BATTY ABOUT GOLF
Columnist Doug Batty
Afew years ago now I made easily the worst call I’ve ever made (and there’s plenty of bad ones to choose from) with regards to anything golf. A friend of mine was involved in an online ‘Fantasy Golf’ draft and in the process of choosing his team’s line-up asked me if he should take Jordan Spieth. I said no.
Spieth was coming off his rookie year and I remember spouting some sophomore slump dribble to the effect of “it’s going to be very hard for him to back up his level of play from last year, at some point he’ll realise it’s just not as easy as he’s made it look thus far”.
Lastly, stupidly, I added, “He’s obviously really good but the truth is, I think he’s a little overrated.” Yeah, nice work Batman. Overrated? What does that even mean?
Obviously the word has been getting a little air time of late, its meaning dissected multiple times thanks to the anonymous poll released by Sports Illustrated that found Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter guilty of being the most overrated players on the PGA Tour in the opinion of their peers.
To be honest, I kind of get it (maybe) when people say Fowler is overrated. With his motor cross background, the various haircuts, the boy band, him seemingly single-handedly keeping Puma in business and now the requisite swimsuit model girlfriend, Fowler’s likeability, popularity and marketability are all off the charts.
But while I can come up with a couple of dozen current players who have better career records than he does, I can’t think of any more than three or four whom the general population would pick out of a line-up before him. Maybe Rickie Fowler the global brand is currently a little bigger than Rickie Fowler the golfing resumé. But that’s hardly Fowler’s fault.
As a teenager, I used to defend Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova (possibly because I was madly in love with her) when people used to carry on about how much money she made in sponsors’ dollars when she’d never actually won a tournament. Yes, she couldn’t beat the Williams sisters or Martina Hingis, but at one point she was ranked eighth in the world. In my eyes, if only seven people on Planet Earth can do your job better than you can, you’re pretty blimmin’ good! And what was she supposed to do, turn down the people lined up wanting to throw money at her?
Likewise, Rickie Fowler may have only won twice on the PGA Tour, but to diminish his golf game is silly. His 2014 season was nothing short of a revelation. Few play a tougher, deep-field event filled schedule than he and if you can’t be impressed by his finishing in the top five of all four majors then not many things in golf will impress you.
Sadly, I think more than anything professional jealousy (ie, fame, fortune and possibly said swimsuit model girlfrie-nd) was the reason behind his ‘win’ in this meaningless poll. I was delighted that it obviously lit a fire under him at the Players Championship, one of only two good things to come out of it; the other being that it arguably contributed to the best finish on the PGA Tour in recent memory.
As for Jordan Spieth, let’s just say that after my horrendous initial assessment I came around pretty quickly. I can’t imagine how tough it must be for him and Fowler to constantly ignore/ manage the hype surrounding them but they both seem as though they’re not trying to live up to anyone’s expectations but their own. Which is exactly as it should be.