Many congratulations to Phil Mickelson, his brother Tim and all their family on that amazing win at Kiawah. It couldn’t have been more compelling, not least because there were a lot of players who also had their chances to win….but didn’t.
A lot of people thought Brooks Koepka, styled a macho major man on the basis of winning four in very short order, would take the title but he fell short. Again. Don’t forget, he knocked himself out of the Open at Portrush with four bogeys in the first four holes and he’s had quite a few injuries since. Perhaps, like the sainted Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, he’s discovered that this major-winning business isn’t as easy-peasy as he first thought. At least Phil, about to be 51 (can’t remember what on earth that’s like) has given them all hope that there’s plenty of time yet.
However, they weren’t the only ones pushing themselves to the limit last Sunday. Here, in rural Staffordshire, where it was more than breezy enough, if not quite as blustery as on one of the world’s toughest golf courses, beside the Atlantic in South Carolina, Maureen, Brian and I were on our bikes. We were taking part in the Cycle Spring 2021, raising money for St Giles Hospice – £1000 and counting thanks to all our generous family and friends, we’re beyond grateful, gobsmacked really that we’ve raised so much, chuffed but not chafed.Maureen and I did 27 miles – proper cyclists, please don’t laugh – and Brian did 52. He has all the gear and more than an idea but I was pleasantly surprised that I suffered very few ill effects despite a training regime that was, in all honesty, non-existent. I did get the bike serviced but baulked at going out in the rain and wind that followed, it wasn’t worth the risk to life and limb. Mo and I did manage a very pleasant practice ride (about 15 miles in total) a couple of weeks before the real thing but that was it. Obviously the trick is a steady pace, plenty of fuel (don’t ignore the pit stops) and proper padding.
I’m not sure that you can be penalised for slow cycling in a charity bike ride but I see that John Catlin, the American who has won three times on the European Tour in short order, was penalised a stroke in the first round of the US PGA for taking too long. He had rounds of 75 and 79 to miss the cut but it beggars belief that he was the only man to breach the PGA of America’s pace-of-play regulations during the week. Even more astounding is the fact that, apparently, he is the first player to be done for slow play in a major championship since Hideki Matsuyama at the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013.
Perhaps Catlin, who received a special invitation to play at Kiawah, can console himself with the thought that his fellow slowcoach went on to become the Masters champion eight years later. No rush then John.
In Las Vegas the other day, at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play, Carlota Ciganda, one of the blog’s favourite players, lost her opening match when she exceeded her allotted time on the 18th hole. So, instead of winning the hole with a birdie, Ciganda lost the hole – and the match. The Spaniard, one of Europe’s Solheim Cup stalwarts, is well known for taking her time but it’s a mystery to me that these penalties are relatively rare. Professional golfers as a breed are glacial, ponderously slow, with a penchant for sponsorships from high-end watch brands that presumably specialise in making time stand still.On the subject of slowness, I had a few moments to be cherished as I laboured up an inconvenient hill not far from our first feeding station on Sunday. Aware of traffic behind me, I heeded Brian’s advice to use the gears, keep going and not to panic. The pace was barely above a crawl but no one could pass because of bends that were more inconvenient than the hill. I ploughed on, successfully holding up several other cyclists, one or two cars and, best of all, a tractor. Revenge is sweet.
Earlier this week the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) announced Mollie Marcoux Samaan as their new commissioner, the successor to Mike Whan, who could hardly have done a better job and is heading over to the USGA (United States Golf Association) to see if he can work his magic there.Marcoux Samaan, currently director of athletics at Princeton University, her alma mater, is no mean golfer herself and has won the club championship at North Fork Country Club in Cutchogue, New York, five times. At college she played soccer (sorry!) and ice hockey, so presumably you mess with her at your peril. She has a husband and three children and is raring to go.
“The LPGA commissioner role is one of the best jobs in sports today and the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said. “I’m passionate about the game of golf and have been an LPGA fan since I was a little girl….
“I believe passionately that sports have the power to change the world. and in this moment in time – with the positive energy around women’s sports, women’s leadership and society’s commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion – I believe the LPGA has an incredible opportunity to use our platform for positive change.
“I’ve devoted my career to developing character, confidence and opportunities through sports. My mission and the LPGA’s mission are fully aligned: providing women and girls the opportunity to achieve their dreams through golf….”
We wish her well.