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Looking Back at the US PGA Championship

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

“Take nothing away from Brooks Koepka. He’s a helluva player and gave a dominant performance at Bethpage, but last week was further proof of where the game has gone in terms of the advantage the muscle-men have now got.

Taking into consideration the strong-arm tactics being used by the giants of the modern game, it leaves me wondering whether the great Gary Player would have won his nine Major championships if he was playing now.

I’m often accused of sour grapes, of being some sort of golfing dinosaur, but I try to be objective with my observations and the fact of the matter is 90 per cent of the field last week were eliminated from contention before a ball was struck.

All credit to Koepka. It’s not up to him to determine the rules. He and Dustin Johnson were held and shoulders above the rest on a beast of a course. It shows where the game has gone in terms of the advantage they have got in being able to muscle the ball out of that thick, penal rough.

More power to Brooks. Dustin also, he’s there high up on the leaderboards most weeks. The way he drives the ball is fantastic, all he has to do is turn up.

When you see the distances they hit the ball off the tee, it’s from another world. I think I’m right in saying that Brooks never hit anything more than a seven-iron into a green last week.

These big hitters are almost always hitting short irons for their second shots. With the old ball and equipment, that was never the case. Even in my day, when Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf would power the ball out there, they never had that sort of advantage because the ball never went that far.

When it comes to equipment, I would make the modern-day player go back to wooden-headed clubs.

If you think I’m a dinosaur, don’t listen to me, listen to someone like Adam Scott. I agree entirely with his sentiments. He believes there should be one set of rules for the pros and another set for the amateurs.

It all’s well and good to give the amateurs metal heads, they need extra help. But the game should be less forgiving for the pros.

On another subject, I think it’s asking for trouble taking the 2024 Ryder Cup to Bethpage. I wonder whether it is destined to be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

The crowds last week were so rowdy and unruly. God knows what it will be like at the Ryder Cup.

Should they sell alcohol on the premises during these big tournaments? Does it fuel the rowdiness, encourage people to shout and scream? I guess it’s very much part of life for a lot of people going to an event like that. You get four or five guys together and they head for the beer tent and let their hair down.

In the Ryder Cup, I believe it’s in the hands of the players to help control all that. If someone starts booing the opposition, or gets over zealous, all the home player has to do is say, ‘Hey, this guy is my pal and we’re just trying to have some fun out here’.

But maybe we need to eject people if they get too disruptive. You need that option, stewards or police in the gallery who can monitor bad behaviour. Tell you one thing, if I’m there in 2024 I shall make sure I’m watching all the action unfold on television from a secure area.”