Larry Canning: Time to pull the kryptonite on “Major Winning Man”

By Larry Canning

Faster than a speeding Srixon Z Star!

More powerful than a John Deere BH series Gang-Mower!

Able to hit a wedge over a tall building and spin it back into the foyer!

Look up in the sky –

Is it a bird? (in the scheme of things, that sounds pretty lame doesn’t it?)

Is it a really expensive private Lear Jet?

No, it’s “Major Winner Man”!

Yes! – Major Winner Man! … strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of the regular tour player.

Major Winner Man! … who can change the course of really long dogleg par fives!

Bend waist high rough with his bare hands! … And who, disguised as Brooks Koepka, mild mannered golf pro at a small public golf course in a small working class town, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and recognition by the American Media.

Brooks Koepka preparing to take off to his next Major

I’d rather it didn’t get out but I have mixed feelings about Major Winner Man. I have a tremendous respect for his powers and the way the big guy doesn’t pull a face like a Rugby All Black doing a Haka while throwing a maniacal uppercut in the general direction of the fans after a clutch putt. Don’t get me wrong, I love displays of emotion from the lads like the iconic Tom Watson chip-in at Pebble Beach in 1982, or Seve’s reaction when he birdied the 72nd hole at the Royal and Ancient for another Claret Jug in 1984. Payne Stewart’s one legged reach for the sky after winning the US Open in 99 was actually turned into a statue and for good reason – it’s a bloody cracker!

Now that I’m recalling terrific reactions from great players; what about Paul Azinger holing a bunker shot on the last at the Jack Nicklaus Memorial? Perhaps a little over dramatic? Maybe not by American standards?

One of my all-time favourites was Craig Parry’s typically Aussie reaction after he holed a six iron to win the play-off at the 2004 Ford Championship at Doral. It’s like he knew he was supposed to do something and he’d seen other players celebrate in various ways but became a little confused. He finished up throwing his club in the air, lifting up his right leg while punching the sky with his right hand. That may not sound that strange but when you see it and even try it yourself you’ll find it’s not exactly theatrically inspiring. But like I said, Craig is just another Aussie who doesn’t take the stereotypical PGA Tour player or himself too seriously.

 

The issue I have with “Major Winner Man” is the emergence of him as being the template for Grand Slam Champions. I know we saw the orthodox non super powered Francesco Molinari claim The Open last year but Carnoustie’s fairways were about as soft as the Princess Highway. I know what you’re thinking … he all but won at Augusta but I see a classic all around beautifully correct player like Franc consistently being served up on Koepka’s plate with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

So has “Maje” as he is known by amateur golf writers when running out of space on their allotted page, become not the hero but the villain? Did he come from another planet or was he in fact created right here on Earth by those PGA and USGA Officials in charge of Major course setups?

I’m going with the latter. I recall it began with the term “Tiger Proofing” late last century. 7,500 yard courses, 20 metre wide fairways offering somewhere between 12 and 18 inches of run, and rough which has players hacking it out with a wedge. The difference is “Maje” is hacking his pill straight at the flag and having it spin and Francesco’s “wedge hack out” is sideways back to the fairway.

Call me old fashioned but I love watching a Major where a shot making virtuoso like, lets say, Jim Furyk has something resembling a chance to compete with “Maje”. Where a classic golf course is not morphed into the Colosseum where the biggest bloke with the biggest sword is unbeatable. Great golf courses have options and angles to play and that should be the emphasis when preparing them for a Major. As soon as you lengthen holes, narrow the fairways down to the width of my ensuite, then water the crap out of them, then that’s all nullified and every major golf course winds up playing the same.

Leave the courses alone guys and lets see some normal humans who weren’t given super human abilities winning. Or maybe we should just play our next Major on the planet Krypton?

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