I WAS looking at an e-mail the other day about the European Tour’s digital innovation journey being aided by a company which specialises in cyber-security. You’ve probably already guessed that as far as steamy, titillating reads go, it wasn’t quite Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

“In recent years we have pioneered the Tournament-As-A-Service concept, which packages intelligent and connected golf course systems into a cloud-based ‘smart city’ solution that can be rolled out at any tournament,” declared the press release with that special brand of elaborate, impenetrable techno-speak that makes this bamboozled correspondent feel like a medieval dunce who’s been asked to operate Caxton’s printing press.

But forget the European Tour’s digital innovation journey. The circuit’s brave new journey as the rebranded DP World Tour begins in South Africa this week as the 2022 season tees-off with a month and a bit of 2021 still to go. 

Dust never gets time to settle in this game with non-stop golf schedules tending to rip up conventional calendars like Lady Chatterley’s bit on the side tearing off his semmit in a passionate frenzy. Or, at least, Rory McIlroy yanking his polo shirt into tatters after his damaging denouement in Dubai on Sunday.

The finale of the 2021 campaign ended with McIlroy making the kind of seething, shredded sartorial statement that was broadly equivalent to the Hulk’s fuming response if he’d three-putted from eight-feet.

It was Collin Morikawa who showed he was, well, dressed for success as he made a thrilling sprint for the line with five birdies in his last seven holes to demonstrate, once again, what a composed and clinical performer he is.

A brilliant, deserving Open champion in the summer, the 24-year-old ended the campaign as European No 1. That he played just three regular European Tour events – the Scottish Open and two Dubai showpieces - en route to becoming the first American to earn the prestigious Harry Vardon Trophy sticks in the craw of some traditional viewers on this side of the pond. 

But when his 2021 resume includes a major win, a WGC triumph and the season-ending Tour Championship, surely even old Harry would’ve approved. As the great Vardon once observed, “There are only two types of player - those who keep their nerves under control and win championships, and those who do not.”

Morikawa is certainly proving to be a ruthlessly efficient competitor. The new Tiger Woods? Well, that’s been the obvious bellow for a while now as drooling observers continue their desperate, almost futile, quest for golf’s next dominant force. In this post-Woods age, it was timely then that a couple of hours after Morikawa’s latest win, footage of Tiger hitting a ball on the driving range, accompanied by the caption ‘making progress’, appeared on social media.

The hysterical reaction to this three-second clip, the first sighting of him making swings since his frightful car crash in February, seemed to eclipse everything that had gone on in the world of golf and just about fused the entire internet as all and sundry collapsed on all fours in a pandemonium of gushing reverence.

It was a reminder – not that we needed one – that despite a raft of vibrant and varied young talent at the top of the global game, nobody comes close to generating the wide-spread, fevered hoopla quite like a 15-time major-winning 45-year-old with a body that’s been battered more than Evel Knievel’s.

As the clip said, ‘making progress’ is all this is at the moment, despite some giddy folk already awarding Woods next April’s Green Jacket. Given the grim ravages caused by his accident, however, what welcoming, encouraging progress it is. Will he ever get back to playing championship golf? Goodness knows, but, after his miracles of recent years, not many will bet against him.


While some golfers possibly thought COP26 was a new driver launched by TaylorMade, there is no denying the fact that the Royal & Ancient game’s environmental credentials are under increased scrutiny. Rory McIlroy brought it to the fore last week as he talked of the “guilt” he felt about travelling alone on a private plane and what measures – expensive ones at that – he takes to be carbon neutral by the end of the year.

At a time when golf at the top level is getting longer and longer and courses are getting bigger and bigger, the issue of sustainability continues to become much more prevalent. Part of The R&A and USGA’s hefty Distance Insights Report, which McIlroy referenced in his eco-address, shows, for instance, that golf course footprints in some cases had grown by 64 acres over the past 100 years.

From the amount of water required, to the employment of non-native grasses and all sorts of fertilisers and pesticides, golf’s green issues are far more serious than the yips with a putter.


A final flourish in Dubai lifted Robert MacIntyre to his best ranking – ninth – in three years on the European Tour. The second half of his season may have been somewhat underwhelming by his own lofty standards but having finished tied 12th in The Masters, eighth in The Open and fourth in the Tour Championship during the year, he once again showed he’s made for the big occasion. It’s onwards and upwards.