I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record but Covid-19 continues to dominate the landscape and not just in golf.
I found myself scratching my head in disbelief at the actions of England duo Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden at the weekend, after they welcomed two female guests into the team hotel in Reykjavik after a 1-0 win in Iceland.
It was no surprise to see them sent home, no doubt with their tails tucked firmly between their legs. All I can say is they are lucky they were not Scottish lads as the backlash which would have come from Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government would have been severe.
For the two England players their breach is a serious one as they put the entire squad at risk. It would be like a golfer entertaining external guests in the hotel where all the other players are – you just don’t do it.
We’re fortunate in sport to have been given dispensation to go about our work at a time when so many others have been asked to work from home. As a golfer I have to follow protocols and, while there are some exemptions, such as being able to go out and hit balls on a regular basis, I can’t go out and visit a restaurant.
I’m in Portugal this week for the Portugal Masters because the exemption I have will still allow me to play in Ireland in two weeks’ time. But the protocols to be adhered to are even stricter this week. We’re wearing face masks whenever possible and staying two metres apart even when out on the course.
The tournament finishes on Sunday, but the protocols I must adhere to remain firmly in place until I fly home on Monday. That includes taking a trip to the marina on Sunday night for something to eat. The etiquette expected of all of us is to stay at the hotel until we depart, so for me that means staying put until Monday morning when I check out and head home.
But I know wherever I go there is always going to be an element of risk.
That same risk led to the Czech Republic naming an entire new squad to face Scotland, a couple of Manchester City players tested positive and, in my own game, Mark Calcavecchia and Charley Hull have also tested positive for the coronavirus in the last seven days.
For poor Charley, her test result has forced her to miss the ANA Inspiration, which is due to get under way in California today.
The warnings are there for all to see and that’s when we are following the rules. Deliberately breaking them is just asking for trouble.
New Titleist driver will hopefully make my bad shots better
It is that time of year to try something new – and for me it is the new TSi3 driver from Titleist which has been added to my bag.
I always feel like a kid on Christmas Day when the chance to try new equipment comes around and I’m very pleased with the work Liam McDougall of Titleist has done.
It has been a running joke that I’ve been on tour for 25 years and still don’t know what shaft I should be using, but I’m quite happy to leave that to the experts to sort out.
What I know is I can rely on Liam to look after the technical details and all I’m looking for is a club which will make my bad shots better.
— Stephen Gallacher (@stevieggolf) September 7, 2020
My good shots are up there with anyone in the game, but the key to this game is getting those mishits as close to the green or as near the middle of the fairway as possible.
You never get a club that improves your drive by 10 yards every year. If I had that I’d be hitting the ball 500 yards by now.
But what I can get is a better percentage of drives off the tee. That is going to be especially important here this week.
Great to see Dustin Johnson proving me right with FedEx Cup win
I don’t want to say I told you so, but I called it – Dustin Johnson was a deserved FedEx Cup champion.
It was probably not the toughest prediction I’ve had to make during my time as a columnist in this paper, but he still had to perform to win the Tour Championship.
It was as comfortable as you would expect, but then DJ was in such a strong starting position. Giving him a two-shot head start on his nearest challenger is like giving Usain Bolt a five-metre start on the rest of the guys in the 100m. Unless he falls flat on his face, he’s going to make that advantage count.
The stats back up why DJ is the man to beat right now. Nobody has won more golf tournaments in the last 12 years than him and he has shown he has not only the game, but the mentality to go with it.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 9, 2020
Paul McGinley has tipped DJ as the man to beat at the US Open due to the form he is in, but, having won the FedEx Cup and the $15 million first prize, I wonder whether that will come into play.
He knows he is the top dog in the game right now, but as far as the PGA Tour goes it is the start of a new season and there are six majors to play for in the next 12 months. Time is on his side.