Only the serving up of a bowlful of microwaveable dine-in-for-one slop and the prospect of an episode of Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman prevents us from hurling ourselves down the tenement stairs in complete despair.
Despite the overwhelming gloominess of a September Sunday in these airts, there was a considerable shaft of light that came bursting through the TV screens and lifted the downtrodden morale in the shape of Europe’s memorable 15-13 triumph over the USA in the Solheim Cup.
As a spectacle, the closing stages at Killeen Castle in Ireland of the biennial battle were simply riveting and highlighted all that is engrossing about team competition. While the Irish galleries roared their lungs dry as the tension mounted, Alison Nicholas’s spirited side, spearheaded by the unflappable Catriona Matthew, pulled off a victory that will linger long in the memory following a titantic struggle that turned in Europe’s favour in the last three singles matches.
A fortnight after Great Britain & Ireland’s amateurs upset the odds to win the Walker Cup for the first time in eight years, Europe’s professional ladies shrugged off their underdog tag to prise another transatlantic title from the clutches of the US.
With the Ryder Cup also currently sitting proudly on this side of the pond, these are giddy times for European golf. Not since 2003 has this celebrated trio of team trophies been in our cabinet at the same time.
A few weeks ago, this column shovelled sodden lumps of acclaim over Matthew in the aftermath of her staggering 10-shot win in the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open at Archerfield Links.
It was perhaps fitting then that at the East Lothian club where she is an honorary member, Bernard Gallacher, the Scot who skippered Europe to Ryder Cup glory in 1995, yesterday added his praise to the inspiring exploits of the former Women’s British Open champion.
Like Colin Montgomerie in the men’s arena, Matthew thrives in the cut-and-thrust of team combat. The matchplay format stokes her competitive fires. She has the kind of leadership qualities that a captain dreams of and boasts an impressive Solheim Cup singles record -- five wins from six since her debut in 1998 -- that makes the 42-year-old such a formidable opponent. Her 6&5 win over American calendar girl Paula Creamer in the top tie of the closing day underlined all of this.
“The Solheim Cup win was wonderfully led by Catriona,” enthused Gallacher, who contested eight Ryder Cups as a player. “She was sent out first against their best player in Paula Creamer. She didn’t just beat her, she thumped her and that inspired the rest of the team. You would think she’d be the captain’s dream player as she’s likely to get the business done.
“For the Solheim Cup to go down to the last few matches and for Europe to come out on top is great. It is good for global golf. It’s good that one team isn’t dominating that event at the moment. The golf was outstanding under pressure and there’s no doubt the girls take it as seriously as the Ryder Cup.”
The passion for the Solheim Cup among the competitors has never been in doubt but some critics have questioned the relevance of an event that the US has dominated since its inception in 1990.
A fourth successive American victory would certainly have added more fuel to those flames but Sunday’s success can have a galvanising effect. Hopefully, the Ladies European Tour can capitalise on the feelgood factor.
With Europe’s men racking up major wins and stamping their authority on the world rankings, the fairer sex have been pushed increasingly into the golfing shadows. Their spectacular emergence into the spotlight is richly deserved.
AND ANOTHER THING
These are worrying times for the Scottish Open. Last week’s announcement that Barclays would not be renewing its sponsorship of the domestic showpiece was a savage and surprising blow.
After July’s event at Castle Stuart, European Tour chiefs expressed quiet confidence that an extension to a deal that had lasted for a decade would be signed and sealed.
The move from Loch Lomond to the links of Castle Stuart went down well with all parties, while the assembled field in the Highlands was one of the strongest in the championship’s history.
Two months down the line and officials are faced with the daunting task of finding a backer willing to stump up a £3m prize fund.
The bankers remains committed to the Barclays Classic in the US until 2016, and will continue to sponsor Phil Mickelson and the Barclays Open in Singapore.
It’s a concern, and a mystery, that the Scottish Open, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, has fallen victim to the financial giant’s downsizing.