Hong Kong (AFP)
A word for the good and a little light after dark in AFP Sport’s golf talking points this week:
– The diamond turns into gold –
As Rory McIlroy celebrated his first win in 553 days and his return to the world top 10 on Sunday at Quail Hollow, he was quick to credit his junior, Harry Diamond, for crucial advice that got him across the line. arrival.
Holding a two-stroke lead, McIlroy etched his practice on the last par-four hole Sunday left on the bank of a creek where he held up on a steep slope, buried in deep roughness.
The Northern Irishman was considering a potentially disastrous hack with the ball well below his feet when his longtime friend Diamond stepped in to suggest taking a penalty outside the obstacle instead.
McIlroy heeded the wise advice, found the green with his third shot and two putts later, his long drought was over.
“Harry was awesome today, especially that decision on the last one,” said McIlroy of Diamond, who is an accomplished amateur golfer.
“I was ready to go in there and try to play that with a lob wedge and he was kind of like, ‘Let’s take a step back, think about this, where’s the best place you hit your third from.’ .
“In the end, we made the right decision.
“The tough times I have had to endure over the past few months, he’s been with me every step of the way and it’s nice to go through it all with him and come back to the winner’s circle. ”
– ‘I just wanted to stop’ –
As McIlroy ended his own barren streak, halfway around the world, another former world number one, Ariya Jutanagarn, shot an incredible closing 63 to win the LPGA Thailand.
In the process, she ended a 1,015-day wait for her 11th LPGA Tour title and became the first home winner in the tournament’s 15-year history.
Her last win before Sunday had been the Ladies Scottish Open 2018 and she revealed how close she is to walk away from the game during the dark days between the two.
“I have lived through very difficult times over the past two years. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to my psychologist coach, “You know what, I want to rest, I want to quit,” Ariya said.
But she continued and thanked her team for helping her. “I would say that without them, I am not who I am. How many times I just wanted to stop. “
– The year of return –
After the drought, the flood.
Not only have McIlroy and Ariya returned to the winner’s circle this year, but a whole slew of players have returned to the top of the rankings as 2021 looms as the year of return.
Jordan Spieth hadn’t won since the 2017 Open Championship at Birkdale when he won the Texas Open last month.
The following week, Hideki Matsuyama, who had also not won for four years, triumphed in Augusta to become the first major Japanese male winner.
On the women’s side, Lydia Ko broke a 1,084-day drought at the Lotte Championship, Brooke Henderson won the Los Angeles Open for her first triumph since 2019 and Kim Hyo-joo ended the longest run of all week last by winning the HSBC Women’s World. Championship in Singapore – his first LPGA victory since 2016.
Who’s next? A popular pick will be the colorful Rickie Fowler, who has plunged to 122nd in the world since his last victory, which took place at the Phoenix Open in February 2019.
The former world number four’s latest attempt to change his form comes at this week’s Byron Nelson Championship in Texas.
– World rankings –
Latest global rankings, updated May 10, 2021:
1. Dustin Johnson (United States) 10.53
2. Justin Thomas (United States) 8.69
3. Jon Rahm (ESP) 8,56
4. Bryson DeChambeau (United States) 7.19 (+1)
5. Xander Sc Chaudele (United States) 7.16 (-1)
6. Collin Morikawa (United States) 7 hours
7. Rory McIlroy (NIR) 6,20 (+8)
8. Patrick Reed (United States) 6.14 (-1)
9. Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 5,90 (-1)
10. Webb Simpson (United States) 5.56 (-1)
1. Ko Jin-young (KOR) 9.64
2. Park In-bee Park (KOR) 8.75
3. Kim Sei-young (KOR) 8.04
4. Nelly Korda (United States of America) 7.78
5. Brooke Henderson (CAN) 6.42
6. Danielle Kang (United States) 6.10
7. Kim Hyo-joo (KOR) 5.75
8. Lydia Ko (NZL) 5.47
9. Lexi Thompson (United States) 5.19
10. Nasa Hataoka (JPN) 4.69 (+1)
© 2021 AFP