Europe's Ryder Cup team should be as fit as fiddles for this September's duel in America.
Many of the leading candidates seeking places in The European Team to defend The Ryder Cup in the United States this autumn will be offered a unique opportunity to monitor their fitness ahead of the rigorous examination to be faced in golf’s greatest team event at Valhalla Golf Club from September 19-21.
Through an arrangement between Ryder Cup Europe and Sports Orthopaedics Spinal Ltd (SOS), based in Weybridge, Surrey, the leading 20 players in The 2008 Ryder Cup Points List will be invited to undergo a comprehensive Health and Fitness Screening procedure, at one of the country’s most sophisticated medical facilities, during the week of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club from May 22-25.
The proposal was instigated by Jonathan Shrewsbury, the Clinical Director of SOS, who worked closely with four European Ryder Cup Teams between 1993 and 1999 as part of The European Tour’s Physiotherapy Team.
Aware how exhausting The Ryder Cup can be, both physically and emotionally, Shrewsbury felt it might be possible to marry medical expertise and the health levels of the leading players, with the aim of optimising Europe’s performance in Louisville, Kentucky.
European Captain, Nick Faldo, has already participated in a dry run – which lasted almost five hours – at SOS and is enthusiastic about the process which, he says, could make a significant difference during The Ryder Cup.
Faldo underwent a full range of eight separate procedures, under the scrutiny of five highly qualified clinicians, including bio-mechanical screening, cardiovascular analysis, strength testing, balance, flexibility, core stability, diagnostic and scanning procedures the latter involving the ‘state of the art’ MRI facilities at Weybridge Diagnostic Centre.
Now Faldo is hoping that many of those players who have the chance to qualify for his Team will take the opportunity to undergo the examination on Monday and Tuesday May 19 and 20, just prior to the BMW PGA Championship.
He said: “The range of tests, screening and analyses which I went through at SOS and Weybridge Diagnostic Centre was, to use a phrase, ‘the appliance of science’ as it relates to golf.
“I believe it is a non-intrusive set of procedures which can be informative to all the guys who have a chance of making the Team at Valhalla. It can offer clues to their levels of fitness and health in the months building up to The Ryder Cup.
“From my own point of view, I like to know what condition I’m in and it’s a pleasant feeling when the doc says: ‘you’re in great shape’. You are only as strong as your weakest point and such is the workload in The Ryder Cup that fatigue can easily kick in.
“These guys all perform at the highest level and want to improve. In terms of their fitness, their exercise regime, their diet, their bio-mechanical condition - going through this process can identify areas of weakness which might need improving before The Ryder Cup.
“One tiny change to any of those elements could make a world of difference under the cosh at Valhalla. I would strongly encourage the guys to accept the invitation to go through the screening process. Even if they don’t qualify for the Team or get one of my Wild Cards, they will certainly benefit from the fitness evaluation.”
Shrewsbury said: “The Health and Fitness Screening Programme can take from two to three hours, in which the subject undergoes in-depth analysis and assessment of his physical well-being.
“Nick spent almost five hours going through every procedure imaginable and five different specialists supervised the testing. I was fortunate enough to work with The European Team at four consecutive Ryder Cups between 1993 and 1999 and there is no question that the intensity of those three days can place a huge emotional and physical strain on the players, especially those who play all five matches.
“This procedure, undertaken by Sports Orthopaedics Spinal, can determine how players and the Captain might optimise their performance at Valhalla. Naturally, Nick is looking at any possible edge he and his Team can get and we both hope that the players will take advantage of this unique opportunity during the BMW PGA Championship.”
Richard Hills, Ryder Cup Director, commented: “We are delighted, in conjunction with Jonathan and his team, to offer this superb opportunity to the leading 20 players on The Ryder Cup Points List at the time of the BMW PGA Championship. Physical and mental wellbeing are important at any time, but especially during the heat of a Ryder Cup.
“We would like to thank Sports Orthopaedics Spinal and Weybridge Diagnostic Centre for making this service available to our Members, and if it makes the difference between a half point and a full point at some stage of the match in September, then the exercise will have been a huge success.”