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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019
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In the swing: Thomas Bjorn continues to grow old gracefully

His victory at the Omega European Masters was the Dane’s third of the season, the most wins he has had on tour in one calendar year.

Image: Chris Clark/PA Wire/Press Association Images

SOME SAY LIFE begins at 40.

Well, for Thomas Bjorn, his 40th year of life has certainly been his most successful year on tour.

His victory at the Omega European Masters was his third of the season, the most wins he has had on tour in one calendar year.

Having won the previous week at Gleneagles, it also represents the first time he has ever won back-to-back on tour.

Winning back-to-back, incidentally, isn’t all that uncommon. In fact, Thomas Bjorn was the 28th player to do so on tour. Some of you might remember Charl Schwartzel did it last year winning the Africa Open and Joburg Open in successive weeks.

It has actually been a good year for the over 40s on the European Tour this year though. There have been seven victories by players in their 40s. Golf is one of those games where players often find a sort of a second wind in after the big 4-0.

Vijay Singh is a perfect example of this. He has won 22 times in his 40s with 12 wins prior to that. So essentially, he has had a better career after the age of 40 than before. Imagine, say, Tiger Woods was to follow a similar trend. Given the amount of injuries he has had, you’d have to think that’s highly unlikely, but it makes for some very interesting pondering nonetheless, some of which is touched upon by Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg.

Golf is one of the few sports out there that you can realistically have a career that spans anywhere from 20-30 years, sometimes more. Even look at someone like Tom Watson.

He is 61 years of age but has kept himself fit and has still been competitive at the British Open over the last few years. Granted, he’s not putting in a full tour schedule, but he is living proof that age is not as much a factor in golf as in most other sports.

Thomas Bjorn’s best finish on the European money list was in 2000 when he finished fifth. With his two wins over the last two weekends he has moved up to fifth. His form would suggest that he’s well capable of moving up even further, particularly as Race to Dubai leader Luke Donald and third placed Charl Schwartzel will be spending the next few weeks in the USA chasing down a FedEx Cup title.

Certainly Bjorn’s age won’t hold him back anyway.

Business end

Speaking of the FedEx Cup, the field was whittled down even further last night as the Deutsche Bank Championship was won by Webb Simpson.
From an Irish point of view, Pádraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell will be noticeable absentees as the FedEx Cup moves on to Cog Hill, Illinois for the BMW Championship.

Only the top 70 in the FedEx Cup rankings progress and both men flirted with the “cut bubble”, as G-Mac would call it, but unfortunately the fact that they will miss out is more representative of inconsistency throughout the season as opposed to having an off week.

It was always going to be difficult for McDowell to get anywhere near the success of his 2010, where he picked up a Major as well as holing the winning putt in the Ryder Cup, but it’s disappointing that he didn’t manage to consolidate his position towards the top of the money list. Certainly top 70 should have been well within his grasp.

He still has the Race to Dubai to play for, however, and at 35th place, he’s by no means out of the mix if he can manage to put together a few high finishes or even wins between now and the end of the season.

In terms of the FedEx Cup standings broadly, Webb Simpson is in a particularly strong position and also in good form. The Deutsche Bank Championship was his second win of the season, having taken home the Wyndham Championship just two weeks ago, so he is definitely hitting form at the right time.

He’ll need to maintain that form if he’s to win the FedEx Cup, but his destiny is in his own hands, with a lead of almost 1000 points over Dustin Johnson in second and 2000 points over Luke Donald in fourth. With 2,500 points being awarded for a win, there’s certainly room for someone to come from well behind over the remaining two weeks, but the final standings are certainly beginning to take shape.

Next stop is the BMW Championship, an event I attended in person in 2009. More about that next week, but in the meantime here’s a taster of what I experienced two years ago…

Simpson triumphs at Deutsche Bank Championship to complete fairytale story

Irish under pressure as Watson takes charge

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NeilCullen

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