My late father, a keen club golfer of modest talent but much philosophising, used to say that golf was the only sport in the world where you were obliged through the handicap system to explain to your opponent how bad you are before the game began. He often compared golf to tennis a sport my mother played regularly into her early eighties. He would say that, unlike in tennis, every golf shot was different. I asked him if he playing the same course (Hartsbourne) was tedious. He replied that the conditions rarely made the same shot shot identical.
I thought of this as I watched the final day of the Qatar Masters. The weather was more like Sandwich than the desert where the temperature can reach 115 degrees. Rather the competitors were dressed in warm fleeces with wind blowing their trouser bottoms. Links-style golf, where the wind plays such a role, is a true test and examination which Branden Grace passed with final colours. You might have thought that Paul Lawrie growing up in Scotland was more attuned to the wind than a South African from Sun City. Sadly Lawrie’s temperament got to him as he carded a 78 well out of contention after leading by 2 shots going into the final round. Grace is the punter ‘s friend. Once he edges ahead his game remains rock steady, hitting the greens in regulation and two putting. Another dour Scot Andrew Coltart who was commentating consistently predicted the worst like another Laurie in Dad’s Army.
” We’re doomed.” However Grace carded a 69 and never bogeyed.
The challengers , Lawrie, Cabrera Bello Olesen, and Fleetwood fell away. Another winner was Jeremy Chapman who predicted Grace and Cabrera Bello and Pargie’s good run continues. I don’t expect to recoup anything in the USPGA at Torrey Pines where most of the Chapmam picks – Leishman, Haas, Day – did not even make the cut. An interesting stat came up when I was watching the PGA. Charles Howell, whose victories ca be counted on one hand, had earned $30m on the tour. Generally he finishes around 12th. A similar position in the Qatar masters and this is a lucrative tourney earns €35000. Little wonder that British golfer Brian Davis wants to keep his USPGA card even if he costs him a Ryder Cup place.