Joy of Golf: Stars win in style

Joy Chakravarty 06:46 02/06/2016
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Winning in style: Jordan Spieth.

As fans of the game, there are players who you want to see winning a tournament in a certain style. Very few players are able to create a signature finish, but when they do, it is a special moment for the spectators.

Take Seve Ballesteros for example. The dream final hole from the legendary Spaniard would include a wild hook into an almost unplayable position, and then him hitting the most outrageous second shot from in between the trees to 15 feet for a birdie.

With Tiger Woods, there would be no such dramas. You expected him to start the final day with a lead, and play spectacular shots without letting anyone come within sniffing distance of the trophy.

We really have been very lucky in this regard the last two weeks.

Jordan Spieth’s win at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational on Sunday, and Rory McIlroy’s the week before at the K Club in Dublin, were just the finest examples of signature finishes in golf.

Spieth, trailing by three shots at the turn on Sunday, completed the back nine in just nine putts – draining a 25-footer curling putt for birdie on the 16th and then dropping a 34-foot bomb for another birdie on the 18th.

In between, he chipped in on the 17th for another birdie. That’s how you want the world’s best putter to win a tournament.

McIlroy did it in similar fashion at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. By coincidence, he also chose the exact holes which Spieth decided to show his brilliance on.

McIlroy smashed two stunning tee shots on the 16th and the 18th, and followed it with a three-wood shot to the heavily protected 16th green, and a five-wood shot to two feet on the 18th hole. To finish with an eagle is always great, but that is exactly how you want McIlroy to set it up and win.

Incredible runs

It seems everybody is making a Tiger Woods-like run these days in professional golf.

It started with Adam Scott winning The Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship in back-to-back weeks, and that was followed by his Aussie compatriot Jason Day triumphing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and WGC-Dell Match Play.

You then had the remarkable run of Thai youngster Ariya Jutanugarn. By winning the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday by five shots, she claimed three wins in three weeks in the month of May.

The feat is unprecedented in the history of LPGA, although the record for win streak (despite missing tournaments in between) is five – by Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sorenstam (2004-05).

But even Ariya’s effort fades in comparison to what Matt Wallace has achieved on the Alps Tour.

The London-based professional has played all six tournaments on the feeder tour. He finished tied third and second in the first two, and thereafter, he has won the last four.

Alps Tour is recognised by the Official World Golf Rankings, and Wallace has climbed to No. 301 in the world. These really are outstanding efforts because any professional will vouch for the fact that going on a winning run like these is the most difficult thing to do in golf.

Class acts of the week

Tony Finau: The American is known for his power game on the PGA Tour and a fan, Elisa Butler, faced the full fury of his tee shot during the third round of the Dean & DeLuca Invitational at the Colonial.

The ball hit her on the head and she needed a few stitches. Finau was concerned for her well-being on the golf course as she lay there bleeding, but he did something much more meaningful than a signed glove.

That evening, Finau showed up at Butler’s door with a get well soon card, flowers and a box of chocolates.

No wonder he has earned a fan for life.

Jack Nicklaus: The pre-tournament press conference at The Memorial was another example of why the players of yesteryears are such a hit with the media and rarely receive bad press.

You can say Jack Nicklaus is the tournament host and he doesn’t have to bother much for practice rounds etc, but the Golden Bear held a press conference of 45 minutes, and then hung around for another 45 minutes in the media centre talking to individual journalists.

Considering most player-managers today force the Tours to curtail the press conferences to 10-15 minutes maximum, it really was a grand gesture from the most successful golfer of all time.

Quote of the week

“He’s only 21 years old and he’s taking on these veterans and showing that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still put in the effort and do well.” – 13-year-old American Spelling Bee champion Jairam Hathwar reveals why world No. 2 Jordan Spieth is his inspiration.

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