Different Strokes: Soundtrack to a New Orleans weekend

R&A set to keep Greg Norman out of the Open; Golf returns on this day in 2021

Who knew that the Animals’ House of the Rising Sun could provide an inspiration for a tournament victory on the PGA Tour, but that was the walk-on music chosen by Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele for a little soft shoe shuffle on the first tee at TPC Louisiana.

The Zurich Classic in New Orleans has a tradition that on the Saturday the players get to choose whatever tickles their fancy music wise to herald their arrival on the first tee of the two-man team format which is played over alternating foursomes and fourballs. There were 80 teams that teed it up with a cut for 33 and ties to make the weekend.

The Irish axis of Graeme McDowell and Seamus Power had chosen Supersonic by Oasis but never got to hear it because they didn’t make the final 36-holes. Ireland’s other representative Shane Lowry teamed up with Ian Poulter - they eventually finished 13th - and for their song they chose Queen’s collaboration with David Bowie, Under Pressure.

It wasn’t the only Queen song as Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia opted for Friends will be Friends. Some players did display a sense of humour with their song choice as was the case for Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson’s decision to go with the John Legend power ballad, All of Me (loves All of You).

There were others who perhaps put less thought into it, or at least you’d hope that was the case for the recent US Masters champion, Scottie Scheffler and his partner Ryan Palmer, who plumped for the University of Texas Fight Song: Texas Fight.

And yes, someone did choose the old Bing Crosby song with the golfing lyrics, Straight Down the Middle; those clever boys Brian Stuard and Russell Knox. Cantlay and Schauffele, who went unbeaten in foursomes in last year’s Ryder Cup, led all four days and had two shots to spare in victory.

No Norman

It appears that the R&A has moved quickly to shut down any possibility of Greg Norman playing in the 150th Open Championship over the Old Course at St Andrew's in July. Norman, 67, expressed an interest in making a competitive comeback after a 13-year absence to play in the Open.

He said: “I think that I can still get in. It’s the 150th. I’m a past Open champion. I love St Andrew’s. If there’s a moment in time I would consider going back and teeing off one last time, maybe this is it. I am filling out my entry form now. I think I can still get in.”

The R&A were quick to disabuse the controversial Australian - he is involved with LIV Golf Investments who are looking to set up a rival golf league to the PGA Tour and DP World Tour - issuing a statement that read: “The entry terms and conditions for the Open stipulate that a champion must be aged 60 or under, or have won the championship in the previous 10 years to be exempt from qualifying.

“That remains the case for the 150th Open and we have no plans for any additional exemptions.”

On This Day: April, 26th, 2021

It is exactly a year ago that golfers in the Republic of Ireland were able to take to the fairways once again ending a period of 210 days in which golf clubs had been closed - the highest figure anywhere in the world - because of Covid-19 restrictions over the previous 12 months.

The government announced the decision on March 30th but it was greeted with a hint of frustration as golf courses in Northern Ireland were permitted to open from April 1st.

When the day did eventually come it was not a free-for-all return to the fairways. Golf club members were allowed to play at their own clubs only while society and casual green fee golfers had to wait for a further easing of restrictions.

There was some good news for those members who needed to cross county boundaries. The travel restriction, which had a five-kilometre limit, was extended to travelling within the county or within a 20-kilometre radius if crossing county lines on April 12th, two weeks before golf resumed. Golf was the first sport along with tennis and children’s (Under-18) training for team sports (pods of 15) to resume in a sporting context.

Word of Mouth

“When your golf is not there and then injuries, and then these 20-year-old kids are coming in and they’re flying the ball 50, 60 yards over yours and you’re not putting well, you’re not chipping well. There are a lot of things coming into my mind. I thought a lot about not playing any more. And sometimes if you believe and you keep working hard, life gives you back.” Pablo Larrazbal almost gave the game up before winning in Spain at the weekend.

Number: 6

The number of LPGA Tour titles that Japan's Nasa Hataoka has won following her victory in the LA Open. It was only the second tournament of the season for the 23-year-old who had missed the cut in her only other outing. Ireland's Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire didn't make the weekend in Los Angeles.

Twitter Twaddle

@PepperellEddie: "Quite incredibly it appears that I am making a cut for the first time in God knows how long. I have been so bad, and frankly, continue to be. But I am grinding Pretty Ricky style and still have some hope."

@Hendygolf: "Just throwing it out there…I heard as we male golfers get older we get shorter off the tee….That being the case…Couldn't we have the Senior Tour and @Letgolf or @LPGA play an event all off the same tees for the same prize purse." Australian golfer Scott Hend then added a twitter poll amongst his followers to see if the idea would fly: 66.4 per cent of the respondents agreed the idea would work.

In The Bag

Pablo Larrazabal winner of the ISPS Handa Championship.

Driver: Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond S Driver (10.5 degrees)

3-wood: Callaway Epic Speed (15 degrees)

5-wood: Callaway Epic Speed (13 degrees)

Hybrid: Callaway X Forged UT (24 degrees)

Irons: Callaway Apex TCB 21 (4-iron to 7-iron) & Callaway Apex MB 21 (8-iron to PW)

Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (48 degrees, 46 degrees & 60 degrees)

Putter: Odyssey Toulon Las Vegas

Ball: Chrome Soft X 22

Know the Rules

Q. Player A's tee shot on a par three comes to rest in a bush short of the green. He informs Player B that he is declaring the ball unplayable and wants to go back to the teeing ground under a one stroke penalty. Is this permitted?

A. Yes. Player A has three options in that scenario under a one-stroke penalty. He may return to the teeing ground and play from there. He is permitted to drop a ball keeping the flag in a straight line from the point of relief behind the bush. There is no limit as to how far he may go back. Player A may also drop a ball within two club lengths of the bush but not nearer the hole. The relief is governed under Rule 19.2; relief options for an unplayable ball in the general area or on putting green.

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