Peter Cowen exclusive: Europe will have a slight edge over US in biennial men's golf showpiece

Famed golf coach talks to Khaleej Times about his thoughts for this week’s 44th Ryder Cup in Rome

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Peter Cowen. - Supplied photo
Peter Cowen. - Supplied photo

Published: Tue 26 Sep 2023, 1:50 PM

I have arrived back home in Rotherham after an enthralling LIV Golf Chicago which was won in sensationally by Team Europe.

For the first time since 1995, I am not going to be attending the Ryder Cup – which will be a strange feeling. I only have Brooks Koepka playing for the US team and I just felt it was not essential to be there.

My thoughts on this big week for golf and global sport is that it will be a close contest – with 28 matches in foursomes, fourballs and the Sunday singles.

I still believe that Europe will have a slight edge come Sunday night.

Team Europe and Captain Luke Donald have more knowledge of the Marco Simone Golf Club golf course layout which has hosted the Italian Open a couple of times on the DP World Tour, even though most of the golfers on Team USA have played there recently with Captain Zach Johnson.

The word on and around the range over the last few weeks is that Luke has tried to set up the golf course in a similar style to Le Golf National in Paris in 2018 – where Europe performed so well. And there is some brutal rough in certain places which has to be avoided. But that is modern golf for all players, whether you are playing in a US Open, on the PGA Tour or DP World Tour.

It does seem that statistics are taken very seriously these days. They seem to be very important in the planning of pairings for the captains as well as for the media – that was never the case in my day as a player.

But in my opinion, you do not win or lose a match of 18 holes of golf by my mere historical statistics. Anyone can beat anyone on their day when you put together 12 of the best players in the world of golf in a three-day match.

The mental side of the week is unique compared to the other 51 weeks of the year. Those ‘other’ weeks when the players play well they are in contention and are rightly near the top of the leaderboard, or are off form and quietly miss the cut.

The Ryder Cup is so different and no one can hide and it so often brings out the best in the best golfers.

Just one observation that I do not really understand was again highlighted on Sunday at the Solheim Cup which finished with Europe retaining the trophy.

By was the result not 14 – 14 and a tie or draw and the first ever in the Solheim Cup’s history?

In modern elite sports where winning is always the goal with all the resulting rewards and celebrations, why is there not a provision for a play-off in the event of a tie?

In the Ryder Cup, there has been a tie twice in its history, in 1969 and 1996.

Why should a team retain the trophy when the previous event was two years previous with a different captain with very different players?

There would surely be even more drama seeing perhaps a deciding fourball loop of three holes to decide the Ryder Cup. Usually,, time and daylight is a determining factor but the Sunday singles involve a lie in bed for players with a late first tee time – as Rory McIlroy knows better than anyone.

Are we missing something? I am a little uncomfortable with all the celebrations of teams that retain a trophy when actually they did not score more points than the opposition.

This week will be a must-watch event for all golf enthusiasts, whether you are attending Rome or watching on television.

The Ryder Cup is one of the showpieces of our sport, so let’s sit back and enjoy it.

The next event I will attend will be the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland at the end of the season, which is coming soon, but there is still so much for everyone to play for!

Good luck to all!

Peter Cowen.

Peter Cowen is 72 years old and is regarded as one of the top golf coaches in the world. He has Peter Cowen Academies at Emirates Golf Club, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and his headquarters in Rotherham, England.

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