Saturday 17 March 2018

An indifferent golfing season should really catch fire in Georgia

Two times Masters winner Bubba Watson will be looking to reassert his dominance at Augusta
Two times Masters winner Bubba Watson will be looking to reassert his dominance at Augusta

Joe Molloy

For golfing nerds like myself, the 2015 PGA season has stuttered rather than strutted along. Tiger Woods' creaking body aside, very few narratives have gathered any big momentum across several weeks.

There have been several great days of course - Pádraig Harrington's astonishing win in the Florida sunshine on a Monday afternoon chief amongst them. But the big names have all been quiet.

Indeed nobody, bar Jimmy Walker, has won more than one tournament all year. On one level this demonstrates the awesome strength in depth of the modern field.

But in reality it just feels like we're missing out on storylines. There is no great rivalry propelling the season along. Nor, given Rory McIlroy's average form on US soil thus far, has there been a truly dominant force to love or hate.

Thankfully, there are plenty of big stories bubbling away. Woods genuinely risks humiliation around the greens this week. Reports of his practice rounds there last week have mentioned some dodgy chips, a situation the glare of a global audience won't improve.

It would be sad to see, but also utterly compelling in a macabre sort of way. Jordan Spieth, along with Walker, has been the best player of 2015 and could very well cement his place as McIlroy's biggest rival for years to come. Dustin Johnson has bags of talent and will win a Major soon.

Then of course there is Bubba Watson who might reassert his dominance around Augusta. Two bouts of 'Tiger-proofing' went on at the course over the past 15 years. The last round of significant changes in 2011 may well need to be updated given Bubba's propensity to hit 365-yard drives on par fives.

Not that extra length would hurt McIlroy. His natural draw, his length and in particular his ability to launch his long irons high into the stratosphere all mean he is built to win here.

Last year he made a mess of the par fives. If he gets off to a half-decent start and his putter is in half-decent shape, we should have ourselves a Grand Slam champion aged 25. Now that would kick-start the season.

Irish Independent

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