What you may have missed from the last week in golf:
– Rory McIlroy bags another 2019 victory
– Why Brendon Todd’s Bermuda Championship win was a victory for us all
– Phil Mickelson has finally slipped out of the top-50 in the world rankings
– How Bernhard Langer’s bunker problems handed Colin Montgomerie victory in the most unlikely way possible
Why Rory McIlroy just can’t stop winning in 2019
Rory McIlroy shows no signs of taking his foot off the gas at the end of what has been a hugely impressive 2019. The 30-year-old secured his fourth win of the year at the WGC HSBC Champions, after defeating Xander Schauffele in a playoff at Sheshan International in Shanghai.
McIlroy says that the key to his consistent performances this year – in 24 starts he has four wins and a further 14 top-10 finishes – is an increased level of maturity.
“I think maybe more so than say when I first came out on Tour, I try 100 per cent over every shot, I think because I realise I don’t have as much time left as I used to when I was 20. Even if I’m having a bad day, I’m trying over every single shot. My concentration is better and my mental capacity on the golf course is much better than it ever has been, and I think that’s a big key to why I’m able to play consistently week-in, week-out.”
His victory means he now sits fifth in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, which culminates with the DP World Tour Championship in three weeks’ time. It’s an event McIlroy has won twice, and another victory could see him crowned Race to Dubai champion for the fourth time.
“I have one more event left in Dubai,” McIlroy said of what’s next for him. “I want to finish the season off as well as I can. I’m playing well. I don’t think my game is going to go anywhere over the next two weeks, so hopefully I can turn up in Dubai and play well on a golf course that I’ve had success on and really finish the year off hopefully the way that I’ve played all year, which is consistently good golf.
“I really wanted to get another win before the end of the year, and now that I’ve done that, it would be nice to get two wins.”
Why Brendon Todd’s Bermuda Championship win is a victory for us all
As amateur golfers, we all struggle a bit with our game from time to time. It can feel like no matter what you try, your scores get worse, and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If that sounds at all familiar, Brendan Todd should make you feel a bit better.
A year ago, the 34-year-old American was on the brink of giving up the game completely. He’d missed the cut in 37 of his last 40 starts and dropped outside the top 2,000 in the world rankings.
“It was basically the ball-striking yips,” he says. “Every time I played, I would hit a 4-iron or a 3-wood 50 yards right, and I knew why but I couldn’t really fix it. When the misses get so big that it’s an automatic double bogey, narrowing that miss up is hard.”
Todd started working with a new coach, Bradley Hughes, late last year, sparking an upturn in his fortunes. He made three cuts in his first four starts at the beginning of this year, getting him back inside the world’s top 1,000 players.
But he wasn’t out of the woods yet. He missed three cuts in a row before a solid stretch of six made cuts, including a T-2 at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship and a T-18 at the John Deere Classic.
Yet still inconsistency plagued him. Four more missed cuts in a row left him facing another year of playing Korn Ferry Tour events while trying to secure as many invites as possible to PGA Tour tournaments.
Thankfully, his Bermuda Championship victory, secured in dominant fashion thanks to a nine-under 62 on Sunday, giving him a four-shot margin, mean he is fully exempt on the PGA Tour until the end of the 2021-2022 season.
“A year ago, I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep playing,” he says. “So it’s really special to get this win.
“It’s a dream come true, and hopefully a springboard to a really long career out here.”
It’s the end of an era as Phil Mickelson exits the top-50 of the world rankings
Phil Mickelson first entered the top-50 in the Official Golf World Rankings on November 27, 1993, after finishing second in the Casio World Open behind Tom Lehman. And he never left – at least, until now. Mickelson didn’t play last week, which allowed Japan’s Shugo Imahira, who finished second at the Japan Golf Tour’s Mynavi ABC Championship, to replace him at number 50 in the world.
Mickelson’s stay in the top-50 stretched across 1,353 weeks. Don’t expect his record to be broken any time soon. Rory McIlroy is now the player with the longest streak in the top-50, at 572 weeks, meaning he would need to stay there for another 15 years to match Mickelson.
Still struggling to get your head around Mickelson’s lengthy stay in golf’s top tier? Look at it this way: when he first broke into the top-50, the first Jurassic Park was on in the cinema and Meatloaf was number one in the charts with I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That). Oh, and Rory McIlroy, the man with the best chance of matching Phil’s record, was only four years old.
“It was a good run, but I’ll be back,” smiled Phil.
Bernhard’s bunker blues hand victory to Monty
Some golfers really struggle with bunkers (if you’re one of them, check out our tips on bunker play here). Bernhard Langer isn’t one of them. Well, not usually. The 62-year-old has racked up 114 professional wins. You don’t do that if you can’t get out of bunkers.
The German was in the hunt for victory number 115 at the Invesco QQQ Championship, finishing tied at the top with Colin Montgomerie on 14-under. On the first playoff hole, Langer’s approach shot found a greenside bunker, from where it took him four shots to get out.
“How often does that happen?” said Montgomerie, who had fired a course record 63 to get into the playoff. “How often does Bernhard Langer take four in the bunker?”
“It was a downhill lie with a big lip in front,” explained Langer. “It’s hell down there. You just can’t go down there. That bunker’s built very poorly.”
“I was overaggressive,” he said, of an approach shot that, “Just faded to the right. I was trying to make birdie and just pushed it about 5 yards.
“I made one bad shot and paid the price. That was the worst place you could hit it. Anywhere left I have a shot down there.”