I virtually followed every moment of the Ryder Cup first day and, as you all know the state of play, I thought I might comment on the coverage. For the build-up on Thursday evening I listened to radio 5. This dumbed down the event by having a duet of musicians who composed or adapted songs about the players. I was hoping for analysis of the course, players, tactics of match-play and felt disappointed. Over on Sky Sports they just repeated their afternoon live programme on the speeches and hoopla of the open ceremony. This meant we had speculation on the composition of the pairings when they had already been announced. It would have been better to have a studio discussion.
On the rare occasions yesterday I followed on radio 5, I noted the BBC diversity policy of female commentators. I have nothing against female presenters as long as they are good as Annabel Croft, Hazel Irvine and Sue Barker are, and it’s not a sop to their diversity policy. The one ex-lady golfer was hopeless: she had a dull, strident voice, poor sentence construction and even the basics of commentary eluded her. Step up Clare Balding, the heroine of the Olympics. The problem here is that she is fronting every major event. It’s sad that Iain Carter, a really knowledgeable analyst who adds to one’s appreciation, is marginalised nor was there Jay Townsend, another shrewd and well-informed commentator.
On Sky Sports, Euan Murray does a good job as anchor man. Twenty years a pro at Walton Heath, he knows his golf and brings a sense of drama to the occasion. Bruce Critchley, with his clerical tones and lack of humour, reminds me of Trevor Bailey but he calls it well. I am less happy about Colin Montgomerie who in every sense is a bit too full of himself. Butch Harman, ever cheerful and one of the great coaches, is excellent for the American input.
In the evening as background during supper I watched the BBC2 highlights. Peter Alliss, with his mellifluous voice, wit and love of golf, and willingness not to be PC, was still in fine form and adding touches – as when the bird hopped around the course – that the others could not. As for the golf, Watson blundered by not playing Spieth and Reed in the foursomes; Mcilroy and Garcia do not look the stellar marquee pair: I was not surprised to see how well Dubuisson fared: Poulter’s poor form continues; and Galacher looked too nervous.
Europe has the edge but there are still 20 points to play for so it’s still wide open.