Asterisks and unwanted lessons

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Is a title worth less when some players aren't invited to compete?
Posted on
March 8, 2024
by
Robert Green in
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In my last blog I looked in part at the fact that Joaquin Niemann has been given an invitation to this year’s Masters based on his good play on the DP World Tour rather than that he had won the opening LIV Golf tournament of 2024, in Mexico in early February. At the beginning of this month he won the third LIV event of this season, in Saudi Arabia. Well, he already has his place at Augusta next month so he can’t be awarded it again and I’m confident that winning another LIV tournament isn’t going to lead to his invitation being revoked.

As also mentioned last time, there has been no such offer to Talor Gooch, the most successful player with LIV Golf last year. Before the tournament in Jeddah, he made plain his dissatisfaction. “If Rory McIlroy goes and completes his grand slam without some of the best players in the world [being at the Masters], there’s just going to be an asterisk,” he said. “It’s just the reality.” I presume he had one particular non-participant in mind. I am also sure that McIlroy would very happily shrug off the grudging Gooch asterisk while he was being made snug in his green jacket. In the world according to Talor, for example, I guess maybe no winner of a major in 2016 or 2017 can consider himself a true champion because Tiger Woods wasn’t in the field?

While Niemann perhaps ended that week licking his lips, Adrian Meronk was left metaphorically licking his wounds. He seemed to have finished in a tie for fifth (worth $750,000) but in fact ended in a tie for sixth (still worth $502,000, but still). Why? Because on a par-five, he took over two minutes to play his second shot. In line with the slow-play sanctions applied by LIV, he was assessed a shot penalty. A similar thing happened to Richard Bland at Spain’s LIV tournament last summer. It is nearly 30 years since a player on the PGA Tour was last penalised a stroke for slow play, even though there is pretty much unanimity that levelling fines is little short of useless given the money the players are making these days. There is perhaps quite a lot not to love LIV for but that is surely one aspect of the circuit that deserves to be applauded. Time will tell if Meronk has learned his lesson.

Talking of lessons, there was a cringeworthy story in the papers a couple of weeks ago. Georgia Ball, a qualified PGA pro, was working on her swing on a driving range when a man in a nearby bay told her: “What you’re doing there is you’re coming back too slow.” Ball politely explained she was working on adjusting her technique and so was breaking her swing into different components, but he wasn’t having any of it. Twice he told her: “I’ve been playing golf for 20 years.” Which is such a stupid thing to say on so many levels. I mean, I have been playing golf for far longer than that but you wouldn’t want a lesson from me!

I guess we could describe that example of arrogance as manswingplaneing?

 

You can follow Robert Green on Twitter @robrtgreen and enjoy his other blog f-factors.com

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About Robert Green

Robert Green is a former editor of Golf World and Golf International magazines and the author of four books on golf, including Seve: Golf’s Flawed Genius. He has played golf on more than 450 courses around the world, occasionally acceptably.

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