View From The Fairway - Credit to Keith Pelley & The European Tour
Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his View From The Fairway...
The time has come to pay tribute to the European Tour. As the latest UK Swing draws to a close at St Andrews this week we should all give Keith Pelley and his team a massive round of applause for being able to put together a makeshift challenge that has produced some wonderful golf at some amazing golf courses.
The likes of John Catlin, Sam Horsfield, Connor Syme and Rasmus Hojgaard have all emerged as stars, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Lee Westwood continue to defy the years, Andy Sullivan returned to the winners’ circle.
But, more important than that, the Tour have managed to get through all of this with just a handful of failed Covid-19 tests.
The golf has been brilliant and while we would all like to see spectators thronging the fairways again, the players have proved that young men really can follow strict rules and behave like responsible adults. There have been no wild parties. There have been no breaches of protocol (apart from Catlin’s unfortunate visit to a restaurant). Footballers should take note.
Will somebody please explain to me how it is possible that Collin Morikawa, who has never stepped onto European soil, finds himself in third place in the Race to Dubai? And while we are at it, I am keen to know how Jazz Janewattananond finds himself inside the top 60 in the world rankings, ahead of the likes of Lanto Griffin, Rasmus Hojgaard, Cameron Champ, Sam Horsfield and Thomas Detry. If any of that makes sense to you, I would love answers on a postcard please.
The European Tour's finest expressed their regret that there were no fans at Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship. Last year they played the tournament in front of more than 110,000 spectators, making the sort of noise that 110,000 people make. Isn't it funny how they don't mind playing in front of thousands of spectators and yet in the current climate, when one person moves in the background, those same players almost always back away and deliver a killer stare to the person in question? In the opening round, Danny Willett backed away from a putt on the final green three times because of “non-crowd” noise. At least he had the decency to make the putt. But how foolish he would have looked had he missed.
Comedians Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan, neither of whom know the first thing about golf, found themselves "assisting" Nick Dougherty in the commentary box at Wentworth before heading out to the first tee to hit drives that travelled about 100 yards. Their commentary wasn’t funny, their golf shots were dreadful. I have one question: why?
Will somebody please tell Thomas Pieters that the hairdressers are open for business again? It’s not as if he can’t afford to get a haircut, for goodness sake.
You probably blinked and you missed it, but for some bizarre reason, the BBC decided to show weekend highlights of the Scottish Open in the graveyard slot. They could even be bothered to provide their own commentary, using some potted highlights from Sky. I only have one question: why? It is generally accepted that getting golf back on to the mainstream channels would help to generate interest, but showing highlights when most of us are safely tucked up in bed? Really?
Beware the injured golfer. During his on-course interview with Tim Barter in the first round at Wentworth, Ian Poulter complained of an aching back. Shortly afterwards we saw him receiving treatment. Poulter played the final three holes in four under. Can I have some of that treatment please?
Sergio Garcia ended his drought on the PGA Tour by putting with his eyes closed. No, really he did. Jordan Spieth did something similar when he was winning everyone in sight. He used to look at the hole while making his stroke - and it worked. Oh, how it worked. Have you ever tried hitting any golf shot without looking at the ball? When they say that these guys are good, they are not joking!
A fond farewell to John Paramor and Andy McFee who, between them, have given 80 years service to the game. Parmor, 65, began his career with the European Tour in 1976, while McFee, 62, saw his time with the Tour begin in 1983.
But both have decided that the time is now right to step down. Their final event together was the BMW PGA Championship, the tournament taking place, fittingly, in the shadow of the European Tour headquarters itself.
GREAT to see Camilo Villegas back playing golf again just weeks after the tragic death of his baby daughter, Mia, whose life was taken by tumours on her brain and spine. It is impossible to imagine the grief he must feel. Mia was just 22 months old. She was diagnosed in March - four months later she was gone. Villegas said: "Obviously we wanted her to be here with us but it got to a point where it got pretty crazy and the best thing turned out for her rest.
"She's not here with us physically, but she'll remain in our hearts forever. I can't change anything that happened in the past but I, my family, my wife, can have a good attitude and reshape what's happening today and what's going to happen in the future. We'll slowly start getting back to normal." It all puts the game of golf into perspective in the most painful and unbearable way. We wish Villegas and his family well.
And finally…you will forgive me if I give myself a pat on the back. Why? Last week I predicted Tyrrell Hatton would win the BMW PGA Championship. Mind you, it is about the first time this year that I correctly called the winner of a tournament, so maybe not too much of a pat on the back, eh?
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