March 2009

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Under The Microscope: Darren Clarke

Birthday: 14/08/1968
Height: 6ft 2 1/2in
Weight: 14st
Birthplace: Dungannon, Northern Ireland
Turned Pro: 1990

Darren co-owns a private jet with best friend Lee Westwood, but they only use it when both are playing in the same event. A long haul round trip would set the pair back £60,000 so they mainly use it for European Tour events. The pilot has arguably the best job in the world on a six figure retainer, even though the downturn in the economy means he has to now do charters a couple of times a month!

In The Bag

Driver: Taylormade R9 with Aldila Voodoo XPP8. New in the bag but already a trusted weapon. The adjustable R9 head is not so much designed for distance as for accuracy.

Fairway wood: R9 fairway 13º with Aldila Voodoo DCC shafts. Clarke sometimes interchanges this with a 15º version

Irons: 2-PW Taylormade Burner Tour Preferred, x flex shafts and Lamkin grips. Brand new in Darren’s bag, he is still working on setting the lofts and lies to suit his game. The 2 iron gets switched for a 5-wood when the course dictates.

Wedges: Bob Vokey customized 54º (14º bounce) and 58º (14º bounce) wedges.

Scotty Cameron customized Studio Select Newport 2. Fitted with dark anti-glare shaft and embossed with the green shamrock and initials “DC”.
Utility Bag: Darren’s ball bag used be a crocodile’s ball bag!

Ball: Taylormade Tour Black with shamrock logo.

4 Lads In A Car: Seapoint
This weeks four lads offering was a celebrity version, hosted by Seapoint Links in Termonfeckin near Drogheda, Co. Louth. The event organized by my favourite golf channel, Setanta Golf, involved a fourball with their touring pro and living legend Darren Clarke.

Of course my presence there was purely fortuitous. Regular Examiner front-man Charlie Mulqueen had a bit of a bad back and I got promoted from lowly boot scrubber just for the day. The fact that I normally keep my third, fourth and fifth vertebrae in a jar of oil by my bed between Sundays was never going to stop me missing this opportunity. No sooner had I parked the car in front of the impressive clubhouse but I spotted the Clarke-mobile; a tiny black Porsche with the number plate “DC60”, in reverence to his stunning 60 at the K Club a few years back. It reminded me of the advertising slogan they never used- “Porsche. Too small to get laid in, but you’ll get laid the minute you jump out”!

After some getting to know you banter with DC and the other guys we boarded Seapoint’s first tee. We were joined by Liam Kelly of the Indo, who is that good, he’s the only writer in Ireland to be sponsored by Cleveland, and Shay Keenan of the Irish Times who fine tunes his links touch at The Island with the pilots. Faced with a par four slight dog leg first hole, I gave the drive my Mayo Minor Sunday best and nailed it (albeit slightly right). Darren took out his new R9 and lashed at it like a Taliban teacher; sending it easily over 300 yards. To give you an idea of how far pro’s hit the ball, compare our second shots; I had a full blooded wedge to ten feet while Darren had a little drop and stop lob wedge from some 50 yards closer which finished a foot from the hole!

That’s not to say that Clarke had it all his own way at Seapoint. At just over 7,100 yards it may not be in the monster category on paper, but when wind is added into the mix, it certainly makes some holes play longer than their billing. The 18 holes play out like a crossword. Though there are a number of generous par fours and fives that can be relatively simply solved, but there are also a couple of cryptic par threes that have the potential to leave you stumped. The first is the ninth, a 200 plus yarder with silage flanking both sides of the green. A five iron for DC, hybrids and woods for the rest of us, but no-one made par despite our best efforts at Mickelson flop shots. I imagine not many do. Next is the 17th, a real examination set for the members by course designers Des Smyth and Declan Brannigan. It’s as if they are testing you to see if you are actually fit to win the competition. If you do happen to make par or better on 17, the par five 18th provides a fun finish where a good drive and second shot wont be far from the green and a birdie opportunity.

As he tapped in for yet another birdie, Clarke told me he has spent a fair share of his time off tour in the home-gym getting ready for the next tour assault. A niggling shoulder muscle tear, the kind scrumhalves get, did curtail the exercise but is now all but healed. Home of course also meant quality time with sons Tyrone and Conor which mean everything to Darren. Even though he’s only 10, Tyrone starts boarding school in the next few weeks and Darren is already plotting to get on the right side of the Principal for visiting privileges!

As we completed the round, Darren spoke of his plans for next couple of weeks. Next week he returns to the Tour in Asia where he has won in the past. He spent a few days last week in Portrush getting some links practise in before his upcoming appearance at the Irish Open and the round at Seapoint provided the ideal sparring round needed in the build up.

Seapoint sits back to back with Baltray and while the latter may have more fame, both are excellent in a Bobby and Jack Charlton way. If you’re heading to the Irish Open in a couple of weeks and fancy getting in a round in the vicinity, €60 will get you out in Seapoint on a weekday. Check out the website for booking info. How did we all do? To keep the crossword analogy going Darren completed it with relative ease while the rest of us made a creditable attempts but had the inevitable few blanks!

Bloggy Underfoot- The Major Post Mortem

What a week Augusta was! Now that pockets of all the green jackets have been stuffed with moth-balls and stuck in the closet for another year, it’s time for the post-mortem. I’ve laid the Masters on the gurney, taken out its brain and dissected its vital organs to learn the lessons for the next three majors.

1. No Substitute for Experience

Though it may not be as evident in the next three majors, the Masters proved yet again, that no matter how skilled a player is, there is simply no substitute for experience. Those of us watching the 18th on TV on Friday night first watched Tiger and then Stewart Cink play away from the flag (up the hill) from the bunker on the right. There was a collective tightening of grips on pints when Rory McIlroy then aimed straight for the pin from the same bunker just a couple of minutes later. And we all know what happened next. All told, though Rory learned Augusta’s tricks the hard way, he proved he has the game to give this Major a right rattle next time.

2. Age Means Less…..Shots
Okay, most of us thought that Greg Norman’s second place finish at The Open last year could be explained away by the fact that the Aussie, though over 50, is a super-fit, superhuman, super golfer. The fact is that The Shark’s success was not just a flash in the pan. Advances in club and ball technology have become the Viagra that can keep older players up for longer, the leaderboard that is. Take the success of past winners Larry Mize and Sandy Lyle as proof of that. Throw in Kenny Perry and Angel Cabrera with a combined age of 87 and there can be no doubt that old is the new young. What next? A Perry at Turnberry or a Haas at Sawgrass!

3. The Tiger and Phil Show
The big two sure did put on a Sunday show. A new knee for Tiger and a new driver for Phil meant that both were within spitting distance of the leaders albeit briefly. Then something strange happened. Phil mis-clubs on the 12th and finds the water, then Tiger does his Woody Woodpecker impression on a tree on the last. When was the last time you saw either of these guys do something like that? Phil discusses every iron shot for seemingly ages with caddy Bones, and Tiger is the best 18th hole player that ever lived. Could it be that both took their eyes off the real prize and got embroiled in a bit of Sunday matchplay for the “World’s Best Player” title? Or was it something more serious, you know the thing that sounds like “critters” but starts with “j”. Anyway, irrespective of sparkly new drivers or brand new knees, both limped home.

4. No More Stuck in the Muds at Augusta
The days of Hootie and his blowfish are now long gone. New boss Billy Payne has dragged the Masters kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The course is more accessible to all with “birdie chances aplenty on the back nine” making a welcome return. Add to that a brilliant new tournament website and excellent TV coverage and the jackets are greener than ever in HD. And okay its sad to see the end of greats like Gary Player and bellies like Fuzzy Zoeller, but good for them to realise the public would rather remember them in their prime than watch them struggle to perform in a the era after their own.

With the Masters autopsy complete and the event neatly sutured back together, the theatre is being readied for the US Open at Bethpage on June 15th. There, no doubt even further drama will unfold as the old guard go “back to black”.

Dr. and The Medic: Low Running Chips

While hitting a chip and run you cant control the height of your chip.

The key to this swing is to hit it more like a putting stroke or almost sweeping motion to help keep it low.

You need to avoid hitting down on the ball with too steep of a swing. Set up with your trailing shoulder just a little lower than normal. Swing with just your trailing arm as you practice the shot to get the correct feel. Let your forward hand to hold the upper portion of your trailing arm as a practise drill. This will also help you keep the ball rolling low.

I Want One Of Those- V-Towel

Are you one of those golfers will spend a grand on irons and never bothers to clean them preferring instead to leave them sitting in your bag caked in mud? You then blame everything from your balls to your bad back whilst all the while remaining oblivious to the fact your irons have the equivalent of a mud-pack on their faces.
Forget searching deep in your bag for one of those tiny groove scrubbers, what you need is a V-Towel. Voted best new product at the 2008 PGA show in Orlando, the V-Towel is the all in one answer to on-course club cleaning. And best of all, it’s Irish!
The V-Towel has a looped, full detachable, mircofiber towel coupled with a nifty 270 degree cleaning bristle arc to keep golf clubs in optimum condition. You can attach and remove the V-towel in nanoseconds with their unique drop-and-lock system.
Brought to you by Vicarious Golf you can find the V-Towel in all good golf shops or online from

Tailored Shorts
Olazabal To Be Inducted
Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal is to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame for 2009. The news seems to have spurred Olazabal onto good things on the course with a good showing at Augusta then an excellent top ten finish at the Verizon Heritage. Olazabal, now 43, comes into The Hall Of Fame with 23 international wins and six PGA Tour victories including two Masters wins in ’94 and’99. He is also one of the most successful Ryder Cup players ever with an 18-8-5 record. The Spaniards career of late has been blighted by rheumatism so it’s fantastic to see him back playing at his best.

Murray Mint
Veteran comedy actor and golf fan Bill Murray was up usual crazy antics while competing at the Pro-Am before the Champions Tour event at TPC Southwind. The star of Ghostbusters and Caddyshack pulled his tee shot on the ninth and hit a woman sitting in her garden. She was subsequently taken to hospital but later released. The PGA tour officials gave Murray some of his own comedy medicine by wearing hard hats on the first tee the following day. Before Murray teed off they made the following statement, “The PGA tour has issued a special gallery advisory today! At approximately 285 yards and further ‘Duck’!”

Monty Snaps
Poor old Colin Montgomerie got a taste of what it feels like to be Britney Spears in the first of the Volvo China Open in Beijing. First an over eager fan made the fatal error of snapping his camera as Monty was mid swing and received the dreaded scowl followed by ejection from the premises for his troubles. Later after Monty drove into a hazard, he let loose on a camerman repeating again and again, “Don’t film me”. The European Tour are said to be considering covering all Monty’s shots in future on radio only!

Sergio’s Masters Misery
It cant be easy to keep to keep your cool after walking off the 18th green in Augusta only to be confronted by TV reporters seeking to chat about your misery. And so it turned out for Sergio Garcia, who came into the tournament with his head not “in a beautiful place”. After a 74 on Sunday, Garcia told a Golf Channel reporter “I don’t like it, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair, and it’s just too tricky. Even when it’s dry, you still get mud balls in the middle of the fairway. It’s just too much of a guessing game.” And yes, the US media jumped onto it immediately. Garcia and his management company IMG had to move quickly to douse the flames with the following apology, “Following my final round at the Masters, I made comments in an interview that I regret and want to apologize for. Out of frustration, I blamed the golf course instead of putting the blame where it belongs, on myself. I didn’t get it done this week. Augusta National is one of the most iconic golf courses in the game and playing in the Masters each year is an honour. I apologize to the members of Augusta National and the fans who rightfully treasure this golf course.” Let’s hope Sergio can get back to his “iconic” best for the upcoming Players Championship.

Bet Your Balls-

Ballantine's Championship
Pinx GC
Jeju Island, South Korea

23 Apr 2009 - 26 Apr 2009

Graeme McDowell 16/1
Produced one of the shots of his career to win the inaugural Ballantine’s Champions in a thrilling sudden-death play-off in March 2008. Having seen Jeev Milkha Singh hit in to four feet on the third playoff hole, McDowell produced a stunning seven iron from 179 yards which finished within a foot of the hole. Finished a creditable tied 17th at the Masters on four under and will be keen to climb from 35th in the race to Dubai.

Paul McGinley 40/1
Nice to see Paul back on form last week in China. A poor third round saw him fall back the leaderboard but he finished with a superb 68 and tie for eighth. Though McDowell and Singh stole the show at last years Ballintines, McGinley actually finished third. He said afterwards “My memory of last year is that Graeme and Jeev ran away with the tournament. They turned it into a two-man shootout and everyone else was playing a different tournament, which I managed to win”! Another good week should be in store for the amicable Dub.

Mark Brown 66/1
Even though the field this week includes the likes of Els, Westwood, Stenson, Monty and Clarke, I’m pitching for the relatively unknown Kiwi Mark Brown to feature again this week. Finished two shots off the pace in China last week; very creditable given a second round 77. In March 2008 Brown captured the Johnnie Walker Classic in New Delhi one week after winning his maiden Asian Tour title when he claimed the SAIL Open. Lets hope his 2009 streak continues in Korea.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Monday Apr 20 – Sunday Apr 26, 2009
TPC Louisiana · Avondale, La.

Nick Watney 16/1
Nick Watney is having a super season. Now up to 35th in the official world rankings and fourth in the Fed-Ex points race. Watney has finished in the top-25 in eight of the nine events he has played this year, which includes a win at the Buick and a second to Phil Mickelson at the WGC CA Championship. Watney edged out Ken Duke here in 2007 to claim his first tour victory and should be fresh after a weeks rest.

Todd Hamilton 66/1
He may have only made four cuts in the 11 events he has played this season, but 2005 Claret Jug winner Todd Hamilton is a man in form this weather. He attributes his recent good showing which includes a top-20 at the Masters and a tied fourth last week, to a “five year cycle” in which he claims to have a run of form.

Tim Wilkinson 40/1
Another Kiwi Tim Wilkinson should be a decent each way look in New Orleans. The 2008 Q-school graduate cemented his card in this event last year with a third place finish behind Andres Romero and Peter Lonard. Wilkinson is also showing a bit of form going into the event with a tied sixth place finish last week at Hilton Head.

Under The Microscope: Masters Champion Angel Cabrera

Birthday: September 12th 1969
Height: 6 feet 0 inches
Weight: 15 stone
Birthplace: Cordoba, Argentina
Turned Pro: 1989

Hailing from Cordoba in Argentina, Cabrera is known as “El Pato” or “The Duck” in his homeland. Cabrera’s Masters win was his second major and fifth win on tour. Cabrera’s progression from club caddy to major champion is one of the great rags to riches stories of golf. His big break came thanks to Eduardo Romero who sponsored him in his early career. Cabrera’s two young sons are reported also to be excellent golfers and future tour professionals.
In The Bag

Driver: Rapture (7.5°) with45¼-inch Aldila ADX shaft

Fairway wood: Rapture V2 (13°) The shaft is 43 inches, and the swingweight is D-3.

Irons: Ping G10 2-iron. Cabrera took a Ping Rapture V2 hybrid club out of his bag in favour of a Ping G10 2-iron at the start of Masters week.
The 3-iron through pitching wedge are Ping S57 with Rifle 7.0 shafts. Lie angle is .75 degrees flat and all irons are a quarter of an inch longer than standard.
Wedges: 54 and 60 degree Ping Tour-W with 10 degrees of bounce and a True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shaft.

Cabrera elected to stick with a unique putter he put in the bag at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. It is a Ping i Series 1/2 Craz-E B, but his is 39-inches long and features a grip designed for a belly putter that extends almost halfway down the shaft. Cabrera says the large grip helps him properly balance the putter and enhances his feel on the greens
Since giving up the cigarettes, Cabrera now chews gum on the course. He stopped smoking for a month after an illness and noticed an increase in strength on the course thereafter. It was then he decided to kick the habit.

Ball: Pro V1x with a green dot on the number and a green line over the Pro V1x stamp on the side.

Bloggy Underfoot- The Masters Green Jacket Awards

Best Nickname Award
Lifelong wild west fan Shingo Katayama was christened “Shingo the Gringo” in my pub on Saturday night. He’s looking more like Speedy Gonzalez every year. What a performance in Augusta though!

The Hail Mary Award
Goes to Gary Player who fell onto one knee and bowed his head in prayer on the 18th green in Augusta. Our sources revealed why. Player apparently saw Rory Sabbatini waiting at the back of the green to hug him and asked God in all his goodness to intervene.

The Gastric Bypass Award
Yet again this was a fiercely contested category with bellies belonging to the likes of five time winner Fuzzy Zoeller duelling with newcomers like Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry for top spot. The winner however was never in doubt. Carrying the equivalent of a bowling ball under his shirt, the champion is Angel Cabrera’s large intestine! In the playoff the combined weight of the front row was 48 stone!

Got Dressed In The Dark Award
Luke Donald used his appearance at the Masters to prove to the world that green trousers are not just for Leprechauns and mad Priests who jump out in front of Olympic marathon runners. Luke’s brother and caddy, Christian, actually refused to walk beside him during the second round, choosing to fire his clubs to him from across the fairway.

The Colgate Award
You can get all the crowns, caps and whitening products you like but no-one will ever get a set of choppers like Stephen Ames. Authorities are still seeking his extradition to Ireland to face charges in connection with kidnapping of Shergar. Apparently Ames’ incisors are an exact match with the missing Derby winner.

4 Lads In A "Powerplay" Car

Up to now golf in Ireland was like a rich supply of oil, every County had a rich supply coursing through it. Lately since the big “R” kicked in, there are signs that the supply might be drying up. We need to protect the future of golf by investigating alternative forms of golfing energy now. One such source of renewable fun is Powerplay golf.

Powerplay golf was devised by the famous GB&I Walker Cup winning Captain of the 90's Peter McEvoy in the UK. The format resembles ordinary golf but is played over nine holes, thus conserving valuable energy! Each green has two flags. The normal flag is positioned in a regular easy position whilst the black Powerplay flag with the skull and crossbones is located in a more challenging position. If you imagine the normal flag as a regular lorry delivering your home heating oil, the black Powerplay flag is the equivalent of an oil tanker evading pirates off the Somali coast. Hence the skeletal image. Pretty tough.

As well as being a risk reward exercise there is a bit of strategy involved in the Powerplay format. You don’t have to go for the black flags every time, but you must use a set number of “Powerplays” in a round. To eliminate any sly dogs who might unwittingly (or mis-hittingly) end up close to a black flag and then claim vantage, you must nominate your flag on the tee-box; it’s kind of like Texas Hold’em for golfers. You get extra points for your net score on a Powerplay hole. The player with the most points at the end of nine holes is the winner.

The man charged with rolling out the Irish national Powerplay grid is Rob Hill. The fact that he shares his initials with Robin Hood is no coincidence, but unlike his forest dwelling, arrow slinging counterpart, Rob is more into “Gently tugging from the rich to share occasionally with the not so rich.” Rob has increased the base of courses offering Powerplay golf to venues such as Carton House, The Heritage and Mount Wolseley. Indeed many of the top courses in the country recently set up the Powerplay format to take part in the Barretstown Serious Fun Weekend in March which was highly successful.

The golfing tree hugger in me says we all owe it to ourselves to protect our golfing environment so my advice is to make the big switch and try out Powerplay golf. You can find more details on Irish events on or through the Ireland link Don’t forget to drive with your “hybrid” and avoid the pirates!

Dr. and The Medic: Duffing Chips

You need to improve on your chipping and eliminate duffing.

Hinge your wrists on the backswing but remember to keep your wrists stiff at and after impact.

Set up with seventy percent of your weight on your front foot. Focus on what Phil Mickelson calls “hinge and hold”. Hinge your wrists on the backswing but keep your leading arm and wrist straight so that they form a straight line with the shaft of the club from impact to finish.

I Want One Of Those !
Daphne Headcover
Ditch your boring old headcover and go for something that best reflects you. is a good old fashioned family run business in Arizona that manufacture hundreds of weird and wonderful driver covers. Alas founder and cuddly toy maker Daphne has passed on the company to daughter Jane Spicer who continues to put loving care into each creation. The Daphne promise is if your headcover gets ripped or damaged at any stage throughout its lifetime, they will repair it for free. Perfect for kids or big bald guys like me who are still kids inside. My Daphne Dragon is ugly but colourful and spouts mostly hot air. Just like me.

Tailored Shorts

John Daly at Augusta
It might have seemed like a bit of a practical joke but John Daly’s appearance at, or rather “near” the Masters had sad undertones. As the Masters got underway Daly was across the street from the entrance selling T-shirts and other memorabilia.
Daly now ranked 783rd has lost his sponsorship deals and is still serving a PGA Tour suspension. "I'm on the verge of bankruptcy with the bad economy and the loss of sponsors. I don't want to go that route," Daly said. His plan is to rejoin the European Tour in the Summer and to that end he is working with Phil Mickelson's former coach, Rick Smith and has undergone weight reduction surgery.

Sandy’s “Eureka Moment”
Sandy Lyle discovered what it is like to play great golf again at the Masters. So what was his secret? We can now reveal that it wasn’t his set-up, his swing or his putting. No, Sandy’s Eureka moment came during Wednesday’s par-3 competition, when, in the sweltering conditions, Lyle’s caddy suggested to him that he might actually play better if he took off his raincoat. Sandy, who hadn’t removed his waterproofs for the last twenty years, was reluctant at first, but finally gave in. “This new found freedom is wonderful”, Sandy is rumoured to have told friends. “It’s looking a bit grey though, I just hope it doesn’t rain”, he may or may not have added!

Bet Your Balls- Odds from
Volvo China Open
Beijing CBD International GC
Beijing, China

17 Apr 2008 - 20 Apr 2008

Damien McGrane 18/1
It was a long time in the making but this time last year, Meath’s finest, Damien McGrane lifted the Volvo China Open and a quarter of a million euro purse. He won by a whopping nine shots in atrocious Sunday conditions, so we reckon if he plays half as good this year, he’s in there with a chance. They regard tsunami like conditions as a “grand soft day” in Kells!

Markus Brier 28/1
Yes it’s that time of year again when we call on our Austrian marketing genius Markus Brier to win us a few quid. He’s got more patches than a room full of pirates, but Markus has form in China. Won the equivalent event in 2007, albeit on a different course.

Wen-chong Liang 40/1
Who do you pick from a field that’s arguably as devoid of big names as the government front bench? Try the Chinese baseball slugger Wen-chong Liang who will be the home favourite this week; he has won on tour in Singapore in 2007 on his way to capturing the Asian order of merit that year. This week is his annual trip to the ATM. Let’s hope it’s not a case of “insufficient funds”.

Verizon Heritage
Monday Apr 13 – Sunday Apr 19, 2009
Harbour Town Golf Links · Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Boo Weekley 28/1
The gun toting, tobacco chewing, deer guttin’ country boy owns this event. Big Boo has won at Harbour Town for the past two seasons. Christined Thomas Brent Weekley his parents called him after Yogi Bear's sidekick, Boo Boo Bear. Weekley’s story is by now the stuff of legend. Having failed turfgrass science at college he returned home and worked as a hydroblaster at the Monsanto chemical plant where he would be lowered into large ammonia tanks to clean them. The only bad smell he has to worry about now is the exhaust from the Met Life Blimp!

Aaron Baddeley 16/1
If you always associated “stack and tilt” with lap dancing then you’re on the wrong path completely. Aaron Baddeley or “Badds” as he’s known Down Under is probably the best known proponent of the alternative swing method. But before you all run off to check it out on youtube let me tell you that Baddeley won the Heritage in 2006 and looked for all the world like he was going to repeat the feat last year before Boo shot him in the ass. Will it be a case of turning the other cheek this year for Bible bashing Baddeley?

Davis Love 40/1
You have to go back as far as 1987 to find Davis Love’s first tour win, the “MCI Heritage Classic” as it was back then. That was DL3’s first of four wins at Harbour Town, spanning three decades. Hasn’t come close recently but signs of a return to something like his best were to be found last November when he won again at Disney. Long shot but there might be one last trick in this pony.

Under The Masters Microscope: Defending Champ Trevor Immelman

Birthday: December 16 1979
Birth Place: Cape Town, South Africa
Height: 5’9’’
Weight: 12 stone 2lb
Turned Pro: 1999

Trevor took up golf aged five and is from a family steeped in golf. His older brother Mark is also a professional and his father Johan was a former commissioner of the Sunshine Tour in South Africa.
Trevor married his childhood sweetheart, Carmenita, on 6 December 2003. He withdrew from the 2006 Open Championship to be with her for the birth of their first child.
In December 2007, Immelman withdrew from the South African Airways Open due to severe discomfort around his ribcage area. He underwent surgery one week later and doctors discovered a lesion approximately the size of a golf ball on his diaphragm. (Immelman remarked in an interview on the obvious irony of the size of the lesion). It was diagnosed as a benign calcified fibrosis tumor. Nevertheless, treatment and recovery caused him to miss the first eight weeks of the 2008 PGA Tour season. However, Immelman then came back to win the 2008 Masters Tournament.

What’s In The Bag

Nike SQ Sumo 5000 with str8-fit technology. 10.5º loft but adjusted two clicks open and less one degree allowing Trevor to launch high with low spin. Fitted with 45 inch, Fubuki 73g, x-flex shaft
3&5 Wood
Nike SQ Dymo. Designed with the input of Immelman these clubs have the weight positioned back in the face to allow high launch from tight lies. 83 Fubuki x-flex shaft.
Irons 3-PW
Nike Victory Red forged split cavity back irons with true temper X100 shafts. who want the look and feel of blade, with the forgiveness of a muscle back. The Victory Red Irons didn’t come about of some marketing idea to produce another set of golf clubs for the sake of selling. This new line of golf clubs are a part of an evolutionary process over the past three years by Nike Engineers to develop a set of irons based on feedback from its Tour players.
54º and 60º Nike Victory Red forged tour wedges with S400 shafts. Custom grind by Nike. Changed every six months because the grooves get worn from practise.
A moveable feast but probably an odyssey 34 inch heavy blade at Augusta.

Faldo Ruined My Masters!
1 Toothless Shark (1996)
At the time “The Shark” was untouchable. Going into the final round of the Masters in 1996, Greg Norman lead by six shots. What transpired thereafter went down in history as one of the greatest meltdowns in Major history. Norman poked it around in a dreadful 78, six over par, losing a six-stroke lead to cardigan clad Nick Faldo, who finished with a brilliant 67. "I screwed up," was Normans philosophical conclusion afterwards.

2 Do the Chokey Hoch-ey (1989)

He’s the man that single handedly unified and inspired so many European Ryder Cup teams but did you know that Scott Hoch missed two tiddlers to win the Masters in 1989. The first was at the 17th, where his missed par putt allowed Nick Faldo to draw level. Hoch and Faldo played off and on the first hole of sudden death, Hoch’s 30 inch putt never even threatened the cup. Faldo birdied the next to win. "I'm glad I don't carry a gun with me," said Hoch in the press room after. Can’t say I share his sentiments!

3. Floyd Fills His Pants (1990)

At the 1990 Masters, 47 year old Ray Floyd took a four-stroke lead into the final round. By the 17th the lead was down to one shot. Conscious of his position, Floyd three stabbed on the green to fall back into a share of the lead with Nick Faldo. I remember my Dad woke me from my sleep just in time to watch Floyd hit a 7-iron into a pond beside the green on the second playoff hole. Faldo parred the hole, to retain the title. "The pressure basically got to me," said Floyd after. He’s obviously never worked for a newspaper or he would know that “Pressure is for tyres!”

Bloggy Underfoot- State of the Nation Going Into The First Major
Its Masters time again and personally I can’t wait! Is it going to be one of those years where an over par score wins or will be closer to ten under? The general consensus on the matter is that the need for distance off the tee is not a huge factor in Augusta this year. The weather has been kinder and the going is good. Mind you distance hasn’t proven the key in either of the last two years either; Trevor Immelman is a 270 yard-ish driver that could afford a final round 75 in gusting winds and still win at eight under last year. The year before Zach Johnson laid up at all the par fives on his way to victory. Let’s have a glance at the chances of this years usual suspects.
The obvious favourite is Tiger Woods or as I like to call him now “The Incredible Hulk”. True, Tiger’s form is amazing having romped straight back into the winner’s enclosure in Bay Hill, but does this major hurdle come a little bit early on in his comeback? I think it does, his driving hasn’t been great over the last couple of weeks and straight driving wins at Augusta. Last year Immelman was number one in “fairways hit” over Masters week, the year previous, Johnson was second in the stats. So it’s not quite nailed on for Tiger.
Next up is big Phil, or rather, leaner meaner Phil. He is coming off two big wins at the Northern Trust and the WGC CA Championship but they were on bombers courses, 19 and 15 under won respectively. We’ll also have to forgive him for his performance in Houston; he got caught on the wrong side of the draw and thus the weather. Mickelson says he loves his new Callaway driver but I still don’t like the way he sits in behind it, there’s just too much chance of a massive pull hook off the tee. In Augusta, even with Phil’s amazing powers of recovery, a bout of dodgy driving would surely put paid to his chances.
What about Harrington, to my mind the most intelligent course manager in the field? He surely has the mental toughness to deal with any stumbles Augusta might have in store for him. I’m pretty sure too I caught a glimpse of that glint in his eye when he was holing out from everywhere in Bay Hill. He again proved rock solid in Houston. As Frank “the knob” Nobilo said on the Golf Channel, if Paddy puts the whole three in a row thing out of his mind, he has a great chance. If he lets it bog him down, he will be a faller.
What about the rest? You have to like the way Retief Goosen has come back this year. Winner in South Africa and in the Transitions on the PGA tour, Goosen has the game and the putter which is arguably suited best of anyone for Augusta, but just don’t mention words like “Bawk” or “Collapse” anywhere within ear shot of him on Sunday. It’s hard also to make a case for the likes of Ernie Els or Adam Scott who seem to have lost their magic powers and Vijay, who seems to have returned to quick from leg surgery.
Of course the Masters has a way of throwing up the most unlikely of winners. What do I think? Probably Tiger, but I have a hankering for Harrington or get this, Jim Furyk. I heard he did a huge amount of putting practice in the off-season and you can’t argue with his driving, his irons or his temperament. Bring it on!
I Want One Of Those
Masters Green Jacket

Some people will go to any lengths to get an autograph. The guys at are the world’s undisputed memorabilia kings. Being that Masters Green Jackets are about as rare as Government tax cuts, they have actually produced their own exact replicas and had some of the most famous Augusta winners sign up. You can pick up a signed Jack Nicklaus jacket for a mere $4995.

Tailored Shorts
Augusta Changes
Augusta National will be shorter for the Masters this year -- but only by 10 yards on the scorecard, with the option to trim off a few more yards depending on the weather.
The back of the first tee was moved forward seven yards, primarily to help the movement of the gallery between the tee and the putting green. An additional 10 yards was added to the front of the tee on the 450-yard seventh hole, and nearly 10 yards were added to the front of the 530-yard 15th hole, although neither hole required a change in the official length. This allows tournament organizers the flexibility to move the tees depending on the wind. Gusts of up to 20 mph were a factor in the final round of last years event.

Augusta’s Par 3 Course
Wednesday at Augusta is traditionally with the par-3 competition where pro’s skim balls on water, kids caddy, holes in one are plentiful and basically anything goes. Watch out for it on TV again this year. The course is built around two ponds which are in play on almost every hole. The greens are tiny and also have tightly mowed banks sloping severely down to the water. Paul Azinger once called it "the best golf course in the world." The winner of the par-3 competition has never gone on to win the Masters.

Food Fight at Augusta
They say the folks at Augusta are stuck in the 20th century and it seems the food prices for spectators bear that out. This weeks menu includes a choice of eight sandwiches for $1.50. A famous Master Club sandwich will set you back $2.50. Even if you have one of everything on the Patrons Menu (that’s Masters insider talk) it comes to less than $30.

Top Of The Pops
Augusta has been named by the best course in the world by the all-seeing, all knowing Golf Digest magazine. Augusta, which was ranked third in the 2007-08 listing, has come under fire of late from legends such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer who believe recent changes to lengthen the course and pinch some fairways have weakened Augusta, not strengthened it. The folks who vote in the Golf Digest rankings clearly disagree. Augusta pips Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey to top spot.

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