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View From The Fairway - Can Moliwood Find Their Form Again?

By: | Mon 24 Jan 2022 | Comments

Reflecting on the past week in the game, Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his latest View From The Fairway!

TOMMY Fleetwood is one of the most popular golfers in Europe, and it was fascinating to hear him talking about his recent struggles on the eve of the Abu Dhabi Championship, a tournament he has won twice. The Englishman is not the first golfer to slide down the world rankings - he has gone from the top 10 to 41st in the blink of an eye and has lost his PGA Tour card, something that was unthinkable after his magnificent play at the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National. On that week he formed an irresistible partnership with Francesco Molinari. The two men seemed to have the world at their feet. And yet Molinari found himself languishing in 249th place in the rankings before his encouraging finish at the American Express Championship at the weekend. The Italian won The Open in 2018. The following year he led The Masters when he stood on the 12th tee in the final round, but then it all came undone and Tiger Woods stepped in to claim his 15th major. He then suffered injury and has struggled ever since. Hopefully, he has now turned a corner. It is proof, if ever it were needed, of just cruel golf can be. Both these men are hugely talented golfers and it will be fascinating to see how things unfold for them both in 2022.

HOW good is it to see fans back out on the fairways? A number of the world’s best golfers admitted that they struggled to produce their best form at the height of the pandemic when they were forced to play without spectators. And it is abundantly clear that the galleries missed the action just as much as the players missed having them around. The sound of cheering and applause is a sign that, however slowly, we are getting back to something approaching normal. The Open Championship at St Andrews in July will be played in front of massive crowds and I cannot wait.

WINNING a PGA Tour golf tournament is no easy matter. Just ask Russell Henley. The American raced to the turn in 29 in the final round of the Sony Open, at which point he led Hideki Matsuyama by five shots. He came home in one over par and eventually lost at the first hole of a sudden death playoff. His final round of 65 wasn’t good enough. Henley is a three-time winner in America so he knows how to get the job done. Crucially, there have been six times when he has held the 54-hole lead and not been able to finish the job off. Confidence plays a huge part. Until he won The Masters in April last year, Matsuyama had all but forgotten how to win. He has now won three times since donning the Green Jacket at Augusta. Confidence is everything. Just ask Jordan Spieth!

HATS off to Kyle Phillips. He has created a true masterpiece at Yas Links, which hosted the Abu Dhabi Championship. The course was carved out of the desert and, incredibly, Phillips has designed a glorious links-style golf course that emulates the very best that the UK has to offer - it provides plenty of birdie opportunities in calm conditions but is a brute when the wind blows, as it often does in Abu Dhabi. It is difficult to believe that the dunes that line the fairways and surround the greens are man-made, but they are.

YOU are going to be reading a great deal over the next week or so about the Saudi International. Many of the world’s best golfers have committed to the tournament and the Saudis have launched a charm offensive, with almost all of their star performers giving press conferences about the tournament and their reasons for playing in it. Let’s not kid ourselves - it’s all about the money. Former Open champion Shane Lowry is one of the star names to sign up and he was duly wheeled out to face the media, saying he had no qualms about playing in Saudi Arabia. ”Obviously there's no hiding from the people writing about this tournament or what they're saying about us going to play, but at the end of the day for me, I'm not a politician, I'm a professional golfer,” he said. "I earn a living for myself and my family and try and take care of those, and this is just a part of that, and I need to go there.” Actually Shane, you don’t “need” to go there at all. The choice is yours.

THERE was some sad news last week with Ian Woosnam’s announcement that he has played in The Masters for the last time. The Welshman, who turns 64 in March, has a lifetime playing exemption at Augusta after winning the Green Jacket with a one-shot victory in 1991. Woosnam has only made the cut in two of his last 20 appearances at the opening men's major of the year - most recently in 2008 - and has threatened on numerous occasions to stop playing in the event, before later changing his mind. The former world No 1 said he had played his final round in the tournament when he missed the cut in the 2019 contest, only to undergo back surgery at the start of 2020 and decide to return to the event last year for the 30th anniversary of his Masters triumph. “I thought long and hard about playing the Masters again this year and in the future, but it's time for me to watch the young guys play," Woosnam said. "So I'm going to sit back and enjoy the memories that Augusta has given me over the years, thank you for everything Augusta.” And thank you Woosie for so many wonderful memories.

IN THE build-up to the Abu Dhabi Championship, Tyrrell Hatton announced that he is not a fan of the practice ground, saying that he much prefers to get out on the golf course. There are many things to admire about Hatton. Sadly, his use of foul language is not one of them. His routine use of the “f-word’ meant that Sky’s commentary team had to repeatedly apologise. It is high time that Hatton grew up and stop acting like a spoilt child.

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Tags: PGA Tour european tour dp world tour


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