On a map pertaining to strategic military positions relating to the #1916 Rising, General Sean #Boylan was highlighted as a figure of considerable importance in this locality. At this point, let it be made abundantly clear that – and this is a cause of considerable regret which will in the near future be rectified – not that much is known about his history with the army, so therefore I wouldn’t attempt to comment thereon.
It may surprise some, to learn, however, that, notwithstanding his son’s incalculable achievements in sport, General Boylan was a central figure in quite the sporting story himself. Being a pivotal member of the St Peter’s, Dunboyne sides that won the Meath Senior Hurling Championship in 1908, ’11, ’12, ’13 and ’14.
At the time of typing, the last listed victory was the last time the club won the championship. It must rank among the biggest chasms between wins anywhere, though as the exorcising of the ghosts of Biddy Earley and Biddy Mulligan by the Clare hurlers and Dublin footballers prove, for one thing, they are far from alone, and for another, there are ways to circumnavigate such impediments.
Now, placing a relative newcomer golfer in the same bracket as some of the aforementioned elongated barren spells might seem a bit odd. Such methodology was deployed, however, to illustrate that there were plenty of patents for Jason Day’s patience paying off, as it did so wonderfully at the PGA Championship.
In one sense, the Australian’s ability to leave himself consistently in contention at Majors – only to have come up short several times over – would’ve been enough to have many willing victory for him. However, now factor in that he appears to suffer badly with vertigo, which can greatly impinge on his capability to go about his business and has done, and there was something movingly romantic almost about seeing him getting it done.
Such was the tumult of thoughts abounding after another unforgettable week’s golf that it’s hard to know where to begin. Perhaps with the venue. There was something almost magically alluring about Whistling Straits. Maybe it was the name. Or the fact that it facilitated such spellbinding play and was thus the polar opposite of the purgatorial penance of Chambers Bay, whence the US Open was endured earlier this season.
That the USPGA continually return thence (it’s already rostered for the 2020 Ryder Cup) probably says enough about the Wisconsin venue. Certain courses almost become part of folklore. Often even specific features at them. Think of Magnolia Lane and Amen Corner at Augusta, the Road Hole or the bridge at St Andrews or the notorious 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
Yet, effusing merited platitudes upon the venue only tells a fraction of the story. Knowing a few people who regularly deal with the debilitating affliction that is vertigo, cognisance of Day having been waylaid by the condition two holes out in the second round of the middle Major only to courageously, bravely complete – not only the round but the entire event – benchmarked him as the most popular possible winner. There had to be some peculiarity, then, in the Queensland native’s accomplishment of the feat skating a little under the radar.
Do sports require rivalries to afford their popularity sustainability? Not necessarily, but it certainly can’t do any harm. Most sports have them, maybe generations thereof, and, probably the most famous one to adorn golf was that involving Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
Until now, that is. Every so often, sports are blessed by the presence of stellar talents. Often a few of them at the same time. You don’t exactly envisage Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson having each other on speed dial. Against that, there seems to be an altogether more amicable chemistry between Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
The return of the latter and the former’s quest to – maybe belatedly – assume top ranking in the sport dominated the build up and, while both competed with craft and skill which bodes well going forward, both for themselves and viewers of the sport. What all the focus being heaped the world’s top two also did, mind you, was also those who ended up being among the principal protagonists – the duo from Down Under, Day and Matt Jones – go about their business somewhat unnoticed, in the beginning at least.
In the aftermath of Day’s deserved triumph, all the talk was about the new order in the sport taking hold. But here’s the thing, regardless of what one might think of the doings of Tiger Woods off the course, surely there must be an acknowledgement of his status as one of the most gifted exponents of his craft there’s been.
The gifts which illuminated the sporting world for so long haven’t been in evidence much lately. They don’t just disappear though. A week after the PGA, Woods gave the impression that the protestations of recent months that has game was assuming the right trajectory wasn’t empty psychobabble when sparking memories of days of yore at the Wyndham Championship.
Drastic as it may seem, given how things have been, Tiger making the cut, never mind contending, constitutes big news now. Even more so, seeing recover from what heretofore would’ve been a calamitous wobble to amass four late birdies to finish within a respectable of the victor.
That victor being former Ryder Cup captain Davis Love IIL. Thus, amidst all the talk of the changing face of golf, a timely reminder that the older, decorated players hadn’t gone away, you know!