Sport - Golf - Zane Scotland
Zane Scotland is a golf commentator, coach and life time member of the MENA Tour Image Credit: Zane Scotland

What a few weeks we have had in the world of golf! Before we get into the tournament chat, I think we can still talk about these Ryder Cup picks. Some really interesting choices.

Great to see Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose getting picked. They were pretty nailed on anyway with just their history in the event. Sepp Straka as well, he's a two-time winner on the PGA Tour so that's a huge advantage for Team Europe.

But it’s the other choices which makes it interesting. Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, who I think has been on a few peoples radars the last couple of months. Big chat coming out of college system in the states. Fantastic driver of the ball and really good on the eye test. Loads of guys who have played with him have been saying it as well, plus he has the numbers and statistics to back it all up.

But still, he literally turned pro like 12 weeks ago, he has never played a Major Championship and he’s now going to be playing a Ryder Cup.

You can not fault Aberg

It’s unbelievable what he has done in such a short space of time. And to do it in the manor he has, yes he got a pick, but Luke Donald actually asked him to go and play in Europe for two weeks to help his decision. He then put in a good shift in the Czech Republic, so maybe he had one foot in the team room there, and then came out in the last event in Crans and absolutely bolted his place by winning it, you can not fault the guy.

Sport - Golf - Ludvig Aberg
The former World Amateur Number One, Ludvig Aberg wins in just his second event as a pro on the DP World Tour Image Credit: AP

I think he is the difference in a new player on the scene who is “good” and a new player who people are saying is a “generational talent”.

He’s even in some peoples conversations of “How many Majors can this guy win?” This guy could carry the flag for Europe for some years to come.

A big shock was that Adrian Meronk wasn’t picked, seems like an absolute travesty from where I sit. Third on the DP World Tour Rankings, he has won three times in the last 18 months and he has won on the Marco Simone golf course just back in May. Yes, he's won on the course which we will be facing the Americans and he’s not on the plane, it just doesn’t add up whatsoever.

Recommitted to the DP World Tour

I’m not really sure how they came up with that decision. Has he been punished for not being high up enough in the world rankings? He recommitted to the DP World Tour, sits third in the rankings behind two guys who play most their golf on the PGA Tour and they get to play in bigger events and bigger purses and somehow he’s not picked, it’s a difficult one.

On saying that through, the picks that are going, there are no weak links. Shane Lowry is a big moment player and we have to remember that this guy has won multiple big events. He has won the Irish Open as an amateur, he has won the Open Championship and at the last Ryder Cup he really shone. We all know the character he is and plus he plays out on the PGA Tour as well and faces up against those American guys all the time.

Shane Lowry of Team Europe celebrates on the 14th green
Shane Lowry of Team Europe celebrates on the 14th green in the 2021 Ryder Cup Image Credit: AFP

Nicolai Højgaard is an amazing talent and he will be on the Ryder Cup team for years to come. He hits it miles and you have to be straight around Marco Simone which he is, just to go along with his multiple wins in the last couple of years on the DP World Tour.

There are no weak links in this European Team but it just seems Meronk should’ve been one of the guys who was picked. Plus as a Dubai resident it would have been great to see him on the team!

How Luke has made these picks is probably not as straight forward as we think. It wouldn’t be “I like him, I don’t like him” there will be numbers, stats and a matrix to all that.

The main focus on the tournament golf last week was the Horizon Irish Open and the winner being Vincent Norrman. Interesting story with him really, as he won earlier in the year in the Barbasol Championship which was co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. 25-years-old, young, Swedish lad – sounds a lot like Ludvig Aberg who won the previous week!

Sport - Golf - Vincent Norrman
Vincent Norrman with the Horizon Irish Open Trophy Image Credit: Supplied

Looking a bit more into that, you have Vincent coming over to play on the DP World Tour, likely inspired by his countryman Ludvig, and then you get back-to-back wins for the Swedish lads on the DP World Tour! Vincent is probably putting his hand up as to where was his Ryder Cup pick?

He’s clearly got the talent and he took down a fantastic field at the Horizon Irish Open and much stronger field than it was in Crans the week before. So there probably was a bit of fire in his belly as to why maybe he wasn’t in that Ryder Cup conversation and just to let people know that there is another Swedish lad on the block.

But it was a really impressive win, 65 last round, and watching that back nine on Sunday, all of his game was good. Probably a bit quieter for him as he was playing in the earlier groups and nobody thought he was a threat but he definitely went about his business and finished it off really well.

It was great to see Lowry with a tied third place finish straight off the back of his Ryder Cup pick. There were some people questioning whether he should have been picked over Meronk. I think that tied third for Shane was also a bit of a “Look I’m here, my form is good, and I am one of the 12 best players in Europe” so it’s good to see him doing really well.

Next goal - the DP World Tour Championship

Hurly Long who was leading at the start of Sunday ended up finishing second and shot even par in the final round. From an outsider looking in they might think that’s disappointing, but going into the week he was like 150 odd on the Race to Dubai staring at the possibility of losing his card. So that was a huge finish for him and he has nailed on his status for next year and now he will be looking at securing his spot at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates at the end of the year. That was a massive move for him.

Then obviously the big disappointment was Rory McIlroy. He was playing so well in the first three rounds, around a course and an event that he has won at before and he just faulted. Birdied the first hole and everyone thought “Right here he is, let’s do it” and then he just couldn’t get it going. A couple of mini disasters, one being on the 16th hole. He left himself with a 5-wood from like 260 yards so just like in 2016 this was the time to give himself an eagle chance. He goes and flares it right into the water, a shot which we have unfortunately seen him do before at the Majilis course at Emirates Golf Club. So then he took a drop and flew the green, so it just wasn’t to be that was his tournament done.

Rory McIlroy's Dubai Desert Classic title hopes sank in the water on 18
Rory McIlroy is looking for a turn in form Image Credit: Virendra Saklani Gulf News

But the upside is Rory keeps putting himself in these positions and it’s going to come together soon. We’ve really seen some good golf from Rory over the past couple of years and yes he will be bitterly disappointed to have not got over the line in Ireland but there are some good signs that his game is there for the Ryder Cup and also Wentworth this week.

But before we go too heavily into the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Something pretty cool is all 12 of the Ryder Cup Team Europe guys are playing at Wentworth this week which is a nice thing to show support to the DP World Tour. They have all in fact popped over to Marco Simone in Rome on Monday as a team to look at the course. Then weirdly a friend of mine, who is actually a race car driver Duncan Tappy, he called me as he was on his way to Italy and he randomly bumped into Justin Rose and Ludvig Aberg.

He said there was a little vibe of Justin being the role model for Ludvig. With Justin being the experienced player vs a rookie on the team. It kind of looks like Justin got the nod for “Look can you keep an eye on him and lend a hand to this guy, he is our future” so it’s exciting times for Justin really as well! He was once the young up and coming guy and now he is having to do the mentoring job.

And Justin will know exactly what Ludvig is going through. Justin finished fourth at the Open Championship when he was 17-years-old and was then tipped to go to the top. It wasn’t a direct journey for him as he went and had like 20 missed cuts, but he fought through it and topped the world rankings and became a Major champion so if anyone knows what it takes its that man right there. Ludvig is in very good hands.

There was no PGA Tour event last week but on the LPGA Tour that was won by Minjee Lee. She just manages to hold onto the crown of best golfer in the family as Min Woo Lee, her brother, had a good week in Ireland and finished seventh, she then turns around and wins the Kroger Queen City Championship by beating Charley Hull in a playoff.

Sport - Golf - Min Woo Lee and Minjee Lee
Min Woo Lee alongside his sister Minjee Lee Image Credit: Supplied

At one point she was actually five shots clear going into the back nine and then a few blips and a few great bits from Charley, which she has been doing all year, and Minjee found herself in a playoff. Charley made two pars in the playoff and Minjee went par, birdie with a fantastic approach shot to grab the win and give Charley her fourth second place finish this year.

Still it’s a great year for Charley but it could have been an exceptional one! Hopefully she is still on the ascent and it’s not a missed opportunity and its merely building up. So great signs from Charley, she practices so hard and I’m sure she will be back in Dubai this winter as she always is.

Let’s just finish looking back to Wentworth. Rory is obviously going to be one, if not the favourite, there is not really much of a dark horse there. But it’s going to be a really interesting week with all of Team Europe there, obviously competing against each other this week alongside a really strong field. But I think Rory is going to be the man to take it.

Plenty of Dubai connections with the Ryder Cup

With the Dubai based guys, Nicolas Colsaerts has obviously been struggling with his health over the last couple of years but it’s great to see him back and being supported by AVIV Clinics in Dubai who have given him a new ‘lease of life’ let’s say. Hopefully he can do well even though he is pretty busy being a Ryder Cup Vice Captain as is Thomas Bjørn! He is now affiliated to Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club and he actually had a great opening round last week in Ireland but he’s also just coming back from injury, so let’s see how the great Dane does. I do recon though Tommy Fleetwood getting a pick for the Ryder Cup and a strong finish over in the FedEx Cup Rankings will give him a boost to get up there and in amongst it this week.

A little nod to Todd Clements as well, he made the cut last week, and after his win in the Czech Republic he is playing his first BMW PGA Championship. Great to see his girlfriend Olivia Cowan making the cut over on the LPGA Tour as well as another pair of Dubai favourites are ticking off some more good performances in the world of golf.

— Zane Scotland is a golf coach and Sky Sports commentator while holding a MENA Tour life-time membership