It's already been a November to remember
23:00 GMT, 5 November 2012
Has there ever been a golfing week in November quite like the last one What caught your eye – the joyous rise of Ian Poulter in China or the sad demise of Lee Westwood What happens next for Rory McIlroy now he’s changed club manufacturers or what happens next for the European Tour now everybody is off to America Are the governing bodies right to try to ban belly putters
Here are some thoughts on the hot topics of the moment…
The rise of Poulter
He might have no chance of winning the BBC’s Sports Personality award but is there really a better personality in sport right now than our Poults
Poulter: Amazing personality
Is there a better character than the larger than life, former 17 year old club assistant playing off a five handicap, who progressed so far he changed the destiny of the Ryder Cup single-handedly and still found enough energy to win in China on Sunday and become the first Englishman to win two World Golf Championship events This is Poulter’s 13th year as a pro and he has won tournaments in all but one of them.
Poults reckons the American Brandt Snedeker is the best putter in golf. On a week-to-week basis, I’d go with Luke Donald. But if you had to pick one man to hole a putt to save your life, the way Jose Maria Olazabal once did and then Tiger Woods That man is now Ian James Poulter.
The demise of Lee Westwood
You will be familiar with my respect for Westwood the golfer and Westwood the man. So you can imagine what it was like rising early to watch the end of the HSBC Champions tournament in China on Sunday, and the first two shots I see are Westwood doing what all bad amateurs do – first clunking a chip short and then thinning the next one.
The great thing about Westwood is that he will dwell on the positives of his lucky life and keep searching for a solution, and let’s hope to God he finds one.
Demise: Westwood fell away in China
But the fact he has now played in over 100 majors and world golf championship events and not won any tells its own story about a telling weakness around the greens under pressure that you fear will never be resolved.
Rory McIlroy changing clubs
Listening to Sir Nick Faldo, he makes changing club manufacturers sound a bit like a violin virtuoso ditching his Stradivarius. And yes, it is true, we have seen a number of players lose form after such a change. Payne Stewart, Ian Woosnam and, perhaps most pertinently in this instance, David Duval when he switched to Nike clubs, to name but three.
But the technology has changed to such an extent since those players were competing it is hard to believe that it will cause a break in McIlroy’s stride.
Perhaps there will be a couple of tournaments early on when the clubs will feel a touch strange. But, as we await the official announcement of his expected 156 million switch to the swoosh, expect him be perfectly in tune with the new tools of his trade come the Masters.
Changing clubs: McIlroy
Whither the European Tour
Are we rapidly reaching the point where the last man on tour needs to switch off the lights Listening to some of the doom and gloom, you’d think so.
No-one could argue this has been a good year for the tour, with events in mainland Europe disappearing at an alarming rate. But Keith Waters, the tour’s chief operating officer, tells me that when the schedule is announced for next year, all the national Opens around Europe that we have come to know and love will be in place, and that’s good to know.
Luke Donald said last week the tour should be worried by the growing exodus to America but the fact is, stars like himself can ease any such fears. All it would take is for them to commit to play in three events in Europe every year.
Time to ban the Belly Putter
Yes, you’re right, the governing bodies should have snapped this dreadful implement in half at birth. But if you’re in any doubt that it is never too late to do the right thing, then the sight of 14-year-old Guan Tianling winning his spot at the Masters using one of the damn things should convince.
Belly putter: Guan Tianlang of China, 14, reacts after winning his pot at the Masters
In other words, the future stars are now not even bothering learning the complexities of putting with orthodox equipment, and why should they when this form of legalized cheating offers such an easy way out
The Royal and Ancient and the United States Golf Association have seen the future, and know that if they don’t act now a conventional putter in another decade will be about as common as a persimmon driver.
More from Derek Lawrenson…
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Derek Lawrenson: Overpaid Most earnings aren't on a par with Rose's fortune
Derek Lawrenson: It's a Turkish delight as eight greats battle it out for big bucks
Derek Lawrenson: Why we should be saying Yanks for the memories to gracious losers
Derek Lawrenson: McIlroy a victim of trash talk in American press ahead of Ryder Cup
Derek Lawrenson: Westwood at fever pitch to boost his holiday funds by $10million
Derek Lawrenson: Now Tiger has the chance to rewrite McIlroy's story
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Ryder Cup car up for auction
Shortly up for auction in the village of Lombard, just outside Chicago: an unmarked police car, namely a Ford Crown Victoria, built in 2005 and with 81,000 miles on the clock.
Its selling point This is the car used by Deputy Chief Pat Rollins that broke all speed limits and got Rory McIlroy to the Ryder Cup singles matches on time.
Christian fighting to avoid cut
On a United States tour where $1 million first prizes are handed out almost as a matter of course and the average salary of players competing is in seven figures, it seems almost perverse that a shortfall of precisely $3,504 is threatening Gary Christian’s livelihood.
That is the amount between the 41-year-old Englishman in 127th place on the list and 125th-ranked Billy Mayfair, who occupies the last spot to retain privileges to play a full schedule next year.
Perverse too, that this week’s final event featuring pros frantic with worry and nerves should take place in the vacation capital of America, Orlando.
Christian is the gutsy fighter who finally made it through to the big-time this year after so many seasons of struggle, when he was forced to take jobs like selling knives to keep his dream alive. Now he has 72 holes to save himself or suffer the unkindest cut.
A terrible finish to his last tournament, when he was in position to claim the funds he needs, was a brutal indication of the pressure he is feeling. We can but wish him well in the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, which begins on Thursday within the grounds of Walt Disney.
Quote of the Week
‘If Rory McIlroy doesn’t come and play Bay Hill next year he might have a broken arm and won’t have to worry about where he’s going to play next.’
Here was Arnold Palmer, wrapping up his message in a joke but making clear he wants Rory to pitch up at his tournament next March. If truth be told, McIlroy would rather play in Houston the following week. But dare he say no to the King