5 Things: Slow play costs Fisher at Wales Open
Thongchai Jaidee might have won the Wales Open for his fifth European Tour victory, but here is what really counted as the European Tour paid its only visit to Wales this year.
One. Is Fisher the first of many?
England’s Ross Fisher was handed a one-stroke penalty for slow play in the final round when he was just one shot off the lead. Fisher was adjudged to have taken too long on the 11th and 14th holes.
Fisher thought he’d made a par at the par-4 14th hole, only for it to turn into a bogey with the penalty. The 31-year-old ended up finishing two shots behind Jaidee in joint sixth place.
The penalty comes two weeks after Morgan Pressel was handed a loss-of-hole penalty in the Sybase Match Play Championship on the LPGA Tour. It looks like the authorities are clamping down on the game’s biggest scourge. That’s good news for everyone who wants to see play speed up.
Two. Where’s Woosie when you need him?
Wales might have a professional event, but Welsh golf is not in good shape right now. It’s hard to see where the next Welsh winner is going to come from.
All eight Welsh players missed the cut in their home open. Jamie Donaldson was the highest-ranked Welsh player at world number 107, but he shot 81 in the first round and withdrew. Rhys Davies is next on the world pecking order at 245th. He won the Hassan II Trophy two years ago, the first of what many thought would be multiple wins. However, he hasn’t pushed on since then.
It might be a while before another Welshman joins Ian Woosnam in the major club.
Three. How long can the Wales Open last?
New sponsor ISPS Handa was in the first of a three-year sponsorship agreement. However, there have to be doubts as to the future of this event given the quality of the fields.
Just a week after watching the top European stars in action in the BMW PGA Championship, the field in Wales was disappointing. There were only three top 50 players. Paul Lawrie was the highest ranked player at 29th, with Francesco Molinari at 32nd and world number 37 Thomas Bjorn.
There were many minnows in the field, players from the lower end of the European food chain.
No wonder the crowds were scarce.
Four. Sterne can join Schwartzel and Oosthuizen in major club.
Richard Sterne finished joint second to post his best finish since winning the 2008 South African Open Championship. The diminutive South African has struggled with back problems in recent years, but seems to be back to his best.
Sterne was once talked about in the same breath as Open champion winner Louis Oosthuizen and Masters winner Charl Schwartzel. However, he’s had to move into the backseat of the South African bandwagon because of his ailments.
Hopefully he’s on the way back to full fitness and will contend for majors to join his compatriots in the major club.
Five. The old boys can still play.
Congratulations to Denmark’s Steen Tinning on playing all four rounds in Wales. Tinning turns 50 in October and was using the Wales event to hone his game for the European Senior Tour. The Dane took his place because he won the inaugural Wales Open in 2000.
Well done to the 49-year-old to make the cut when players like Edoardo Molinari, Anders Hansen, Jose Maria Olazabal and defending champion Alex Noren missed the cut.
Tinning finished 67th, but the fact he played all four rounds on a course as long as Celtic Manor is a credit to him.