A SMALL press bolthole during a weather delay at a tournament can be a bit like the waiting room of a doctor’s surgery.
With nervous tension hanging in the air, you sit slumped in your seat, twiddling your thumbs and mulling over the finer points of your existence while the wearying silence is occasionally punctuated by creaking, strained groans, resigned, puff-cheeked sighs and muffled squeaks of awkward, unexpected flatulence.
The announcement that play will resume is greeted with the same gasp of relief expressed when the health centre receptionist informs you that the quirky proctologist with the unfeasibly large finger nail is away doing a shift in the east end practice.
This correspondent was reminded of this general scene of remorseless hingin’ aboot when watching Brooks Koepka win the US Open the other night.
It took me back to that dour June afternoon in Aviemore in 2013 when a rain-ravaged, stop-start final round of the Scottish Hydro Challenge eventually squelched to a conclusion and Koepka put the tin lid on his dominant majesty by winning at a canter.
That was his fourth win on the second-tier European Challenge Tour in less than a year – he was a combined 81-under-par for those victories – as he continued on the kind of upward trajectory that used to be reserved for vessels of space exploration.
The fact he managed to get down to Sunningdale from Aviemore – the weather delay had scuppered his original flight plans – and secured an Open Championship place in the following day’s 36-hole final qualifying shoot-out only added further allure to the Koepka story.
Everywhere you turned that week in the Highlands, there were players across the spectrum, from young, fresh-faced recruits to the pro game to seasoned touring campaigners who had played with some of the best, dishing out praise in wowed abundance. “You’ll have to see this boy,” they effused as if they’d just watched the lad who invented sliced bread make a few pieces.
That’s the best thing about golf at these developmental levels; you get the opportunity to see these prodigious talents in the raw.
Of course, you can never say with total certainty whether so and so is going to win this or such and such is going to achieve that in future years.
The frenzy to find the next big thing is a constantly churning cycle of expectation, coronations and anointments. “You, my son, are a legend in waiting,” is essentially the burden that gets lumped on to the shoulders by a drooling media and everyone is expected to buy into the hype.
In this unpredictable game, though, fickle observers can quickly switch from gushing adoration to shrugging indifference.
Before you know it, the next big thing has become yesterday’s man and we’ve already moved on to seeking the next, next big thing.
Even in those formative professional years, however, Koepka had a nonchalant yet convincing air of authority.
“This is just the beginning, and I know that may sound cocky, but I have high expectations of myself,” said Koepka after that success at Spey Valley.
On Sunday night, Koepka stayed true to those words with a maiden major win. It was the ultimate triumph for the American who was made in Europe. Trump won’t like that one.
This was the seventh consecutive major to be won by a first-timer on the men’s circuit as the global game continues to be defined by a sense of competitive parity after years of Tiger’s tyrannical rule.
Variety, they say, is the spice of life but you’ll never please everybody. Some still crave that singular dominant figure at the top of the tree while others are constantly looking to manufacture a new Big Three in the shape of a modern day Nicklaus, Palmer and Player.
In this free-for-all age, the quality and quantity continues to render major championships, and tournaments as a whole, as incalculable as the outcome of bloomin’ Brexit. We should savour this period of depth and diversity.
Who would have forecast that the names of Trey Mullinax and Xander Schauffelle would be perched in the top-10 of the final leaderboard while the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day were all watching the closing day unfold on the tele having missed the cut?
From the Cairngorms to Erin Hills, Koepka has scaled the heights and, inevitably, the salivating enthusiasts are already predicting that the US Open will be the first of many major wins for him.
That is easier said than done, though, when you’re trying to predict the unpredictable.
Source : HeraldScotland