Gary Player is one of the most successful international golfers of all time. He is currently building a new course in New Delhi and is excited by the enthusiasm of junior players in the region.
Following Rory McIlroy’s comments this week regarding his dislike of links golfing conditions, a debate is raging as to whether golfing stars should be able to pick and choose the events in which they compete.
While some think it is the right of the player to choose to play on courses suited to their game, there is also a common school of thought that top players should be able to adapt to all conditions.
McIlroy is not the only golfer to have stirred up the debate, with Ian Poulter also avoiding the European Tour’s flagship PGA Championship event at Wentworth due to his dislike of the course.
Our #360debate today is: Should golfing stars be able to pick which events they compete in?
Joy Chakravarty, Dubai Editor, thinks YES.
Rory McIlroy has said this before, but when he reiterated his dislike for Links golf after missing his third successive Irish Open at the Royal County Down on Friday, there was bound to be shock for his fans.
Even worse was Ian Poulter’s brazen admission that he did not enter this year’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth – European Tour’s flagship event – because he did not like the course, and has struggled every time he has teed up there.
Former world No 1 Tiger Woods is another star who has a history of playing on courses he likes. His schedule for the year is utterly predictable, apart from the few events here and there that he turns up on being paid appearance money.
Wentworth greens very poor and Ian Poulter flying high in the States… Maybe not such a daft decision after all.
— Ewan Murray (@mrewanmurray) May 22, 2015
The four majors are the Holy Grail of golf, and the four World Golf Championship events have a lot of world ranking points, as well as prize money. So, you’d hardly have the top stars missing these events, although Phil Mickelson prefers missing the WGC-Match Play because he does not like the format.
Unlike most team sports, and even in individual sport like tennis (where you have to play a certain number of events), golf has the most democratic set-up.
In the sense that the players are not shackled by any mandatory requirements except for adhering to the minimum events needed to keep their memberships on various tours alive.
So, on the PGA Tour, that number is 15 events, and on the European Tour, it is 13. Once you play the minimum number, there is no compulsion from the tours.
None of the tournaments are guaranteed a top star, and such are the times, they have to grapple with competition in the form of other tournaments, sponsor’s events, schedule of the players, and obviously, the lure of appearance fee.
The only reason some of these top stars should turn up for select events – like their home tournaments, or events like the BMW PGA and DP World Tour Championship for what it means to the European Tour – is to show their respect to home fans and tour.
Beyond that, they owe nothing to the tournaments. They are free agents, who have the biggest power ever given to a free human being – that of exercising their choice. Let’s not take that away from them.
Steve McKenlay, Editor, thinks NO.
Whether it is right for the world’s top golfers to pick and choose where they play is not as simple a question to answer as it may appear.
Like all professional sportsmen and women, golfers play to win, not come second or third or miss the cut. They are also in a fortunate position where they have a choice of arena for most of the time so only a fool would choose to play at a venue where he or she knows they are going to struggle.
80 for McIlroy yesterday, 79 for Garcia today. This Irish Open proving why there should be more links golf on tour. Colourful stuff.
— Ben Karpinski (@followthebounce) May 29, 2015
So it is hardly surprising that Rory McIlroy prefers the manicured courses in America where he has done so well to Links courses, although he clearly loves The Open, which of course he won last year.
So, despite their sometimes unpredictable bounce and the changeable weather he has the talent to take it all in his stride and be victorious.
Back in 2011 while playing in The Open at Royal St George’s in Kent, England, McIlroy surprised a few former stars when he displayed what was interpreted at the time as a poor attitude after struggling with his final two rounds on what is a punishing course in wet and windy conditions, as was the case.
Closing rounds of 74 and 73 saw him finish tied 25th and he said he was not a fan of a tournament where the outcome is influenced so much by the weather and said it wasn’t worth adapting his game for one week of the year.
He said that just one month after he sensationally won the US Open at Congressional by eight shots. Both Ian Woosnam and Nick Price said he needed to man-up, take on and master Links conditions, because only then could he be considered the complete golfer.
Poulter couldn’t really care less what people think of his decision not to play in the BMW PGA even though it is a flagship European Tour event and it is that attitude which makes him such a fascinating character and nobody can ever take away what he has achieved selecting the battlegrounds that best suit his game.
Golfers are always going to choose courses where they have the best chance of success but only those who adapt to absolutely all conditions can be considered true greats.
Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in dramatic circumstances after looking to have let a fourth European Tour victory slip from his grasp.
Kjeldsen took a two-shot lead into the final round and was one ahead with two holes remaining despite being four over par for the day as the players battled heavy showers and winds gusting up to 65kmh at Royal County Down.
A three-putt bogey on the 17th left Kjeldsen needing to birdie the last to win, but after chipping from one side of the green off the other, he did well to get up and down for par and a closing 76 to join England’s Eddie Pepperell and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger in a play-off.
The players returned to the par-five 18th for sudden death and, after finding the green in two and seeing his opponents fail to make birdie, Kjeldsen two-putted from 25 feet, although his birdie attempt did a full circuit of the hole before dropping in.
“Three weeks ago I was 112th in the Order of Merit and my game was not in good shape,” Kjeldsen said. “With turning 40 (a fortnight ago) you wonder was that it? Now I am standing here and it’s pretty remarkable really.”
Kjeldsen, whose last win came in the Open de Andalucia in 2009, admitted he was feeling the pressure after his two-shot overnight lead disappeared on the first hole, which he bogeyed and playing partner Max Kieffer birdied.
The 40-year-old also bogeyed the second but with the tough conditions sending scores soaring, a run of five pars was enough to put Kjeldsen back in front before a double bogey on the eighth, where his first chip failed to reach the green and came back to his feet.
“The last breath I took was on about the 14th,” added Kjeldsen, who reclaimed the lead with his only birdie of the day on the 12th. “I have never been as nervous as this in the other tournaments I have won.
“I had decided not to look at leaderboards but once I started dropping shots I started looking because it gave me a little pleasure that I wasn’t the only one struggling because it was such a brutal day.”
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 31, 2015
Kjeldsen also claimed one of the three places available in the Open Championship to players finishing in the top 10 who were not already exempt, with Pepperell and Tyrrell Hatton taking the others.
“It’s like I am dreaming but I don’t want anyone to wake me up,” added Kjeldsen, who has not played in the Open since 2010.
Pepperell had set the clubhouse target on two under after a remarkable bogey-free 69, with Wiesberger missing from eight feet for birdie on the 18th in his closing 73.
Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello missed out on the play-off – and with it a place in the Open – after a bogey on the 18th.
Only five players finished under par after a testing week which saw tournament host and world No 1 Rory McIlroy miss the cut after rounds of 80 and 71.