Well, here we go again. Another Tuesday column which is supposed to entertain and inform the public but instead inflicts itself on the populace like a particularly violent outbreak of the winter vomiting bug.

Have you ever been out and about and suddenly catch a glimpse of an old friend you’ve not seen for ages?

As you stand there peering at this familiar face, they seem far more decrepit and jowly than you remember and you think to yourself, ‘blimey, I hope I’ve aged better than that’ before jarringly realising that it’s not an old friend you’re looking at all but your own saggy, wizened reflection in a shop window.

Perhaps it’s just the cumulative effects of the bleary-eyed, nocturnal ravages of watching a US Open on the west coast of America which, for us lot on this side of the pond with an eight-hour time difference, requires the same level of gritty resolve that used to be the reserve of the ancient mariner. It’s usually worth it, of course.


Prior to his sixth-place finish in last year’s US PGA Championship, Gary Woodland hadn’t posted a top-10 finish in 27 major appearances stretching back to a debut 10 years ago.

On Sunday night, he staved off the considerable menace of major machine Brooks Koepka to win the US Open with a performance of power, poise and finesse that had all the hallmarks of a true champion.

Being stalked by Koepka during the final round must have had Woodland feeling a bit like a gazelle that had just heard some rustling in the long grasses. Koepka had won four of his last eight major outings, after all, and he was sniffing another kill.

With a sense of daring adventure, canny management and courageous craft, which married the crash, bang, wallop of his long hitting with a delightfully refined short game, Woodland not only thwarted Koepka’s advances, he pulled away from him to eventually beat him by three shots.


His superbly executed flop-shot from a perilous position on the penultimate hole illustrated this valuable new weapon in his armoury. “I played to win,” said Woodland. He led from the front superbly.

Koepka, meanwhile, became the first player in US Open history to post four rounds in the 60s and still not win. His record in the last four majors is first, second, first, second. No player rises to the occasion like him just now.

Regardless of what anybody else does in the next four weeks on the global circuit, Koepka will still be the favourite for Open glory at Portrush next month. As for Rory McIlroy? Well, this was another much-hyped major in which he failed to contend over the weekend.

With an Open in his own backyard looming, the frenzy of expectation surrounding the Northern Irishman will be like nothing else. A date with destiny or a day of reckoning? With Rory, you just never know …


American analysts tend to use phrases which grind the gears of old-world traditionalists. If it’s not a ‘hole location’ here then it’s a ‘double eagle’ there.

The problem, of course, is that these buzz words tend to grow in popularity on this side of the pond so one assumes that we’ll soon hear folk using the term ‘marine layer’ when muttering that their fourball at Crail gets abandoned due to haar.


The marine layer in question – a meteorological condition which made the Pebble Beach climate as dour as a redundancy notice and resembled a day on the east coast of Scotland – was the only thing to really grumble about.

Well, that and some of the leading golfers using the hallowed turf as a spittoon for their unsightly expectorating. Tut tut.

For the USGA, a week in the shadows was something of a rarity. Rightly lambasted and pilloried in recent years for dodgy course set-ups and a variety of rules-related stooshies, Pebble Beach allowed the players do what they do best; play golf.

Woodland won with a 13-under tally. The last time the US Open was at Pebble Beach in 2010, level-par won it. In fact, Woodland is one of just four players in the 119-year history of the US Open to score an under-par aggregate in double digits.

US Opens, by their nature, often develop into grisly battles of attrition. This was an enjoyable watch in which players could be rewarded for good shots and punished for the bad. All pretty fair then?

In an age of moaning and groaning about one-dimensional golf and a lack of artistry while yearning for the days of a featherie ba’ being clattered with a mid-mashie, there was plenty to stir the senses. Let’s give the players some credit. They are bloomin’ good.


Talk about amateur dramatics. After winning last year’s US Amateur Championship, the exciting Norwegian Viktor Hovland has made the most of the invitations that were afforded him.

The leading amateur at April’s Masters, the 21-year-old finished in a terrific share of 12th place at the US Open with a four-under score, the lowest aggregate ever recorded by an amateur in the championship.

READ MORE: Walker Cup hopefuls do battle at Amateur Championship

It’s been quite a double whammy for Hovland, whose imminent move into the professional ranks is being eagerly anticipated.

As Hovland will appreciate, though, the carefree abandon of playing golf as an amateur is very different to the cut-throat business of making a living from it.

It’s a whole new ball game when dollars, pounds, euros or ranking points are suddenly accompanying every shot.


WITH the Amateur Championship underway this week, my mind went back to 2009 when some of my colleagues and I were first introduced to the alluring talents of Matteo Manassero en route to his win in the unpaid game’s blue riband event as a 16-year-old.


The Italian didn’t disappoint in the pro game either, winning four European Tour titles and reaching the fringes of the top 20 in the world. Here in 2019, Manassero’s prolonged slump continues and he is 906th on the global order.

Many thought he would be the poster boy of the Ryder Cup in Italy in 2022. In this game, though, you can quickly become a forgotten man.