup and to also pay tribute to his former Ryder Cup team-mate Brian Barnes:
“Watching that wonderful finish at Gleneagles last week reinforced how important the format is in both the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup team events.
I remember, when I handed over the captaincy to Bernard Gallacher for the 1991 Ryder Cup, telling the European Tour’s Ken Schofield and George O’Grady, ‘No matter what you do, don’t ever change the format of two sessions of foursomes and two sessions of fourballs followed by 12 singles on the final day’.
That set-up is a massive key to producing close finishes because, as a captain, you never expose all 12 players until the last day.
The officials involved have decided not to do that in the Presidents Cup. In that team event, they want more foursomes and more fourballs but having that system leads to lopsided competition.
I know Nick Price, who captained the Internationals team in 2013, 2015 and 2017, pushed hard for the Ryder Cup format to be used and I think the powers-that-be would have done well to listen to him.
Nick’s pleas fell on deaf ears because, make no mistake about it, the Americans want to win and if they can get an edge going in, they will.
The Internationals have only won once before, back in 1998 at Royal Melbourne, ironically the same venue they are using this December.
I’ll never forget what happened 21 years ago. I was licking my chops in anticipation of sitting in front of my TV to watch how it would all unfold on the final day and ESPN pulled the plug on the coverage.
That tells you everything you need to know. The Americans don’t want to be seen losing. From a ratings point of view, they need to see their own team winning.
Clearly, the USA team has more depth than the Internationals and the more you expose all 12 players over the first couple of days, the more you are going to get lopsided finishes come Sunday.
The format used in the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup is tried and tested. It works, no doubt about it, because usually everything is up for grabs going into the singles and that’s how you want it to be.
Talking about the Ryder Cup, I was deeply saddened to hear last week that my old team-mate Brian Barnes had passed away.
Barnesy was a helluva player, no doubt about that. He truly left his mark on British golf. He was a real character, he was his own man and, boy, could he play!
He won two British Senior Opens in a row and also won in Canada on the seniors circuit. Not many managed to do that. Some tried and retreated. Barnesy was fearless and he never retreated.
Beating Jack Nicklaus twice in the singles on the same day in the 1975 Ryder Cup at Laurel Valley in Pennsylvania was a big feather in his cap and he had unquestionable ability.
I’ve got a lot of good memories from our early days on tour. The one that springs immediately to mind comes from a time we were in Toronto for the Canadian Open.
There was a restaurant called Ed’s Warehouse and he and Dave Thomas challenged each other to an eating contest. The pair of them started off by eating a chicken apiece, then went on to steaks and Barnesy wiped the floor with Dave.
Barnesy was such a great character. There weren’t many around like him, that’s for sure.”