View From The Fairway - Where Does Rory McIlroy Go Next
The View From The Fairway by Derek Clements...
IT IS difficult to know where Rory McIlroy goes next. He began the week of The Players Championship saying that he was looking for a spark to ignite his season. The next day he was telling us that his best days are still ahead of him. And then he opened at TPC Sawgrass with a shocking 79, followed it with a 75 and missed the cut by a country mile. With The Masters just around the corner, talk will once again turn to his attempt to complete the career grand slam. At this moment, his chances would appear to rest somewhere between slim and non-existent.
A deeply worrying survey by Sygenta has revealed that more than 60% of greenkeepers, PGA professionals and golf club managers have suffered work-related mental health problems since the first Covid-19 lockdown was imposed in March last year. Nearly two-thirds of those who responded told Sygenta that they felt anxious or worried, while 57% have experienced sleep problems and 43% admitted to feeling depressed. Even worse, three of the 256 respondents said they’d had thoughts of self-harm or suicide. As we prepare for the return of golf at the end of the month in England it is a timely reminder of the challenges that lie ahead for so many. Most worrying is the fact that just 21% said that their employers had a mental health or wellbeing programme in place.
KEEP your eye on Will Zalatoris and make a note of his name. You are going to be hearing a lot more about him. With his tied 10th finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Zalatoris recorded his fifth top 10 of the season. Only Harris English, Tony Finau, Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele have achieved the same feat. He is already surely a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year honours.
Tracey Stewart, the widow of PGA Tour golfer Payne Stewart, has sold more than 200 items from her late husband's personal collection. Stewart died in a plane crash in 1999 at the age of 42. He was survived by Tracey and their two children, Aaron and Chelsea. "Over the years so many people have reached out to share how much Payne impacted their lives or the lived of their loved ones," Tracey said. "I am pleased to share these items as a reminder of how much Payne enjoyed golf, but even more, how much he enjoyed people. I hope these will become treasured mementos that will inspire and encourage people in the same way Payne lived his life.” The items she sold included Stewart's player's badge from the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where he famously made a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole on Sunday to win the tournament. His celebration pose is enshrined at Pinehurst with a life-size bronze statue on property. Stewart won the 1989 PGA Championship, the 1991 and 1999 U.S. Open, was a member of five Ryder Cup teams and had 11 PGA Tour wins. He was a ferocious competitor but was a real gentleman. During his 1999 Ryder Cup singles match he took rowdy American fans to task over their hostile treatment of his opponent, Colin Montgomerie, and won millions of admirers by conceding his match to the Scot.
Steve Stricker says that he wants Tiger Woods involved in this year’s Ryder Cup match "in one way, shape or form.’' But the U.S. Ryder Cup captain would not go so far as to say that Woods would be a vice-captain when the United States Ryder Cup team takes on Europe at Whistling Straits in September. He is recovering from multiple serious injuries suffered in a single-vehicle crash in Southern California. "I'm not going to go down that road now,'' Stricker said. "Obviously we're all pulling for him. We're thankful that he's alive. I don't know who said it, but that his kids continue to have a father. Something even more tragic could have come from that. I'd love to have him around [at the Ryder Cup]. I'm hoping in one way, shape or form. But it's too early to kind of commit to anything.’' Stricker has two vice-captain openings after already naming Jim Furyk, Davis Love III and Zach Johnson.
Lee Westwood says that everybody keeps asking him when he is going to be joining the Seniors Tour. But the 47-year-old Englishman has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that he still has plenty to offer and can still teach the young guns a thing or two. Despite being routinely outhit by 50 yards and more by Bryson DeChambeau at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Westwood refused to bow to the American and challenged him all the way until the final putt was holed. He then finished second at The Players Championship, earning $1.6m in the process. He won the Race to Dubai last year and is still hitting the ball as well as he ever has. And he has surely already tied down his spot in Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup team. His experience will be invaluable as it seems certain the team will contain several rookies.
ALMOST unnoticed, Phil Mickelson has fallen out of the world's top 100. It truly does mark the end of an era. The left-hander had been in the top 100 for a staggering 1,425 weeks but has endured a miserable run of form on the PGA Tour. Earlier this year Mickelson said if he didn’t play well early on that he’d “start to re-evaluate things” and “maybe play a few more events on the Champions Tour”. Unfortunately for Mickelson, Champions Tour events don’t earn world ranking points. Mickelson won his first two starts on the senior circuit last year.
AT A time when club golf is trying to find ways to attract more women to the game, a new series of competitions aimed at senior and mid-amateur female golfers has been launched in the UK, with the first tournament due to take place at Mill Ride Golf Club in Berkshire in May. Women on the Tee was launched by Julie Walker, who believes that are not enough competitive opportunities for women to play in at all levels of the game. Walker launched her first all-female Pro-Am in 2018, with 27 teams taking part in the inaugural event at Burhill Golf Club in Surrey. It returned in 2019, this time with 22 teams taking part in a shotgun event at Cuddington Golf Club, also in Surrey. The 2020 was postponed due to the pandemic. The current schedule sees Strokeplay WHS Qualifiers scheduled for Mill Ride GC, Ascot on May 25; High Post GC, Wiltshire on June 28; Bromborough GC, The Wirral on August 11; Leamington & County GC in Warwickshire on September 15; and a two-day competition at Kenwick Park GC in Lincolnshire on Sept 29-30, which will include 4-ball Betterball and Strokeplay events. The Pro-Am at Bowood in Wiltshire, in partnership with the WPGA & PGA, and final Strokeplay at South Staffordshire Golf Club in October, will be open for registration on March 8. Events are only open to Women on the Tee members – which costs £30 to join in 2021, although normally £60 – with the field limited to a maximum of 72 members.
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