I am not attending the Tour Championship, the final event of the FedExCup Play-offs, and will remain at Cowen HQ in Rotherham this week, it is not a usual stop for me during the year. It seems still be a challenge with international travel and the Covid-19 restrictions with the PGA Tour, meaning that I am having to take four tests during a tournament week in the US.
There is also the chance of getting a positive test before or during the week, which would result in an automatic 14 days of quarantine in a hotel in the US, which is the last thing I need at the moment at a key time of the golfing season for us all.
Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy are my two players in the field and I am speaking and connecting with them both all the time and, these days, I can watch them in action on the TV.
Not quite as good as being there, but a pretty decent option.
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Rory is happy with his game and lies 16th in the FedExCup Rankings with Brooks just four places further down in 20th spot. It is a big week for all with a massive $60 million in Bonus Money up for grabs.
The talk on the range at last week’s OMEGA European Masters in Switzerland was very much about The Ryder Cup. There are just two more qualifying events left for Team Europe; this week’s event in Italy and the final qualifier at the European Tour HQ at Wentworth with the BMW PGA Championship. I will be seeing most of my players at Wentworth.
It appears that nine of the spots are pretty much booked for Team Europe and captain Padraig Harrington’s message throughout the qualifying process and to all those on the cusp of qualifying with eyes on a potential pick, is that he will be looking at players in form for his picks. Harrington is his own man and meticulously plans his life and will follow that mantra in his captain’s role.
It seems likely that DP World Ambassador Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia are favourites for two of the three available captain’s picks with the third still up for grabs.
Henrik Stenson has had a couple of decent weeks in Europe finishing tied fourth and third, respectively. Also on the outside looking in are the likes of Justin Rose, Berndt Wiesberger, Victor Perez, Robert MacIntyre, Rasmus Hojgaard, Alex Noren and Francesco Molinari.
Of the above: Stenson, Wiesberger, Perez, Hojgaard and Molinari are playing this week in Italy.
It looks like I will have at least two players from Team Europe (Rory and Fitzpatrick) and one player from Team USA (Brooks) as well as looking after Captain Harrington’s game, which will not be necessary this week. I am very close to Padraig - so it will be interesting to see his style around the Team Room. All Captain’s have their own personality that will show. I am sure he will prevent me from speaking to you all and the media for the week, so we will see how that pans out.
It is soon time to review and reflect on my year with all my players.
2021 has not been my most memorable one with just four tournament wins and four second places. Our players have lost two play-offs, so a couple more wins there, would make a big difference.
The margins of winning and losing are very small in this game. Always have been and always will be. The difference these days is that the resulting rewards are so much bigger.
I have averaged around eight wins per year for the last 25 years, so I would only give a ‘C’ for my year to date, but that can easily change with a strong finish.
Fingers crossed there can still be some more success from my players in the remaining four months of the year as they all decide their schedules post the FedExCup Play-offs.
I am also planning a holiday in Dubai early in October with my wife Fran. It has been a while since we have had a proper holiday and we are both really looking forward to a break in Dubai.
See you all soon!
Current Ryder Cup Team Europe Standings
(As of September 1, 2021)
Plus 3 Captain’s Picks.
- Peter Cowen is the world’s No. 1 golf coach and has academies in the UAE and England