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  • Alistair Tait

Westwood's way or no way

Lee Westwood’s decision to give the PGA Championship a miss should surprise no one, even if there are those who will pillory the Englishman for doing so.

Westwood has always gone his own way. In fact, it's always been his way or no way. Just as it should be.

You’d have thought the 47-year-old might be at a point in his life where trying to win that elusive major championship would be a priority. Westwood has twice finished inside the top 10 in the PGA Championship from 21 appearances, including third in 2009.

Yet the upcoming PGA Championship, and playing this week’s WGC–FedEx St. Jude Invitational, lies just outside his comfort zone. Westwood said:

“I still don’t feel comfortable and I don’t feel like it is right to jump on a plane for 12 hours. I’ve felt out of my comfort zone this week, so, if I got to Memphis, I would feel uncomfortable playing golf tournaments at the moment. I’m still more concerned that America doesn’t take it (covid-19) as seriously as the rest of the world. It still seems to be one of the hot spots for outbreaks.
“I can control me not getting the virus and take all the measures I can, but somebody might pass it on. I don’t really want to get ill with it and I’m slightly asthmatic.
"Right now there are too many what ifs. If you take all them into consideration, there is something wrong.”
“There is a lot of think about where to play coming up, really. It’s just not the life I’m used to. I go out on the golf course and I am struggling for motivation a little bit. There is a lot more to consider.”

Westwood’s concerns about travelling to America mirror Andrew “Beef” Johnston’s about feeling uncomfortable being confined to the golf course and his hotel room at Close Hose during the Betfred British Masters, which Westwood hosted, so uncomfortable Johnston withdrew from the tournament.

Westwood has a had wonderful career, a career in which he’s always done what suits him. He can’t be blamed for putting health concerns first, even if he still has the game to compete in the PGA Championship, and any other tournament he enters.

Well done Lee.

Play like Paratore

Don’t you just wish every tour player played like British Masters winner Renato Paratore? He does what many tour players don’t do: he gets on with it.

I first came across the young Italian in the 2013 Amateur Championship at Royal Cinque Ports. He lost in the quarterfinals to American Jim Lui. What was refreshing about the 16-year-old was the way he scooted around Cinque Ports like he had to get 18 holes in because he wanted to get home to watch a football match. I wrote this after watching him defeat Iceland’s Haraldur Franklin Magnus.

“The most refreshing aspect of Paratore’s game is that he plays with at a similar pace to four-time European winner (Matteo) Manassero. Fast. Actually Paratore is quicker. He and Franklin Magnus were 53 minutes ahead of schedule for their 18 holes. They took just two hours and 46 minutes. Lightening quick for amateur golf.”

If only all tour pros could play that quickly.

What’s in a name?

Renato Paratore sounds like someone who should be sculpting great works of art, or conducting symphony orchestras, or making his mark as a Michelin Star chef instead of guiding small white balls around perfectly manicured fields. His name, and correspondence with regular reader Kerry Mucci, got me thinking about the great names in golf.

Kerry send me a photo of his late father with Skee Riegel, the 1942 U.S. Amateur champion who also finished runner-up to Ben Hogan in the 1951 Masters. It’s one of the great names of golf. Riegel’s real name was Robert Henry Riegel. Not a patch on Skee.

It got me thinking of other great names in golf. I ventured Ky Lafoon. Kerry came back with Harry “Lighthorse” Cooper.

Here’s a few more: Julius Boros, Leo Diegel, Moe Norman, Olin Dutra, Chick Evans, Max Faulkner, Johnny Goodman, Ralph Guldahl, Dutch Harrison, Chandler Harper, Per-Ulrik Johansson, Herman Keiser, Catherine Lacoste, Marie Laure de Lorenzi, Arnaud Massy, Wild Bill Mehlhorn, Orville Moody, Jesper Parnevik, Billy Joe Patton, Betsy Rawls, Johnny Revolta, MacDonald Smith, Louise Suggs, Cyril Tolly, Roberto de Vicenzo, Norman Von Nida and Babe Zaharias.

They all sound as if they could be involved in so many other walks of life other than golf. As the late Dan Jenkins said about Ben Hogan:

“Ben Hogan was … intelligent in choosing the right name. His full name is William Ben Hogan – not Benjamin, by the way. And what could William Hogan, or Bill Hogan, or Billy Hogan, ever have won?
“Zip is what I say.”

#JustSaying: “When your name is Zoeller, and so many things are done in alphabetical order, you expect to be last." Fuzzy Zoeller

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