Champion golfer of the year

I wonder if the dust has settled at Turnberry yet. What a week it was and what a Sunday it came down to. If anybody noticed, Stuart Clink actually won in style. When shots were lost left, right and centre, he holed a great putt on 18 to go to 2 under which eventually got him into the play off. The whole world felt for Tom Watson when he ended up taking 5 down the 18th and the tournament slipped through his fingers. It was not 1977 all over again. It was 2009 and the discussions were already running high as to whether the fact that a 59 year old had come so close to winning the sport’s greatest championship was good or bad for golf. I cannot help wondering why those discussions keep taking place.

Golf has, for as long as I can remember, been challenged for its place among other sports, mainly because it is different from other sports. I think one difficulty is that we have always struggled to define the skill that it takes to be a champion golfer. You do not need the physique of a gymnast, the speed of a 100 metre runner or the endurance of a Tour de France cyclist. It helps if you do, but none of those alone or together will make you a champion golfer. You also need the strategic mind set of a chess player, the concentration abilities of a shooter and the patience of a cricketer in a five day test match plus of course the given ability to hit a few different golf shots. The necessary blend of these factors however, are determined by the golf course and the conditions at hand. They will vary, sometimes on a day by day basis and always on a tournament by tournament basis. That is why Tom Watson was such a great athlete and player at Turnberry. At least for 71.5 holes. Perhaps a different mental fitness would have helped him to choose another club for his third shot or hit a better put for his fourth on 18. Maybe he would have then walked away with the Claret Jug once again. And if somebody does not understand what an incredible sportsman that takes then I am sorry!

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