Yep, the hoodie chat is STILL going on. Elsewhere, Sergio Garcia and Rafael Nadal swap sports, and there's a familiar face back in the winners' circle. Alex Perry wraps up the week's talking points

Hello. I know you’re all fretting about golf courses closing and the World Handicap System – me too – so hopefully this week’s column will provide a bit of light relief. Oh. Wait. No it won’t. Because the golf hoodie row is STILL going.

Since Tyrrell Hatton wore that Adidas hoodie almost a month ago now, the golf world has been divided, from Hatton himself saying he doesn’t see the issue, Rory McIlroy getting in on the action, and Brooks Koepka telling us to get over it.

This week, it’s the turn of Harold Varner III to grab some headlines on the subject. First the World No 121 tweeted about it…

This, of course, led to him being asked about it ahead of the Bermuda Championship.

“My tweet had nothing to do with a hoodie,” he explained. “It’s the fact that we’re talking about a hoodie and we’re not worried about how we’re going to get more people into golf and how we’re going to grow the game.”

Damn straight.

“That’s the part that’s funny to me because some people are bitter, man. They want it to be like a certain way.”

Amen.

Oh but he’s not finished: “I don’t really care that you’re mad what I think of a hoodie, you know, and if you really think a hoodie’s a problem, then you probably suck at golf anyway.”

I believe we call that a mic drop.

Now can we please leave it? Until next week, at least…

Masters preparation unlike any other

Sergio Garcia had an interesting way of warming up for a shot at his second Masters title – he played in a professional tennis tournament.

Garcia teamed up with Amer Delic – a former tennis pro who retired in 2015 – in the H-E-B Pro Tennis Open in Austin. The pair lost to Cole Burnham and Ethan Silva 6-3, 7-6(8) in the first round.

“Physically it’s going to help me for sure,” Garcia said. “But I’ve played tennis my whole life so it doesn’t hurt my game, which is great. I don’t know if it’s the perfect warm up for Augusta, but I play very often.

“I’m a competitor and I love competing. It doesn’t matter which sport it is. We had great time. It was a really nice match.”

Silva told Baseline: “Sergio was a lot better than we anticipated. He has great volleys and a great serve.

“It was an honor to meet him let alone play tennis against him.”

Burnham added: “I was surprised with how good his tennis game was. He had great hands at the net.”

Nadal swings the other way

And to bring this story full circle, tennis’s World No 2 Rafa Nadal teed up in the Balearic Golf Championship – less than two weeks after his record-equalling 20th grand slam title at Roland Garros.

Nadal plays off +0.3 – though we’ll see what the World Handicap System does about that – and finished 6th in the 60-man field at 9-over par, 10 shots behind champion Sebastian Garcia.

More importantly, he’s still rocking the Nike clubs. (And not a hoodie in sight…)

Weekend winners

Great to see Darren Clarke back in the winners’ circle. The 2011 Open champion got his first win since that special day in Kent more than nine years ago by edging out Bernhard Langer and Jim Furyk for his maiden Champions Tour win.

Clarke had led with Robert Karlsson going into the final round of the TimberTech Championship thanks to a stunning 10-under-par 62 on Sunday.

Unfortunately for Clarke, he’ll have to make do with spending his $300,000 winner’s cheque at his home in the Bahamas instead of competing at next week’s Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

“My VISA’s expired and, as a non-US citizen, you can only go to the embassy outside of the US to get it renewed, but they’re all shut due to Covid,” the 52-year-old explained. “It’s nobody’s fault.

“Then my ESTA is for 90 days only and that runs out on Wednesday. Consequently, I’ve got to leave the country.”

The Abaco Club is a pretty decent second best.

“The last time I won I had a sore head for a week,” he joked. “This may not last for a week, but it will last for a little bit.”

“I’m going to have to sit at the beach bar, drink some sea breezes, and watch the boys on the big screen up there. When everybody makes a birdie, I’ll go cheer and have another sea breeze.”

Talking of paradise islands, Brian Gay kept the ball rolling for the over-40s on the PGA Tour by winning the Bermuda Championship.

Gay, 48, is the third 40+ to win in the 2021 PGA Tour season, after Garcia and Stewart Cink, and the fourth winner ranked outside the top 300 in the world. Gay will move from 328 to 181 in the rankings.

“This is absolutely insane,” he said after beating Wyndham Clark in a play-off. “I’ve been playing awful.” And he’s right. Check out his run so far in 2020: MC-MC-MC-T38-MC-MC-T62-MC-MC-MC-MC-T27-MC-T41-MC-MC-MC-MC-Win.

He’ll take that form to Augusta in April.

On this side of the Atlantic (and Mediterranean) there was a maiden victory for Callum Shinkwin at the inaugural Cyprus Open.

The Englishman had an entertaining week that began with his ball in someone’s lunch – more on that later from our Rules of Golf expert – and ended with this putt to make it into a play-off that he went on to win for his first European Tour title.

That’s enough from me. You can follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing, and don’t forget to check out our excellent Masters preview content.

And if golf courses are to close over the lockdown period, we’ll do our very best to keep you entertained.

Stay safe.

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