Shame on the BBC... Ryder Cup heroes earned their wealth the hard way

Receiving an award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year bash on Sunday will be a man whose parents took out four jobs between them to give him his chance.

There will be another whose father also doubled up in the employment stakes and a third from a modest background given a helping hand through a scholarship.

A fourth worked down the market flogging clothes on a Saturday to earn some extra money while a fifth was the son of a maths teacher.

So when the audience rise to acclaim the team of the year on Sunday, they will be saluting not just a side who did their job brilliantly at the Ryder Cup but a collection of British players from the sort of backgrounds where wealth has been earned the hard way.

Fought his way: Lee Westwood completed an incredible rise in the rankings this year to replace Tiger Woods as world No 1

Fought his way: Lee Westwood completed an incredible rise in the rankings this year to replace Tiger Woods as world No 1

And here's my point. Golf will have a larger presence than ever at this showpiece occasion on Sunday at a time when the BBC have never shown less of the game. And the suspected reason why they are showing less is that the top brass perceive it as an elite sport, and it doesn't do for our national corporation to be showing a game that appeals to a narrow band of society.

Let Europe's victorious Ryder Cup team, therefore, stand as a shining example of how wrong they are.

Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Ross Fisher and Ian Poulter should have the BBC's director of sport Barbara Slater shifting uncomfortably in her seat.

All-time high: But Europe's Ryder Cup heroes will not feature much on BBC television in 2011All-time high: But Europe's Ryder Cup heroes will not feature much on BBC television in 2011

All-time high: But Europe's Ryder Cup heroes will not feature much on BBC television in 2011

No silver spoons were born in the mouths of these five, Barbara, nor the vast majority of the British professionals currently plying their trade so successfully on the European Tour. They are perfect role models, not men of privilege.

On Sunday, we can rely on the BBC to capture perfectly why the British game is presently at an all-time high. Then, next year, they will reach an all-time low in terms of coverage with the loss of the first two days of the Masters, and just 10 days of live play from the men's game in all.

Shameful, isn't it?

Finishing in style: Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter (right) finished his season in style on Sunday, teaming up with American Dustin Johnson to beat the Northern Irish pairing of Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke in the Shark Shootout in Florida, a fun event featuring 12 two-man teams and hosted by Greg Norman.

Naturally, it was Poulter who played the key shots down the stretch, befitting a man whose short game now ranks alongside the best.

Indeed, in Johnson with his trademark howitzers off the tee and Poulter with his chipping and putting, we might well have just witnessed the perfect golfer.


In the end, we had to go for G-Mac

Award-winner: Graeme McDowell

The Golf Writers' Trophy is awarded each year to the person or persons who make the most outstanding contribution, and this year we had the devil of a task choosing between the wonderful feats of Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Europe's Ryder Cup team.

I think my colleagues got it just about right on Monday giving it to G-Mac (right), the first Northern Irishman to win the trophy in its 60-year history. Why? Granted, you'd feel special standing in the shoes of any of the leading candidates. But, winning the US Open, reeling in Tiger in his own tournament and sinking the winning Ryder Cup putt? Those are the shoes I'd most like to stand in.

PS: Good to see the American weekly magazine Golf World bang on the money with its latest issue. Entitled Newsmakers of 2010, the cover featured five people who made headlines this year. Not one was G-Mac.


Quote of the week:

Quote of the week: Colin Montgomerie

'When I was named Ryder Cup captain I was 47th in the world. When I gave it up I was 408th. I can only hope the two things are related.'

Colin Montgomerie, in whimsical mood as he seeks to rebuild his game at the age of 47. Next year he's set himself a target of the top 100, and the top 50 the year after. Clearly, there are a few targets and tantrums left in the old dog yet.


The European Tour has a tradition of bestowing honorary memberships on those of its own who win majors, and this year there was a nice ceremony at the final event in Dubai to recognise the trophies won this year by Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell. But it does raise a question.

How can it be right that migrant players like Trevor Immelman and Angel Cabrera are honorary members and not world No 1 Lee Westwood, who has stayed loyal to Europe throughout his career?

Thankfully, it is an anomaly that doesn't sit easily with the tour's hierarchy.

Look for Westwood's immense contribution to be recognised in Abu Dhabi in January.


It seems I jumped the gun last week by writing that Tiger Woods was expected to play in the Qatar Masters next February.

Apparently the expectation lay only with me and my usually impeccable source. Apologies.

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