Thailand Golf Championship preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
Anyone for Golf? Bubba Watson had to be cajoled into playing the Hero World Challenge last week and look how that turned out. He rolled over his new best mate and our selection Patrick Reid (was that thumbs us and rictus smile combination not the creepiest thing you’ve even seen on a golf course?) and then headed straight over to Thailand to front up the betting. Bubba’s 25 thousand under last week was built on murdering the five par 5’s and much of the same on the shorter par 4’s. Nevertheless he is being opposed by the McGillicuddy Think Tank on the basis that 1) backing up is rare in golf and 2) he’s 11/2 and 3) he’s Bubba.
This is a full field event but the reality is this represents a drop in class for a handful of players and so I’d be surprised if a local wins.
What does this leave us with? Garcia? Kaymer? Westwood? All great players but at this stage of the year and even allowing for Garcia’s win in Vietnam last week – they all look like players either fulfilling obligations or searching for something on the back of less than stellar years.
What we want therefore is a young buck – someone filled with the joys of golf – in form – with no dependants back home pinning for him.
Vanity said the preacher!
Enter Mathew Fitzpatrick at 18/1. Averaging 70.2 on the European Tour in 2015 he was 13th on the list and only behind An in this field.
His first full year on tour was quite special with 4 top 10’s, a win in the British Masters and over €2m banked. Plus he improved his scoring average by 1.9 strokes – over an admittedly abbreviated 2014 season with only 6 starts. The point is this kid can play and is box office…now.
He has no course form to speak of so there is a risk he hits all the trees. But that’s unlikely unless they move them to the centre of the fairways as Fitzpatrick hits a lot of them (72.2% in 2015). He’s not long but that never stopped Jimmy The Fu..k. He also hits plenty of greens (76.38%).
Fitzpatrick has been on the go of late and we questioned the burn out factor last week with Reed – didn’t stop him. He teed it up every week in November with some consistently impressive performances. He’s from Sheffield so dragging himself away from those sunny uplands must have been a wrench to slum it round the back end of the European Tour – proving that our man is man of stern stuff – a man of steel even (come on I had to work that in somewhere).
What’s that form been like then? 12 of his last 20 competitive rounds have been in the 60’s with a 63 in the Turkish Open indicative of his scoring prowess. He was 60 under par for those 20 rounds.
At 5 ft 9 and 10st 3lbs he’s a slip of a lad but he’s adding length to his game and he could be anything. It might be stretch to say he’ll contend regularly against his golden peers Rory, Jordan and Ricky etc but you can imagine with progression him being at that very next level in the years to come.