Colum­nist Doug Batty

The Cut - - CONTENTS -

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.

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