Martin Dempster: If you think golf is boring, watch week’s stunning action

Tommy Fleetwood takes a selfie after retaining the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title on Sunday. Picture: AP
Tommy Fleetwood takes a selfie after retaining the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title on Sunday. Picture: AP
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S o, golf is boring as a 
spectator sport, eh? A fortnight after that claim was made in a YouGov survey, it really is being made to look absolute and utter nonsense. Put it this way, the people who believe that clearly are not golf fans because, right now, the sport is in a really good place.

What was boring last week about world No 1 Dustin Johnson, a returning Rory McIlroy and last year’s Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood going toe-to-toe over the first two days in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship?

What was boring about Fleetwood coming home in 30 to card a closing 65 in testing conditions in the desert to successfully defend the title in that event, which also featured Justin Rose and Henrik 
Stenson?

What was boring about seeing Europe’s new crop of exciting and talented young players, including
Belgian duo Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry, opening their 
shoulders to get in the mix at Abu Dhabi Golf Club?

It wasn’t just on the European Tour, either, that the past few days delivered instances that should help paint a much better picture of golf’s current state than that poll did.

What was boring about the 
Masters champion, Sergio Garcia, pictured, winning the Singapore Open by five shots before heading to the Middle East this week to defend his Omega Dubai Desert 
Classic title?

And what was boring about his fellow Spaniard, Jon Rahm, rising to world No 2
after claiming his second
PGA Tour title with a 
play-off victory over Andrew Landry in the CareerBuilder Challenge in California?

In short, lots of evidence has backed up why Olympic champion Rose, for one, wasn’t buying that boring claim in the build-up to last week’s event and, in fact, agrees with this correspondent that this is actually an “exciting time for golf”.

It really is astonishing to think that 70 per cent of people in the UK who took part in that survey gave golf a huge thumbs down by saying it was the most boring among 17 sports at a time when, in particular, England boasts so many world-class players.

Rose, of course, spearheads that group and he now has both Fleetwood and Paul Casey alongside him in the world’s top 15, with compatriots such as Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Ross Fisher and now Chris Paisley, all looking as though they are set to go from strength to strength over the coming years.

It may be slow at times – and 
that really must be addressed to give the sport a better chance to appeal to the eye of those who seem instantly switched off by it at 
the moment – but no way is golf, especially in events that involve the top players, boring. If you disagree, then do yourself a favour by actually watching a bit of golf this week, admittedly
something you can only do on 
Sky Sports, of course, but boy does the satellite broadcaster have a couple of events on its schedule that will get people talking about 
the game.

Put it this way, there will be nothing boring about seeing Tiger Woods taking the next step in his comeback in the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour at 
Torrey Pines.

On the European Tour, it definitely
won’t be boring, either, as Garcia defends that Omega Dubai Desert Classic title against a field that also includes McIlroy, Stenson, Fleetwood and the colourful Pat Perez in one of the most stunning settings in golf.

For some reason, it has become something of a trend in recent years for people, especially those who have no real feel for the game, to try to knock it at every available opportunity.

That YouGov survey was one such chance and there were some people over it like a rash.

My message to them would be actually watch it a bit more this year and not, as seems to be the case with some people, just wait for the Ryder Cup to come around in 
the autumn.

With everything that lies in store for the game this season, boring really is the last word that comes to mind, believe me.