Sam Torrance: Ryder Cup, Rory McIlroy, peace between tours – my hopes for golf in 2023
There is plenty to look forward to for followers of golf in 2023 but the thing I’m most excited about is Europe attempting to win back the Ryder Cup from the USA.
The Americans won by a record margin last time and European captain Luke Donald will be conscious of the importance of regaining the trophy at the earliest opportunity in Italy in September. Once a team wins two in a row it becomes a rut for the other side.
At home and on a course that Europe’s players know well, there is reason to be hopeful for this Ryder Cup. I don’t see the USA relenting, although a big unknown is whether both teams will be without players who take part on the LIV Golf circuit and how that will affect them.
Donald will step up his preparations this week at the Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi, where a Great Britain and Ireland team will take on Continental Europe in match play.
It should prove great experience for those hoping to make the Ryder Cup team and for developing the captaincy skills of Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari. More importantly it’s a chance for Donald to see how players perform under pressure.
Events like this are also good for morale. When a similar biennial contest, the Hennessy Cognac Cup began in 1976, it really helped the British players bond with the Europeans when they joined the Ryder Cup in 1979.
Europe’s women will also be doing battle with the USA in the Solheim Cup, and if recent editions are any guide then it should be full of drama and quality.
Suzann Pettersen takes the reins from Catriona Matthew and will be hoping to make her own mark as captain and continue Matthew’s run of consecutive victories.
Finca Courtesin in southern Spain is a tried and tested venue for match play, so it is all set up to be another gripping contest.
Rory McIlroy had such an incredible season last year, with top 10 finishes at all four majors, so all eyes will be on whether he can land another one at last.
At 33, he is in his prime and, based on how he played over the last 12 months, it would not surprise me if he had an amazing campaign in 2023.
It promises to be an exciting year for European golf, with Jon Rahm also off to a flyer by coming from seven shots behind to win the Tournament of Champions at the weekend.
McIlroy’s prospects of completing a career grand slam at the Masters in April will be on everyone’s lips but the major I’m most looking forward to is the last one of the summer.
Hoylake is a great venue for the Open Championship and one where local Tommy Fleetwood may fancy his chances of winning a first major.
He and other Brits can take inspiration from Matt Fitzpatrick’s US Open success last year, while Fitzpatrick himself will be keen to win another.
Conflict among rival organisations overshadowed last year so I would like to see the air cleared between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf in 2023.
The game needs it so that we know which players will be available for the Ryder Cup and the majors. It may take everyone to compromise in order for the golf world to continue without the bickering.
Sam Torrance OBE is a former Ryder Cup-winning captain and one of Europe’s most successful golfers. Follow him @torrancesam