View From The Fairway - Rory McIlroy is Set For Special Season
With the professional game in the process of resuming for 2022, Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his latest View From The Fairway, recapping the stories and headlines that you may have missed.
AS Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa battled it out for the world No1 spot at the Tournament of Champions, what are we to make of the fact that Rory McIlroy chose to give the tournament a miss. And he will not be playing in this week’s Sony Open either. The Northern Irishman will not begin his season until the Abu Dhabi Championship later this month, and will also play in the Dubai Desert Classic the following week. Both tournaments boast huge prize money and star-studded fields. If McIlroy can win either of them he will receive a bucketload of world ranking points. He has a decent record in both events and may well fancy his chances of winning both. This is a huge year for McIlroy, whose last major victory came in 2014. For a golfer who possesses such natural talent, that is unacceptable, and he knows it. Look out for him having a stellar season.
A NEW year sees some rule changes in the professional game relating to the longest and shortest clubs in the bag. The USGA and R&A announced a new local rule that caps driver length at 46 inches. Previously, clubs could be up to 48 inches long. Phil Mickelson used a 47.9-inch driver in his victory at the PGA Championship, and Bryson DeChambeau had a 48-inch driver in the bag for his match against Brooks Koepka. DeChambeau will only be able to use it in his long-drive competitions from now on. But amateurs can still pull out the big stick in your club championship. This is a local rule, which allows any tour to apply it to their competitions. And, finally, greens-reading books have been banned. Players and caddies will still be allowed to use a “committee approved” yardage book that contains only general information about a green’s contours. Players can add notes to the books, but those must be based on first-hand observations on the course. Players cannot use tools or devices to measure the slope of greens and cannot add notes to their yardage books based on the use of such tools. “The purpose of this local rule is to return to a position where players and caddies use only their skill, judgment and feel along with any information gained through experience, preparation, and practice to read the line of play on the putting green,” read a memo sent to players by the PGA Tour. Reading greens is a skill, part and parcel of the game, and I have always believed that these books are an abomination. However, no action has been taken to stop golfers anchoring putters against their forearms and as far as I am concerned that is a mistake.
AHEAD of the Tournament of Champions, Talor Gooch led the FedEx Cup standings. The 30-year-old has been knocking on the door for a while and finally landed his maiden PGA Tour victory at the end of 2021. He has suffered some health issues and at one point seriously considered walking away from the game. His victory at the RSM Classic was a seminal moment but his new-found status should surprise nobody. Gooch started swinging a golf club when he was just two and broke 80 for the first time at the age of six. The only shock is that it has taken him so long to make a name for himself.
THIS year sees the Old Course at St Andrews hosting the 150th Open Championship. There was an unprecedented demand for tickets for what is going to be a very special tournament. And Peter Dawson, the 73-year-old former chief executive of the R&A, will once again be a central character after being named as the new managing director of The Old Course Hotel. Dawson retired from the R&A in 2015 after serving as secretary and CEO for 16 years and takes on his new roles after the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa has undergone a multi-million-pound renovation, including the introduction of a penthouse, new guest rooms and refurbished events spaces, as well as new destination restaurant and bar, the Swilcan Loft, which launched in early autumn 2021.
SPARE a thought for the members of Rotherham Golf Club after some mindless idiot on a quad bike decided to go for a ride across the course’s fairways and greens, causing an estimated £120,000 damage.
DID you watch the Tournament of Champions? It is great to have golf back on our screens again. How lucky are these guys to have the chance to ply their trade in Hawaii? Bryson DeChambeau was out there hitting it miles again - at the par four 14th, which measures 295 yards, he had to leave the driver and three wood in the bag because he knew that both clubs would fly the green. At the par-five 15th, which measures 545 yards, he reached the green with a drive and a nine iron. And then there was Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas reducing the course to 61 blows in the third round. It’s golf Jim, but not as we know it!
YOU may have missed the news that Steve Stricker, who led the USA to an overwhelming 19-9 victory in the Ryder Cup last year, suffered a serious health scare in November. He lost 25 pounds, saw his temperature soar to 103 and had two spells in hospital. It turned out that he had heart inflammation along with blood and liver issues. He is now recovering at home and is determined to be in the field for the Players Championship in March. Stricker is one of the good guys and we wish him well in his recovery.
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