To all those who think golf is boring, consider this a big fat raspberry in your general direction.
The final major of 2019 proved yet again – as if it was needed – that at its best, golf is as compelling as any sporting spectacle.
Yes, it unfolds at a different pace to football and many other games but that only enhances the excitement as the end draws near.
Any sports fan who watched the last round of the Women’s British Open from Woburn and didn’t find it edge-of-the-seat entertainment is identifying incorrectly.
Not only did the final 18 throw up almost every imaginable competitive scenario, it neatly bookended a memorable year in the game’s most important tournaments for both men and women.
It started with Jin Young Ko winning the first major of 2019 – and confirming she is one of the game’s truly elite – and ended with the unveiling of perhaps the most refreshing winner in recent memory.
(Seriously, put your hand up if you had heard of Hinako Shibuno prior to this week’s event. Then put it back down because you’re either not telling the truth or are such a golf nerd that it’s not a fair fight.)
In between we saw Tiger Woods author one of the most unlikely victories in the game’s history at Augusta, Hannah Green give Australian fans a major to celebrate and Shane Lowry produce a home victory for the ages.
All hold their own in the pantheon of great sport stories of 2019 and Shibuno’s win at Woburn might be among the best.
“The final major of 2019 proved yet again – as if it was needed – that at its best, golf is as compelling as any sporting spectacle.”
Consider the facts: a 20-year-old who has never played golf outside her home country arrives in England under the false impression she will be playing a links course.
Despite being almost completely unknown, she leads into the final round though with players including the World Numbers 1 and 2 within five shots is expected to recede.
She four putts the 3rd green to drop from the lead into a six-way tie for top spot but hangs on grimly to make the turn one over and still in the mix.
At the short par-4 12th – where most in the final groups elect to lay-up off the tee – she takes the driver and smashes a high cut which just carries the water and lands on the front edge of the green.
The two-putt birdie which follows puts her back within one of the charging Lizette Salas and she draws level with a birdie at 15.
Then, after Salas misses a makeable birdie putt at the final hole, Shibuno seals the fairy tale win with a birdie putt from near 20 feet that finds the bottom of the cup despite travelling at warp speed.
And through all this she never stopped smiling and giggling for the galleries or the TV cameras throughout the whole round and – as an added bonus – played fast.
After the round she won over any remaining doubters by delivering her victory speech in English where she finished by stumbling over a word before pausing, giggling, then offering a sheepish ‘Thank you’ to the delight of the gathered crowd.
Yes, golf easily holds its own among all sports in terms of excitement at the top level and if you’re in the camp that thinks it’s boring then the problem isn’t the golf.
Rod Morri is founder of the TalkinGolf Podcast Network, home of the State of the Game, iSeekGolf, TalkinGolf History and Feed The Ball podcasts.
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