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Jeev Milkha Singh column: Riviera course suited Bubba’s shot-making

Both PGA, European Tour stops were fascinating

Gulf News

From a player’s perspective, whether you were playing on the PGA Tour or the European Tour, last week was an extremely enjoyable one.

Obviously, when we play a golf tournament, we would love to have the best in everything we get — stay, travel, food — but there is one thing that tops our wishlist. And I can guarantee you this is an across-the-board feeling among all pros.

A strong golf course is really the No. 1 thing that gets us excited. There are other things that matter — like a good practice facility and efficient transport to and from the golf course — but we do tend to overlook most other factors.

Last week was amazing because on the PGA Tour, the Northern Trust Open was played at Riviera Country Club and the new Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur, which was co-sanctioned by Asian and European Tours, was hosted at the Royal Selangor Golf Club.

Both are old-fashioned golf courses, tree-lined and require careful planning off the tee. These are courses that make you think, instead of just taking the driver out on every hole and smash it towards the green.

I thought Rory McIlroy paid the best tribute to Riviera. He was making his debut there and even though he did not have the best of final round, the world No. 3 was so impressed with the quality of the golf course that he has promised to make it one of his regular Tour stops.

And then there was the world No. 1 Jordan Spieth missing the cut, which is another great indicator that your game needs to be in super shape to do well on golf courses like Riviera.

Bubba Watson won the Northern Trust Open, his second win there in three years, and I wasn’t surprised because it really is a shot-maker’s course and there are very few golfers in the world, who can make the golf ball do things like Bubba can.

Someone asked me yesterday if I thought Bubba will live up to his threat and retire from golf after he wins 10 titles or reaches the No. 1 ranking. Honestly, I don’t think so. He may show a very different face to the world, but Bubba is a fighter and he likes a challenge. I am sure he will reset his goals once he achieves them.

I failed to make it to the weekend in Kuala Lumpur, but was greatly encouraged by the 69 I shot on Friday. It was a solid round and showed that I am on the right path. I just need a bit more consistency in all parts of the game, and now that I am able to practice for longer hours, I think it is a matter of time before I rediscover my old form.

Marcus Fraser won the tournament, his first win after a long time. The Aussie is a fine bloke and everyone felt happy for him. However, it was heartbreaking to see the young Korean, Soomin Lee, making two double bogeys in his last three holes and losing by two shots. Hopefully, he will learn from the experience and this will help him become a better player in the future.

(Jeev Milkha Singh is a four-time champion on the European Tour)