‘Wake me up when September ends,’ goes the classic rock song by American band Green Day. It’s certainly not a sentiment shared by any golf fan.
Given what lies ahead over the next manic, thrilling, rollercoaster 30 days, it will be more like ‘Fast asleep when October begins’.
Teeing it all off to perfection in the early hours of Monday morning was barmy, brilliant Bryson DeChambeau and a six-hole play-off for the ages in Baltimore against the perfect straight man, Patrick Cantlay. Except when Cantlay won, that is.
Patrick Cantlay (L) and Bryson DeChambeau served up drama at the BMW Championship golf
The mutual dislike became obvious as the man who spends little time worrying about social media wore a smile to break the internet. Here’s another Ryder Cup pal who Bryson won’t be paired with at the end of the month.
The fun all begins on Thursday with the FedEx Cup finale, the Tour Championship in Atlanta, where one man will walk away with a prize of £11million. Even making the 30-man field guarantees a cheque of £290,000, plus spots into three of the four majors next year.
Recognising it’s a season-long competition, albeit one heavily weighted towards the first two play-off events, there is an adjusted scoring format. Cantlay will start on 10 under par, and a two-shot advantage over Tony Finau, with Bryson three back and world No 1 Jon Rahm four adrift.
Rory McIlroy, who moved up 12 spots with his encouraging fourth-place finish on Sunday, is seven behind. Over four rounds against a leader who has to be emotionally drained, it might suit the Northern Irishman to be able to go for broke at East Lake, which is one of his favourite courses.
The Solheim Cup begins on Saturday and, following the thrilling climax to the Open at Carnoustie, all the indications are the two teams are perfectly matched for what promises to be another tense edition in Inverness, Ohio.
There is plenty more tension for fans to look forward to during a packed September schedule
Back in Georgia on Sunday, no sooner will the £11m cheque be distributed than American Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker will be naming his six wildcards.
The six who are now guaranteed their spots are Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, DeChambeau and Cantlay. Three more certainties for picks are the Olympic gold medallist, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Finau. Thereafter, though, Atlanta represents the perfect audition.
Then it’s Europe’s turn, and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where it looks like just one Ryder Cup place is up for grabs. If Shane Lowry gets knocked out of the last automatic slot in the final two weeks of qualifying, he’ll surely get the third wildcard alongside Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia. If he keeps his spot, there are about a dozen candidates for captain Padraig Harrington to mull over.
All to play for in Surrey, therefore, where Harrington will reveal his selections a couple of hours after the final putt has dropped.
Then we’ve got a few quiet days while Stricker fathoms out how to team up his mix of prodigiously gifted individuals but multiple warring factions.
Finally, what is bound to be a Ryder Cup every bit as emotional as the last delayed one, in 2002.
Looking at the pictures released last week, the appetite was whetted by the fact it looks like they’ve built a makeshift Kop around the first tee in Wisconsin.
What a month it promises to be.
Quote of the week
‘Word is the USGA is soon rolling back the length of the driver to 46 inches. This is pathetic. It promotes a more violent swing (injury prone), doesn’t allow for length of arc to create speed, and during our first golf participation boom for 40 years, our amateur governing body tries to make the game less fun.’
It’s fair to say that Phil Mickelson is not a fan of the ruling, to be confirmed next week, of reducing the permitted length of a driver shaft from 48 to 46 inches. As a man who uses a 47.5-inch driver, it’s understandable. On the more contentious issue of how far the golf ball travels, an announcement is expected before the end of the year.
In Baltimore on Sunday, the dilemma facing the ruling bodies was obvious. There you had Bryson DeChambeau smashing the ball everywhere and making a nonsense of the way the architect intended the course to be played.
But equally undeniable was that, as a spectacle, it was positively spell-binding. The roar when he took out his driver and attempted to reach the first green 357 yards away was insightful. People love watching the modern day Babe Ruth.