WORLD OF GOLF: Fourballs game has passed, so let’s get rid of it

What is the difference between foursomes and fourballs golf? Here’s a simpler explanation than the one you would normally read. One is exciting and exciting; the other goes on and on and is well past the sell-by date.

Is there a chance that this year’s Ryder Cup will be the last with fourballs, that it will be gone by the time of the match in Rome and the 60th anniversary of its 1963 introduction?

After two more series of six-hour games at Whispering Straits in September, with all the usual struggles to get everything done in the dark on the first two days, the call for change will hopefully be deafening.

Despite Ian Poulter's feats in 2012, fourballs takes so long to hit its sell-by date

Despite Ian Poulter’s feats in 2012, fourballs takes so long to hit its sell-by date

Yet another example of how tired the format has gotten was offered at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans last week.

Let’s applaud the sponsors for trying out something different and a week of two-man team golf – won by Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith – instead of the standard 72-hole stroke play format. But the two days of fourballs just dragged the event down and spayed the two days of foursomes. By the end, even golf addicts on social media begged for mercy.

There is, of course, a huge difference between customizing that event and trying something different at a sporting event as big as the Ryder Cup.

It is also right to point out the tremendous contribution that fourballs has made to the growth and success of the biennial dust-up. You just have to go back to Ian Poulter’s exploits on Saturday afternoon to set up the miracle in Medinah in 2012 as proof.

The problem is that it is now taking so long that it runs the risk of wiping out all that is good. In 1963, fourballs matches were completed in four hours, but nowadays it takes that long to play 12 holes.

You couldn’t have asked for a more dramatic scenario than the one that took place at the last Solheim Cup in Gleneagles, but on Saturday night most people had no worries, it took so long to materialize.

Nor does it have to be a radical change. In addition to the still-fantastic foursomes, why not switch to greensomes for two series of matches, where both players drive away and then the best tee shot is selected. That way, you’d keep some of the bold element of the four-ball game and get rid of all the boredom.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, we know, and the obvious danger is that matches won’t end in a day, if we still have four balls in 2023.

Garrick Higgo the next left-handed star

The next left-handed golfer to win a major? All of Britain will be rooting for the kind Scotsman Bob MacIntyre, but keep an eye out for the wonderful South African Garrick Higgo.

Just 21, he took two wins in his first 25 starts on the European Tour by impressively smashing the field aside at the Gran Canaria Open in the manner of a young Ernie Els. He hit the ball 40 yards past his playing partners and gave a striking display of all facets of the game that showed no weakness.

No wonder Gary Player, the country’s golf patriarch, is in a high state of excitement.

Eyes will have to be turned to the wonderful South African Garrick Higgo as the star of the future

The decline of the elegant Donald is a sign of the times

Let’s fervently hope the old saying about horses for courses this week is a boon to Luke Donald as he heads to the Valspar Championship in Tampa, and the scene of his latest win on the PGA Tour.

The man who became world No. 1 with a swing of almost unparalleled grace has so far fallen out of the top 600.

Those were the Englishman’s desperate ordeals, he has even admitted that he had fleeting thoughts about retirement after playing in 10 events in America this year and missing the halfway mark in all events.

Former world No. 1 Luke Donald has suffered a relapse and is now outside the top 600

A jealous look at his contemporary Paul Casey this week could certainly be forgiven. Throwing his flag at the top and keeping him there for over a year, Donald reached heights that Casey never reached, but the difference between them is now big.

In Tampa, 43-year-old Casey is the defending champion as he heads for the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island next month, and the major came so close to victory last year. At the same age, however, Donald has to wonder where his work for the following weekend is coming from.

It’s hard not to look at Donald’s fate and feel what the game has lost. At best, you would look at him and admire a method that seemed timeless. In this era of Bryson DeChambeau and players built as linebackers, it unfortunately looks like an elegance condemned to the past.

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