Thank goodness, the silly season (for as much as it ever stops in golf) is over. There’s some proper, competitive stuff to get our teeth into.
Yeah, and then there was the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which I guess is competitive golf, if not quite proper. Anyway, it’s something other than frippery to ponder…
Xander comes on the blindside
Whatever happened to Alex or Sandy by the way? Wasn’t that a good enough way to shorten a noble name such as Alexander? And why Xander or Zander? Can’t anyone make their mind up?
Regardless of his impossible name, Schauffele may be the budding superstar hiding in the thick rough.
You didn’t see his name that much in any pre-season predictions of major winners, which is odd, because he was blooded at Carnoustie and is definitely ready. It was only the season opener – this will be a recurring caveat in this column – but 62 to finish and win is pretty impressive.
Rory’s script unchanged
Again, one week is an exceedingly small sample size, but nothing altered in the current assessment of Rory McIlroy’s potential fortunes. When the time came to put the foot down on Sunday, he shot 72, ten shots off Xander’s pace.
“I did what I wanted to do” he said plaintively. It’s one event. But three good rounds to get into position is not particularly encouraging – it’s what he’s done for most of the last two years.
Flag in, flag out
It seems likely that “genius” Bryson DeChambeau will be right and this new rule will be bifurcated – ie fine for your Saturday morning fourball, not used in the elite game – but probably not for the reason he thinks.
The first guy to leave the stick in and a makeable putt chunks off it and stays up, they’ll all stop doing it. It’s an entirely unecessary and irritating variable and looks daft (although that’s not a reason to stop it on it’s own, see below).
“Absurd” said DeChambeau when he had to do it using the new rule from knee height, and inexplicably contorting himself in the process of doing so.
The physical contortions are a completely ludicrous premise anyway. Golfers undertake 30-40 far more potentially debilitating manoevres with their back and major muscles during the course of a round, and probably have done 30-40 more on the range prior to playing. A little sashay on the hip isn’t likely to tweak a hamstring.
The major objection appears to be that the players think they look ridiculous. Which is also odd, because looking ridiculous never bothered them that much before, plainly.
Anyway, if you lean FORWARD only marginally from the waist it is simple enough to quite comfortably drop a ball from knee height, as the rules now demand.
Sort of strange that the so-called “Professor” was unable to work this out. Probably too busy spinning his balls in a solution of Epsom salts.
Monahan’s world is not ours
The PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan is, by and large, a tool by which we gauge the current spirit and opinion of the PGA Tour rank and file. His job is not so much to dictate but to reflect the common view of the membership, such as it exists.
And it’s clear that the PGA Tour membership believes that distance is not an issue, slow play is not an issue, and everything in golf is peachy and fantastic.
Monahan said in Hawaii that the PGA Tour planned to have full co-operation with the R&A and USGA’s “Distance Insights” project, the lengthy consulation process launched last year entered into by the governing bodies when they finally realised that the “line” of increasing ball flight had been crossed. They were only a decade late.
However, he added “it’s hard to argue you should be changing anything right now because the sport is growing and thriving.”
Clearly everything’s grand in the world of elite golf Monahan inhabits. Because one suspects that’s what he’s referring to, and not to plunging particpation and course closures happening all over the established golfing world.
Until it’s proved otherwise, “Distance Insights” seems just like a prolonged process to kick the distance issue into the tall grass where it can be safely lost.
Monahan and the Tour’s stance seems fairly solid. Their standard view – and this applies to slow play also – is that anything that might inconvenience the already fantastically rich and spoiled superstars is to be opposed.
But those of us who want some kind of restriction on the distances the ball flies and the return of shot-making ability as the priority are increasingly sounding like voices in the wilderness.
The arguments don’t change, the evidence hasn’t really changed for 10 years, and nothing continues to be done except procrastination.
How long before we look like Japanese soldiers in the jungle when the battle’s long lost?