Sergio Garcia capped off his wire-to-wire victory in impressive fashion, with a three-under 69, 19-under total at the Dubai Desert Classic. This is Garcia’s first victory on the European Tour since 2014 (but he won last year at the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Championship).
Pardon the absence and the late take, but caught a bad virus a few days ago and I’ve been laid up — the only positive part of all this is that I have been unable to follow the ongoing national (and global) reality horror show since Wednesday. (So I might as well just blame my illness on our almighty leader President Trump.)
But I digress: Tiger Woods shot a five-over 77 in the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic. He made five bogeys and zero birdies at Emirates GC, and most disturbingly, he appeared to be in agony throughout this effort on Thursday.
We’ve been in the twilight zone for quite some time now — at the very least 11 days now, but I’d argue far longer. I know we’ve truly entered golf’s WTF era when I heard the news (first reported by ESPN.com’s Bob Harig) that Tiger Woods took a COMMERCIAL FLIGHT — not a PRIVATE JET — from LAX to Dubai! (However, he did take take a private plane from San Diego to LA.) It was the first time in probably 10 years, he told ESPN.
Because in the Middle East, the work week is from Sunday through Thursday, so it’s technically the start of the weekend here. After hours of reading every newspaper back in America, just thought it would nice to lighten the mood and try not to think about walls, alleged voter fraud, xenophobic, anti-immigrant policies, etc. Here’s just part of a conversation that I had with Robert Rock last week in Abu Dhabi, where he was explaining the new Green Books and eventually it led to a light-heated conversation about slow play and watching a golf telecast:
After Tommy Fleetwood rolled in a four-footer for birdie on the par-5 18th to get to 17-under for the tournament, he took a two-shot lead and essentially clinched the win. But he still had to wait for three more players to finish, as he was in the penultimate group in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship that featured a star-studded field.
Only Pablo Larrazábal had a chance of catching Fleetwood to force a playoff, but he needed an eagle. Larrazábal missed the green short left and needed a small miracle to pitch in to match Fleetwood at 17-under. His attempt fell short, but even before that, it felt like the champion had been already crowned — which was when Fleetwood made his putt for birdie.
Dustin Johnson finally found his rhythm on Saturday in the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Perhaps he recovered from jet-lag — it’s a nine-hour time difference from the Florida. And I know personally that it’s rough (and my body doesn’t do well or adjust quickly), and when your body clock is out of whack, it then affects your timing, tempo, touch, so basically, everything. On Friday night, however, DJ slept well, which was reflected with his score.
And we thought it couldn’t be done — a truly, pee-in-your pants-laughing, hilarious golf…well, anything. In the history of the game. No joke. I can’t stop laughing and tears are streaming down my face! In a good way for a change this week! But I wasn’t expecting anything less. It’s quite a feat to create a video that crosses over to non-golf industry people — I’m fairly certain anyone, who doesn’t know or watch or like golf, will be LMAOLOLZ.
Wait, what am I talking about? Well, it’s the video we’ve all been waiting for…since the pro-am on Wednesday at the Abu Dhabi Championship. At least those of us who saw and/or heard the anecdotes from just about every player, manager, media person, insider on the European Tour.
When I met up with Robert Rock on Tuesday morning at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, he was finishing up a chat with a gentleman who had handed him a stack of papers, which turned out to be the new “Green Book.” Instead of a normal-sized yardage book that we’re accustomed to seeing the pros carry and tuck in their back pockets, Rock was holding some loose A4-sized papers (the UK’s standard letter size, like our version of 8×11) with map-like diagrams of greens.
I probably gave him a weird and confused look, like WTF is going on here? Or I made a snarky remark. Or both. But before I even had the chance to ask, he started to explain. I stopped him — “WAIT!”, and quickly unlocked my iPhone (which is naturally glued to my hand during a practice round day) and started rolling the video. “OK, go ahead.” Watch above… you golf geeks are going to love these, but there’s one obvious concern that you will likely identify, as well.
After 18 hours of travel across the planet, I was pretty much giddy when the plane landed in Abu Dhabi. I had finally made it to the Middle East, a region of the world I had yet to visit, and as someone who enjoys exploring new places and cultures, I was beyond excited. Then, I turned on my phone and first thing I saw was an email announcing Rory McIlroy had withdrawn from this week’s tournament due to a rib injury — a stress fracture, to be exact. Which, to my understanding, is extremely frustrating because the only prescription at this point is straight-up rest for an average of 4-6 weeks.
Talk about a buzz kill. My reaction is summed up pretty well in the photo above. But hey, I wasn’t going to let that minor detail — like the main draw of the tournament, which boasts the best field on the European Tour all year, pulling out! After all, I’m in Abu Dhabi!
The European Tour strikes again with another can’t-miss, must-watch original video! — their video production team seriously deserves a raise, but they’ve been putting out super creative, hilarious and quality content for years now.
As a special treat on Friday, Billy, a nine-year-old who basically talks a ton of sh*t to some of the biggest names in the game and is absurdly funny, returned to grill Rory McIlroy in his latest interview. And Little Billy asks McIlroy (and other players) questions that would normally get any reporter’s press credentials revoked or possibly something involving fists and a trip to the hospital. But, thankfully, Billy is adorable and 9 years old, not to mention rather charming, so he can say whatever he wants. (Damn him! Relax, relax, only joking.)