Well, what a fantastic week we had at Wentworth. Most of the storylines were about Ryder Cup players, but the winner wasn’t one of those Ryder Cup guys.
All 12 of Team Europe played and all 12 made the cut. Seven of them finished in the top 10 which is great news for the skipper Luke Donald, he will be very happy with that. Shane Lowry and Matt Fitzpatrick also finishing inside the top 20.
Ludvig Åberg took the headlines for most of the week. It would’ve been an almighty win for him to actually win the BMW PGA Championship in that filed this early on in his career after just winning in Crans two weeks ago and getting that Ryder Cup pick. It all looked set for that to actually happen but the golfing gods stepped in and said “not this week”. He had a poor last round which cost him eventually with a 76, four over par and he just wasn’t at the races on the last day.
A really impressive win
I think with the inclement weather and the fact it was windy and he hits the ball high, that isn’t what you want when playing round Wentworth because you have to keep the ball below the treeline. Tyrrell Hatton even in his in round interview with Tim Barter from Sky Sports mentioned the issue with Jon Rahm flying the green on the 5th hole which was factored into Tyrrell’s decision just because it is so difficult to judge the wind around there.
Then funnily enough Tyrrell took control of the tournament and it looked pretty plane sailing for him, yet for a late charge from Ryan Fox who actually made a triple bogey on his third hole and then went onto make eight birdies in his next 15 holes. One being at the last after he had to lay up from 106 yards, and wedged it into eight feet and holing the putt for the win. Knowing he had to hole it for the win is a really impressive win for the Kiwi.
He is such a likeable chap, everyone speaks highly of him. An industrial guy as he swings it very differently to someone like Åberg, even though they may hit it the same distance, he doesn’t have a coach cultivated orthodox swing we are used to. But his ball flight, ball striking, and scores are very orthodox and that was all very very good from Ryan.
Going down the leaderboard, Jon Rahm fourth on his own, Viktor Hovland fifth, Dubai-resident Tommy Fleetwood sixth, Rory McIlroy seventh. So all really good news, especially with McIlroy getting over his injuries and he even had a chance in the last round, shot a 65 but it wasn’t to be. But a really good showing from McIlroy just what we need to see from a Team Europe standpoint.
Across to the PGA Tour. A really popular winner in Sahith Theegala in the Fortinet Championship. This has been coming for quite a while, and a bit like Ryan Fox, he’s not a play by numbers and by the books golfer. He plays with his heart on his sleeve.
A really liked guy on Tour especially after his appearance in the Netflix’s ‘Full Swing’ documentary when he won over more fans. So he captured his maiden victory on the PGA Tour by nudging ahead of Kim and Davis who came second and third respectively in what is a funny time of the season for the PGA Tour. Theegala finished in the top 50 last year so that means he is fully exempt, but these events are still part of the 2023 season but obviously the FedEx Cup is done and the season carry’s on but he just wanted to get that win and now he has a two year exemption on tour.
All credit to Theegala, and I think we will see a few more wins from him as he is able to hold his nerve down the stretch. Scottie Scheffler has pushed him out previously a couple of times, the Waste Management Phoneix Open being one but not this time! And it’s finally worked out really well for him.
A couple of big events coming up this week. On the DP World Tour it’s the Cazoo Open de France at Le Golf National, a venue some of the guys will know well having had the tournament there for years and years. It might not be a big week in the terms of star power, but in terms of who will keep their card and lose their card for next season its important.
Home favourite Victor Perez
Just one Ryder Cup player there in Bob MacIntyre, the other 11 players have decided to take a week off to rest up for the Ryder Cup. But still a huge week for the new and lesser known players who may not have quite had it this year to get some points on the board while the big dogs are away. Victor Perez is the home favourite playing and I’m sure he would love to get that trophy under his belt, especially after narrowly missing out on a Ryder Cup pick so maybe that’s a small point to prove.
And finally onto the Solheim Cup. Amazing stars in both teams. Lexi Thomson 28-years-old and is almost classed as a veteran. All the players are so young on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s going to be a really exciting.
The last two editions have been great finishes and looking at all the names on both sides it’s going to be really close. Some players are in fantastic form, Lilia Vu has won two majors in a Solheim Cup year, the only player to have done that is Annika Sörenstam. Georgia Hall is on fine form this year, she got off to a flyer of at the start of the year, The middle of the season not so much but she’s back trending now. It’s going to be really exciting to watch Charley Hull, she’s finished second in two majors, the US Open and the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath. She always plays a fantastic round of golf, so inspiring for any young golfer watching and especially the way she goes about her business. Such a raw golfer and really well liked.
The other point about the Solheim Cup is there has been a bit of a bitter needle the last few years which I think adds to the spectacle. It’s now that team golf becomes quite unique in golf because the attitude is different and its more of a win at all cost situation.
The venue at Finca Cortesin in Spain is a really interesting one, a long course and pretty undulating. Some of the players will be familiar as they go to Spain a bit especially on the LET. And they have their end of season event in southern Spain so it’s going to be a really good showcase for the tournament and hopefully we will get to see a really close Solheim Cup. Being European, hopefully we will see Team Europe come out on top!
— Zane Scotland is a golf coach and Sky Sports commentator while holding a MENA Tour life-time membership