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There's a danger some of us will be wheezing up to Gleneagles with Ryder Cup fatigue

Can you remember last summer when the cogs of the country came clanking and creaking to a shuddering halt as an entire nation dropped whatever it was doing and marched on Buckingham Palace to gaze in slack-jawed reverence at an easel displaying the glad tidings of the Royal birth?

CRYSTAL BALL: Europe's Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley tries to answer questions that would confound Mystic Meg. Picture: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images
CRYSTAL BALL: Europe's Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley tries to answer questions that would confound Mystic Meg. Picture: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

Admittedly, it was a fairly ornate, decorative easel but an easel nevertheless. And easels, by their very nature, tend to be inanimate objects of jowl-wobbling dullness, not known for their ability to mutter anything interesting or perform anything remotely spellbinding, except, say, for standing discreetly at a 20 degree angle in front of a woman in the buff during a life drawing class. Throw in a few rolling news channels, a host of gushing commentators and the unflinching gaze of the television cameras, though, and the humble easel became a national celebrity; a three-legged colossus of awe and wonder which had the gobsmacked masses down on their knees in adulation and screeching and hooting like a roosting owl that had just caught its talons in a retractable awning.

Yes, the modern media certainly know how to kick the backside out of various occasions and they can train their boots on any subject that takes their fancy. Take the Ryder Cup, for instance. In these non-stop times of all-singing, all-dancing coverage, golf's greatest team showpiece exists under the kind of microscopic scrutiny usually reserved for tottering celebrities stumbling out of nightclubs.

Every move is analysed and pored over while captains, vice-captains and prospective team members are bombarded with an unrelenting barrage of questions on a par with Frost's jabbings at Nixon.

Don't get me wrong. The Ryder Cup is an astonishing production of sporting theatre and you'd have to be carved out of granite to not be  swept along by the intoxicating twists and emotional turns that the matches serve up during three days of tumultuous tussles.

In 2014, we in Scotland are fortunate that this clash of the transatlantic titans will be played out in our own backyard at Gleneagles but, with almost seven months still to go, there's a danger that some of us will be wheezing and spluttering up to the PGA Centenary course with a severe case of Ryder Cup fatigue.

As soon as the gun was blasted to signal the start of the European qualifying race at the Wales Open last August, the phrase "he's put down a Ryder Cup marker" was spluttered forth by salivating pundits and ponderers. The winner of that particular event was Gregory Bourdy but the Frenchman is currently well off the pace at 18th on the points list as his "marker" was quickly trampled over by those elbowing and jockeying for an automatic spot in the top-four of the European order during this marathon of fluctuating fortunes.

Not long after Bourdy's win, we had the elaborate 'Year To Go' festivities in which Paul McGinley and Tom Watson, the respective captains of Europe and the USA, fielded the kind of peering-into-the-future questions that would've had Mystic Meg stomping on her crystal ball in resignation. What would so-and-so bring to the team? How would this-and-that fit into the side? Would you offer thingymebob a wild card? Have you spoken to whit-do-you-call him? The conjecture, most of it pointless at this stage, knows no bounds.

In dealing with the inquisitors on this side of the pond, McGinley, a highly likeable, erudite and co-operative individual, has calmly dealt with the unrelenting probings but even he will be aware that he is just birling around in circles because, quite simply, there is only so much he can say at this early juncture. There is still a huge amount of golf to be played, and a vast number of points to be accumulated, between now and the completion of the qualifying trek in August's Italian Open.

Martin Kaymer, the man who holed the winning putt to screw the tin lid on the Miracle of Medinah in 2012, is nowhere near qualifying, for example, but the picture could alter drastically between now and then.

"I'm Ryder Cup captain, not God," said McGinley during the unveiling of Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his first two vice-captains in Dublin last week. "Communication with the players is the most important thing now. But I'm not sending texts to them every week or even every month because the best way for these guys to prepare for the Ryder Cup is to stay in the present and focus on what they're doing now.

"That's why it's important I don't over-communicate with them because every time they see me their head goes to September and I want them to be in the here and now."

As we hurtle towards the gathering at Gleneagles, the giddy mix of anticipation, speculation, and rumour will grow ever more fervent as each event passes.

Even as I shake my fist at the futility of it all, this correspondent will no doubt be clinging to that particular bandwagon of publicity as the build up roars on.

Saying that, though, it will be an almighty relief when the incessant chatter stops and the ruddy golf gets started. When it's all said and done, that's the only thing that matters.

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