Mates maketh the man

Golf Digest Middle East - - Editor’s Letter - KENT GRAY kent.gray@mo­ti­ Twit­ter: @Ken­tGrayGolf / @GolfDigestME

So Brooks Koepka is the un­of­fi­cial King of the Ma­jors for 2017. Not bad for a bloke who once ad­mit­ted he’d rather pitch base­balls for a liv­ing than Pro V1x’s.

A des­ig­nated hit­ter for golf’s new power gen­er­a­tion, Koepka pro­duced the low cu­mu­la­tive score in the year’s four bigs, a com­bined 21-un­der. Not sur­pris­ingly, he did much of his dam­age en-route to the U.S. Open ti­tle with a 16-un­der to­tal at the big­gest ball park in ma­jor cham­pi­onship his­tory, Erin Hills.

For the record, Koepka is a huge Hous­ton Astros fan. It’d have been a real home run (we prom­ise to stop now) had he been a Yan­kees or Mets sup­porter given this month’s New York­themed Pres­i­dent’s Cup is­sue. But when you hit as hard as the 27-year-old -- con­sider for a New York minute (sorry, couldn’t re­sist) that he smokes a seven iron 215 yards -- who are we to deny him a lit­tle prime cover real es­tate? Do your­self a favour and turn to p46 for the se­cret to Koepka’s “sav­age” iron play.

Af­ter Ser­gio Gar­cia locked up the sen­ti­men­tal vote for ma­jor win of the year at Au­gusta, Koepka il­lu­mi­nated the way for golf’s bright new con­stel­la­tion of stars.

The im­age of Justin Thomas and Jor­dan Spieth, which resur­faced when the former won the PGA Cham­pi­onship af­ter the lat­ter had cap­tured the Claret Jug, is a clas­sic.

Golf is a game best en­joyed with mates and here were a pair of mis­chievous-look­ing mi­nors in ma­jor train­ing. That their fiercely-friendly ri­valry has con­tin­ued to the very top ech­e­lon of the game is as con­ta­gious as it is no­ble.

Spieth led a cho­rus of big names in dis­miss­ing an­other Tiger-es­que era of dom­i­na­tion be­fore he won The Open. But the way he cor­rected that Sun­day tail­spin at Royal Birk­dale hints at true great­ness.

It’s no co­in­ci­dence that Spieth holds the record for low cu­mu­la­tive score in the ma­jors, an epic 54 un­der to­tal in 2015 when he won the Masters and U.S. Open and flirted with a cal­en­dar year slam. The race is now on with Rory McIl­roy to be first to the ca­reer slam. It will be an in­trigu­ing side­bar to next year’s Masters and PGA even if the fairy­tale nar­ra­tive many covet is the one where Rickie Fowler, the un­crowned king of golf’s new youth move­ment, is fi­nally anointed a ma­jor cham­pion like his best bud­dies.

While the rest of the world goes into rel­a­tive hi­ber­na­tion un­til next April, there’s no time for ma­jor mourn­ing here in the Mid­dle East. Win­ter is com­ing and that means a scar­ily good sched­ule of Euro­pean tour­na­ments.

The Chal­lenge Tour’s Ras Al Khaimah Golf Chal­lenge from Oct. 25-28 gets us started but Golf Di­gest Mid­dle East will be at Al Hamra G.C. ear­lier and would love you to join us. Thumb to p17 for de­tails of our an­nual am­a­teur se­ries, the fi­nal of which is timed to co­in­cide with our 100th is­sue cel­e­bra­tions.

We’ve work­ing on some se­ri­ous give­aways for next month’s spe­cial edi­tion but the gift of great prizes and ex­cep­tional green fees at Abu Dhabi, Al Hamra and Emi­rates GC (Ma­jlis) is al­ready at hand. We look for­ward to see­ing you and your pals at one or all venues and to mak­ing some new friends. If this year’s ma­jors have taught us any­thing, it’s that mates maketh golf af­ter all.

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