The WGC Bridgestone needs a new date…
It should be a highlight of the year – one of the
three strokeplay World Golf Championships. Yet it feels like nothing more than
a vaguely convenient stop en route to this week’s PGA Championship.
This year it has seemed especially inconsequential,
what with the Olympics on and a gap of just two and half weeks between one
Major (the Open) concluding and the next starting.
You get the impression that half of the field are just
turning up for the world ranking points and the chance to fine-tune their games
for the PGA.
Compare that to the season’s other two American-based
WGCs. The matchplay, in February, is the best of the bunch and always
The second, at Doral in March, heralds the beginning
in earnest of the new season and the countdown to Augusta. Whereas the
Bridgestone is simply uninspiring.
All the best players in the world are in attendance.
It deserves better.
… And the WGC Bridgestone needs a new venue
Part of the problem is surely the course. Firestone,
in Ohio, has become tedious. See the view from the blimp to find out why – back
and forth, back and forth back and forth. The holes are straight, and most are
indeterminable from the next.
There are only two par 5s, and one of those (16th)
goes on forever.
Most of the field shoot 72 four times and are never in
contention. A few get to -10 and have their own little event.
Start well and stay up there all week. Open with a 74
and you sink without trace.
It’s time for a fresh look.
Alternatives to strokeplay are welcome
Few would deny that 72 holes of strokeplay identifies
a deserving winner and it will always be the ultimate examination paper. Yet
there is surely scope for experimentation and the return of a modified
stableford event following the demise of the International in Colarado a few
years ago is welcome.
Sure, Reno-Tahoe is an alternative-field event and
will always play second fiddle to the main event it is opposite.
Nonetheless, plenty would rather have watched players
trying to make birdies and eagles at all costs and playing attacking golf.
There must be a place for events and formats like this
– just spare us anymore pro-ams.
The dunhill Links is just about acceptable once a year
– anything else resembling the Pebble Beach Pro-am would be unbearable.
You get the impression half the field are just fine-tuning for the PGA.
Catriona in great shape for Ricoh
The ladies returned to Killeen Castle for the first
time since last year’s magnificent Solheim Cup, when Europe defied all the odds
to beat America.
Catriona Matthew was quite outstanding in County Meath
last Setember and almost a year later who was still clearly feeding off the
memories, leading wire to wire and holding off her Solheim teammate Suzann
Pettersen, who mounted a late charge.
It is just over a month until the Ricoh Women’s
British Open is played, and Royal Liverpool will be the venue for the first
Mid-Sepember is a new slot for the Ricoh and it might
just work. Certainly it was in danger of being an afterthought in late July,
overshadowed by the Open and Senior Open the two weeks before it.
And on this evidence, don’t bet against Matthew,
champion at Lytham in 2009, adding a second Major to her enduring CV.
Kiawah promises drama
As ever, the final Major of the season is hardly
lacking in storylines. The latest one concerns a steely Jim Furyk who led for
the whole week at the Bridgestone and once more will have his backers in a
Expect Kiawah Island, venue for the infamous 1991
Ryder Cup, to play long, be very hot at times and for the wind to blow at least
a little. And for the tournament to be decided at the long par-3 17th
It should suit the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin
Johnson and Lee Westwood, to name but three.
They call it glory’s last shot – it is another
gloriously open Major championship.