Vousden’s Rory view (everyone has one)

Thought for the Day
Yield to temptation; it may not pass your way again

Where now for Rory?
It seems a legitimate question now that he has come up short in yet another major, finishing runner-up for the fourth time since that last big victory, at the 2014 US PGA Championship. In addition, he has been in the top-five 11 times. These bare facts alone do not, however, come close to telling the whole story.

For example, two years ago the hard fact is that he finished second to Scottie Scheffler in the Masters and you may recall the superb bunker shot he holed at the 72nd hole to cement that position. But despite a great last round of seven-under par, he was never a threat to Scheffler, who finished with a comfortable three-stroke lead. Second place in one of golf’s biggest four tournaments may look impressive on the CV, but this was an event he was never going to win.

That same year Rory could only manage third in The Open at St Andrews, in an event where he looked to be in cruise control for 54 holes, before a stone-cold putter betrayed him on the last day, while Cameron Smith, in contrast, holed just about everything he looked at.

As these two incidents partially demonstrate, there are numerous ways to win, and lose, a golf event but of all the setbacks Rory has sustained in the last decade, this most recent will bite the hardest and deepest. Having holed every putt inside three feet all year, he then managed to miss two in three holes, which speaks volumes about the cumulative effect of stress rather than a flaw in technique.

As a consequence, as soon as Bryson DeChambeau denied Rory the chance of a playoff, the affable man from Northern Ireland couldn’t get away from the course quickly enough – and who can blame him? He has consequently been described as churlish, lacking in sportsmanship and behaving like a spoilt brat but surely we can cut him some slack. His lack of grace was uncharacteristic but eminently forgivable in light of the tortured anguish he’d just experienced.

The scars of this particular loss will cut deeper than any before and I wonder if the only way he can win another major is to mimic his first two victories in the grand slam events. That is, to be so far ahead after three rounds that the last day becomes a processional stroll to the winner’s rostrum.

We also need to remind ourselves of his history. Before this year’s US Open, Rory’s greatest setback came in the 2011 Masters, when he blew a four-stroke lead but just two months later he wiped the floor with the field at the US Open, winning by eight. He did exactly the same again in the following year’s PGA Championship, so he has form in storming back from bitter disappointment. I, for one, can only hope that this eminently courteous and affable champion will do it again.

The US Open cannot be mentioned without reference to the superb performance of Bryson DeChambeau, and in particular the miracle par he made on the last hole to seal the deal. Second at the US PGA and now winning his own national championship for the second time, all within four weeks, demonstrated yet again that defecting to LIV Golf has not dampened his competitive fire. He’s a Marmite character with a tendency to open his mouth only to change feet but I find him refreshingly ingenuous.

Finally, a few thoughts on the Sky Sports commentary team, through which most of us now absorb the major championships.
Dame Laura Davies: Superbly summarises what is happening and offers true insight into the difficulty or otherwise of the shots being played. Not afraid to call a stinker a stinker.
Nick Dougherty: If, in the endless build-ups and post-round analyses you want someone who can talk all day with apparently effortless ease, he’s your man. But unlike the greats, such as Henry Longhurst or Peter Alliss, has never learned the art of the telling silence. In short, he waffles too much and while he may not win first prize for stating the bleedin’ obvious, he would be in the top-three.
Ewen Murray: The perfect anchor. Informed, insightful and usually able to deliver a telling thought or phrase in that reassuring Scottish burr. Sometimes tries too hard not to be critical but that’s quite a nice quality to have.
Sir Nick Faldo: Employed, like so many sporting greats, for his past career but not for broadcasting skill. Infuriatingly starts many sentences but doesn’t finish them, meandering off at a tangent or three. Occasionally insightful but resolutely inarticulate.
Rich Beem: Overdoes the attempts at humour at times but I get distracted by counting how many times he says: ‘Right there.’ As in: ‘That was a good shot right there.’ Talks about what he would score, in a self-deprecating way – although looking at his performance in the PGA, where he missed the cut at 18-over, perhaps he’s just being honest.
Andrew Coltart: Neither excellent nor poor. Workmanlike, efficient and likeable.
Wayne Grady: Superb with his on-course analysis of the sort of shot that needs to be played, along with an accurate assessment of its difficulty. Clearly a man who has been there, done that and got the T-shirt. Can be genuinely funny, unlike some, who strive too hard for the humorous quip.

Quote of the Week
Splosh! One of the finest sights in the world: the other man’s ball dropping in the water – preferably so that he can see it but cannot quite reach it and has therefore to leave it there, thus rendering himself so mad that he loses the next hole as well.
Henry Longhurst

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