Back on the road

We’re only one month into 2019 but there’s already a lot to talk about…

I’m certainly not struggling for things to talk about in this column! From my early season form, to the new rules, slow play, the controversy surrounding Saudi Arabia and Sergio’s antics, it has been one of the more controversial periods in golf.

First of all, my form. It has been an okay start to the season. I have made four out of five cuts and had three top 25s. Certainly not the fireworks of last January, but not the worst start I’ve ever had either.

Since Ella arrived, it has been like learning a new part of the game. From managing my practice at home to life on the road with her and Keri, things are different now.

Fortunately, my wife is incredible and she has enabled me to focus on my golf as much as I need to. Even more fortunately, Ella seems to be an extremely relaxed baby! We had a couple of rough flights (think projectile vomit) but other than that, having Ella and Keri with me has been an absolute joy. When I finished my last round poorly in Saudi Arabia, I would normally have been pretty frustrated for the whole journey home, but as soon as I saw Ella that didn’t matter anymore. We just learn, move on, and enjoy the ride together.

Of all the new rules, no one expected caddy alignment to be the one to cause all the controversy. They clearly messed up the wording, which has led to some players being penalised two shots when they did absolutely nothing wrong. The rule was brought in to stop caddies lining up players, but in the cases of Denny McCarthy and Li Haotong, neither were lined up but both were penalised.

Fortunately it seems the PGA Tour has forced a quick response from the USGA and R&A so the issue is now resolved… although Haotong will never get those world ranking points or €100,000 back!

Finally, Saudi Arabia. This needs more than one paragraph, but I’ll keep it brief. The tour and players got hammered on social media for taking part in the event. We were all branded greedy, selfish, and immoral. It’s fascinating how people interact on social media nowadays, especially Twitter. The normal rules of human decency go out of the window! At the end of the day, I needed to go for the sake of my career and family. I am also in the fortunate position where I can travel to these places and form my own opinions. I’m not going to say Saudi Arabia is a wonderful place (although they did put on a wonderful event, no matter what Sergio says) but I genuinely don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as the media would have you think. Keri and I spoke to a lot of locals and expats, both male and female, and they all said the same – “Things are changing”. They are a long way behind the times, but hopefully this golf tournament was a small step for them, and for us. I don’t see how a boycott helps anyone, but maybe, just maybe, this will be a small catalyst for change.