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Stephen Gallacher: Bar has been set high in opening weeks of the golfing season

Viktor Hovland was outstanding in Dubai
Viktor Hovland was outstanding in Dubai

We are in for a year to remember if the standard of golf we saw at the Dubai Desert Classic is maintained in 2022.

The finish to the tournament was a fantastic advert for the game with Viktor Hovland beating Richard Bland in the playoff to win the event.

Viktor earned it too, finishing his final round birdie-eagle-birdie before recording another birdie to beat Richard in the playoff.

Credit to the runner-up, too, as he is having a fairytale run at the age of 48. His putt at the last was superb and it’s great for us older guys to see.

Of course, the playoff was only part of the story, with Rory McIlroy’s wild shot at the last costing him a chance at glory.

Rory looked all over the place in the closing holes after finding a bush on 17 only to scrape a four. He then hit his poorest shot of the tournament when he found water at the last.

A par would have earned him a place in the playoff with Viktor and Richard, but his shot went about 40 yards right when the big bail out was on the left-hand side.

It looked like he effectively lost by trying to win. He wanted the birdie to clinch victory outright and it failed to pay off.

I’ve no issue with that and, while Rory will be disappointed, I do not for a second believe he will approach it any differently when he is next in that position.

He is a fantastic player who hit a bad shot. It happens to all of us.

Viktor had no such worries and his drive on 17 was phenomenal.

From the position he was in the green was driveable, but he had to hit the ball between two sets of palm trees split by a gap of 15 metres.

He really is an impeccable player and I’m running out of superlatives for him. He always plays with a smile on his face and he showed at the Ryder Cup he is the real deal.

It’s incredible to think we have guys on tour like Viktor and Collin Morikawa who three years ago were still at college in the United States.

They are two of the best golfers in the world and, for me, they are firmly in the category of top players such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia in that their talent shone so bright at such a young age.

Can’t we all just get along?

Greg Norman

Greg Norman insists the Asian Tour is not trying to muscle in on the rival tours.

I hope Norman, who is CEO of the Saudi-backed group supporting the Asian Tour, is right as the last thing we need is for internal battles between us.

It feels as if there is unnecessary tension at the minute following the announcement of the International Series.

The new schedule features a first Asian Tour event in England with The Centurion Club in England due to host a tournament in June.

Personally, given my tour has been global for decades, I don’t see how we can tell another tour they cannot play in our regions.

But it is concerning that we are in a situation now where tour members are having to gain releases to go and play in other events.

I share in Norman’s hope that the major tours can come to some sort of agreement.

Players are being asked to pick and choose, and I really hope we can find some sort of way to co-exist without competing against each other.

I look at football and see the European club tournaments which are viewed as extras on top of the domestic league and cup club competitions.

Talks will no doubt be happening way above my level about how best to navigate this, but – for the good of the game, the players and fans – we need to find some sort of collective agreement on this.

Paul Lawrie deserves to be in the Ryder Cup captaincy discussion

Paul Lawrie

Paul Lawrie fully merits being in the discussion as a possible Ryder Cup captain for Europe.

Andrew Coltart has put the former Open champion forward as a potential candidate and I could not agree more.

He is a two-time former Ryder Cup player who has played at the top level for years.

He commands respect from the players and has the pedigree of the likes of Luke Donald, Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson.

On that basis alone, Paul has more than earned the right to be in the conversation.

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