Golf News - 2009/2010 Ryder Cup Bid
Schofield in his corner, Matthews couldnt lose
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To the Manor born, of course
John Huggan, Scotland on Sunday, 30 September
Well, dont say we didnt warn you. When, in May,
this newspaper first revealed to the nation that the 2009 - now 2010 - Ryder
Cup wasnt, after all, going to be bedecked in tartan, other sections of
the Scottish media were oh-so quick to pour cold water on the very idea.
Of course the matches were coming to Scotland, they cried.
How could they not be? With two sons of Caledonia in the shape of Ken Schofield
and Sandy Jones in charge at the European Tour and the PGA, how could the
biennial tussle with the United States go anywhere else?
Even for a press corps that at times more resembled
cheerleaders for the Scottish bid rather than reporters of the facts, this was
naiveté on a grand scale. If only they had focused on telling the nation
what was actually happening behind the scenes. Fans with typewriters,
The real answers, of course, were to be found in Scotland
on Sunday on May 27, 2001. Four months ago, we revealed that Schofield,
provoked by the recommendations contained in an independent audit of the
tours books and the knowledge that he had the full support of his
players, was behind the venue that would provide the greatest financial benefit
to the people he works for. In other words, Celtic Manor - backed by the
millions of owner Terry Matthews - would get his full, not inconsiderable,
And that, if were honest, was the end of the story.
With Schofield in his corner, Matthews couldnt lose. Heres how it
all worked out...
As things stand at present, profits from Ryder Cups played
in Europe are split 50-50 between the European Tour and the PGA. That has been
the case since 1991, when the PGA relinquished half of what had by then become
a cash cow of considerable proportions (This year, the Ryder Cup was projected
to earn profits in the region of £12m). Even that agreement, however, was
hard earned. Only when the players threatened to withdraw their labour was an
accord of sorts arrived at. To a man, they see little sense in their
organisation giving away half of the Ryder Cup to a body who, as they put it,
have nothing to bring to the table.
"The PGA has gotten away with this for too long," said a
leading player recently. "Ten years ago, the tour thought it was a victory when
we claimed 50% of the Ryder Cup proceeds. In reality it wasnt. We gave
away 50% of the cash.
"The match is between the top 12 American players and the
top 12 Europeans. It is tour versus tour. We can call it anything. It would be
a shame for it not to be called the Ryder Cup, but if the British PGA
wouldnt allow it to be called that, any good spin-doctor could have them
crucified in the press. They have an indefensible position. Sooner or later it
The "victory" to which that player referred came about
when, in 1991, the PGA tried to exclude the tour from the Ryder Cup. "We had a
meeting with the PGA a decade ago, and they announced they wanted all of the
money," says Nick Faldo. "So we stood up - every one of us - and told them we
wouldnt play. Send out the B-team.
"The bottom line is: what does the PGA bring to the table?
They own the trophy! Thats it."
With feelings running so high and with who knows what
financial promises from Matthews still ringing in his ears, there was really
only one course of action for Schofield. By backing Celtic Manor, he not only
kept Matthews and his millions sweet, but was able to exert considerable
pressure on the PGA, who had made it clear that they favoured Gleneagles - the
new home of the Scottish PGA headquarters and the renamed PGA Centenary
So it is that, over the past few months, the Ryder Cup
board - made up of three members each from the tour and from the PGA - have
effectively been run by Schofield. Publicly, the PGA retained the casting vote
in the event of a 3-3 tie in any vote. In reality, the PGA members - Phil
Weaver, David Huish and Jim Christine - were neutered, so to speak, by the
knowledge that negotiations were under way with the tour to decide what, if
any, percentage of the Ryder Cup proceeds the club pros would retain.
How could it be otherwise? Can you imagine Schofield going
back to Matthews, and telling him that he was sorry, but the matches were going
elsewhere? Neither can I, even if European Golf Design, a subsidiary of - you
guessed it - the European Tour had not been employed to reshape the Celtic
Manor layout to the tune of £12m.
Had the PGA chosen to defy the tour and take the 2010
matches to Gleneagles, the tour would have walked away from the Ryder Cup,
taking the players with them. Such an eventuality would have left the PGA with
100% of nothing. At least now, by going along with whatever the tour want
regarding the Ryder Cup, the PGA will manage to retain some small percentage of
Also working for the tour in this little poker game is the
fact that the PGA Tour in the United States at present derive no financial
benefit from Ryder Cups played in the US: 100% of the proceeds go to the PGA of
America. Given that reality, it doesnt take a genius to work out that
tour commissioner Tim Finchem would be only too happy to walk off into the
sunset hand in hand with Schofield. Okay, so it wouldnt be the Ryder Cup
any more - and that would be a pity - but, hey, another name could be dreamt
up. In time, the Ryder Cup would be just a memory, and a forgotten trophy
sitting in the PGA offices at the Belfry.
And thats why the Ryder Cup is going to Wales in
2010. It has nothing to do with what is right. It has nothing to do
with the quality of the courses involved. It has everything to do with money
and power, which should all come as no surprise to anyone.
For the past 20 years - ever since the 1981 matches at
Walton Heath - and now for the next decade, European Ryder Cups have been, and
will be, played on bad golf courses. The Belfry, Valderrama and the K Club are
no-ones idea of classic layouts. They are mediocre at best.
Ryder Cups go to such places because their owners have
money. Lots of money. No, make that lots and lots of money. Money they have
been prepared to contribute to the financial wellbeing of either or both of the
European Tour and the PGA. So it is that Ryder Cup destinations are not the
result of committee decisions. No, they are bought. By men such as
Valderramas Jaime Pitino, Michael Smurfit of the K Club and now, Terry
Yes, I know. Its a depressing picture. And what makes
this whole thing even more distasteful is the way in which Schofield and Jones
kept insisting that the race was "wide open" - long after the formers
public bombshell in this newspaper. They knew the decision was as good as made.
But they also wanted the Scottish Executive to keep throwing good money after
bad in what was always going to be a forlorn hope of winning the day. Scotland
was, in effect, milked dry before being bought off by the 2014 matches going to
Gleneagles, by far the best of the Scottish venues in the race.
Through all of the above, it must be pointed out, former
Scotland rugby captain Gavin Hastings, whose PR company were handling the
Scottish bid, played with a straight bat. But these honest and hard-working
people had no chance of success because, quite simply, they had no idea just
who, and what, they were taking on.
Still, on the bright side, sending the Ryder Cup to Wales
is perhaps no bad thing. The country, not the richest region in the European
Union, will benefit from "Objective One" funding, and everyone surely hopes
such a high-profile event will produce thousands of new golfers in the
But lets not hold our collective breaths on that one.
Those with longish memories will recall Schofield - in a stunning display of
hypocrisy - claiming that one reason for the 1997 matches going to Valderrama
was that "many Spaniards would be exposed to the game, and hopefully take it
up". The crowds at perhaps Europes most exclusive course were mainly made
up of Brits and a few Americans. Meanwhile, the average Senor and Senorita in
the street waits patiently for an opportunity to try out Pitinos
For all his secretive dealings, however, you have to give
Schofield credit. Everyone involved in this sorry episode is leaving with
something. Wales has its Ryder Cup. So does Scotland. So does the Continent in
2018, 2022 and 2026. And the PGA will retain at least a small part of the Ryder
Cup proceeds, which is the best that they could ever have hoped for.
But the main beneficiaries are the European Tour, and
Schofield himself. Not only has he mollified his membership by cutting the PGA
out of the pie to an extent hitherto unheard of; he has presumably guaranteed
that a Wales Open will be played at Celtic Manor well into the foreseeable
His next step, no doubt, will be to approach the PGA of
America with a view to the European Tour receiving 50% of the proceeds from
Ryder Cups played in the US. Its hard to see how they could turn him
As Frank Hannigan, the former executive director of the
USGA, once said: "You are no-one in golf until you have at least three
conflicts of interest."
By that measure, Ken Schofield is a very big noise indeed.
A week in the life of a Labour MSP
Mungo MacKay, Scotland on Sunday, 30 September
MONDAY, and bad news is about to break. The First Minister
has staked all his credibility (admittedly that is not saying too much) on his
revolutionary policy of transforming Scotland by securing a golf tournament 10
years down the line.
The reputation of a leader is made by such bold moves,
grand stratagems and serious challenges. Roosevelt had the rebuilding of the
American economy and the defeat of Nazism. Attlee built the welfare state.
Thatcher turned back the tide of British decline. Dewar pushed through what was
arguably the biggest constitutional shift in the last century and a half ("I do
wish he hadnt," says my Tory better half Mrs Mungo).
But Henry decided on arriving in office that his destiny
lay elsewhere: he pinned everything on golf. Expecting a hole in one with his
Ryder Cup bid, he finds himself stranded in a bunker instead. The competition
is going to Wales, hitherto not famed for its connections with golf.
The public will get to hear about it by the end of the
TUESDAY, and in the canteen I sip coffee with a group of
special advisers who are concerned about the effect the loss of the Ryder Cup
will have on the First Minister. "Now that his big idea has been squashed by
misfortune, what will he think of next?"
I think this unfair - his next idea is bound to be a good
one. Its the law of averages.
WEDNESDAY, and a memo arrives from one of Henrys
spindoctors, Tom Little - the mean, moody and magnificent former newspaper
executive turned spinner. "Following our little setback with the 2010 Ryder Cup
the First Minister has had an idea.
While we are still very much committed to using golf (in
all of its varieties, including crazy golf) as a tool for re-engineering
Scottish confidence, we want to open a second front on the war against our
Scottish culture of down-in-the-mouth low expectations.
To that end, Henry has decided that "singing is the new
"We are especially interested in the Eurovision Song
Contest. To host the competition in 2007 we have to aim to have a winning song
for the year 2006. Currently Scotland is not allowed its own entry to the
competition. But with substantial alterations to the Scotland Act at
Westminster, which would only take up four or five months of parliamentary
time, we are confident we can bring this one off.
"The First Minister has already spoken to his extensive
contacts in the world of showbiz - the Krankies, Fran and Anna and the
Fife-born magic and light entertainment duo Wullie and Ethel from Methil.There
is much enthusiasm for this concept.
"All ministers are asked to give these plans serious
thought and attention. E-mail me suggestions on how to take this forward."
THURSDAY, and the silver-suited former Lanarkshire council
boss turned First Ministers fixer in chief, Tom McCabe, is in a little
McCabe managed to secure a flat for himself in Edinburgh on
parliamentary expenses, even though his constituency is close enough to
Edinburgh not to be entitled to it.
He did all this on the basis that he needed the flat
because he was already spending so much on hotel bills.
Some Scottish parliamentarians have to work very, very late
on weekdays: sometimes as late as 6pm. Now it is alleged his hotel bills were
actually tiny. So why does he need the flat, ask envious MSPs? "This is an
outrage," McCabe tells me. How is this an outrage, I ask.
He looks uncomprehending for a moment. "Because it just
is." With that he is off down the corridor, his suit glinting under the
artificial light of the parliamentary HQ Labour corridor.
FRIDAY. E-mail to Tom Little: "Dear Tom, Henrys drive
re Eurovision Song Contest is certainly a (whats the word?) brave and
eye-catching initiative. But might our critics not say, quite wrongly of
course, that we are obsessed with trivia? They think we are a bunch of
buffoons. Just a thought." more Ryder Cup News more
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