It’s amazing how quickly blog night comes round and as so often I’m searching for the laptop (yes, it was under that pile of stuff on my bridge table – see pic above) and scratching my head for a theme. This week, as so often, there isn’t one thing that springs to mind but I might as well start at the top, musing on the position of world No 1. It’s tight at the top of both the men’s and women’s rankings, with players flip-flopping almost week to week, a far cry from the dominant days of Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam. Nowadays you can be forgiven for not knowing who is No 1.
Is that a good thing or a bad thing for golf? Who knows? I, being an old-fashioned sort of semi-traditionalist in some things, am inclined to think it’s a good thing, indicative of strength in depth, that sort of thing. Others may argue that it’s a weakness, with the sport lacking a focal point, a big name known far beyond the fairways.
If pushed, I’d argue that professional golf matters not a jot – well, ok, maybe a fraction but essentially very little – for the health of the game overall. What matters is that lots of people, of all sorts, everywhere, play the game and love it and enjoy it. So we need accessible, affordable places to play, breeding grounds for the golf tragics of the future.Some of them will go on to become world No 1, people like Ariya Jutanugarn, the Thai who has just replaced Sung Hyun Park of South Korea at the top of the Rolex (Women’s World Golf) Rankings and is the LPGA’s Rolex (watch out for them, they’re keen on golf) Player of the Year. Georgia Hall, of England, is 6th in the world rankings, followed by the American Lexi Thompson, the Canadian Brooke Henderson and the Chinese Shanshan Feng. It really is a global game now.
The men’s No 1 is an American, not the given that it once was, despite the fact that three of the four majors are played in the United States and the (US) PGA Tour still has a financial clout given to few. It’s had to move beyond its borders to sustain its growth but, then, perhaps, sport knows no boundaries. Anyway, moving swiftly on, the men’s world No 1 at the time of writing is Brooks Koepka, who replaced his fellow countryman Dustin Johnson. There’s no arguing with Kopeka, who missed a chunk of the early season because of a wrist injury but has won two majors this year – the US Open (retaining the title he won in 2017) and the US PGA – and proved himself to be a player of substance.
Koepka doesn’t seem to go out of his way to be liked but what’s not to like? In Global Golf Post, Ron Green wrote about the clarity and simplicity of the new No 1’s approach to the game. Green-reading books are not for him and he’s not likely to be put on the clock for excess deliberation. Listen to this and cheer: “When he settles over a shot, Koepka says his mind goes quiet: ‘I’ve simplified the game so much….There’s no swing thought. There’s no anything. I’m not trying to work on anything while I’m out there. I’m just trying to hit the correct shot and it’s always between two clubs. You just try to figure out, miss short or miss long. I think guys overcomplicate it a lot.'”
You can say that again. This is a good time to listen to the world No 1: “I THINK GUYS OVERCOMPLICATE IT A LOT.”
Are you listening out there? Guys, gals, golfers everywhere. SIMPLIFY. DITCH THE OVERCOMPLICATING. PLEASE.
If I’d worked a bit harder, I might have had a chance of being world No 1 in procrastinating but it’s a crowded field and I’m not sure I’d ever have had the dedication or determination required, so the mindset of serial No 1s is a bit of a mystery to me. Getting there once, fantastic, no need to do it again. I don’t think it works like that for ferocious competitors like Federer, Nadal, Woods and Djokovic. Justin Rose had a taste of it, briefly, a few weeks ago and he’s keen to get there again but, really, does it matter? If you were offered, over the course of your career, all four majors, the career grand slam or world No 1, which would you choose? No contest, surely.More seriously, should the European Tour be playing in Saudi Arabia next season? Or Turkey this week? Or Russia whenever? Or China, even? Who persuaded the Chinese women to withdraw from the tournament in Taiwan the other week? Why? Do you play or stay away? Moscow Olympics? Apartheid South Africa? If anyone has the answers, please stop reading this blog immediately and get sorting.
Footnote: excruciating puns may, or may not, have a place in a blog but they are not, repeat NOT acceptable in a budget speech in the House of Commons. I had BBC Radio 5 Live on last night as I was tapping away and I could not believe what I was hearing as Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the exchequer, was replayed playing to his immediate audience, the MPs in front of him, on Monday and not those of us to whom what he was saying really mattered. He’s no comedian and his ill-advised attempts at humour were no joke.
Second and more important footnote: Sue Spencer, Whittington Heath’s super senior, had a hole-in-one at our 15th on Tuesday. She hit a 4 rescue I think (it’s not a short short hole) and was playing with the sainted Sue Clarke, who insists on wearing her shorts until we hit November. Perhaps it’s being born in the shadow of the Himalayas that does it.