Another Ryder Cup year approaches and the rush for qualification begins

As we prepare to enter a year which will no doubt be remembered for it’s sporting prevalence in the UK and Europe, we are also entering another Ryder Cup year. Team Europe will travel to the Medinah Club in the latter half of 2012 and the rush for qualification is now well and truly on.

G-Mac sealed a momentous victory in front of raucous crowds at the Celtic

201o’s Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor provided a magnificent spectacle which eventually saw team Europe prosper in a year which marked a major turnaround in global golfing fortunes. Off the back of this success, Europe will now be aiming to further assert their authority with a victory on US turf armed with a team set to include an interesting mix of the world’s highest ranked golfers, some resurgent forces, and some exciting rookies.

No matter what the eventual line up looks like, if the end of this season is anything to go by then Europe’s challenge is set to be very strong and the winning feeling is already building some significant momentum.

The world's top two players will no doubt play a huge part for Team Europe

World Number one Luke Donald has been the recipient of a whole range of awards in recent weeks, World Number two Lee Westwood has ended his year with a win in Thailand (including an astonishing 12 under par round), Rory McIlroy has established himself as part of the world’s top three with another career win this month and Matchplay supremo Ian Poulter has ended his year with a triumph at the Australian Open.

Couple these recent glories with Martin Kaymer’s continuing stay in the world’s top five, the renaissance taking place in Sergio Garcia’s game and the host of young talent pushing for qualification and things appear very rosy indeed for Team Europe.

If qualification was halted now then those that would make Team Europe would include many of the aforementioned stars as well as some slightly more surprising additions. If this were the case the the team would be as follows; Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano, Alvaro Quiros, Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Simon Dyson, Graeme McDowell and the two captains choices.

Messrs Kaymer, McIlroy, Fdez-Castano, Quiros and Garcia would be qualifying by virtue of currently occupying the top five places on the European qualification list, whilst Donald, Westwood, Rose, Dyson and McDowell would make the team through the World qualification list.

If this were the side that Europe went in with then I think the current Captain Jose Maria Olazabal would fancy his chances of retaining the famous trophy for his team. The dilemma for Jose-Maria come August-September time will be his decision for the two Captain’s selections, and if the standings remained similar to the current predicament when this decision has to be made then his final choice will become interesting.

Players who could be in the reckoning if this were the case could include Ryder Cup veterans Miguel Angel Jimenez, Thomas Bjorn, Open champion Darren Clarke, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, and at the other end of the spectrum rookie options such as the exciting talents of Tom Lewis and Richie Ramsay could be in with a shout.

With such strength in depth being demonstrated by the aforementioned veterans and young-guns, the present and the future seems very bright for European golf and it will be extremely intriguing to see who makes Jose-Maria’s final cut. The fine balance of youth and experience in the potential European side doesn’t only bode

The Medinah Country Club, Hosts of the 2012 Ryder Cup

well for 2012 but for future Ryder Cups also, as the more experienced heads will surely make the natural progression on to Team Europe’s coaching team. And while their wealth of experience will strengthen the foundations, the younger specimens will continue to dominate the individual format of the game in global terms and in turn will do Team Europe proud as playing members for many years to come.

Lets look forward to a glorious year of British and European sport, and hopefully another awe-inspiring triumph over the United States come Ryder Cup time. Back-to-back, home and away Ryder Cup successes would be rather enjoyable!

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At 36 is David Beckham still football’s most wanted man?

Having once again played a key role in a team’s success could David Beckham be about to re-locate again in the name of playing top class football? After winning his first piece of silverware as an LA Galaxy player Beckham now has to bring his feet back to earth and face up to the reality that his contract is about to expire at the MLS club.

He has of course been subject to months of endless press speculation as to where his future lies and has repetitively had to fob off questions about his next career move, but no longer. Now is the time for Beckham to make another huge career based decision and now is the time that the media have been so desperately waiting for.

The major names that have been banded about in terms of their potential interest in signing up the England icon are Paris St Germain and Tottenham Hotspur, but he has also been linked with a sensational return to either Manchester United or Milan, as well as moves to clubs such as QPR and West Ham. All of the aforementioned moves are not without any foundation but some are certainly more likely than others, for instance, could you really envisage ‘Golden Balls’ striding out in the blue and white hoops of QPR at Loftus Road every week? Well… quite frankly… no. That isn’t to say that QPR wouldn’t provide a challenge to ‘Sir David in waiting’ but they are hardly a club in-keeping with the prestigious list he has ticked off thus far. Perhaps the most ridiculous of all the speculation is that linking him with a role as a contestant on ITV’s ‘Dancing On Ice’, personally I think this is less likely even than a move to Accrington Stanley! No offence Accrington fans…

Speaking as a Manchester United fan it is hard for me to stomach the thought of him playing for a rival Premier League club, but, if it meant I got to see my hero back doing what he does best on the stage that placed him firmly in all England fans’ hearts then I reckon I could deal with it. For that reason my preference would be him moving to Spurs, which off the back of his near move to the club last year isn’t the most unlikely of all the options. Though he has seemed to hush any reports linking him with a move back to British shores you’d think there must be at least a little temptation for him to come back given that he is a Londoner and has never played for any of the city’s clubs. Another major consideration for Beckham must also be his ambitions to lead out the Great Britain side at the Olympics next year, a goal which would surely be made more attainable by a return to the British spotlight in the Premier League.

Though a move to a London club would be great for his English followers the two more feasible options seem to be staying in LA or moving to Paris. The lure of maintaining the life he has built for himself and his family in America must be incredibly strong for the world’s most famous family-man, and having eventually won round any of his remaining critics in the US it would perhaps be a shame for him to just up-sticks and return to Europe. However, the satisfaction of ticking off another big club and major European city would also be very tempting for Beckham who is without any doubt still ferociously ambitious.

A move to Paris St Germain seems entirely feasible as they have recently established themselves as one of the world football’s financial super-powers and as such would have the means to pull off the mov which would inevitably be rather pricey. The prestigious nature of the city itself makes it an attractive option and given his other-half’s prominence in the fashion world it does seem to be a move tailor-fitted to the Beckham clan if Mr and Mrs Beckham deem it appropriate to move the family on once again in the name of football.

Regardless of where he does choose to see out his career, it is clear that David Beckham is still far from a spent force. He remains determined to find a career move that will not just financially benefit him but also challenge him as a footballer and provide him with an opportunity to stake a claim for London 2012. He may be getting on in years but it certainly ¬†appears that Mr.Beckham still has an enormous amount of pulling power, not just as a personality and a brand but also as a man still capable of plying his trade at the top level. My only tickets for next year’s Olympic Games are for the football final and I would absolutely love to see my hero leading out Team GB at Wembley, it would after all be very fitting if he were to be honoured with such a responsibility.