Because who doesn't like a bit of rules drama? Alex Perry wraps up this and all the week's talking points in The Slam

Hello. Normally I’d write something here. Maybe a little quip, or a quick couple of hundred words of opinion. But there’s just so much to get through this week I’m going to skip the pleasantries and dive right in. Coming up: European Tour highs and lows, a slice of LPGA history, and an incident one rules official described as “most incredible”. Let’s go.

Get shirty

The European Tour couldn’t have asked for a better opener for its 2021 season, with the cream rising to the top at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. (Before we get into it let me just say I am absolutely all in on the European Tour campaign beginning in January with the high-profile events in the Middle East.)

The week started with Justin Thomas as the main talking point. If you don’t know why, here’s a little reminder, and he fronted up every question that came his way on the matter.

“It’s humiliating. It’s embarrassing. It’s not me,” he told reporters.

He revealed that he will be taking part in a training program, adding: “Whatever I need to do, not only to prove to myself but to prove to my sponsors and to the people who don’t know who I am that that is indeed not the person I am.”

JT has already been dropped by Ralph Lauren, and he says he has spoken to his other sponsors – including Titleist, FootJoy, and Citi Bank.

The Ralph Lauren fallout meant a lot of attention was on what Thomas was wearing in Abu Dhabi. If you care enough, he wore a Peter Millar shirt in practice then he went plain in the competition.

At least he knows Rory McIlroy has his back. “If anything,” he said, “it will probably just make him a better person than he already is, which is hard because he’s already a great guy.”

Oh, you two.

Hatts off to a good start

Talking of people who like to make a statement with what they’re wearing, the tournament was won by Tyrrell Hatton – sans hoodie in the sweltering Abu Dhabi heat, of course. (He was wearing a collarless polo though, if you really need a reason to get the daggers out.)

Hatton’s win is his sixth on the European Tour and his fourth in a Rolex Series events.

Not only that, Hatton stared down McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood, who were in the hunt until Hatton did this at the 10th…

He would eventually win by four and move up to World No 5 – leapfrogging McIlroy to become the highest ranked player from the UK.

And I know it’s a massive cliché to chirp on about how good the European Tour’s social team is – more on that later – but little nuggets they put out that we wouldn’t normally see are great. Like this…

Divot dilemma

Something happened on Friday’s second round that rules official Miguel Vidaor described as “the most incredible situation I’ve seen in my entire career”.

Vidaor was called out Jorge Campillo because he found his ball UNDERNEATH a divot on the fairway.

Now, as you all know because you’re all reading Steve Carroll’s Rules of Golf Explained series each week, Campillo was allowed to move the divot because it is classed as a loose impediment.

This is what the rules say: “If your removal of a loose impediment causes your ball to move, your ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated). If your moved ball had been at rest anywhere except on the putting green or in the teeing area, you get one penalty stroke.”

So, with Vidaor watching closely, Campillo expertly removed the divot without moving the ball, avoiding a penalty stroke in the process.

“He would be a great surgeon,” Vidaor joked afterwards.

If you want more, here’s Vidaor’s explanation of the situation…

Phil the – what’s the opposite of thrill?

In California, the second round of the American Express was Phil Mickelson’s 2,201st on the PGA Tour – and he did something he had never done before: he parred every single hole.

Pretty cool. Or boring. Depends on how you want to look at it, I suppose.

And it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t had what has to be the most ridiculous lip-out of his career to date…

Si-Woo Kim won the event, largely thanks to this put at 17…

The joy of sixth

Jessica Korda stood on the 18th tee at the LPGA’s season-opening Tournament of Champions in Florida needing a hole-in-one to shoot just the second 59 in the Tour’s history. (I don’t need to tell you who had the first and only to date.)

As it was she rolled in a birdie putt for a 60 – just the sixth in LPGA history.

Here are the highlights…

Korda went on to beat Danielle Kang in a play-off thanks to another impressive putt at the 18th and her sixth LPGA title…

Hawaii over 5-0s

Darren Clarke is loving life on the Champions Tour. On Saturday he won a second title in as many starts on the senior circuit, holding off Retief Goosen at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii.

How good is the Champions Tour, though? I mean, it’s always been good. It’s just now the leaderboards are packed with players I grew up watching.

And finally…

The European Tour once again smashed it out of the park with Angry Golfers – I wonder where they got that idea from – including memorable performances from Hatton and Fleetwood in particular.

If you haven’t seen it, grab a cuppa and spend the next six minutes of your life with this…

How good is some of the acting, by the way? Tommy Fleetwood’s certainly got a career on the comedy circuit when his playing days are over.

Right, that’s enough from me. You can follow me on Twitter, if that’s your kind of thing. Otherwise, don’t forget to…

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