The great thing about golf is that the stories are by and large greater than the players themselves. At the end of last year’s European Tour season, Graeme Storm thought he’d lost his playing privileges. Without a place to play in 2017, the Englishman didn’t know what he was going to do to make a living.
But when Patrick Reed didn’t play in the last two events on the Race to Dubai, Storm finished 111th and kept his card by a whisker. And when Rory McIlroy bogeyed the third playoff hole Sunday, Storm won the BMW SA Open, a life- and career-changing moment.
Great story? Difficult to find one better. Except perhaps Justin Thomas, who has burst out on the PGA Tour to win the first two events of 2017 to give him three victories in this wraparound season. Shooting 59 is not what it once was, now that Jim Furyk posted 58 in a Tour event in 2016. But it’s a great score, nonetheless.
Thomas was cursed with unlimited potential when he turned pro out of the University of Alabama but he watched close friend Jordan Spieth run past him in success and notoriety. While the gap hasn’t completely closed, Thomas is getting nearer.
Is Thomas a great player? Is Spieth? Before we start slinging the “g-word” around let us remember that Tiger was great. So is Phil Mickelson. The rest are competing to reach “really good” or “near-great.”
What about McIlroy, you say? He’s not quite great. Not yet. If he were great, he wouldn’t have lost to Graeme Storm, would he? But it wouldn’t have been nearly as great a story.