Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What If... in Golf

The game of ‘What if’ is as claustrophobic as it is pointless in golf… but it’s also unavoidable. Think back to your last round and the small mistakes you made: a missed putt, an aggressive
chip, a moment when you were distracted mid-swing but didn’t stop.
I’ll think about these things as I lie in bed at night. I count the good shots, I analyse the bad shots and I flounder in the What Ifs.
It’s not often I do this for someone else.
But Rory’s different.
Approach to the 15th at Royal Portrush
Never mind that 1st hole disaster on Day 1 of the Open Championship. Regrettable, yes, but almost understandable given the circumstances. It was that casual, almost flippant tap-in putt on 16 that has me so bothered. 
What if he’d knocked that in? Would he still have lost his head and made that triple bogey on 18?
What if he took a bogey five and, just like that, shaved three shots off his first round score. He’d have arrived on the 1st tee for the second round on five-over… not eight-over.
The problem with What Ifs is where do they end.
What If Rory had been five-over? What then? Would he have played the care-free golf we saw on Day 2? Would we have seen that mind-blowingly tense back nine as he swashbuckled his way through the dunes and the birdies to get to one-over?
Or would he have played more conservatively, targeting the par fives for birdies or better?
And would it have made the second round of the 148th Open as tense and exciting as it was? It was unmissable TV. Don’t tell me anyone left their seat for those two hours when Rory was roaring home… and the fans in Portrush were enjoying a white knuckle ride.
So… What If? Would we have seen Rory at his best if that tap-in putt on 16 had gone in? 
And What If Shane had missed that bogey putt on the 1st hole of his final round? 
That's a whole different story!

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