Tour Notebook: Ryder sweat for Poulter, Communism & TigerOctober, 2015
Tiger ready for 'long and tedious rehab'
Poulter almost ineligible for 2016 Ryder Cup
OK, pay attention. Ian Poulter plays on both Tours so struggles to play in 13 European Tour events. To play on Darren Clarke’s Ryder Cup team next year you have to meet this requirement otherwise you lose your membership.
At the start of last week Poulter had only played in nine and a trip to next month’s WGC-HSBC Champions would have been one of his four to fulfil his quota.
But you need to be in the world’s top 50 to make it into the elite field in China and Poulter slipped from 42nd to 51st in the space of just two weeks after Andy Sullivan and Emiliano Grillo won last week. It was the first time he had fallen out of the prized top 50 since September 2006.
So Poulter had to hot-foot it to the Hong Kong Open at the expense of Rich Beem who had already travelled from Texas to Hong Kong but then had to hand back his invite.
To add to the problem both his passports were with the visa people and they were returned at 7.15am, just in time for his 9am flight on Tuesday.
“If they had arrived at midday I was done because I couldn’t have physically made the flight in time and I would have missed the start of the tournament,” Poulter explained.
“I feel very sorry for Rich to have been put in this situation. He has been very gracious and it is a lovely gesture. I didn’t want that, the Tour didn’t want that and I don’t think anyone would want to ask a guy who had flown halfway round the world to play a tournament to give his spot up.”
Poulter, without his usual caddy Terry Mundy, was third after two rounds but then dropped away to a tie for 29th.
Communism and golf don’t mix
China’s ruling Communist Party has banned its 88 million members form ‘extravagant eating and drinking’, ‘sexual relationships outside of marriage’ and…’playing golf’.
The measures, reported by the official Xinhua news agency, were announced as a ‘moral ethical code that members must abide by’.
China has been conducting a strict anti-corruption drive since 2012 and the new rule on golf states that its members are banned from ‘obtaining, holding or using membership cards for gyms, clubs, golf clubs, or various other types of consumer cards, or entering private clubs”.
Failure to stick to the regulations could result in a warning or expulsion from the party.
Or, if you are very unlucky like Lin Chunsong, a vice-mayor in the south-eastern Fujian province, being sacked for belonging to a golf club and playing while he should have been at work.
In 2004 China announced a ban on building new courses.
The number of courses, though, has since increased from 200 to 600 this year.
If you are worried about your subs going up next year then spare a thought for the poor members at Wentworth.
There they were, Bruce Forsyth and Michael Parkinson among them, happily stumping up £8,000 for the privilege of a year’s golf, only to be told that their fees will now be doubled to £16,000 for April 2017. With the added kicker that they will also have to shell out a cool £100,000 for a club debenture. New members will be charged £125,000.
The club was bought by the Beijing-based Reignwood Group in September 2014 for £140m and the plan is to create ‘Britain’s Augusta’.
Peter Alliss described it as well as anyone when he said: “there are a few people who have £100,000 to piddle away on their pleasures.”
Should anybody care it is unclear whether the debenture could be resold or whether it was a non-returnable payment. All of which paints a dreadful picture for the home of the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, which takes place every May.
"I tried to play through some stuff this year and it just wasn’t a lot of fun. I know the pattern is there" – Tiger Woods
More processes and patterns for Tiger
He might be the World No 334 but we’re all still talking about him and wondering when he might get back to playing.
Tiger Woods underwent microdiscectomy surgery on September 16 for a disc fragment pinching a nerve in his back, the same procedure that he had in March 2014, and he revealed that he hoped to be back ‘early 2016’. The first time he had the operation he was back in 11 weeks though he didn’t anticipate being pain free for longer than that.
“I feel good, I’m just stiff. That’s the way it is after surgery. I haven’t been allowed to do pretty much anything,” Woods said. “I’ll start rehab soon, but again it’s a long and tedious rehab. Last time it took me a very long time to come back.
“Some players on Tour, they’ve had it done and it has taken them over a year to be pain-free. I hope it doesn’t take that long but it’s a process.”
Woods, as ever, was optimistic about his chances of winning when he does return to playing. His last start of the season was a tie for 10th at the Wyndham Championship, his only top 10 of 2015.
“I have to go through the little stuff to get stronger, then I have to get explosive. Then I have to be able to have the explosive endurance to be able to practise for long periods of time, and eventually play for long periods of time.
“I’m not that far removed from winning, but first of all I need to be healthy. I tried to play through some stuff this year and it just wasn’t a lot of fun. I know the pattern is there. It’s just a matter of me getting healthy enough to where I can get out there and play.”
Royal Portrush by the numbers
2019 – Royal Portrush to host the Open Championship
68 – The number of years between Portrush’s two Opens
3 – Max Faulkner’s winning score in 1951
300 – Number of pounds the Englishman won
62 – Number of bunkers that will be in play, still the fewest on the rota
70 – the potential return that the Open could bring (in millions, in pounds)
61 – Rory McIlroy’s course record over the Dunluce Course
16 – The age that he did it
No defence for Koepka
The Final Series gets underway this week and Brooks Koepka won’t be in Turkey to defend his title.
The party line from his management company is that the American’s scheduling is the reason, Koepka is playing back-to-back events on the PGA Tour, but there is a school of thought that security in Turkey might be a factor following the bombings in Ankara earlier this month that killed 102 people.
“There is definitely alarm about what is taking place in Turkey,” said Marc Warren in The Guardian. “We have always been treated like royalty when we travel out to Turkey but then it is hard to avoid reading those headlines.”
Turkey’s general election will take place on the Sunday of the tournament. The European Tour have been in contact with local police and security for the past few weeks.
The Grove back on the European Tour
Next year’s British Masters will take place at The Grove as Luke Donald plays host.
The much-missed tournament returned to the calendar at Woburn earlier this month after a break of seven years as Matt Fitzpatrick claimed his first title.
The last time the Tour visited The Grove it was also a WGC event and its champion was none other than Tiger Woods who famously eagled the 18th on the first three days.
September gong for Slattery
The Golfer of the Month for September went to Lee Slattery who turned his season/career around over the space of a couple of weeks.
The Englishman finished one spot outside the top 110 in 2014 but after another year of missed cuts and lowly finishes he won the Russian Open by a shot and then, the following week, missed a four-footer at the last hole of the KLM Open to miss out on a play-off with Thomas Pieters.
His previous and only win had come at the 2011 Madrid Masters. Had he been successful Slattery would have become the first Englishman since Lee Westwood in 1999 to win consecutive European Tour events.
He edged out Rikard Karlberg, the Swede who captured his maiden European Tour title in Italy and Pieters.