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TEE TO GREEN, STEVE SCOTT: If you really can’t keep it in, keep it brief

Dustin Johnson's has reversed course a second time and will play in LIV Golf's opener this week.

This may seem dubious in a column that’s usually 950 words long, but there is often a beauty in brevity.

Public statements of intent, for example. We had some good examples, somewhat oddly, in golf last week.

DJ keeps it tight and to the point

First of all there was Dustin Johnson’s statement pledging his future to the PGA Tour. It was just 106 words long, still far longer than any of DJ’s public utterances ever recorded.

It was released by the PGA Tour rather than DJ’s own social media accounts, which was actually a statement in itself.

But it was to the point. No messing around, no questions coming out of it, unless you really were bent on dragging every minute detail out of him (good luck with that).

Bryson DeChambeau’s statement on the same subject that followed was also mercifully brief, although not quite to the point as DJ’s. Clearly, neither were actually written by the player. There’s a definite benefit to that.

Next up on the statement queue was Phil Mickelson’s “apology”. Unlike DJ and Bryson, it appeared that Phil actually had written this himself. Bad move.

It’s five times as long as DJ’s and there’s precious little apologising going on. It’s entirely packed out with self-justification.

I could pick it to bits, but here’s just a couple. Firstly, his claim of being quoted “out of context”.

My experience of this phrase said by a sports star is that it usually means “Yes, I said it, but I really didn’t like it when I saw it in print”.

Anyway, is it actually possible to take the words “they’re scary expletives” out of context?

It was someone else’s ‘vision’

Secondly, his claim that LIV investments and the Saudis are “visionaries”. Unless the vision he’s celebrating is the idea to pay him excessive amounts of money, I’m not sure what he’s getting at.

The entire idea and structure of SGL, as proposed, is wholly stolen from Andy Gardiner and the PGL. They were originators of the concept, until the Saudis decided they didn’t like being anyone’s partners. The “vision” is actually someone else’s.

Anyway, the “apology” brought near-unanimous derision. Long-time sponsors KPMG, Callaway, Workday and Amstel have all walked away. Even the tournament aligned with his foundation terminated their agreement.

Similarly lacking in the necessary input of a public relations professional or brevity was the “open letter” Greg Norman sent to Jay Monahan at the beginning of last week.

This seemed to follow most of the Great White Shark’s recent public statements – lengthy, rambling and often confused.

Certainly confusing. Maybe Norman knows what he’s on about half the time these days but he shouldn’t assume anyone else does.

A familiar hectoring tone

I was trying to recall what the fractured writing style, blizzard of legal threats and almost desperate, hectoring tone of the letter reminded me of, and it suddenly clicked.

It read just like the emails I regularly received from Trump International about their Menie Course during the long and ultimately unsuccessful battles with the Scottish Government over wind turbines. I wonder if that’s entirely coincidental.

It was all a bit sad, coming the weekend after every meaningful candidate to play in the SGL concept had backtracked or abandoned it completely.

It seems we can be fairly certain the Saudis appointed the wrong man to front their project. There are few more polarising figures in the game than Norman. There is real hostility towards him by many senior figures – players and administrators – in golf.

But more than that. Whether it’s fair or not – and I happen to believe it isn’t – in golf Norman is primarily associated with failure.

An amazing career, but yet…

He was World No 1 for 330 weeks. He won nearly 90 tournaments, millions of dollars, and two Opens – his 63 at Turnberry in a storm on the way to win in 1986 is a live contender for the greatest round ever played.

After golf Norman has run a number of successful businesses. He’s made a raging success of life, whatever way you look at it and even if the SGL concept now collapses.

But golf and public perception doesn’t see it like that. When they think of Norman, they think of all those majors lost. They think of Augusta 1996, perhaps the greatest collapse in major championship history. And all the others crushing major losses.

It’s not fair. What Jay Monahan and the PGA Tour are doing may not be entirely fair either. But it’s the reality.

Zach for the US, who for Europe?

Despite his present ignominy, Phil Mickelson might be actually ultimately responsible for Zach Johnson being appointed US Ryder Cup captain for the matches in Rome next year.

The former Open champion follows the recent TaskForce template, which of course was part established by Phil. Johnson was next in line after Steve Stricker, and he’ll no doubt be the same – a good, sensible, MidWest reliable.

In Europe we’re down to four candidates, apparently – Luke Donald, Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson and our own Paul Lawrie.

Donald appeared to be the favourite a couple of months ago, but there was considerable push-back on that. The candidates apparently had to present their case to the three ex-captains plus two bigwigs (Keith Pelley and David Howell) who will choose the captain.

Each candidate has their plusses. Lawrie will surely carry most rank-and-file support from the DP World Tour. Donald I always thought would be a better candidate for a Ryder Cup in the US. Karlsson is a good dark-horse, compromise choice.

But if he’s finally renounced the Saudi project, I suspect it will be Stenson.

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