Take a bow Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson and Renato Paratore. For different reasons, after all, the trio have done things over the past few days to make golf feel either proud of or pleased about people associated with the Royal & Ancient game.
Yes, there seem to have been too many occasions in recent years that the sport has opened itself up to some kickings it has deserved, notably over rules, slow play and gender issues, but, at the same time, it is comforting to know that it is still breeding both decent human beings and outstanding young golfers who play the game the proper way.
In truth, it should have come as no surprise whatsoever that, in the midst of a media frenzy, it was Kaymer who delivered such a spot-on response to some of the flak being aimed at Tiger Woods following his arrest in Florida for driving under the influence.
The German, after all, has a track record when it comes to saying the right things – even during his own adversity, for example, after blowing a big lead in Abu Dhabi a few years back – and he certainly hit the nail on the head by describing the reaction to Woods’ very public humiliation as “nasty”.
Let’s not beat about the bush on this one. Woods has never come across as the nicest of individuals and, therefore, it was perhaps inevitable that there was going to be some sniggering about the dashboard footage of the 14-time major winner failing to pass a sobriety test a short drive from his home and also separate footage of him slumped on a chair in the police station before taking a breathalyser test.
The fact that corroborated his claim that he did not have alcohol in his system and that his confused state was down to an “unexpected reaction” to a mix of prescription medicines as he recovers from a fourth back injury in just over three years, however, was, as Kaymer pointed out, reason surely for Woods to feel he had the support of every single person involved in the game.
There can’t be anyone who watched Tiger over the past two decades that didn’t marvel at his sheer brilliance and, though it has been some time now since he was at his best, we should all be hoping that he can be back out there competing pain-free and see if he can, indeed, recapture some of that old magic.
In the meantime, golf can rely on the likes of Kaymer to ensure that the game, whether looking at it overall or focusing on individuals, has people prepared to put their head above the parapet to do the right thing, which is what Mickelson certainly appears to be doing next week.
It may be the event he needs to win to complete a career Grand Slam, but the American has indicated he won’t be playing in the US Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin due to the fact he intends to see his oldest daughter, Amanda, graduate from high school in California next Thursday, the opening day of the season’s second major. Good on Mickelson for showing that top sportspeople, as they are often portrayed, are not totally selfish and couldn’t give a damn about anyone else. Life, even for the likes of a superstar like Phil, is about priorities and, in this instance, family has to come first. No loving parent would dare to claim otherwise and, if indeed Phil is missing from next week’s line-up, he will be sending out a message that the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia will all remember when they perhaps find themselves in a similar position later in life.
Paratore, too, and what a breath of fresh air he is for the game at a time when it still seems that not enough action is being taken on a regular basis to improve pace of play. From the moment he secured his European Tour card as a 17-year-old, the Italian set tongues wagging over the fact he wastes no time over shots and, happily, that remained the case down the stretch as he won the Nordea Masters at the weekend.
“I wish we had more players like him,” declared Paul Lawrie, one of the most vocal on the slow play front and rightly so, in offering his verdict on Paratore, now the youngest winner on the European Tour at the age of 20 and an individual the game should be using in every way it possibly can to show golf can be played how it used to be before pre-shot routines and all sorts of shenanigans for lining up putts crept into the sport.
Let Paratore play a big part in shaping a bright future for golf.