View From The Fairway - Shane Lowry Prepares to Hand Back Claret Jug
Catch up with Derek Clements' latest View From The Fairway!
SPARE a thought for Shane Lowry as we prepare to buckle ourselves in for the long-awaited Open Championship at Royal St George’s. The Irishman was unable to defend his title 12 months ago when the tournament was cancelled because of the pandemic. Not only that but had the Ryder Cup gone ahead as planned last year he would have walked into the European team. He is now preparing to have to give back the Claret Jug having had it in his possession for two years. It will be like saying goodbye to an old friend. And he will have to get used to not being announced as ‘the Champion Golfer”. Furthermore, he is going to have to get a wiggle on if he wants to qualify for Padraig Harrington’s team.
NELLY KORDA’s victory in the KPMG LPGA Championship confirmed what many of us have been saying for a long time - the American, who is the daughter of former tennis champion Petr Korda, is a class act. She played some magnificent golf to secure her first major and, in the process, climbed to the top of the world rankings. Korda is good for golf - not only is she a hugely talented golfer but she oozes personality and star quality. What was disappointing was that after a great start, Britain’s Charley Hull slipped down the leaderboard. Hull is undoubtedly a massive talent but it is about time that she began to live up to her undoubted promise.
THIS has been an astonishing season on both sides of the Atlantic. There have been a host of first-time winners and feel-good stories, none more so than England’s Richard Bland and Marcus Armitage. And what about that finish at the Travelers Championship, with Harris English and Kramer Hickok going head to head in an eight-hole playoff before English landed his second title of the season. Hickok’s performance came from nowhere. The putts that he holed both during the final round and in the playoff defied belief. It is to be hoped that his performance will now give him the confidence to kick on and join his great friend Sam Burns in the winner’s circle before much longer. At the same tournament, Abraham Ancer recorded yet another top-10 finish - his sixth of the season and, incredibly, his 16th top 25 finish.
I COULD not help but do a double take when I heard the Sky Golf commentary team talk about Viktor Hovland as a potential Ryder Cup player. Call me old-fashioned if you like but I have been saying for months that the Norwegian is a certain starter at Whistling Straits in September. In only his second appearance in a regular European Tour event, Hovland saw off a terrific field for what was the third victory of his fledgling professional career. On the PGA Tour this season he has won once, finished second twice and third twice and missed just one cut all season. He has a fabulous temperament and will take everything the Ryder Cup throws at him in his stride. Trust me when I tell you that Padraig Harrington’s team will be queueing up to partner Hovland in the foursomes. He will be a sensation and will be playing the first of many, many Ryder Cups. And I for one cannot wait.
THERE were many who expressed doubts when Padraig Harrington was appointed Ryder Cup captain. Have no fear - the Irishman will leave no stone unturned and will do a fabulous job at Whistling Straits. This, taken from his captain’s blog, tells you everything you need to know: "During a Ryder Cup, the Captain gets pulled every which way and there is so much stuff going on. You are trying to run the team, but there are also a lot of media requirements every day and many other areas that require your attention. However, the most difficult thing that a Captain has to do is to ring up players to tell them they haven’t got a pick, which is one area that would never be delegated to a Vice Captain. When you sign up for the job of Captain, you have to take on certain responsibilities. It’s a tough part of the job but it’s a necessary part too. It’s probably the one job that each Captain looks forward to the least, having to tell someone who could well be good enough to make the team on his own merits, that for some particular reason they just don’t provide the necessary piece of the jigsaw required. It’s tough to tell them that you have chosen to go with a another option, but it has to be done.”
IT IS heartwarming to see Victor Dubuisson starting to return to form. Back in 2014, when he qualified for the European Ryder Cup team, the Frenchman looked like he might be destined for the world’s top 10. But the enigmatic Dubuisson has suffered problems on and off the course. A sensitive soul, he has almost certainly struggled during the pandemic. It is good to see him playing with a smile on his face once again.
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