Not all bloggers are writers and not all writers are bloggers. Patricia is a writer AND a blogger. I’m just a blogger, but as I sit before an empty screen wondering what to say in my first post of 2018 I’m curious to feel a….well, a bit of a block. WRITER’s block, I wonder? Hmm, maybe I’m getting a bit closer to being a real writer after 18 months of blogging, seeing as I’m now experiencing a block? “Just start writing and see where it takes you”, Patricia advised. So, here goes.
When, oh when is Dustin Johnson (not the only culprit) going to stop spitting on a golf course? I find it nothing short of disgusting and watched his sublime performance in Hawaii last week with one hand over my eyes in expectation of the inevitable expectoration. It’s a dozen years now since I first started working in the States and I’ve covered countless rounds in that time and walked many miles inside the ropes. Those miles have been punctuated with several hops and skips as I’ve done my best to avoid the spitting over the ropes from the front row of spectators. My American friends tell me it’s the tobacco-chewing culture but that doesn’t appease me – it really is awful.
Dustin is the supreme athlete and shot 65 on Sunday romping to an 8-shot victory in a tournament peopled only by winners from 2017. He has won at least once a year for the last 11 consecutive years and has 8 wins since the 2015-16 season – more than any other player on the PGA Tour. Last year he was in full flow until the eve of the Masters when he slipped in his socks and fell, injuring his back. He withdrew the next day and was woeful in the majors, with a missed cut at the US Open, tied 54th at The Open and tied 13th at the PGA. Despite bombing out in the most important tournaments on the schedule he still managed to finish the year as world No 1. Now, THAT was some achievement.Three players are teeing it up this year with only one major separating them from the prize of completing a CGS (career grand slam). To date, only five men have won all four modern majors: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. Rory McIlroy will be the first to feel the full glare of the major spotlight as he tackles Augusta in April in search of a green jacket, the only garment separating him from membership of that oh-so-special club. Hampered by injury last year he will be a man on a mission and being majorless since the 2014 Open does not sit well with him. We haven’t seen the best of Rory yet and I predict he will bag one of the big ones in 2018 – I’m just not sure which one, and maybe the CGS will have to wait a year or two.
Next up, attempting to complete his set of majors at the US Open will be Phil Mickelson and I can’t help but wonder if that ship hasn’t already sailed. Phil has six runner-up finishes in his national Open and would dearly love to win that particular title but time is not on his side as he turns 48 on the Saturday of this year’s championship. Only one man older has ever won a major and that was Julius Boros who won the 1968 PGA Championship at the age of 48 years, 4 months and 18 days. Phil needs a miracle.
The final major of the year (and the final year it is the final major because of a change of date beginning in 2019) is the PGA, the only major missing from Jordan Spieth’s resume. To use one of Jordan’s expressions, this is “very do-able”. And you would have to think he’s right. In 2019 the Open Championship in July becomes the final major of the year. Not for Jordan an agonising 8-month long wait from the last major to the one major eluding him, a fate that Rory has endured for the last three years. The PGA comes in a run of top tournaments and majors and you can find yourself competing in it almost before you realise it. If Rory has failed to win the Masters by 2019 he will then have nine long months from July to April until the next major, the Masters, when the focus will assuredly swing his way again as he takes his next crack at that CGS. That’s a rolling boil of pressure which will build exponentially until he manages it. I do think, though, that both Rory and Jordan will, at some stage, join the famous five – just not this year.
As I said, I do have Rory down for a major win in 2018. I have Dustin down for two and I have a feeling Rickie Fowler will break his duck. But don’t take my word for it – only fools make predictions on golf and, as you know, just about anything can happen. Why, DJ might even stop spitting!