In any list of reasons for the present popularity and high financial standing of golf, the name, and the game, of Arnold Palmer are irresistibly linked.
The closing in of Dustin Johnson on the summit of golf’s world ranking may be the least of Jason Day’s worries.
Rory McIlroy delivered the most powerful Ryder Cup message to the United States yet with a dramatic success at the Tour Championship which also ensured the Northern Irishman claimed the $10m FedEx Cup prize. At the start of Ryder Cup week Europe are the side with momentum. With the purses added together, McIlroy departed Georgia $11.5m richer than when he arrived.
Eighteen months ago in the clubhouse at Bay Hill, venue for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the adopted winter home of this golfing icon, Rory McIlroy was approached. “Rory; if you need anything this week, you just let me know.”
For all that the Ryder Cup involves two sides, it is difficult to deviate from the notion that the narrative of this, the 41st playing of the event, focuses mainly on one.
The identity of the man looking to halt a Dustin Johnson procession to the FedEx Cup and $10m prize is more fascinating than the fact a battle has ensued in the first place. Rory McIlroy’s third round of 66 at the Tour Championship, combined with an unforeseen late stumble by Johnson, has set up a thrilling finale on the outskirts of Atlanta.
No sooner had Davis Love III issued his strongest Ryder Cup war cry yet than Lee Westwood endorsed his status as Europe’s agent provocateur. If the event matches the preamble, there may be a need to stand back from the Hazeltine fireworks.
The first blow of the phoney war which always precedes a Ryder Cup has been landed by Lee Westwood, who has pointed towards the potentially “adverse” influence of Tiger Woods as a vice-captain of the USA.
The murmurings in relation to Paul Casey’s refusal to make himself eligible for the Ryder Cup could take the form of an epic storyline within days.
Danny Willett has said his brother Peter’s pre-Ryder Cup criticism of American supporters was backed up by the behaviour of some supporters at Hazeltine.
There was nothing to separate Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson through 71 holes with the former Ryder Cup partners both 15-under par as they stepped on to the 18th green at the Olympic Golf Course on Sunday afternoon.
Even when broken, don’t fix it.
Tom Watson’s Ryder Cup legacy did not solely relate to the continuation of a poor United States run.
When Thomas Pieters struck his first tee shot at 11.26am local time, the 24‑year‑old became the first European rookie to play in all five sessions since Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Paul Lawrie and Sergio García at the Battle of Brookline in 1999.
Tiger Woods’s career outlook has taken its latest bleak turn with confirmation that he will not, as announced, return to competitive action at this week’s Safeway Open in California. Woods has also pulled out of November’s Turkish Airlines Open, citing the “vulnerable” state of his game.
As Darren Clarke uses this weekend to ponder his wildcard picks for the European team, with the announcement to be made at Wentworth on Tuesday, the nuances of Ryder Cup captaincy will play a part in his thinking.
While it may be unfair to Danny Willett to describe his duel with Rory McIlroy in tortoise and hare terms, there is fascination attached to the Englishman’s bid to keep pace with a four-times major winner in Dubai.
Despite forming part of a beaten European team and in a sentiment that will be widely shared, Rory McIlroy has suggested a Ryder Cup win for the USA at Hazeltine was a positive outcome for the future of the event.
Out of non-appearance comes opportunity and scope for a fairytale. It was lost in the buildup to the Turkish Airlines Open that Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Martin Kaymer and others’ refusal to participate opened the door for less decorated professionals to earn a life-changing sum. First prize here is £950,000.
Europe’s tormentor in chief may well be afforded special salvation from the same continent. Patrick Reed’s leading role in the USA’s Ryder Cup success at Hazeltine has apparently enhanced the desire of Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive, to keep the 26-year-old as part of his business equation.
Golfers tend to look upon world rankings as a consequence of success rather than a key incentive. Still, some figures leap out; Luke Donald a lowly 77th, Hideki Matsuyama at a career high of No6 and, suddenly, Jordan Spieth shuffled down to No5.