Off the bat, a huge congrats to Paul Dunne on his top ten finish in South Africa. It should go a good bit towards making sure he keeps his card and allows him leeway to go after a tournament or two. Admittedly, a few of the big guns weren’t there, but he did what he had to do, so kudos to him. Watching the World Golf Championship here at Mexico and it seems Dustin is not going to give up his crown lightly, even if it flies fifteen per cent further in the Mexican air. All eyes though have been focusing on how Rory would return to the fold.
By all accounts, it was a better than average comeback, when you consider the gastrointestinal issues he suffered through the course of the event. Leading entering the weekend, he just couldn’t find the groove and allowed it to slip by him, citing the stop-start tempo of a round with Lefty on Saturday.
Phil produced a Phil round, asking for more rulings than a legal drama and as per usual, was doing Phil things like not finding fairways and showing ridiculous levels of escapism. It is the first time that Phil and Rory have played in the same group in competition and Rory will be hoping it’s the last, for his own sake.
It has been a fantastic showing by the European stars, as Tommy Fleetwood and the hottest prospect in World Golf, Jon Rahm, kept DJ honest. Fellow hot whippersnapper Thomas Pieters, House Tyrell Hatton and former Irish Open winner Ross Fisher were well placed in the top rankings to show a strong Europe contingent this weekend.
It may be considered the secondary tour, mainly due to financing, but it has been producing its own brand of high caliber players. Yes, Rahm is a result of a fantastic Arizona State program, but there are classy players on show this side of the pond, and it is great to see them mix it with the PGA boys. The big talking point of the last week has been the rules changes, to be implemented in 2019. Some are happy to see them come in and others, like myself, feel that they missed a few tricks.
The main changes involve time spent searching for lost balls, impediments in bunkers, the infamous DJ rule, and how balls are dropped…for provisional shots, get your minds out of the gutter! I am in favour of the change to three minutes. Even in competition, I rarely go over two. More out of frustration than anything else, but the proviso is that I have hit provisional before searching. I’m not a genius; I just think it is common sense.
Realistically though, how often do you have the stopwatch out at the Sunday medal? And on tour, unless it’s gorse bushes in The Open, a ball usually finds a tree or a spectator, so is easy to find. Even Dustins ball dropped on Saturday, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. If a stone is in your way in the bunker, you won’t have to do a Tiger on it and get fans to move it.
You are not allowed to remove loose impediments in bunkers and, as my understanding is, not receive a penalty for accidentally grounding your club AWAY from the area of the ball. Not to get too trippy on the subject, but isn’t sand by its very nature loose? The DJ rule, where your ball is moved unintentionally on the green to the tune of a penalty, is great to see.
The spectacle of not knowing in last years US Open was quite simply an embarrassment and the USGA only have themselves to blame. The fixation on super fast greens allowed it to happen, and competitions shouldn’t come down to someone at home or in person, through the medium of a rules official, determining the winner. Every so often, we get to see the pro’s drop some down, only for it to roll forward, twice, and then get to place it.
Fret no more, as in 2019 you can drop from an inch or so above the ground. The ruling says the ball must travel a ball width through the air. Expect Camillo Villegas to be the best at it. There has been mention of rangefinders being allowed on certain PGA events, as per local rulings, but I do like the idea of being old school and pacing off.
Most places have markers on every sprinkler head anyways, and each course guide that the pros have should give you enough info. Possibly too much info, as Ian Poulter stated. Totally with him on that, as tour players, while needing as much information as possible, should be able to do the basics of reading a green. No matter what method you use. Is it March already? Wow. Besides getting my swing in order for the summer season, I can’t wait for the real rough and tumble of majors to begin. See you all next week!