Consecutive Sundays of live and meaningful golf has proven that the game can move forward from COVID-19, albeit on a much smaller scale and with a wealth of understandable and relatable missteps along the way. The TaylorMade Driving Relief match and The Match: Champions for Charity were what officials had hoped for as golf inches closer to its official return next month at Colonial. Two exhibitions also set the stage for what we can expect when play resumes. Here’s what we learned from both: • Endless hours putting on living room carpet and hitting chip shots in the back yard may vaguely look like practice, but it’s a poor substitute for the real thing, and the two matches offered a glimpse of what to expect when play resumes – rust. With the exception of Rickie Fowler’s putting and Tiger Woods’ tee game, we’re talking lots and lots of rust. • Social distancing is going to cause awkward moments in the months to come, like the “air five” Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson exchanged after winning their bout at Seminole Golf Club or the “no five” between Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady when the duo eagled the par-4 11th hole at Medalist Golf Club. Rory delivers knockout shot to win 6 skins, $1.1 million • Any plan to return to play without caddies – which the PGA Tour discussed but eventually dismissed – was never going to work based on the two matches. At Seminole, the players appeared utterly lost on the greens and at Medalist, club selection was a serious challenge for everyone except Woods, who is the club’s most high-profile member. • Justin Thomas is going to be the game’s most insightful and straightforward television analyst in 25 years, when he’s finished with his Hall-of-Fame playing career. “Chuck [Barkley], I’d love to see your fat ass try to dunk,” was one of JT’s numerous unfiltered observations. • If every major was played at Seminole, the brilliant Donald Ross design, McIlroy would have already won the career Grand Slam. If every major was played at Medalist, the Tour’s unofficial South Florida home, Woods might never lose. • The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but if the pause in action was beneficial for anyone it was Woods. Considering Tiger had skipped traditional starts at the WGC-Mexico Championship, Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational to allow his body to recover before play was halted, he looked downright spry on Sunday. • Similarly, Mickelson still appears to be searching. Lefty has just a single top-10 finish this season and was fresh off back-to-back missed cuts when the schedule was suspended. At Medalist, he missed more fairways than he hit and was equally off-the-mark with his irons. He did, however, offer one of the more entertaining moments when Woods said he couldn’t match Mickelson’s length off the tee. “Dude, I’m 50. In three weeks, I’m going to be Champions Tour eligible,” Mickelson said to laughter. • Not that we “learned” this, but just as a reminder: golf is really hard. Peyton Manning’s first tee shot, really? As an aside, if the former signal caller ever wanted to get into the golf announcing business, we’d be the first to sign up for that. • Both matches also gave a glimpse into what golf will be like without fans. There’s certain to be a fair share of surreal moments, but the silence will provide players and caddies a chance to show some personality that otherwise would have been stepped on by the cheers. From Fowler acknowledging the non-existent applause following a birdie putt to Mickelson’s non-stop narration, it’s going to offer a humanized element to the broadcast. • Social distancing is also going to take time to figure out, if the matches were any indication. Six feet means 6 feet, and Woods’ momentary lapse when he grabbed Manning’s driver to help his partner with a drop is proof how challenging behavior modification will be. • Golf has always been a productive outlet for charities and the matches proved that the pandemic hasn’t changed that. More than $25 million was raised between the two matches to benefit COVID-19 relief and other charities. • There’s not going to be anything normal about golf’s return, but the matches did provide the game with a proof of concept. From four players on the course the last two weeks to 144 next month at Colonial, the game is learning how to carry on and the matches proved that point.
Related Stories ‘It’s Fractured’: Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan On Healing Republican Party Legal Advocate Discusses Medical Abuse At Shut Down Georgia ICE Facility Add to My List In My List For Whom The Bell Rings Share A former DeKalb County commissioner has been charged with theft for receiving advances to fund government trips he never took.Like us on Facebook The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports a grand jury indicted Stan Watson on a single charge of theft by conversion Tuesday.County records show Watson withdrew $3,586 in travel advance trips for conferences in Chicago and Savannah in 2016. Watson resigned to run for DeKalb Tax Commissioner before taking the trips.A press release from DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston’s office says the state alleges the money was converted to personal use and not repaid until a year later, violating county policy.A warrant has been issued for the former member of the Georgia House of Representatives. It’s unclear if Watson has a lawyer.
Athletics Fifteen men and women gathered at the National Sports Institute in Goroka, Eastern Highlands, recently to undergo a leadership course. The course was facilitated by Oceania Athletics and provided participants with an up-to-date understanding of strategic communication, project management and leadership concepts in sports and business. Emphasis was placed on the special opportunities and changes in the field of leadership and the increasing changes for women in a global context. Oceania Athletics development officer, Regan Kama said the course was a success with the main goal of empowering women achieved. “The main goal of this seminar was to produce a sustainable, ongoing, systematic improvement of women in leadership positions,” said Kama. “It was incredible to see how many of the participants didn’t realise they were leaders, and could continue to be leaders with the support of the network in our region and understanding of the opportunities provided.” A special focus was put on problem solving and the different leadership styles between men and women. Participants were thankful for the opportunity, with one person saying how it taught them to, “gain confidence and speak up for myself and others,” and another saying, “It help me gain the knowledge and understand of being a good leader. “I would recommend more of these seminars be conducted across the Pacific.” The course was held in conjunction with the Highlands Momase Regional Championships and Oceania Area starters’ course.
Skipper Dane Van Niekerk won the toss in Canberra and opted to bat, with her team building 195 for three, anchored by powerful opener Lizelle Lee’s 101.It was the biggest score in the tournament’s history, beating India’s 194 for five against New Zealand in Providence in 2018.In reply, Thailand were all out for 82 with South Africa bagging a hat-trick off Shabnim Ismail’s bowling, although one was a run-out.“The box we wanted to tick today was to take the win,” said Van Niekerk. “Credit to Lizelle for that century… but I think our fielding let us down a little bit today.“I don’t think we were at our 100 percent best today.”The Proteas registered a commanding victory over England in their opening game and by thrashing Thailand, have two wins from two to be well-placed in Group A.England, who got their campaign back on track with a dominant victory over Thailand, play Pakistan later Friday. The West Indies, also with two wins from two, are in action on Sunday.In front of a sparse crowd at Manuka Oval, Thailand got an early breakthrough with Van Niekerk chipping a Ratanaporn Padunglerd delivery to midwicket for an easy catch.But Lee got the scoreboard moving with a flurry of boundaries an she built a big partnership with Sune Luus, bringing up her half-century with a huge six down the ground.In a bid to keep South Africa guessing, Thailand used seven different bowlers in the opening nine overs. But the tactic backfired with too many loose deliveries.Lee raced to her maiden T20 century, in her 72nd international, off 59 balls, with three sixes and 16 fours, before being caught and bowled by Suleeporn Laomi on the very next delivery.Luus (61 not out) and Chloe Tryon (24) hit out late on to ensure Thailand faced a huge target.The Thais survived two early dropped catches before Ismail stepped up for an incredible fourth over.Nattaya Boochatham was run out off the first delivery, then Ismail cleaned-bowled both Nannapat Khoncharoenkai and Naruemol Chaiwai from the next two to leave Thailand reeling at 15 for three.Onnicha Kamchomphu made a spirited 26, including her team’s first six of the tournament, but that was as good as it got for the Thais.“All credit to Lizelle, she hit the ball hard but we also didn’t get our lines and lengths right,” said Thai skipper Sornnarin Tippoch. “That’s something to improve on, also our fielding today.”For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.