For once I had an enjoyable and successful sporting weekend. Both the USPGA and European tours provided me with winners – Justin Thomas and Sergio Garcia – but not after some drama. Justin Thomas was the favourite for the tourney played in South Korea as part of the Asian swing. I enjoy these as it means as an early riser I can follow the rounds easily whereas in the the USA they tend to finish in the early hours.
Justin Thomas was leading the whole way going into the final round but in the back nine his game began to falter. One of the advantages of the Pargie Tenner cap rule is that I don’t need to lay off but fears within me (and no doubt Thomas) began to mount that Lahiri or Marc Leishman might overhaul him. Leishman has become a gritty competitor and has 3 championships under his belt – the man to fear. So I had a modest tickle on both, Aniran Lahiri faded away after a double bogey but Leishman took the 24 year old Texan to a play-off.
In a play-off you are not just playing the course but your opponent and anything can happen.
Nerves got to both golfers and at the first hole in the play-offs Leishman hit the ball miles out of bounds. He finished up in an impossible lie in front of a small wall of loose rocks. There was some discussion at to whether this was a moveable obstacle which he could dismantle but eventually he took a drop. As with the Open with Spieth the whole process took 15 minutes. I wondered what exactly does, in the rule book of the USPGA, constitute out of bounds and how – if nothing is happening – golf ceases to be exciting for television as, unlike football where there is continual action, or cricket where the delays between overs are predictably regular, golf moves at its own slow pace.
If the camera goes from player to player you lose the plot quite easily. I bet the television executives will insist on quicker play – at the moment it is rarely penalised. Leishman played a superb shot from this most unlikely of lies and actually halved the hole but I am sure the long wait affected Thomas. Eventually Leishman played one wayward too many and Thomas won.
Over in Andalucia Sergio Garcia won the tourney his own foundation sponsored.
Joost Luiten gave him run for his money over the back nine as did the young Aussie Cam Smith. With the Perth amateur turned pro Curtis Luck and Cam Smith Australian golf is in good state, never forgetting how Leishman at 33 has raised himself to a tourney winner.
Garcia was always an unreliable putter, particularly over short distances but all parts of his game held up. His new wife looked on beaming at what has been most successful year for her husband, who won his and the first major, the Masters.
The football too went well for me. I laid Napoi against Inter, which turned out to be an entertaining 0-0 draw, and I laid Stoke too against Bournemouth. With Dele Alli scoring as backed I was nicely set up by the end of the weekend.
I must have spent 12 hours of that weekend watching sport on the sofa though I earned some brownie points with the missus by taking Alliss, our golden labrador, for a long walk over the Surrey Hills in the rain and making the Sunday roast. Oddly enough Seve, our moggy, loves his golf and was my regular viewing partner.