Johnson gamble brings reward


RORY McILROY’S double bogey mishap on the final hole at the St Jude Classic last Sunday brought Michael Connolly’s Fantasy Golf weekend to a less than satisfactory end, our Collooney, Co Sligo manager having already endured three missed cuts from his line-up.

He could, then, have done without McIlroy finding water from the tee when he was sharing the lead, although, admittedly, McIlroy could have done without the error himself. So, in the end he had to settle for a share of seventh, earning his sizeable contingent of managers 16 points, half the tally they might have been banking on.

Pádraig Harrington and Fredrik Jacobson were the only other members of Michael’s team to make it through to the weekend, the pair winning 17 points between them, leaving last week’s overall leader with a total of 27 points from the tournament, resulting in him dropping from first to third.

Kieron Hyland, from Rathfarnham in Dublin, and Bryan Crowley, from Carrigaline, Co Cork, both leapfrogged Michael on the leaderboard, despite also suffering from McIlroy’s woes – the rather key factor for them, though, was that they had Dustin Johnson on board, the winner of the tournament.

In all, eight of our top 10 managers – the others being Kay Cully, Ken Coffey, Noel Connors, Cormac OConnor, Michael Byrne and James Cafferkey – transferred Johnson in to their teams, evidently trusting that he’d recovered from that back injury he picked up while lifting a jet ski in his home (and which one of us hasn’t done that?).

That, then, proved be quite a successful move, as opposed to, say, those who opted to hire Matt Bettencourt. True, he was on the back of four missed cuts and two withdrawals, but was in good enough shape last week to qualify for the US Open, so appeared to have rediscovered some of the form that gave him a top-six finish at The Heritage back in April. How’d he do at the St Jude Classic? After an opening round of 80 he went home.

Fina Doyle of Templeogue had a somewhat better time of it in the 10th tournament on our schedule, Johnson, Ryan Palmer and Davis Love (two of the four players to take a share of third) and McIlroy her top points winners. Fina was one of just two managers to top the 100 points mark in week 10, the unlucky Suzanne Meagher of Kilkenny the other.

Need you be told, the US Open is next in our schedule, so there are triple the regular points on offer. For those managers intending making a late charge up the leaderboard, now might be the time to start. After the US Open, there are just 10 tournaments to go, and only three of them are bonus events.