BBC BLOGS - Iain Carter

Archives for February 2011

Donald triumphant as Euro dominance strengthens

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Iain Carter | 00:16 UK time, Monday, 28 February 2011

Dove Mountain, Arizona

Snow lay on the desert greens of southern Arizona; meteorological evidence perhaps that the axis of the golfing globe had been tilted further from its traditional American heartland.

Another indicator that it is all change in the golfing world was that Luke Donald graduated from being a perennial member of the supporting cast to having his own name up in lights after his victory in the WGC Match Play final over Martin Kaymer.

Donald was the dominant force of the week. Never behind in any of his six matches he demonstrated why he is always such an important figure for Europe in Ryder Cups as he claimed his first WGC crown and biggest title of his career to date.

Matchplay suits him so well, despite his comparative lack of length off the tee. When he can see his opponent he is a different animal.

Donald knows what he has to do and it gives him clarity. Sometimes you can feel that he can become distracted by what the rest might do when the format is 72-hole strokeplay.

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Stand by for Match Play magic

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Iain Carter | 08:08 UK time, Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The WGC Match Play has become one of the most eagerly anticipated tournaments of the golfing year, a refreshing break from the regular diet of 72-hole strokeplay that brings together the world's top players in head-to-head combat.

Furthermore, the first day of competition is akin to FA Cup third-round Saturday given its scope for upsets and intriguing results.

If there is one criticism of the event, which is being played at the gloriously scenic Dove Mountain resort in Arizona, it is that, on occasion, it can fall a little flat after the excitement of the opening rounds.

That is particularly the case if the 36-hole final is a one-sided affair - and only twice in the 12 runnings of this tournament has the championship match gone the full distance.

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Misguided move to switch qualifying order

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Iain Carter | 17:26 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

European golf is no doubt patting itself on the back for changing its Ryder Cup qualifying system to ensure more higher-ranked players make the team for the 2012 match against the United States at Medinah near Chicago.

The move means that the leading five earners on the European Tour during the year-long qualifying period take the first five places on the team. The next five in Jose Maria Olazabal's team will be the five players who have earned most world ranking points. That leaves the Spaniard with the two wildcard picks.

For the last four Ryder Cup contests, the European players that have accumulated the most world ranking points have been the first names on the team sheet.

But had the new system been in place for the match at Celtic Manor, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald would not have needed a wildcard to make Colin Montgomerie's team, while Justin Rose would have joined them in the Scot's 12-man line-up instead of being overlooked. Paul Casey would almost certainly have been given a captain's pick, too, but Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez would have all missed out.

So where's the drawback? It all makes perfect common sense, doesn't it? Well, yes and no, because I am not sure there is much back-slapping going on in the offices of sponsorship executives who currently plough millions into European Tour events.

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