View From The Fairway - Rory Provides Summer Boost to European Tour
THERE was a huge boost for the European Tour with the news that Rory McIlroy is to compete at the Irish Open at Mount Juliet in July after missing the events at Lahinch and Galgorm Castle over the past two years. A limited number of spectators will be allowed on site to watch McIlroy and fellow Irish major champions Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell take part in the tournament. McIlroy was tournament host from 2015 to 2018 and won at The K Club in 2016. "I am really excited to get back and play the Irish Open," said McIlroy. "I have so many incredible memories of this event down the years, not least my victory in 2016, and I think it is going to be a pretty special week this July with the fans returning. I'm really excited to play in front of them again." The purse has been upped to £2.7m even though the tournament will not be part of the Rolex Series. Back in 2019 when the event was one of the European Tour's elite events, the Irish Open's prize fund was £5.6m.
WITH no disrespect intended to Jonathan Caldwell, who was a worthy, if unexpected, winner of the Scandinavian Mixed in Sweden, I don’t mind telling you that I was rooting for Alice Hewson, the young English golfer who finished third, just two strokes behind the Northern Irishman. It was wonderful to see men and women compete against each other on more or less equal terms. There will be those who will say that they should all have been playing from the same tees, but the men have obvious physical advantages and quite clearly hit the ball further. This tournament makes my heart sing because it raises the profile of women’s golf. What an achievement it would have been for Hewson had she managed to win.
GARRICK HIGGO must be pinching himself. At the age of 22, he has now won three times this year, with two victories on the European Tour and, remarkably, a win on the PGA Tour. The left-hander was the only man in the field to break 70 on all four days at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. Yes, he had a helping hand from poor Chesson Hadley, who dropped shots at each of the final three holes to hand the title to the young South African. But the fact is that Higgo put pressure on the American by setting a target. He is a left-hander who hits the ball a mile and, like to many other South Africans, he has an astonishing short game. The victory gives him automatic full membership of the PGA Tour and means that his life has changed for ever. Sadly, it means we are going to see far less of him in Europe but we will be seeing plenty of him on PGA Tour leaderboards.
FOOTBALLERS James Milner and Adam Lallana share significant interest in professional golf through their directorships of a company shaping the future of one Britain's brightest golfing talents. Cheshire-based White Rose Sports Management Limited, has signed promising youngster Ben Schmidt following the completion of the 18-year-old's stellar amateur career. The teenager was part of the recent GB and Ireland Walker Cup team after rising to number six in the amateur world rankings, having lifted the prestigious Brabazon and Carris Trophies. Now the youngster is offering tips to help improve the games of famous soccer stars while they ready him for the rigours of life as a professional sportsman. "We are very fortunate in the football environment," Lallana told BBC Sport. "Even when you have bad days on the pitch, you have team-mates who bail you out. Since joining White Rose and working with Ben and the other players you can see that everything is kind of put on them.” Lallana hopes he and Milner can help ease that burden. "If we can take the pressure off them and work with them then hopefully we keep them focused on their job and just a little less responsibility for themselves. It's a tough sport, it can be a lonely sport at times.” Another of their clients, American Johannes Veerman, has qualified for the US Open and Lallana says they will be watching with a lot of excitement. "With Covid it is bitterly disappointing we can't actually be out in Torrey Pines," he said. "If restrictions had been lifted then that's something myself and James would love to have done; go out and support Johannes and be on the journey with him and support him as much as we can."
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