The PGA Returns with Pride:
The European Tour returned the PGA title to its flagship event this season and the tournament re-emerged as one of the premier spectacles in world golf. For years it was known as the Volvo PGA Championship, but when BMW took over as sponsor in 2005 they dropped the PGA from the name; a re-think this season brought it back and with it came a quality field producing a magical week. We had a bit of everything: the old campaigner, Paul Broadhurst; the local boy, Ross Fisher, who grew-up playing his golf at the club; Vijay Singh, the superstar, whom Surrey galleries rarely get to see these days. He surged through the field on the final day. Then there was the outsider, Anders Hansen, a man who had already claimed the prize in 2002, his first and only win on tour; Angel Cabrera, the big-hitting Argentine who has a soft spot for the West Course; and finally Rose, the peoples favorite, battling injuries but always winning over the British public.
Sadly, the fairytale comeback for Rose wouldnt materialize with that birdie putt on the first play-off hole slipping by on the left side, handing the title to a worthy winner in Hansen. Roses performance will boost the confidence and he will go to Oakmont as my European favorite. As for Hansen, well, I ended Mondays UK Golf Central by calling him the new Great Dane, and with wins like the PGA he will quickly take the title away from its current holder, Thomas Bjorn.
The only thing missing from the tournament this season was Renton Laidlaw, whom many of you know as our main commentator for GOLF CHANNEL coverage of the European Tour. Renton has been ill recently, hence his absence from the booth, but Im informed he was due to make his first trip out of the house since leaving the hospital to visit Wentworth on Sunday. Obviously, we wish Renton all the very best for a full recovery. When he will return to duties with the GOLF CHANNEL remains to be seen.
Trish on Top:
BMW had the European golfing domain covered last week; not only did they put the money up for the PGA, but also were involved in the BMW Italian Ladies Open. That event started on Wednesday, giving them (BMW) a Saturday and Sunday finish. Trish Johnson was the first champion to be crowned, taking her first title in three years and 18th career worldwide win. Its been a while since Johnsons name has been in the headlines. Her last win was the Wales Ladies Open in 2004, but with last weeks victory in Italy she climbs to third in the Solheim Cup standings. An appearance in Sweden this autumn would her eighth. Speaking of Solheim Cup, there has been some confusion in the United States about the European selection, which has changed from previous years. The European team will be decided as follows: the top 5 from the European Solheim Cup points list, then the next four players from the Rolex World Rankings not otherwise exempt, followed by three captains picks. The team, minus captain's selections, as of Monday May 28th looks like this:
Sad news from the R&A:
On Wednesday of last week I went through my usual morning routine of waking-up and wandering over to the computer to check e-mail. I was shocked to read one that had come from the current Captain of my home club, Walton Heath, informing the members that Michael Lunt, a former captain at Walton and current Captain of the R&A, had suddenly passed away on Tuesday evening at the age of 72. Michael was two-thirds of the way through his year of Captaincy, and he and wife, Vicky, had traveled across the globe promoting the game, attending dinners, giving speeches and fulfilling the role of the R&As ambassador for our wonderful game. Michael was in his element and was a deserved captain having joined the Royal and Ancient following his British Amateur win in 1963. Hed served on the Championship Committee and the Rules of Golf Committee. He had referred Open Championships, World Match-Plays and many R&A amateur tournaments.
He spent 11 years as Secretary of Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club, and most recently was Captain of Walton Heath, his home course and the one closest to the family home in Surrey. I spent many afternoons strolling the Heath with Michael, marveling at his awesome power -- late into his 60s he could still belt out a 300-yard drive, and the fluid putting stroke would often produce when needed, prompting Michael to give you that look that many must have faced over the years at the highest level, knowing they were in deep trouble. I would listen to his tales of the four Walker Cups hed played and the characters hed met. Michael had seen them all, played with them all, given them rulings. Hed played in Open Championships, Eisenhour Trophys, French Amateurs and spring meetings. He was a golfing gentleman of the highest pedigree. Opening the door to his wonderful memory was like opening up the page of your favorite golf history book, and with his beautiful deep English accent, having it narrated in front of you. Golf lost one of its finest characters last week and he will be missed.
Tom Abbott will host GOLF CHANNELs (Sky Digital 423) live coverage of the Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika this week, beginning on Thursday at 8 p.m.
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