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Manchester Evening News: Matt Nixon on the Ryder Cup
Article posted: 27 September 2018

Tiger gives what was already going to be the biggest Ryder Cup ever another dimension and everyone wants to see him against Rory McIlroy.

- Matt Nixon

If there’s ever two weeks that could inspire a new generation to take up golf and get the sport back on the map, it’s Tiger Woods winning followed by a Ryder Cup that he’s involved in. 

There’s no bigger showcase than that. 

Tiger is golf and to see him win for the first time in more than five years at the PGA Tour Championship was incredible. You don’t see those crowds on 18 for anyone else and the viewing figures and social media reaction were massive. No-one else in the game comes close. 

I played a tournament he was in in Dubai a couple of years ago and when he walked on to the driving range he was followed by a stampede of people. Everyone else in the whole place just stood and watched. After five minutes of watching him hit balls I realised I was standing right behind Ernie Els. He’s another childhood hero – my dog is named after him! – and no-one really noticed him. 

Tiger’s first tee shot on a final day, wearing red, club twirling, it makes your hairs stand up and, having been a pro for eight years, you realise just how good he was to have the record he’s got and even in Europe. The money we play for each week is partly down to his impact. 

As well as his injuries, he had his demons with the driver and his chipping and, having struggled a bit in those areas, I know how hard it is to deal with the mental scarring that gives you. 

Tiger has inspired my generation and playing the way he is, he can have that impact for at least another five years. 

It gives what was already going to be the biggest Ryder Cup ever another dimension and everyone wants to see him against Rory McIlroy. 

I’ve known Tommy Fleetwood since I was 12, played with him for the county, England and Great Britain. It drives you on to see him competing at that level.

Le Golf National is my favourite course we play all year and the last four holes are the best. It tests every part of your game, but the key is getting it in play of the tee. 

There’s lots of talk about the course suiting Europe but the Americans play on ridiculously long courses with thick rough and hard greens all year long. There are so many good players and it’s going to be tight, but I think home advantage and the crowd will give Europe the edge.

For me, I’ve had six long weeks, making five cuts without the big finish I felt I could have made but it has been solid. 

I’m not really sure what’s next and at the start of the week I went to see my manager at ISM, Chubby Chandler, to try to figure it out. 

I need between 80,000 and 90,000 points in the last three tournaments of the season to keep my full playing rights for next year and hopefully I get another couple of opportunities to play to give me the chance to retain my card. 

All I can do is be ready for when I get the chance.

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