Age is an odd thing isn’t it? I bring this up purely on the basis that it was my birthday yesterday and I spent it writing this column, in between poking and prodding quizzically at the various lines on my face like some puzzled tourist trying to plot a route on a map of the London Underground.

As I gazed at my increasingly haggard fizzog and mulled over the possibility of touching up my crow’s feet with a dollop of tiling grout, it dawned on me that, at 47, I’m about four years older than the current UK Prime Minister. And in my head, that shouldn’t be allowed. As far as I’m concerned, senior politicians should always be older and fustier than me, no matter how much I age. It’s a ridiculous notion I know, but this column has always been a platform for ridiculous notions hasn’t it?

Anyway, as we hurtle through the years, it also dawned on me that I’ve spent almost half my life writing about golf even though that haunting byline picture you see on this page probably looks more like someone ravaged by the exertions of working down a mine for two- and a-bit decades. It’s been a tough auld coalface.

Talking of chiselling away, let’s hear it for Tony Finau. The canny, laid-back American underlined his immense talent on Sunday by easing to a three-shot victory over Masters champion Jon Rahm in the Mexico Open. It was the 33-year-old’s first victory of 2023 and there’s a good chance it won’t be his last.

Ok, so it wasn’t the strongest field of the PGA Tour year, in this campaign of star-studded elevated events, but standing firm and claiming the honours with poise and purpose when the world No 1 is breathing down your neck is no mean feat.

Last season Finau won three times. The year before he nabbed a first victory on the PGA Tour since 2016. In that period between a breakthrough triumph and a long overdue follow up, Finau became the ultimate nearly man and had more close shaves than those razors old Victor Kiam used to champion with glee on the tele.

There were play-off defeats here and Sunday struggles there. While players like Jordan Spieth went through what was labelled a slump, Finau couldn’t even have a slump because he hadn’t won enough to call it a slump. Amid it all, however, Finau never lost faith even if some of those pesky golf writers were losing theirs.

“You guys keep telling me, ‘when are you going to win again?,” he said to the assembled press corps after ending his drought back in 2021. “That made me hungry.”

Finau was the man who would do just about everything right except close the deal. Getting over the line is easier said than done, of course, in a hard, unforgiving competitive environment in which you lose far more often than you win.

His unwavering mental fortitude, allied to his superb skill set, was always going to reap the rewards eventually, though. Far from dwelling on the various ones that got away and allowing golf’s complex demands and fickle fortunes to gnaw away at him, Finau would maintain an admirable, philosophical approach.

“Every time I don’t close a tournament, I’m never thinking, ‘wow, I let another slip, I’m never going to have this opportunity again’,” he once reasoned. “For me it’s like, ‘what did I learn and how can I take what I learned into the next opportunity?”

You’re always learning in this game. Even us crude amateurs who eke out a modest existence in that well-populated environment of golfing futility manage to find something positive to cling to amid the regular tempests of raging ineptitude. It’s all part of the game’s enduring charm.

Perhaps one of Finau’s most pertinent observations came in the wake of his victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year when he landed his second win in as many starts on the tour. “A winner is just a loser who kept on trying,” he said.

I’ll try to keep that sense of patience, positivity and perseverance in mind when I’m totting up my score at the next media stableford competition …


Keeping the heid, when it can be very easy to lose it, can be a tricky task in this infuriating pursuit. “I’m trying not to get too emotional on the course,” said Oban’s Robert MacIntyre during the Korea Championship. “Whatever happens just hit it, deal with it, hit it again.” Or, in this correspondent’s case, duff it, deal with it, duff it again.

MacIntyre was making a good fist of hitting it and dealing with it as he moved to the front with a round to go but he just couldn’t get going on the final day and dropped back into a share of seventh.

While disappointed not to have earned the third tour title of his career, MacIntyre will begin the defence of his Italian Open crown this week in reasonable fettle. He heads to Rome on the back of three successive top-seven finishes on the DP World Tour. Hopefully, the big performance and result that MacIntyre craves in this Ryder Cup year is just around the corner What were we saying about patience, positivity and perseverance again?