Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez to reflect on the terrific impact Japan’s Hinako Shibuno made on the sport at the Women’s British Open on Sunday:
“Shibuno’s victory at Woburn was one of the best things I’ve seen in golf for a long, long time.
What a marvellous win it was and her attitude was so refreshing. I mentioned on here the names of Matt Wallace and Matt Fitzpatrick a few weeks ago and talked about how attitude is important on the course.
The 20–year-old Shibuno’s attitude was amazing. You couldn’t help but get drawn in by the whole thing. It was wonderful, spectacular, and all for the right reasons.
Shibuno was just so engaging the way she took selfies and high-fived her way round on the last day. She was chatting to people on the practice range, signing autographs for kids and even with the pressure at its utmost coming down the last few holes, she was still smiling and waving to the galleries.
It was clear that she was so appreciative of the support she was getting. She was full of humility and gratitude. It was amazing, it really was. It was the first time she had ever played outside of Japan and it was an extraordinary performance.
It was the sort of eye-catching, crowd-pleasing display that helps grow the game of golf. Anybody who saw it will have been mightily impressed by what they saw. Shibuno also became only the second player from Japan to win a Major championship so it was a truly historic day.
On the Staysure European Seniors Tour, it was good to see Welshman Phillip Price win and also to see 50-year-old New Zealander Michael Campbell finish in a tie for second place.
Michael has had a six-year hiatus from the game, but he is coming back strong. I have to admit I gave him a bit of a talking-to recently. I could see at the Senior British Open that he was getting impatient. I also played a couple of rounds with him at Birkdale and Hoylake last week and could see he still hits the ball a long way.
His impatience reminded me of me way back at the US Masters in 1970. I was playing alongside Argentina’s Roberto Di Vicenzo and I was on top of my game, but I was trying to force it, push too hard.
Roberto came up to me after the round and said, ‘Boy, you cannot win before you can play’. That’s exactly what I told Michael too. I said I could see he was getting impatient and urged him to take a step back.
Michael turned round and replied, ‘But I really want it ... and I want it all now’. I said, ‘It’s not like that. You’ve got to step back a bit and try to just let it happen’.
He’s definitely got the game to do great things on the seniors circuit. I just hope he gets some starts on the Champions Tour in the US now because that whole deal is, and always has been, a bit of a closed shop.
The guys that set that tour up 40-odd years ago were all a mean-spirited bunch who hadn’t travelled much outside of America and they made the rules to try and keep the foreign players out.
Michael said he wrote and asked for eight invitations as a former US Open champion and never got any. It’s a similar situation with Scotland’s Paul Lawrie although I see that he has actually played a couple of events now.
I think Michael’s got a good five to 10 years of playing some quality golf. He’s got all the same attributes he had when he beat Tiger Woods at the 2005 US Open.”