THIS week was one of those laden with a mountain of happenings in the world of golf, a lot of it to do with the Zozo Championship that is scheduled to come to an end today.
Because this event was moved from Japan, where it was inaugurated last year, to Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California – a home course of sorts of Tiger Woods – it drew more than its fair share of attention. That Woods is the defending champion merely added extra spice to a competition that is co-sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour and the US PGA Tour.
Also, Malaysia’s number one, Kelly Tan, spoke of her best finish in the Majors (a tie for 13th) at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and how she looked forward to finishing the season on a high note. We wish her every success.
Phil Mickelson’s victory at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic on the Champions Tour also generated much discussion, particularly about it “creating momentum” for the 50-year-old at the Masters next month.
A three-time winner of the Green Jacket at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, he will surely not be shy of support in this season’s third and final Major championship, set to run from Nov 12 to 15.
Of course, there were other storylines that figured in the mix, including world number one Dustin Johnson missing the Zozo Championship after a bout of Covid-19 and Adam Scott also having to pull out of the tournament because of the virus.
Woods’ chances of making PGA Tour history with an 83rd win today and him discussing the “distance issue” in golf, as well as the South African Open being added to European Tour, made headlines of their own.
For me, following Rory McIlroy did the trick.
As he so often is, he was one of the lead characters in the build-up to the week’s main event.
He was quoted by skysports.com as saying that he was “100% focused on winning for the first time in almost a year and insisted he was not playing the Zozo Championship just to fine-tune his game for the Masters”.
As it happened he did talk about the Masters. And why wouldn’t he? This is the only title missing from his Majors collection that would give him a career Grand Slam of golf’s biggest and best tournaments.
It was interesting to note that he said “a sharp short-game and experience of tackling Augusta 11 times” could be of a “huge benefit next month.
“You need all aspects of your game in good shape, especially your short game, ” skysports.com quoted him as saying, adding that he was “using three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson as inspiration for success.
“One of the conversations I remember having with Phil back in the day was he always tried to get his short game so good at Augusta. Then he could be ultra-aggressive with the second shots knowing that he had a short game to bail him out if he did miss it on the wrong side.
“So you try to get your short game really sharp and get everything else sort of following that, ” said McIlroy.
But as fate would have it, he made a poor start to his bid for victory at Sherwood and in the process snapped a club in frustration.
Northern Ireland’s world number four opened with a one-over 73 after he left his third shot short on the last hole of his round, he pressed his club into the ground until it snapped in half.
Seeking his first PGA Tour win since his triumph at the 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China, McIlroy closed out the day with a double-bogey six, which left him in a tie for 64th place.
He wasn’t out of it all together at that stage, but he did face an uphill struggle to stay in it, all the while adding another chapter to another fascinating week of golf.
Did you find this article insightful?