Form can fluctuate, but class is ever present. It’s a saying that comes straight from the commentator's book of clichés, but is intriguing nonetheless, especially when examining the potential fortunes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in 2014.
Woods is the undeniable world No.1, with five victories last year on his home circuit. McIlroy, on the other hand, endured his most frustrating season after some incredible hype 12 months ago, only to rescue his year with a splendid victory at the Australian Open in December.
The form right now would suggest that Northern Ireland’s young star is on the verge of reclaiming his rightful position at the top of the game, whilst Woods, who arrived here in Dubai on Monday night, could not have been pleased with his disappointing performance on the PGA Tour at the weekend, where he missed the 54-hole cut. FULL POST
Has Tiger Woods ever dropped 6 shots in the final 4 holes? Let alone at such an important event? Incredible.—
Alex Thomas (@alexthomascnn) September 20, 2013
Sad to hear Dave Thomas has died. Ex-Ryder Cup golfer, twice an Open R-Up & co-designer of Belfry's Brabazon course. He was 79.—
Alex Thomas (@alexthomascnn) August 28, 2013
There was a time when Tiger Woods would never have described a year without a major as "great." Maybe he knew what was to come at Oak Hill.
Woods is a four-time PGA champion, but never once threatened to make it five in New York at this season's final major.
When he won so easily in Ohio the previous week, I began to fear for him. As analysts up and down the country declared his 15th major title a formality, I urged caution. FULL POST
If anyone tells you they know who's going to win this year's British Open Championship, and proffers betting advice, walk away. For they are both foolish and dangerous. That's not to say there are no educated guesses, but there lies no certainty here at Muirfield.
This is a course that, ever since the last decade of the 19th Century, has pretty much outlined the best player of the era. From Harry Vardon and James Braid to Walter Hagen and Henry Cotton. Not forgetting Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson as well as Nick Faldo (twice) and Ernie Els. So history suggests a class player.
However history here also suggests that Muirfield can sometimes be the first to identify that class.
Vardon won the first of his six Opens here, Player's first major of nine came on these links, Nicklaus's debut Open Championship too. More recently, Faldo's 1987 Muirfield Open was the first of his six career majors. FULL POST
This year’s Masters had its fair share of quiet periods, but in the deepening Augusta gloom it finally delivered the climax for which everyone had been hoping.
A worthy, popular winner, great sportsmanship, some phenomenal shot-making - not least Angel Cabrera’s stunning approach to the 72nd hole when he knew nothing less would extend his challenge - and a final explosion of Aussie joy as the nation’s 77-year Masters curse dropped into the 10th hole along with Adam Scott’s ball in the sudden-death playoff.
Last July, Scott’s family and friends stood, silent and stunned, some in tears, as they watched a TV behind the 18th green at the British Open. Their man had walked off the 14th with a firm grasp on the coveted claret jug, but as they stood there, was proceeding to bogey each of the final four holes, relinquishing what would have been his first major victory. FULL POST
The decision late last year by Augusta National to break with tradition and allow its first ever female members has been widely applauded with the general consensus being " about time too!"
Current world No.1 Tiger Woods described the news as "fantastic" while three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson said Condoleezza Rice is one of his favourite people to spend time with.
"Lefty" even played an Augusta practice round with the former U-S Secretary of State who impressed all watching by reportedly sinking a huge 40 foot putt on the very last hole!
Rice - along with South Carolina financier Darla Moore - remain the only female members at the private Augusta National Golf Club - as far as we're aware - and ahead of this year's Masters, club chairman Billy Payne described their joining as a joyous occasion adding "it's just awesome". He added he feels his club is a "beacon in the world of golf".
There's certainly no question that after years of intense focus on the club and its all-male policies –the admittance of two women is very much a step in the right direction but is it enough and will it indeed trigger other iconic venues to see the light of the Augusta beacon and follow suit?
This year's British Open championship venue Muirfield in Scotland for example still doesn't allow women members.
At a packed media press conference on Wednesday I asked Chairman Payne if he felt other clubs should now follow Augusta's lead. He responded that any such move would have to be their own decision while Mickelson declared he doesn't get involved in the "politics" of the game.
Here at Augusta fans out on the course are known as patrons. In truth, while the majority do fully agree it's high time to move on and adapt to the times, I did find a couple of female voices united in their belief that membership issues are down to each individual club.
That said, it's certainly not going to change the growing pressure of that majority to change. In addition to Muirfield - the world governing body of the game outside the USA - The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at Saint Andrews - is also male only.
Since its beginning in 1754, it's simply never had a female member! After almost 260 years - and following the recent example of Augusta - is the time now right for us to even dare to dream of change?
And so Tiger’s reached yet another level of “back.”
It’s been, in the phrase he almost copyrighted, a process. Back playing (remember when that was a serious question?), then back contending, back sticking three or four good rounds together, back winning and now back at world No. 1.
But underpinning everything at the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament at Bay Hill, Tiger was back putting like the best player on the planet.
Not how, but how many, runs the truism. Yet both sides of that oft-coined phrase hold the answer to Tiger’s return to the top. FULL POST