Let’s start with the European Tour shall we? The action failed to live up to the theatrics of last week’s playoff victory by Rory, but still went down to the wire in Abu Dhabi, with Tommy Fleetwood emerging victorious for the first time in four years. He managed to keep a big swinging DJ and Pablo Larrazabal at bay. Include on that list Martin Kaymer, who stayed in contention for long enough but faded on the back nine come Sunday. As far as the Irish go, Paul Dunne put in a spirited performance and can come away relatively positive from the weekend. He was in the melting pot as late as Friday evening, but a bad weekend sent him careening down the rankings. It could be a while before he’s back to the heights of the 2015 Open, but retaining the tour card is priority now.
Hopefully it won’t need to be a late scramble to earn enough to remain on the main tour, so performances early in the year are most beneficial to him. As ever, we’ll keep an eye out for our own. For an early year tourney, it was pretty stacked. The incentive of a greater purse, and the minimum tour events that those who cross the pond must attend, bring in some big names, so winning these is significant. You’re beating some of the best in the business, and to win it with a magnificent birdie under pressure on the last was the cherry on top. He did get to see Dustin obliterate two driving irons on to a green where Tommy went driver-three wood, but he had done enough.
It gives reprieve for him as regard exemptions, so he can rest easy for another while and just enjoy his golf for now. On to the PGA. Waterford native Seamus Power was competing in the aptly named Careerbuilder Challenge. Much in the vein of the Alfred Dunhill, taking place on multiple courses in the Palm Springs area, this was the brainchild of Bob Hope many moons ago. As good as Seamus performed, it wasn’t enough to beat Hudson Swafford, winning from the newest star in golf, Adam Hadwin. The newest in a line to break sixty on tour, it ultimately wasn’t enough to secure a maiden PGA Tour victory. Much has been made of pro’s hitting the ball farther and tearing apart classic courses. Especially when we have seen back-to-back sub-sixty rounds in the space of seven days. This was different to Thomas’ scorched earth policy in Hawaii last week though. This was more plotting around the course. This, I feel, is a great advertisement of the modern game of golf. When the ball striking destruction of courses is brought to mind, many will think Rory, Dustin, Day et al. Then the knives come out. Then the place of technology in the game is questioned. But if you examine the rounds under sixty, look at the members of that elusive club.
Hadwin was pretty average length wise off the tee last week. Jim Furyk, boasting a 58 and 59, isn’t and hasn’t ever been considered massive or powerful. Stuart Appleby six years ago and Paul Goydos a month before that aren’t considered gunslingers of the game. Go further back to David Duval at the end of the last millennium, though a world number one, was anywhere near as long as todays. I feel this is a great marketing opportunity for the tour, and the trickle down it may possess. In boxing, styles make fights. Take the Rory-Jordan pairing at the Masters.
Rory can hit it and it’ll stay hit, whereas Jordan plots his way around, owing to lack of length, but more than makes up for it on the green. It shows that the game can be played many ways, and is open to many different styles of winners. A champion golfer will always need to have the full array of shots and, as good as technology is, it can’t replicate the nerves of someone on a hot streak. So fear not classic courses. You’re safe for a while yet. Especially from the average hacker.