Thought for the Day:
The ultimate Christmas stocking filler is a severed foot
There’s dumb, there’s stupid, and then there’s the USGA
The USGA, if no-one else apart from Webb Simpson and his immediate family, must be delighted with the US Open, seeing that none of the competitors managed to break par. We should have expected this after Rory set all sorts of scoring records last year, as it’s a pattern we have seen repeatedly. Someone shoots under par, for the next few years the course set-up is a joke, everyone complains and they gradually relax until a few new records get set. They keep trotting out the line about not wanting to embarrass the best golfers in the world but to identify them, and seem oblivious of the fact that they only identify a particular sort of golfer – which is why people like Andy North and Lee Janzen win two of the bloody things. No point complaining really, the USGA has been making the same dumb mistake for 117 years and it’s not going to change now. And none of which, incidentally, detracts from Webb Simpson’s victory; a pair of 68s at the weekend thoroughly earned the title. The man responsible for the course set-up, Mike Davis, did rescue his reputation, in my eyes at least, by dragging away the numpty in the union jack hat who interrupted the presentation ceremony.
So what did we learn?
• After two superb rounds Tiger went backwards quicker than the Roadrunner in reverse. Something is still clearly far from right.
• Luke Donald again blew himself out of contention in a major in the first round; it’s becoming a habit he needs to break
• Graeme McDowell is the real deal when it comes to tough courses and situations
• The streak of majors won by a rookie has now extended to nine, and the last 15 have been won by different players
• Lee Westwood will eventually retire with more top-10 major finishes than anyone else who has yet to win one – it currently stands at 14
• Those who thought Jim Furyk would close the deal won’t want to be reminded that he now has four runner-up spots in the US Open, second only to Phil Mickelson, who has five (but at least Jim has also won it)
For the love of God
One bizarre fact to emerge in the wake of Simpson’s win concerned the relationship between him and his wife, the oddly-named Dowd, who is expecting their first child next month, as a result of which he won’t be at The Open. Both are born-again Christians and at one point in their relationship felt they were becoming so wrapped up in each other that they were neglecting their devotion to God, so they agreed to split up for a year and re-focus on their deity. Judging by the number of times the new champion mentioned God in the immediate aftermath of his win, the plan worked.
You cannot help but wonder how often someone has to hit themselves on the side of the head with a 6-iron before realising that it hurts and that they should stop doing it. For a few years now we have seen politicians, public figures, celebrities and sports people posting messages on Twitter for which they then have to apologise. It’s as if none of them can grasp the concept that this is a social network site open to the whole world and they will therefore be held to account for anything they post. The latest golfer to screw up is James Morrison who, during the course of the ISPS Handa Wales Open tweeted: ‘Thanks Celtic Manor. Dump. One more round then can’t get over that bridge [the Severn] quick enough.’ The predictable outcome was that he subsequently said: ‘I didn’t mean it in the context,’ which is nonsense – when you call somewhere a dump, there isn’t any context. Even more predictably, he was obliged to issue an apology and will be punished by the European Tour.
Kicked into touch
Billy Foster, Lee Westwood’s caddy, is going to miss the Open Championship after surgery to three torn knee ligaments means six months rehabilitation. The irony is that he refused to take part in a caddies’ football match for fear of injury, and did the damage while watching from the sidelines and kicking a ball back onto the field.
At the ISPS Handa Wales Open Ross Fisher, who has been struggling for form, was a stroke off the lead in the final round when he got hit by a one-stroke penalty for slow play – he exceeded the 40 seconds allowed to play a shot on both the 11th and 14th holes. But there’s a bit more to it than that. His group was first warned on the 6th tee by chief referee John Paramor that it had fallen behind schedule, and quite a way behind the group in front, which was also on the clock. After warning Fisher on the 11th that he had a bad time for a stroke, Paramor ignored a second bad time on the following hole because of the difficult nature of the shot Ross was facing. Then on the 14th green, Fisher took 55 seconds over a 15 foot putt and this is when he got the stroke penalty. His group was initially warned when it was 26 minutes behind its allotted schedule of four hours 35 minutes for the round. By the time it finished, that had increased to 38 minutes, so the warning didn’t speed them up, they slowed even more. Penalties have been handed out before but not, to anyone’s recollection, to someone in contention in the final group on the last day.
It is a shame for Ross Fisher, who’s one of golf’s good guys, but was thoroughly deserved. Let’s hope the European Tour holds its nerve and continues in its efforts to get pro golfers to advance from glacial to crawling speed.
Incidentally, Kevin Na who caught so much flak a few weeks ago on the PGA Tour for the time he took to hit the ball, has recently been complimented for the successful efforts he has made to speed up.
Quote of the Week
My game is so bad I gotta hire three caddies – one to walk the left rough, one for the right, and one for the middle. And the one in the middle doesn’t have much to do.