We’ve been taking an informal Dog Leg News poll in the aftermath of the Ryder Cup matches in France and we’ve found that more often than not, golf enthusiasts we’ve spoken to found themselves pulling for Europe over the United States team during the Fiasco In France.
Not surprising really.
Most common observations given to us by those who watched:
Nobody likes Patrick Reed.
Everyone was appalled by Phil Mickelson’s efforts, or lack thereof.
Everyone could tell that Tiger Woods was running on empty.
And most of all, the Europeans were simply more likeable.
Which brings us to this week’s best bet for watching some seriously good golf.
Forget the Mayhem In Malaysia. Who wants to watch guys tear up another way-too-easy TPC course. Yeah, a TPC course in Kuala Lumpur. Proof that there’s no end to the PGA Tour’s quest for making tax-free money — they have to fleece well-heeled Malaysians at yet another TPC layout on the other side of the world.
The place to be is in England this week. To be precise, about 20 miles south of London at the hundred-year-old Walton Heath Golf Club, one of the U.K.’s more famous heathland courses.
It was chosen by tournament host Justin Rose. Different players from the U.K. host this event and as such, they get to choose the site.
What’s a heathland course you ask? Here’s a quick primer:
“Heathlands are lowland areas dominated by colorful heather, gorse and bracken. Much like moorland, the soils are acidic and nutrient-poor, but unlike the water-logged moors, heaths have light and sandy soils. Lowland heath occurs mainly in north-west Europe, with about 20-percent of the world’s total coverage found across the warmer parts of southern England.”
In other words, you move a links course inland, add some trees on the outer perimeter, throw in some deep heather rather than gorse, add all sorts of lumps and humps covered in that heather and you’ve got yourself Walton Heath.
Now add some really nice, chilly British fall weather, some really, really challenging winds, say 25 miles per hour gusting to 30 and you’ve got yourself a real golf tournament — one Phil Mickelson wouldn’t play in thanks to that pesky, nasty heather.
What you do have are name players like Rose, the host, Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari — the Moli-Wood duo that totally wiped out their American opponents two weeks ago, along with a host of other decent names. You even have Thomas Bjorn, victorious European captain.
The early crowds were plentiful and enthusiastic.
Plenty of fireworks too, including a really, really sensational hole-in-one by Eddie Pepperell at the ninth hole on Thursday.
And speaking of Pepperell, he’s a guy worth hearing about.
This time last year Eddie was an undistinguished 204th in the world rankings. Today he’s No. 50 and finds himself leading this event after a 69 on Friday that got him to eight-under in the difficult conditions.
Eddie’s a probable future Ryder Cupper for Europe, has a ton of game and it’s showing in the difficult conditions at Walton Heath.
He opened with 67 on Thursday and held a share of the lead with countryman Fleetwood and up-and-comer Matt Wallace, another young Brit who has three wins on the European Tour this season.
While Pepperell thrived in the wind, Fleetwood struggled, shot his highest round of the year, a 77 that left him at even par. Molinari’s twin 73s left him at two-under, good enough to make it to the weekend.
Overall, it’s just a great scene, a great setting, golf in challenging conditions.
Great way to start the day. And after 46 boiling summers on the West Coast of Florida, we wish we were there.
So get up, tune in and enjoy some heathland golf.
You’ll like it.