GOLF ROUND UP
Much like the football calendar, it’s hard to know where one season ends and another begins in the world of golf. Still, this time of the year gives us some sort of closure on the events of the last twelve months so let’s take a look back and see who made the headlines in 2021. Patrick Cantlay from the USA won three times in four months, including twice in the Fed Ex play-offs, to not only win that multi-million dollar prize but steal the golfer of the year award from under the nose of front runner Jon Rahm.
The four majors started at the Masters in April with an historic win for Hideki Matsuyama, the first player from Japan to win a men’s major tournament. This will surely inspire the new generation of golfing mad Japanese to follow in his footsteps and I think we can expect some news stars to join Matsuyama on the PGA tour in the future.
Jon Rahm cemented his place as world number one and Europe’s best player by winning the US Open at the notoriously difficult Torrey Pines with a fantastic last round of 68, four under par for the day, to win by one shot. The first player in the history of the event to close and win with two birdies, Rahm showed what a competitor he is and will surely compete in many more majors.
The British Open was won by Colin Morikawa, who continued his phenomenal rise to the top of the game by winning at Royal Saint George’s at the first time of asking. He also won the 2020 US PGA on debut and is the first player in the history of the game to win two majors on his first appearance. He has since continued playing well and winning and is making his way to being the world number one. Another young player who will be a major force in the game for years to come.
If the results of the first three majors in the season were not enough, we had the remarkable sight, in the US PGA, of Phil Mickelson winning his sixth major championship at the age of 51 years and 11 months, making him the oldest winner ever of a major. Mickelson has had a brilliant career, with 45 wins on the PGA tour and is the only golfer to give Tiger Woods some serious competition when Tiger was in his heyday. Speaking of Tiger, after the serious injury he sustained in the car crash he was involved in last February, it now seems highly unlikely that he will compete again in any meaningful way. Suffice to say that we have witnessed the career of one of the very best golfers that have ever played the game and the popularity of the tour today is due in large part to his influence over the years.
What to make of the Ryder Cup? I personally am losing my taste for it because of the jingoistic and over zealous behaviour from both the players and supporters. Looking at it purely as a competitive event though, team Europe got a drubbing at Whistling Straits in September and with the average age of the USA team being so much lower than the European side, it looks like Europe may struggle for some years to come. Europe do have both Jon Rahm and Victor Hovland to count on for some time but the rest of the places will take some filling and a new young team will need to be built around the two stars.
Golf has never been so competitive as it is now and the new season promises some great action for fans everywhere. Hopefully here in our home city of Pattaya everything returns to normal and we can enjoy a beer along with our golf in the many sports bars and restaurants that we have available. Good luck for the coming year and let’s hope it improves from 2021!