I’ve never been particularly keen on having a byline photo. Regular readers are probably not that keen on looking at it either.

The problem, of course, is that in print you’re stuck with whatever facial expression you’re pulling at the time of the picture being taken.

And if that happens to be a great big cheery smile, for instance, then your great big cheery smile has to accompany everything that you write about, even if your copy includes the decidedly downbeat words “and his funeral will be held next Thursday.”

So what do you do? Well, you try to display some kind of benign, inscrutable countenance that will be suitable for all manner of occasions and topics, whether it be a report on the rousing jubilation of the final day of an Open Championship or an emotional valedictory in the last reflective moments before nuclear Armageddon.

And the result of all this fizzog contortionism in the quest for an image of neutrality? That’s right, you end up captured in a frozen, tortured rictus that looks more like you’re struggling with a particularly rigorous bout of constipation.

Here in the world of golf, meanwhile, Francesco Molinari had plenty to smile about on Sunday as he surged to a quite magical win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

READ MORE: Molinari completes Bay Hill Italian Job

With a closing 64 full of poise, polish, purpose and a prodigious putt on the 18th, the Italian orchestrated the kind of barnstorming, fearsome charge that could’ve been accompanied with fixed bayonets and musket volley.

The nature of Molinari’s advance was clearly too much for American broadcaster, Paul Azinger, who gasped: “I don’t think he’s had a bigger moment in his career than this.” Yes, we’ll just forget about Molinari’s thrilling Open win last July then, Paul. Oh, and we’ll just airbrush out his five out of five record in the Ryder Cup just for good measure?

Commentary cock-ups aside, Molinari’s win at least got folk talking about the actual golf that was being played after a seemingly endless series of crowings and carpings from professional golfers about the new rules which, at times, showed them up to have the same sense of braying entitlement that used to be the reserve of the Bullingdon Club. It was nice to listen to the sound of silence for a change this season.


Molinari, who was perched at the summit of a final top-10 at Bay Hill that featured six Europeans and just one American, continues to have confidence coursing through him. He is not brimming with bravado, though, and that is one of the most endearing qualities of this fine champion.

It’s on to Sawgrass this week for The Players Championship and possibly the usual talk of elevating the PGA Tour’s showpiece tournament to m ajor status.

With a vast prize fund of $12.5m, of which the winner will shove $2.25m into his pockets, The Players Championship is richer than any of the four major championships.

Money can’t buy you love, though, and it can’t buy you the moniker of a major either. Rather like having 12 days of Christmas, it’s long been accepted out of tradition and sentiment that we have four majors and there’s no need for any gratuitous additions to the roster.

Of course, the current four – the Masters, the US PGA, the US Open and the Open – have evolved into this celebrated quartet through time and with the rise of professional golf.

The Amateur Championships on both sides of the Atlantic were considered majors when Bobby Jones stormed the “impregnable quadrilateral” back in the day while events like the Western Open and the North and South Open were deemed majors among some leading US players.

With its huge treasure chest and mighty, star-studded field, many modern day players buy into the idea of The Players as the “fifth major”.

You can’t blame them. If you were to press Ctrl Alt Delete on the major settings like you would after your laptop crashes and start them up again, you’d probably have The Players Championship in there.

The field strength of the US PGA can be undermined by the appearance of numerous club professionals. The Masters still provides a dewy-eyed haven for a few ceremonial golden oldies to enjoy a bogey-ridden meander down memory lane. And the Open’s entry criteria is not as robust as the qualifications required to compete at Sawgrass.

As an increasingly global game, however, any notions of adding to the list of men’s majors, fanciful or not, needs to take that into account.

Three majors and two of the three WGC events are held in the US. The last thing golf would need is another showpiece in that neck of the woods. A lack of travel can narrow the mind, after all.

As for this week’s Players Championship itself? Well, it may not be a major but it’s certainly a major player.