In his weekly Limerick Leader golf column, Ivan Morris discusses the golfing year up to now.
It’s a while since I had a chat with my golfing alter egos, Mutt & Jeff. Here’s what they came up when I caught up with them this week.
Ivan: Well, boys, 2013 was full of surprises and rules dramas! Tiger didn’t win any of the four majors but he was involved in four rules dramas. Were his fellow players correct to vote him Player of the Year?
Jeff: If his fellow-players had misgivings about Tiger’s integrity, they wouldn’t have voted for him. He did win five times.
Mutt: I’d say Tiger’s best golf is probably behind him. The self-belief is shaky; the body is older than he realizes and it’s deteriorating.
Jeff: Do you ever stop knocking Tiger? Who would be your POY, then?
Mutt: Henrik Stenson by a mile! It’s pro golf, it’s all about consistency and money and Stenson bagged the biggest share of both. After being hoodwinked out of his life savings by a criminal, he dropped way down the rankings. His comeback is stunning. He’s very popular with the players, too.
Ivan: I agree - but what about Rory and Padraig’s 2013 seasons?
Mutt: Disastrous years for both of them – I’m not sure if ‘Harry’ hasn’t gone down one blind alley too many and if his body is deteriorating too? But he is such a ‘ballsy’ guy, you could never write him off. By the time the lawyers are finished with him, Rory will be down quite a few of his millions. Changing his management team could be hopping from the frying pan into the fire or the first move back to redemption. This going to Court business with his former agents, Horizon, is ominous.
Jeff: All caused by too much money too soon, I’d say, but Rory is young enough to adjust and re-find his best game, if he works hard and stops gadding about. I dare say getting to No. 1 will be much harder the second time but it’s doable.
Ivan: He should have stayed with Chubby.
Mutt: Who knows? If Rory does not pull up his socks next season NIKE might decide to cut him adrift? Then, the YKW would hit the YKW and the lawyers will have another field day. Talk about being bunkered? Chubby did not want Rory to go to the USA so early in his career. Rory made that decision. He is the boss of his own life - always has been. The girlfriend has been finding that out too.
Jeff: I disagree! Wozz is the boss in that relationship! She has Rory wrapped around her little finger. She is high maintenance and always wants to be the centre of attention. She has Rory dazzled and bossed into a cocked hat.
Not sure if she realizes that her tennis career at the No. 1 level is over, but Rory’s is not. He has another 20-years. She needs to give him more time and space to practice.
Ivan: How is Paul McGinley’s Ryder Cup captaincy shaping up?
Mutt: Paul is a born politician; says all the right things in public, anyway. At this point in the qualification process, the American team looks a much stronger outfit. I can’t see Tom Watson scoring any ‘own goals’ but it’s still a long way away.
Jeff: It’s not as far away as you think. David Howell, Stenson and Joost Luiten have already got a solid jump ahead of the posse. None of them played last time – so that would be three changes for starters. McGinley could yet have a handful of new caps.
He’ll be glad of his three wild card picks to put some experience in there?
Mutt: One unforeseen problem could be Rory not going to G-Mac’s wedding – possibly due to the split with Horizon? That’s potential collateral damage to a tried and trusted partnership. Poulter has gone very quiet since Medinah. Would McGinley have the courage not to pick him, if he doesn’t show some form?
Picking the ‘right’ wildcards will be McGinley’s toughest task. Wildcards usually make the most significant contribution when the chips are down.
They have greater motivation and are often picked because they are ‘in form.’
Ivan: We’ll have to wait and see! For my part, I was delighted to see the Listowel man, JD Guiney, who has been ‘hiding’ away on the Hooters Tour in Florida after completing his studies at Rollins College in Orlando coming through the first qualification stage for next year’s European Tour season with flying colours and a brilliant -7 score.
Also, glad that David Higgins may have (as good as) retained his Tour card for 2014 but sorry that Tim Rice and Cian McNamara, once again, didn’t manage to bring their best game to Tour School.
When will Limerick have a Tour player to call its own?
Jeff: Since John McHenry retired Munster has not had a genuine representative at the highest level. North Munster has NEVER had one! It makes you wonder if - for all the resources poured into them if our youngsters are not properly motivated or coached? This region may need a chief guru and a new approach. The Munster Branch is doing its best but not achieving much. Perhaps, we should discuss this the next time we meet?