Grumblings from the great and good in golf never cease – Nick Rodger

I THINK I must be the only person on the planet, Apart from perhaps the village Elder of the remote Huli Wigmen Tribe of Papua New Guinea, who’s not played Bloomin ‘Wordle yet.

Unless you’re that village Elder, you’ll know that Wordle is a daily, internet brain teaser which fiendishly invites you to guess a five-letter word in six attempts or fewer.

In some ways, it’s a bit like deciphering the haverings of the Tuesday column, which can be an addictively infuriating head-scratcher that just about requires the code-breaking gumption of the celebrated cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park.

So, Let’s Plow on with the Weekly conundrum.

GRUMBLING GOLFERS GET LITTLE SYMPATHY

Given all the meeting with the Saudi Super League recently, it was almost refreshing to get back to some sort of normality at the weekend. And by normality, I mean professional golfers moaning and groaning.

As the final day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Brutal Bay Hill unraveled, the background noise of wailing and whining was akin to the racket you’d get with an angle grinder Performing an Exorcism on a Banshee.

Thick rough, a boisterous breeze and baked greens led to the kind of attritional battle that should’ve featured trenches and fixed bayonets. Rory McIlroy, who slithered out of contention over the weekend after opening with a 65, snapped a wedge in half and branded the whole thing “crazy golf” as he led the whingeing. This is the same McIlroy who poured scorn on The Renaissance course at the Scottish Open a couple of years ago for being “too easy.”

Scottie Scheffler, Meanwhile, wasn’t complaining as he kept his head while others lost theirs to win his second PGA Tour title in his last three events with a five-under tally.

In an age when golfers at the top level have never had it so good, not many will have much Sympathy for some of the pampered pontifications. Players were grousing and carping when we had a 34-under winning total on the tour just a few weeks ago. Now, they’re grousing and carping when gritty pars are the order of the day and five-under wins.

Birdie-fest or proper test? When it comes to course set-up, you’ll never please everybody. It’s on to the Players’ Championship at Sawgrass this week where a whopping Prize fund of $ 20 million will be on offer. There will, no doubt, be something to moan about, though.

FERGUSON GETS LESSON IN THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

No lead is ever really big enough is it? Such is the nature of this fiercely fickle game, a commanding advantage can swiftly become as brittle as the Dead Sea Scrolls in the time it takes you to utter the words, “the Chasing pack is closing in.”

Winning, at any level, ain’t easy. Bearsden’s Ewen Ferguson had performed with a wonderful aplomb to Forge a four shot lead heading into the final round of the Magical Kenya Open at the weekend. The country DP World Tour title, in just his 34th start on the main circuit, was in his grasp. And then it all went belly up.

After closing with a 76 to fall back into a share of eighth, the 25-year-old admitted he found the pressure of leading hard to deal with. “I didn’t sleep much (the night before), just thinking about it, I couldn’t believe I was leading by four shots,” he said.

In golf, it doesn’t take much for the doubts to start swirling around in the mind. This correspondent’s pessimistic outlook, for instance, tends to start the moment the dispenser at the driving range begins churning out a bucket of 50 balls.

Leading a main tour event was Uncharted territory for Ferguson and, at this level of the professional game, any fragility will be ruthlessly exposed. It’s an unforgiving business.

The young Scot had three Runners-up finishes on the second-tier Challenge Tour last season and has served a sturdy apprenticeship. His Kenyan disappointment will have been a sore one to stomach but, hopefully, they won’t dwell on it. In this school of extremely hard knocks, it’s all part of the valuable learning process.

STATUS KO ROCKING ALL OVER THE WORLD

You know I said winning ain’t easy a few paragraphs ago? Well, forget that. With her Victory in the LPGA Tour’s HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore, Ko Jin-young has now won six times in her last 10 starts.

This latest success arrived in her first event for three months and the world’s No 1’s figures are startling and record-busting. The 26-year-old from Korea has now posted 15 consecutive rounds in the 60s and 30 consecutive sub-par scores.

In 2019, she went on a run of 114 holes without a bogey, which is in stark contrast to those of us who can nonchalantly reel off 100-odd holes without a sniff of a par.

Her level of consistency in a game of capricious fortunes is quite staggering. With the Women’s major season Looming, one can only wonder what she will achieve. The golfing Gods don’t dish out guarantees but it seems every time Ko tees-up she contends. Sustaining such remarkable standards will be difficult but, as her hot streak goes on, let’s just enjoy the ride.

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