'One good week can make a golfer's year' - Ivan Morris

Ivan Morris

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Ivan Morris

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Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris

ONE good result can make any golfer's year, especially a pro playing at the highest level. One top-5 finish (let alone a win) in a big event can subsidize a whole year of substandard results.

It is one of the reasons why so many will carry on in hope, without any demonstrable reason for harbouring optimism, that a reversal in form is nigh. Every golfer says he seeks it, but consistency is vastly overvalued.

Any season with a win is a good one; any season without a win is perceived as a poor one - no matter how many top-20s you might have.

Any year a golfer of any standard wins a tournament is a good year. World No 1 Bruce Koepka won three times in 2018 and the icing on the cake was shooting 29 on the final 9-holes of a tournament on the 'other side of the world' to become the World No. 1 for the first time.

In my subjective eyes, it wasn't the year's best performance.

Francesco Molinari becoming 'The Champion Golfer of the Year' and the way, the how and the where he did it was 2018's brightest moment, outshining Patrick Reed's Masters' green jacket triumph in April and Koepka's two majors - the US Open (which was a discountable farce) and the PGA Championship held at a sodden and defenceless, bomber's course (Bellerive) in St Louis, Missouri.

Molinari also won a veritable, second major in European terms, the BMW British PGA Championship at Wentworth as well gaining five out of five matches in the Ryder Cup - a most rare feat.

Carnoustie is a links that exposes the slightest ball misplacement, but Molinari overcame his lack of out-and-out length and vulnerability with the putter from short distances to win the Claret Jug.

Some winter work in the gym and a more precise driver fitting gained Molinari ten priceless yards off the tee. For a seasoned, established player to make such changes is dangerous. Tampering with a much admired, compact swing could have been disastrous if not expertly supervised.

Molinari's long time golf coach, the Sky pundit Denis Pugh, acknowledges it was heart-stopping work from his standpoint because of its 'delicate' nature.

It took guts to do it (by both of them) and the guts were fully in evidence in that never-to-be-forgotten final round at Carnoustie. The eclipse of Team USA in the Ryder Cup in Paris received a lot of headlines but mostly for the wrong reasons.

The sore losers blamed an 'unfair' Le Golf National golf course set up; the fairways were too narrow and the rough was too high, which is a bit rich coming from the so-called and self-proclaimed 'best players in the world' and a widely-heralded 'best USA Ryder Cup team' ever'?

The fallout amongst some of the players squabbling about partnerships afterwards was unseemly (Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed haven't spoken since) left one in no doubt that American pros haven't a clue how to play team golf.

What a load of nonsense was uttered when you consider Team USA actually came within a 'whisker' of winning the first session 4-0 (instead of 3-1).

Can you imagine what effect not scraping that last gasp point (thanks to Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood) would have had on European morale?

By the way, the USA 'doctors' the course set up to suit themselves when they are at home - the poor, cry-babies!

There was no crying out Nenagh way, only the gentle tones of ‘Sliabh na mBan’ wafting triumphantly across the fairways when the 'easiest' of GUI Pennant doubles was achieved in the Purcell Shield and Cashman Trophy competitions; hardly a sweat was broken by the blue and golds.

The experts at team match who play at Nenagh Golf Club could give Team USA lessons!

Comeback of the year had to be Tiger Woods's improving performances but when paired with Molinari in the final round of The Open, Tiger was found wanting.

The once infamous 'Fear Factor' is no more in spite of Tiger's win in the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake where he was in receipt of a little help from a jittery Justin Rose, who knew (almost for certain) the more important business of a $10-million FedEx Cup bonus cheque was awaiting him.

Would I be prepared to place a bet on Tiger winning a major in 2019? I think so. Late in the year, Shane Lowry showed us he is still capable of the form and the confidence to return to the world's top 50 after he finished solo second behind Sergio Garcia in the Valderrama Masters.

An apparently awful year for Lowry, who lost his playing privileges on the PGA Tour, was 'rescued' and saw him ending the year with €814K from ten starts in Europe; not a bad year's pay, after all.

Lowry oozes raw talent (possibly as much as McIlroy and definitely more than the former-Bangor man from 120-yards in) If that is the area of the game that counts most in majors Lowry only needs to play more golf, lose a bit of weight, push himself harder and be less of a nice guy who is too interested in being 'one of the lads'.

My own 2018 was blighted by injury. By not 'listening' to my body I turned a four-week's recovery into a four month's one. I am gradually being rehabilitated and look forward to a better 2019. I wish all of my readers the same!