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Ryder Cup buzz strengthens resolve to be involved

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Martin Laird | 13:15 UK time, Thursday, 26 August 2010

Playing in the Ryder Cup is one of my major career goals and after my PGA Tour win last year, playing at Celtic Manor went from a pretty unrealistic goal to a reasonable one.

Sadly, I just didn't play well enough this year to be under consideration for the European team. I guess that's nothing to be ashamed of when you consider some of the names that may still miss out.

The strength of European golf right now is maybe better than it has ever been and I'm more disappointed at how I played for a large portion of the season than I am at not being in contention for a Ryder Cup spot.

I'm the type of person that tries to take care of all the small things in my game, knowing that if I do that and keep improving then at some point I will be on Ryder Cup teams.

The decision to play in the FedEx cup or go to Gleneagles this week is such a hard one for guys like Casey, Donald, and Harrington. They haven't secured qualification and aren't certain picks given the strength of other players in contention.

I know how hard it is to schedule your year. It's impossible to play in all the tournaments that you want to and you're going to have tough decisions to make at some point.

I'm sure these guys had this part of their schedule locked in for a while. The FedEx Cup Playoffs are the most important part of the year on the PGA Tour, so it's tough to take them off. Especially if you're near the top of the rankings and have a shot at winning the $10m first prize!

donaldcasey595.jpgI'm on the fence with regard to the choice these players have made as there are good arguments for both sides. I don't think it reflects any lack of interest in playing in the Ryder Cup. I guarantee they are as excited as everyone else about representing Europe.

Sometimes you just have to make tough decisions and stick to the schedule that you've planned. They're probably more frustrated at the fact that they haven't played their way onto the team. A good showing this week well may be enough to get the pick that they need.

For me, the Ryder Cup definitely hasn't lost any of its sparkle in the players' eyes. You still hear a lot of the guys saying that making their respective team was the main goal this year. You also see a lot of the guys on the bubble maybe playing a little more often in the second half of the year, trying to get as many points on the board as possible to secure their spot. The Ryder Cup is definitely the biggest event in golf.

There's a lot of hype over here in the US, largely helped by the "will Pavin pick Tiger?" question. I haven't been back home for over 10 years to catch the pre-Ryder Cup build-up in Europe, but I think that it's maybe a little more intense.

It's still a huge event for the US but I think that Europeans maybe look forward to it just a little bit more and have more passion. It's pretty clear though that once the competition gets underway both teams will do everything they can to win. You just can't beat the intensity; it's what makes it the most exciting sports event to watch in the world.

There has been a lot of talk over here about the US being underdogs due to the fantastic strength of the Europeans and the great year that European golf has had. That's something that scares me a little bit as it was the same two years ago and we all know who won that one!

The European team is a little stronger on paper. However, both teams are so unbelievably close and talented that what it says on paper doesn't mean anything. It's possibly an advantage to be the underdog as it takes a lot of pressure off.

This European team has already been labelled as maybe the strongest of all time. All that does is add extra pressure to the guys. There's a big difference between being expected to win and believing you will win.

So, will Pavin pick Tiger? I don't think there's too much doubt about that to be honest. It's an incredibly hard thing to leave out the number one ranked player in the world, and maybe the best player to ever play the game.

Even if Tiger hasn't been at his best this year he still is Tiger Woods. A lot has been said about how he played at Firestone last month, but I think if you look at his major results this year (4th, 4th, 23rd, 28th) it shows that his game is still pretty good despite all that's going on.

We're just used to him having a chance to win every week he tees it up. If you gave those major finishes to someone that's in the running for a captain's pick, it would only help their cause.

I hope Pavin does select Tiger as it would definitely bring an extra edge to the competition. I just can't wait to see how it all turns out. I really hope it's a close battle with Europe just clinching it at the end of the singles, with someone forever remembered as the player who sank the winning putt. I will definitely be watching...


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