Good for the Game! Megha Ganne’s coming out party; Jon Rahm’s heartbreak; and two bruisers straining at the bit

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June 13, 2021 5:30 AM

17-year-old high-school junior, Megha Ganne, whose parents hail from India, burst on to the scene with a major bang, contending at the US Women's Open.

Amateur Megha Ganne, ranked 30th in the world, nearly made history at the US Women's OpenAmateur Megha Ganne, ranked 30th in the world, nearly made history at the US Women's Open

Ladies and Gentlemen of the golf republic! For your entertainment, and keen pleasure we present the bout of the year. The big fight you’ve been waiting for, a rousing battle of true gladiatorial proportions! In the left corner, wielding the dreaded hooded clubface, capable of trapping, and crushing a golf ball like soft putty, we have Beefcake Brooks Koepka! In the right corner, the sci-fi fantasy champion, the scientist-turned-incredible Hulk, Bryson DeChambeau, best known for the widest swing arc known to mankind, and capable of flinging a pitching wedge 200 yards, even before the ball gets there. These two men have been at each other’s throats, rather publicly, needling and riling each other in their public utterances. And now, finally, they’ve decided to have it out, the old fashioned way! This is going to be a bruiser to remember folks!

Okay, so I’m getting a bit carried away. But it’s only a matter of time, given just how public and nasty this mutual abhorrence of each other is becoming, that these two American champion golfers, are going to get into a fight. I kid you not. Have these two never spent time at the members’ bars in Ayrshire, or at Portrush, or County Down? And do they have no idea, just how much merriment their antics must be generating amongst the blokes on the European Tour. ‘Tut tut,’ people must be going, quaffing from their mugs of lukewarm Guinness. Across the pond, only the likes of Jack Nicklaus must be sitting with their heads-in-their hands, wondering what the heck has gotten into these two.

And now Koepka has raised the bar to a decidedly surreal level. At a recent press conference the multiple major winner indicated, bizarrely, that he thinks this spat is ‘good for the game.’ This is the point when those gents at the bar, must have choked on their barley water. Just when you thought it couldn’t get more ridiculous. So, Koepka believes that this spat gets golf into the news, which is a good thing, and that such primal rivalry will draw youngsters to the game. Right then. I’ll reserve comment.

On to news that is genuinely good for the game. 17-year-old high-school junior, Megha Ganne, whose parents hail from India, burst on to the scene with a major bang, contending at the US Women’s Open. Ganne, who has a gorgeous rhythmic swing, started the final day four strokes off the lead, and closed with a 77, to finish tied-14th. Ganne certainly seemed to take the experience in her stride, “‘I’ll remember this for the rest of my life,” she said after handing in her scorecard.

Her mother, Sudha, is keen that Megha remains “a regular kid and enjoys other things…” besides golf. Ganne is not so regular in ways that have nothing to do with golf. For one she’s not on social media. Imagine that, a 17-year-old, with a huge potential for drawing in thousands of followers has chosen not to broadcast her life. That just reveals so much about this exciting young player. And that’s why it comes as no shock that she doesn’t seem particularly tempted by the lucre of pro golf.

Ganne has got into Stanford and will be holding on to her amateur status. “She’s absolutely going to college. There’s no doubt about that,” Sudha told the Golf Channel. Good for her, I say. Why give up a chance to study and play for Stanford for a few years to do something you’re probably going to be doing all your life.

While Ganne has plenty to take away from the experience of playing and contending against the best players in the world, there’s no such succour for poor Jon Rahm who had to withdraw from the field at The Memorial after completing his third round. Rahm, who was leading the event, was informed after his round that his latest test for the coronavirus had come out positive. I don’t particularly root for Rahm, and his brand of power play, but this just broke my heart. And Rahm was dealt the unfairest card of them all.

In other news, PGA Champion, Phil Mickelson, to no one’s surprise, missed the cut the following week at The Memorial Tournament. You know how it goes after you make a birdie: more often than not, you give the stroke back on the next hole. Phil isn’t teeing it up till the US Open next week; I doubt he’s hitting balls to prepare for that; reckon he’s sitting and meditating, intermittent fasting, among other new-age wellness mantras that the new Phil seems to be into.

My friend, Shivas Nath, well-known in Mumbai golfing circles as the man you really don’t want to bet against in a friendly weekend game, raised a tantalising prospect in a social media post after Phil’s win. “What if,” he pondered, “Phil wins the US Open, and then decides to play, and win the US Senior Championship in July. What a rare double that would be!”

It really would. No one’s managed to do that in the history of the game. The only thing that could possibly steal the headlines from a feat like that is, well, if DeChambeau and Koepka come to blows. That’ll be awfully good for television ratings. And you can bet your bottom dollar that a pay-per-view one-on-one contest between DeChambeau and Koepka will come up in no time. I say, that if things come to such a pass, then the PGTI should invite the winner of that duel to the Chandigarh Golf Club for a title match. I don’t care, how tough both these players are-neither would stand a chance against even the oldest member of that club.

A golfer, Meraj Shah also writes about the game

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