1. Six-time major winner, Nick Faldo pulling on that hideous, ill-fitting yellow, diamond patterned, Ronnie Corbett style golfing sweater during his farewell to the galleries at the Open Championship at St Andrews. It looked just the right size for Ronnie Corbett too. ‘It’s cashmere’ Faldo told us, as if we cared. The great man might also have second thoughts over the press release issued by his agent about impaling his middle finger on a set of wall-mounted antlers whilst taking off a shirt that gave him a deep cut on his right hand and almost caused him to withdraw from his last ever Open round. Just how low were those antlers or does Sir Nick routinely take off shirts whilst standing on a chair?
2. Tiger Woods would have fast forwarded to 2016 had he known how things were going to shape up over the year. First came the remarkable withdrawal with ‘de-activated glutes’ in February after 11 holes at the Farmer’s Insurance Open that prompted comments about Woods not so much talking about his bottom as through it. Amidst rumours that he had fired coach, Chris Como, he missed consecutive cuts at the US Open, Open Championship and PGA. In September he had micro-disc surgery and called it quits for the season. He may take a full year to get fit again and there is no doubting that the era and aura of Woods has well and truly gone.
3. Rory McIlroy would have kept that football deep in the locker. Manchester United fan McIlroy decided that a kick about with his mates was exactly what he needed just nine days before the Open Championship. A freak accident ruptured his left ankle ligament and within a matter of weeks the world’s number one golfer became the world’s number three golfer. The pressure is now on the 26-year old Irishman to overhaul Jordan Speith and Jason Day next year.
4. Whatever allegations about substance abuse that have been thrown at Dustin Johnson it is hard not to feel sorry for him on the golf course come ‘Majors’ time. This is the Dustin Johnson who missed out on a playoff in the PGA Championship because he forgot the rules on the 72nd hole and grounded his club in a hazard. This is the same Dustin Johnson who held a three-shot lead entering the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open and shot an 82. The same Dustin Johnson who was one shot behind Darren Clarke at the 2011 Open at Sandwich and blazed his drive OB on 14. At the par five 18th in this year’s US Open he had hit two monstrous shots to 12′. Two putts and he was into the play-off. He three-jabbed. This is the Dustin Johnson who chokes.
5. ‘The most unpleasant golf tournament I have seen in my life’ was how Gary Player summed up the US Open held at Chambers Bay in Washington State. Though visually spectacular the course was nowhere near ready to host either the players or the volume of spectators it received for a major championship. Jason Day collapsed with vertigo, there were several no-go areas for spectators because of the slopes and the greens should more accurately have been described as browns. Many of the players slammed it, with Paul Casey making one of the more reasonable comments, ‘Our links in the UK have matured over hundreds of years. This has been open eight years. If we had turned up at St Andrews eight years after it had been created we’d have said, “What the hell is this?”‘
6. The R&A Open committee may maintain that its decision to start play on the third day of a wind swept Championship that lasted only 32 minutes was sound, but not many of the players involved would agree. World number 22, Brooks Koepka summed up the competitors’ feelings when he said, ‘I’m mad we started in the first place. I was told I needed to play on and you’ve got to do what they tell you to do or you’re disqualified. I don’t have a problem if it’s breezy but when it gets out of control like that it’s not fair. The official in our group told me it was only me that was having the problem, but I don’t really care about everyone else; it was the most exposed part of the golf course and the ball is not staying on the green.’
7. Steve Williams may just consider thinking about what he is going to say before saying it. Having been the foul mouthed scourge of photographers and spectators alike whilst on Tiger Woods’s bag, Williams announced in his tell-all autobiography, written by Auckland journalist Michael Donaldson, that he felt like Tiger Woods’s ‘slave’ having to pick up his discarded clubs on a regular basis. Given that Williams’s worth is estimated at $20m, the bulk of which came from Woods during the 14-times major winner’s peak years, describing his former employer as a ‘Black a*******’ after his sacking seems an ungrateful way for a slave to celebrate his emancipation.
8. Bubba Watson is, sadly, no more likely to consider attempting to be less unpleasant to others on the golf course than Steve Williams is. However being voted the most unpopular player on tour in a poll held by ESPN which asked PGA players who they would not help in a hypothetical fist fight in a parking lot, might just cause a flicker of self doubt. Bubba romped home, pushing Patrick Reed into second place by some distance.
9. It’s a good job that the Tower of London looks after its ‘Crown jewels’ better than the BBC. A handful of BBC insiders fervently wish that they could return to the heady days when the corporation cared about sport but it is quite clear that ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ is of far greater importance than the Open Golf Championship. The abysmal coverage of the rescheduled last day of the Open, when the morning saw golf lovers treated to Homes under the Hammer, Bargain Hunt and Close Calls: On Camera summed up its attitude to sport in general and golf in particular.
10. This is more a wish from club golfers rather than something that big name manufacturers, such as Callaway and TaylorMade, are likely to do anything about. But please stop flooding the market with new launches every six months leaving club professionals with stock they cannot shift and hapless consumers wondering why they should buy now or wait until the next model rolls of the assembly line later in the year. As 2015 saw Adidas lay off 20% of its TaylorMade work force in California it might not take a magic wand to realise that more so often means less.