IT was nice to see the European Ryder Cup team recognised as the World Team of the Year at the prestigious Laureus Sports Awards. But it’s now time for our golfers to finally put Medinah to bed and focus on making an impact in 2013.
The US players have put their disappointment to one side and have come out firing this year. Led by Tiger Woods, their Ryder Cup stars have won six of the 10 PGA Tour events. Our players have won none.
Rory McIlroy’s struggles have been well documented, but our other players haven’t reached top form, either.
Graeme McDowell is the highest-placed European in the current Fed-Ex Cup standings, and he’s only 30th. However, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter have only played a handful of events so far.
We expect them to challenge every week, but we have to be patient. These guys are looking to get into contention, but they’ve been a bit slow on the uptake. Hopefully they’re timing their run of form for The Masters.
All pros are thinking about Augusta at this time of year. Everyone’s schedule is geared towards peaking in April.
The one worry is Lee Westwood. He’s played five events in a row, but has never really been in contention anywhere.
That should be enough golf to get up to speed, but something’s not quite right. Lee is well suited for these US courses, and he’s trying to iron out the weaknesses in his short game, but he’s not there yet.
He’s embarked upon a big upheaval with his move from Worksop to Florida.
Everything is new to him and his family. Lee’s nearly 40 and it’s probably harder for him to adjust to his new lifestyle than it is for his two kids.
We only see him on TV in golf mode, so it’s difficult to imagine his family life, but he wants that to be normal just like the rest of us.
Joining the PGA Tour is a wake-up call to European players. People like Martin Kaymer and Peter Hanson, who have just joined this year, will be surprised by the standard of golf.
They’ll realise they need to be on top form every week. The rewards are so big in the States, every event is a big deal.
The pros are competing for life-changing amounts every week, and there’s usually a first prize of at least $1 million. There are lots of hungry American players, fresh from either college or the Web.com Tour, who are desperate to make their mark.
And there’s no off-season as such across The Pond. They have a bit of time off at Christmas but are ready to go again in January. That has definitely caught out Luke Donald, who had a two-month break.
Seven of our Medinah heroes tee-up in Orlando on Thursday for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, trying to kick-start their seasons.
Arnie’s presence makes it a special week on a tough course, and a prestigious win on the CV.
But the man to stop once again is Tiger. He was back to his best at Doral, he’s chasing an eighth win at Bay Hill and he’ll be a strong favourite at Augusta.