Alexander Levy was the defending champion at last week’s Volvo China Open. He went into the tournament in good form: the previous week, he had collected his fifth European Tour title by claiming the Hassan Trophy in Morocco. More excitingly, perhaps, the win elevated him to ninth place in the Ryder Cup points standings, and it would surely be good if a French golfer qualified for the team for the match at Golf National in September.
Jean van de Velde was the first Frenchman to play in the match, at Brookline in 1999. The poor guy didn’t get a game until the singles, where he was thus unsurprisingly trounced 6&5 by Davis Love. Thomas Levet had a happier time of it in 2004, beating Fred Funk in the singles as Bernhard Langer’s Europeans swamped the USA at Oakland Hills, Detroit. In 2014 at Gleneagles, Victor Dubuisson won both his foursomes with Graeme McDowell, didn’t play in the fourballs and halved his singles against Zach Johnson as Europe retained the Cup. Dubuisson’s game has since pretty much gone AWOL and it falls to Levy to seem to be the main man when it comes to assessing the hopes of the hosts providing a player for the home team in Paris.
“Nothing has changed with regard to the Ryder Cup,” Levy said last week, low-keying the topic. “I want to do the same things, just enjoy my life, play golf, and we will see what happens. To say the Ryder Cup is my goal…of course it is, because everyone dreams about this, but we have so many good players in Europe. Right now I need to improve my game to be on this team and I just have to think of that and not too much about the Ryder Cup.” In all the circumstances, easier said than done, I would imagine.
In other Ryder Cup news, it emerged last week that a consortium in Bolton is intending to bid for the 2026 match, the venue for which is expected to be announced next year. At first hearing, this sounds reminiscent of a former past captain of Wigan Golf Club who mock-seriously upbraided the R&A for not taking the Open Championship to his course, a 9-holer, on the flimsy bases that “they normally like to take the Open to a course that has 18 holes”. Also, one that’s by the sea. (Although, of course, Wigan does have its pier.) But this bid is apparently serious, although the course does not exist and a significant group of lobbyists – including residents, MPs and conservationists – has mounted a campaign to have the planing permission overturned. In any case, the whole project depends on the Ryder Cup bid being successful, and while I’m not much of a betting man, I wouldn’t put a penny on Bolton whereas a wager of some size on Adare Manor in Ireland getting the prize might prove to be money well spent.
Meanwhile, Levy finished in a tie for 14th last week in China, where the winner was Sweden’s Alexander Bjork. There’s still four months to go until the Ryder Cup team is known but right now Alex is in the mix.
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