Saturday 23 September 2017

Eamonn Sweeney: More a bronze than a golden era

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'It may seem silly to cavil at the record of a man ranked world No 3 in his sport but achievement has to be measured against expectation.' Photo: Getty
'It may seem silly to cavil at the record of a man ranked world No 3 in his sport but achievement has to be measured against expectation.' Photo: Getty

Eamonn Sweeney

With a couple of hours left in last Sunday's US Open it looked as though the title might be won by default. The main contenders were either dropping shots or scrambling for pars, big putts weren't falling and a general air of lassitude pervaded the proceedings. Thankfully Brooks Koepka took charge with a spectacular birdie blitz which marked him as a worthy winner.

All the same, the first half of the fourth round mirrored the unclear and unsettled state of top-level golf at the moment. Two statistics underline the state of play with some force. The first is that Koepka is the seventh first-time Major winner in a row. Last year was one of only three occasions since 1970 when all the Majors were won by first-timers, 2011 and 2003 being the others. Should two more first-timers win the British Open and the USPGA Championship, it will be the first occasion in golf history that they've swept the Majors two years in a row.

The more immediately eye-catching stat is the fact that for the first time ever in a Major, the top three players in the world failed to make the cut. Taken together, both occurrences indicate a game in a considerable state of flux. This does make the Majors particularly competitive at the moment, but on the other hand all sports need great champions for others to measure themselves against.

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