Different Strokes: Rickie Fowler puts himself back in the picture

Irish set for Q-School; by the numbers; word of mouth; on this day and more

Rickie Fowler and caddie Joe Skovron walk to the eighth hole during the final round of the CJ Cup. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Rickie Fowler and caddie Joe Skovron walk to the eighth hole during the final round of the CJ Cup. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Perhaps it’s time for Rickie Fowler to let his golf do the talking again, after finally getting back into the frame at the CJ Cup and aiming to take that form on with him on his global travels to Japan for this week’s Zozo Championship.

The former world number four - who had fallen to 128th last week on the back of a dreadful season where he failed to get into the fields for the US Masters and the US Open and didn’t make it to the FedEx Cup playoffs - has received online negativity for seemingly putting more effort into television commercials (beer, insurance, mortgages . . . oh, and golf clubs!) than his own game.

But finally Fowler - who let a 54-hole lead slip, where he was playing on a sponsor’s exemption, but still finished third behind Rory McIlroy in the desert - has provided proof that there has been hard work going on in the background in his bid to move back up the rankings.

“It’s just keeping it simple knowing the few things that we’re working on, keep focusing on that, keep trusting it . . . . it’s been a long journey but definitely thankful for the team around me, my wife, Allison, and Joe (Skovron) on the bag. And (swing coach John) Tillery, he’s spent countless hours trying to get me on the right track.”

Fowler’s third place (his first top-10 since the US PGA back in may) moved him back into the world’s top-100, in 82nd.

Irish set for Q-School

Far removed from the megabucks on offer to those teeing up in this week’s Zozo Championship in Japan (for the men) and the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea (for the women), a harsher reality of actually getting a tour card for the 2022 season will be lived out for a number of Ireland’s young professionals.

For Dubliners Paul McBride and Conor Purcell, the next step towards a Korn Ferry Tour card gets underway with Stage Two stops in their bids to make it to the next month’s final stage.

McBride is in action at the Plantation resort in Florida, while Purcell will be competing at Dothan in Alabama.

Olivia Mehaffey, who turned professional following graduating with a masters from Arizona State, has also negotiated the initial stage of the LPGA Tour qualifying and is also at stage two later this week - at Plantation, Florida - aiming to be among the top 30 set to progress to Q Series in December where LPGA Tour and Symetra Cards for 2021 will be dispensed.

By the numbers

1/84: Leona Maguire is the only Irish player in the limited 84 woman field for this week’s BMW Ladies Championship which takes place in Busan, South Korea. The 72-hole tournament has a prize fund of €1.75 million ($2m) and a top prize of €260,000 ($300,000) and is part of the LPGA Tour schedule. There are just three events left on the LPGA Tour season, the BMW followed by next month’s Pelican Championship and, finally, the CME Group Tour Championship. Maguire is currently 15th on the order of merit standings.

Word of mouth

“I’ve realised that just being me is good enough and maybe the last few months I was trying, not trying to be someone else, but maybe trying to add things to my game or take things away from my game” - Rory McIlroy on being Rory McIlroy.

On this day

October 19th, 2003: When Ernie Els won the HSBC World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth, his was a familiar name that would find its way onto the base with a stellar list of winners.

For the South African, it was a fifth success in the old championship - beating Thomas Bjorn 4 and 3 in the 36 hole final - but the first time that he lifted the new trophy, named after Mark McCormack who had founded the tournament.

Els had proved once again imperious on the West Course en route to another win, which prompted Seve Ballesteros - commentating on BBC - to remark: “Ernie is simply fantastic. He has more natural ability and talent than Tiger Woods. If he wants to be world number one (again), he will be.”

In fact, Els - who had been world number one on three separate occasions in 1997 and 1998 for a career total of nine weeks - never managed to reach those dizzy heights again in his career.

Still, his win at Wentworth was his seventh globally of 2003 and also moved him alongside Gary Player and Ballesteros as a five-time winner of the world matchplay.

Twitter Twaddle

“3rd place this week on the Challenge tour in Spain with 4 rounds of 67. Fair to say I prefer that back 9. Thank you again for all the support, it’s been a great few weeks. Ready to go again” - John Murphy after his third place finish in the Emporda Challenge. Murphy finished on 16-under 268 but was a remarkable 17-under for his play of the back nine. The 23-year-old Corkman remains in Emporda for this week’s stop, the Costa Brava Challenge.

“Congrats to the 2 Europeans on brilliant wins, in very different ways, either side of the Atlantic - Matt & Rory - horses for courses” - Paul McGinley tipping the cap to Fitzpatrick and McIlroy.

“This one feels sweet. Couldn’t be happier to win round Valderrama. So happy to grind it out all week!” - Matt Fitzpatrick on his Andalucia Masters win, his seventh career win on the European Tour.

Know the Rules

Q: On reaching his ball, Player A finds that it is in play close to part of a fence that is situated out of bounds (and so is not a boundary object) but which is leaning over onto the course. The player proceeds to push it back into an upright position. Has he broken any rule?

A: Yes, in pushing it back he has breached Rule 8.1a and is liable to the general penalty for his actions. The rule prohibits a player from improving conditions affecting the stroke by moving immovable obstructions. The player gets the general penalty unless he restores the conditions by returning the fence to its original position before the next stroke (Rule 8.1c).

However, in such a situation, although Rule 8.1a prohibits moving, bending or breaking the immovable obstruction, the player has the option to take free relief from interference by the part of the immovable obstruction that is leaning onto the course (Rule 16.1b, relief from abnormal course conditions).

In the bag

Rory McIlroy, CJ Cup winner

Driver - TaylorMade SIM2 (9 degrees)

3-wood - TaylorMade SIM (15 degrees)

Hybrid - TaylorMade SIM Max (19 degrees)

Irons - TaylorMade P730 RORS prototype (3-9)

Wedges - TaylorMade MG3 (46 degrees), Milled Grind 2 TW (56 degrees) MG2 (60 degrees)

Putter - TaylorMade Spider X Hydro Blast

Ball - TaylorMade TP5x

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