5 Things: Muirfield, Pelley's changes, Zika, Southgate and Daly combusts
1) Vote against media, not women says Muirfield member
The story that will keep on giving – and thanks to The Scotsman for this excellent update. Muirfield member John Douglas, who played for Scotland at rugby 12 times and also owned the 1979 Grand National winner Rubstic, told the newspaper that the vote to not admit women as members was more against the media rather than the ladies.
The 81-year-old said: “It wasn’t so much a vote against the ladies as a vote against the media and the press telling us what to do. No-one likes being hammered all the time.
“We knew what was going to happen with the R&A and The Open, but we feel that we had to prove a point with a strong bunch behind the vote. We were quite pleased to win the final vote, but it is sad in a way as some of the ladies who work in the offices and elsewhere in the clubhouse have received horrible phone calls. I feel sorry for the committee and it will all have to come to a halt sometime to allow the committee to relax a bit.”
Douglas was part of the 33-strong group who put their names to the letter sent to all members which outlined the concerns in allowing women members.
And he also gave Rory McIlroy a bit of a verbal kicking.
“You have Augusta with two women members and how can people like Rory McIlroy challenge us yet he goes and plays there. Is he telling everyone he is happy with two women being admitted there after all these years and it is now a mixed club… come on. These players are two-faced. Who are they kidding? It is a total farce.”
2) Pelley promises sweeping changes
The European Tour’s chief executive officer Keith Pelly isn’t afraid of change and he has promised more of it in the next few years.
At present the Tour’s scheduling is at times all over the place, in the future Pelley explained that we can expect a more fluent schedule.
“We are in the midst of transforming this tour. It will be completely different in 2017, and a complete overhaul by 2018,” the Canadian told the Golf Channel. “And really doing it by listening to the players.”
“The schedule will be different; it w
ill be more friendly from a travel perspective for the players. There will be a number of events where the prize funds will be significantly increased, and there will be more playing opportunities for all of our members. A different schedule for sure and a different players-first philosophy.”
Last week’s event at Wentworth, the PGA Championship, came in for plenty of criticism with only Danny Willett the only player in the world’s top 20 to tee it up.
3) Olympic golf continues to hit the buffers
These things change very quickly of course when the tournament comes around but golf’s tentative steps back into the Olympic fold have been faltering ones.
Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel all pulled out over ‘scheduling’ concerns, Marc Leishman and Vijay Singh pulled out after citing the Zika virus.
Now we can add Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett to the ‘maybe doubtful’ list, both saying the Zika virus, which can lead to birth defects, was a major consideration.
“I have been reading a lot of reports about Zika and there have been some articles coming out saying that it might be worse than they’re saying, and I have to monitor that situation,” McIlroy told the BBC. He added that he was planning to get an immunization last week.
“There’s going to be a point in the next couple of years where we’re going to have to think about starting a family. Right now I am ready to go (to Rio), but I don’t want anything to affect that.”
Masters champion Willett added: “We are monitoring it. We’ve had an e-mail from the WHO (World Health Organization) and we are keeping on top of it. If it turns out that it would be a massive threat to myself or to Nic or to the little man, then I probably wouldn’t go. Family comes first. But as it stands at the minute, I think everything should be OK.”
4) Hats off to Southgate
At the start of the week at Wentworth a steady stream of players queued up on the range to shake Matthew Southgate’s hand. Rory McIlroy might have captured the headlines with his first win in seven months to help raise over a million Euros for his foundation, but Southgate’s heroics at the K Club went way beyond anything that a 5-wood over water could muster.
The 27-year-old was diagnosed with testicular cancer last July and, while the stars of the golfing world were battling it out at St Andrews in the Open Championship, Southgate was having his right testicle removed. His two-year-old niece Hattie, his sister’s daughter, is still under the care of Great Ormond Street after being diagnosed with leukaemia last year.
As well as the draining recovery there was also his career to think about and financially it had got to the point where trying his luck on the Challenge or European Tours might not be the future. Twelve months previously he had been in the field at Hoylake, now he was facing the possibility of giving up.
But a few weeks later, despite a lot of scar tissue, he was back at the range and using his girlfriend Charlotte Thompson’s (who plays on the LET) clubs as his felt too heavy. Three lots of qualifying later he was back on Tour.
And now, after earning over £150,000 in Ireland where he was first reserve at the start of the week, he has his card for another year already secured. His previous highest prize money was £22,261.
Hence the tears at the K Club and one of the most heart-warming stories that will play out this year. Southgate, who played his last 10 holes in five under, is well liked and rightly so.
“I’ve heard people for years say, just one good week, one good week. It’s hard, you’re on the Challenge Tour, or on the EuroPro Tour, it’s very difficult to see where that week is going to come from. I’m absolutely thrilled to bits that I’ve done that and that means a lot to a lot of people, including me, which is great.”
5) John Daly makes nine.. his first Senior moment
— PGA.COM (@PGAcom) May 26, 2016