Much to your (and my) relief, this week I am not even going to mention the current contentious topic concerning world golf. When moaning on to the sister the other day about the game in general, she asked me what I was looking forward to in golf at the moment and to write about that. So that set me thinking…..
First of all, I’m really looking forward to following the career progression of 20-year old Irishman Tom McKibbin. Tom plays at Holywood Golf Club, the same club as one Rory McIlroy, motoring along nicely through the amateur ranks. He has not disappointed since he turned pro and his tenth place finish on last year’s Challenge Tour enabled him to graduate to the DP World Tour this year. A couple of weeks ago he notched a win in Hamburg at the Porsche European Open to become the youngest Irish winner on the tour since Rory won as a 19-year old back in 2009.Whatever’s in the water at Holywood Golf Club parents of wannabee golf champions should join instantly and surround their offspring with the warm, supportive positivity that obviously emanates from there. On the Saturday in Holywood the club television was firmly set to the golf in Hamburg as the members followed Tom’s progress. There was no chance of the FA Cup final taking precedence. The US Open this week is at a different Hollywood, at Los Angeles Country Club, an exclusive set-up opening up its fairways to a major championship for the first time. It will be interesting to see how Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick performs in defence of the title he so wonderfully clinched last year at Brookline. It’s hard to believe that was a year ago – it seems more like a handful of months.
Fitzpatrick revealed his eagerness to repeat last year’s effort and lift the trophy again, confessing he “didn’t spend enough time with it” over the months it was in his possession. He and some pals did take it on holiday, however, showing it some of the Italian sights as they spent a week on a boat visiting various holiday spots along and near the Amalfi coast. I wonder if his Italian mentor and fellow stats expert Edoardo Molinari helped with the itinerary.Looking back for a moment, last week brought smiles and joy from a couple of other golfing directions. Unless you’re a close friend or family member of Tommy Fleetwood how could you not be joyful at Canadian Nick Taylor’s unbelievable 72-footer for eagle at the fourth extra hole that won him his national title? He was the first Canadian to win his home Open since 1954 and sparked scenes of unconfined joy from the partisan galleries. Fellow Canadian and PGA Tour winner Adam Hadwin was rugby tackled to the ground by a security guard on the 18th green as he ran on to congratulate his pal. Glorious mayhem! Fortunately Hadwin survived intact and is playing in LA. On a personal note, the last few days have seen me walk a few holes with a pal at Delamere and have a chip and a putt from the side of three or four greens. Small steps but steps nonetheless. Report card: putting – acceptable. Chipping – still yipping! And there was I thinking that that vicious parasitic medication might kill off the yips as well! But, you know what – who cares? At the absolute top of my list of things to look forward to is making the trip to Royal Dornoch at the end of the month to spend some time with pals and watch the Vagliano Trophy, a biennial match between GB&I and the Continent of Europe. There are eight players on each team and amazingly the sides are tied at 15 victories apiece with one match halved. I’m pretty sure I played in that halved match…..I did play on three occasions and think we had one win, one loss and one half. I’ve tried to find the archive on the R&A website but have been soundly defeated. Either I’m worse at technology than I thought………. or perhaps there is no archive? No, surely not! I must just be worse than I thought.
Ingrid Lindblad of Sweden, the new world No 1, will be playing and it’ll be fascinating to see how these players cope with one of the best courses in the world. Maria Dunne of Ireland will be the home captain trying to steer her troops to a first victory since 2005. A past player herself, she is ideally placed to understand the pressures and highs and lows of playing elite amateur golf. Seeing the best players play the best test will be a real treat.
Great courses evoke great memories and Dornoch is special for me. Have I ever told you about the time Wales won the women’s Home Internationals there in 1999? It was arguably my finest achievement in coaching……oh, you have heard it? Oh, well then, for those of you who haven’t – a yarn for another time.
Sometimes sisters are wise old birds. Thinking of enjoyable golfing things has perked me up no end.