Wednesday, June 6

Praying to St. Jude in the River City

By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

RORY MCILROY, PADRAIG HARRINGTON AND GRAEME McDowell have been grouped together for the first two rounds of the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis this week. But despite the somewhat unpredictable form of the three Irish major winners this season, I doubt they will be making any special petitions to St Jude himself, the patron saint of of desperate cases and lost causes. And why should they.

Like all golfers, the blessed trinity waiting for that time when the stars align, the swing flows effortlessly and the score happens almost by accident. Whether they will get that special delivery this week is anyone’s guess, but all three could do with a dollop of confidence before next week’s US Open test.

Professional sportsmen rarely perform at the very highest level every time they step out into the arena, especially in golf. Some, like McIlroy, have more inspired days that others but the rest of the time it’s a question of achieving an average level of performance that is well above the scope of the journeyman professional.

The tour grind, while well rewarded, is a game of snakes and ladders. For the elite player, it’s a dangerous high wire act. The higher the peaks, the deeper the troughs appear to be. The greater the highs, the tougher the lows are to take.

Watching the dynamic between the three at TPC Southwind will be fascinating.

McDowell, the man in the middle age wise, will talk a confident game before the start, as he always does. It’s a twitchy confidence though, and the mood can swing wildly from utter frustration one day to boundless positivity the next.

McIlroy may well look back on the spring of 2012 with a wry smile and wonder what he got so worked up about. He appears to have outfoxed himself in the early part of the season. Playing so well for so long, he thought he could maintain by playing less and then hit the turbo button as the major season rolled around.

As for Harrington, the Dubliner’s form continues to perplex. If McIlroy has missed his last three cuts, Harrington has missed two of the last three since contending on the final day of the Masters. He says he’s discovered what many have thought was blindingly obvious for months, that he’s been decelerating on his putts.

Hurtling out of the world top 100 at 96th, Harrington badly needs a win. But his form in Memphis has never been great.

He might be a desperate case but he’s far from a lost cause. St Jude can carry on with more important business for now.

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

1 comment:

The Grateful Golfer said...

It is interesting that that they put these three popular players together for the first two rounds of the tournament. It will be good for the tournament and the ratings, but I am not sure it will be best for the players. Only time will tell.

You are correct about trying to maintain a high level of play. It is extremely difficult to play at the elite level week after week. Even great players like Phil Mickelson or Luke Donald need time off.

I am looking forward to a great tournament.