However, the GUI’s ongoing policy – even in tighter financial times – of dispensing young players to compete in foreign climes is one that is of great benefit to Irish golf. For one, players become accustomed to the demands of travel (a point made by Rory McIlroy on his seamless move from amateur to professional); and, secondly, it provides the opportunity to instil a winning habit in players, which is something that can’t be taught. It must be garnered from experience.
Indeed, it’s fair to say that the GUI constantly punches above its weight in producing champions, with Dunbar’s British Amateur win of a year ago preceded in the not-too-distant past by Brian McElhinney (2005) and Michael Hoey (2001). And, if anything, the strike rate in the European championship has been even better with McIlroy (2006), McElhinney (2003), Stephen Browne (2001) and Paddy Gribben (1998) all claiming that particular crown.
Whitson’s win in Spain – joining a list of former champions that number Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia – earns him an invite into next month’s Spanish Open on the European Tour and also reinforced the belief that the GUI’s policy of throwing players in at the deep end on the international circuit continues to be the right one.
IMG snap up Feng
A sure sign of the westernisation of China – as far as golf is concerned – is that IMG, the world’s largest sports management agency, has moved into the market. IMG has signed Shanshan Feng (right), China’s first Major champion, to its list of clients.
The first Chinese player to earn a card on the LPGA Tour in 2008 after negotiating Q-school at the first attempt, Shanshan Feng created history last year when winning the LPGA Championship, her first Major.
Guy Kinnings, the global head of IMG Golf, said the company were “very excited about what the future holds for this remarkable young lady . . . we cannot wait to see what she will achieve next, both on and off the course.”
“Gonna put this out there. Rory will win the masters. #hearditherefirst”
– Shane Lowry gives his tuppence worth and shows confidence in McIlroy’s ability to bounce back.
“Rory has played how often this year? And the doubters have started. Remember the Masters? And then the US Open at Congressional?”
– Wisecracking TV commentator David Feherty gets serious to defend McIlroy.
“Stole a top 5 down the stretch today! Hope it made some of you some each way $$! Played the #BearTrap -3 this week. Ready to defend nxt wk”