Country: Northern Ireland
DoB: 04 May 1989
Height: 5ft 10ins
Interests: Manchester United FC, cars, tennis, movies, music
Course Attachment: Lough Erne.
McIlroy was the Tiger of Irish amateur golf. He won the West of Ireland and Irish Close Championships in 2005. The following year he successfully retained both Irish amateur titles and in August 2006 he won the European Amateur Championship.
In 2007 Rory won the silver medal as leading amateur at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie, carding the only bogey-free round of the final day. Little did he know at the time, but that Open appearance would capture the imagination of the entire golfing world.
McIlroy made an immediate impression in the professional ranks with a podium finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. With his tour victory in Dubai earlier this year and his consistent strong performances on both tours, McIlroy now sits at 18 in the world golf ranking stats.
Driver: Titleist 909D2, 8.5 deg loft, ROMBAX 7VO5 Shaft, X-Flex.
3-Wood: Titleist 906 F2, 13 deg loft, Fujikura Fit-on! 11 Pro 95, X-Flex
5-Wood: Titleist 906 F2, 18 deg loft, Fujikura Fit-on! 11 Pro 95, X-Flex.
Irons: 2 iron to 9 iron: Titleist ZM Forged blades, Project X Shafts, 6.5 Rifle. Grips Golf Pride Tour Velvet Full Cord
PW: Titleist Vokey, 48 deg loft, Project X Shaft, 6.5 flex Mid Wedge: 52 deg loft, Project X Shaft, 6.5 flex SW: Titleist Vokey, Spin Milled, 56 deg loft, Project X Shaft, 6.5 flex Lob wedge: Titleist Vokey, Spin Milled, 60 deg loft, Project X Shaft, 6.5 flex
Scotty Cameron Newport Prototype 34" in length
Titleist Pro V1X
4 Lads In A ’09 Car: Lough Erne Golf Resort Sneak Preview
There was only one man wearing a blazer on the Bord Failte stand at the PGA show back in January. Ever the curious Mayoman, I marched straight up for introductions a la Enda Kenny. “Andy Campbell, pleased to meet you!”, boomed the man with the brass buttons. I was shaking hands with the director of golf at the new Lough Erne Golf Resort.
Exactly four months later, a chance dental appointment with my daughter in Enniskillen, allowed me to drop in to see Andy again. This time our chat was on his own turf, the AA five star rated hotel and golf course set amid 600 acres of woodland and lake frontage provided by Lower Lough Erne and Castlehume Lough. As we entered the spanking new hotel I spotted Andy chatting to some fairly posh looking types. I guess it must be an art in itself making conversation with the diversity of people that cross his path daily, from the dripping rich prospective members, to lowly plebs like me. But part of the job is speak every mans language and he certainly spoke mine with his “Fancy a bat?” invitation when we had the cuppa drank. The blazer was swapped for raingear and we were headed out as gore-tex clad twins for a sneak preview of the much heralded Faldo course at Lough Erne.
Five minutes later we were stood on the sixth tee on Nick Faldo’s latest creation, belting into the valley below. Our opening salvo’s were less than full blooded but we were comforted by the knowledge that not another living soul had golfed these holes before. Well not many anyway! As we strolled to our second shots I was eager to learn about more about Andy Campbell and hear what credentials are needed to land what some might argue is the best job in Irish golf. Not alone has he held senior management roles in Carden Park and The Dukes Course in St. Andrews, but Campbell comes decorated with the golfing equivalent of the George’s Cross in greenkeeping and the purple heart in course superintending. Although he says that in his role as resort director, he doesn’t get in the way of his head greenkeepers work, I can only imagine the interview for that job must have been like the interview for head pro at Tiger’s home club!
Having parred our opener, we proceeded to the par four seventh, Devenish Drop. It think it must be a misprint because it’s more of a Devilish Drop from the tee. A drive into the prevailing wind that strays left or right of the fairway make par tough. It usually takes me nine holes to recognise a tournament worthy layout, but it took a mere fifteen minutes to figure that Lough Erne is a future European Tour Venue. If they want it, that this. Faldo and his design company have maximised all the natural beauty of the terrain and matched it expertly with the kind of modern golfing layout to test the best. Clever use of elevation changes from tee boxes often make the landing area seem less and likewise the greens frequently don’t fully show themselves on approach until you are practically on them. Having been jabbed by our first hole and stung by our second, I was floored by our third, the “saddleback”, which requires the kind of pinpoint accuracy that only Faldo in his Pringle cardiganed prime could deliver. Unfortunately I only possess it for one round each year and this certainly wasn’t it.
They say that often the most successful people in life get in when everyone else is getting out and it may well be true in this case. Lough Erne fits snugly into an opening in the golfing market as a gateway to the Northwest and the closest resort of its kind to the soon to be refurbished Belfast airport. The closest comparison to a course like it Ireland would be Glasson but it’s really reminds me of Loch Lomond with golf combined with top of the range hotel, spa and even a fully fledged seafood restaurant behind the ninth green.
Andy then told me of Rory McIlroy’s association with Lough Erne and his big day on July 22nd. Though the course officially opens in fifty days time on the opening day of July, the event everyone is talking about is the “Duel On The Lough”, a modern reincarnation of “Shell’s Wonderful World Of Golf”. This time it’s not Snead versus deVicenzo for $1000 but McIlroy versus Harrington, mano a mano for €200,000 with an expected audience of 4,000 spectators and a host of TV coverage.
Like its touring pro Rory McIlroy, Lough Erne is destined for big things are there are many parallels to be drawn between the two. Though both are young, their golfing pedigree is unquestionable and the tag “great” is almost guaranteed as both mature. For more information on Lough Erne and the “Duel On The Lough” check out the website on www.loughernegolfresort.com.
Bloggy Underfoot: The 3 Irish Open
It’s a hugely exciting week for Irish golf. The Irish Open is coming to Baltray in a new rejuvenated form thanks to the sponsorship from mobile phone company “3”. With an increased prize fund of €3,000,000 this week, many of the top names such as Harrington, McIlroy, Westwood, Clarke and Monty are entered. Chuck in a couple of phenomenal drivers such as a John Daly and Alvaro Quiros and old favourite like Ollie and you have quite a tournament on your hands.
Of course to make a tournament successful, the attendance and participation of the crowd is paramount. If you haven’t been to the Irish Open in a few years, I strongly suggest a visit. For keen golfers and their kids a day with the touring pro’s is like no other. Although Thursday is generally regarded as the quietest day, it is often also the day on which the best golf is played. Everyone starts from par with great optimism and the grappling for birdies begins in earnest. Thursday is also the day you can get up close and personal with your favourite stars. Friday is attractive in that the tension builds as the cut beckons. Saturday or “moving day” sees the reduced field attack again and Sunday is payday, when the winner is crowned.
Whateve r day you decide to attend, arrive early and allow yourself at least an hour to visit the range and watch the pro’s hit balls. You will be surprised at just how similarly all the players hit it. They always remind me of downhill skiers, there’s only thousands of seconds between them Watching a pro work through the clubs in the bag for half an hour can teach the club golfer more than any lesson. Take note of their excellent rhythm and timing. They don’t seem to lunge at the ball like us amateurs. Their practise is structured and organized, not one ball is wasted. The chipping green and practise bunker is also fascinating; this is one area where precision rather than power are required. The pro’s hit poor shots just like us, but their ability to get up and down from off the green time and time again is the result of countless hours of short game practise. And then there is the putting green, always a hive of activity with gadgets and gizmos aplenty. Anything to get the ball in the hole.
I usually spend the early part of the day following my favourite groups on the course. The pace of tour play is always very brisk and from outside the ropes you are always on the move and time flies. Just be wary of moving around the greens when the players are putting out. It’s the one thing that really irks them. Its nice to spend the afternoon session at a chosen green or two watching several groups pass through. I always find it fascinating at how similar the field play into each hole, the only difference is usually with the putter.
Here’s my Baz Luhrmann inspired guide to enjoying your trip to the Open.
Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you one piece of advice for a windy spring day in Baltray sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now
Enjoy the power and beauty of the pros; oh never mind; you will not understand the power and beauty of the pros until you return to your club.
But trust me, the next day you’ll look at the same guys on TV and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how good they actually are and how fabulous they really look…They are not as fat as widescreen TV’s make them appear.
Watch how players don’t waste your time on worrying about bad shots; sometimes they’re ahead, sometimes they’re behind; but the event is long, and in the end, an Irishman will win. Stretch. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Wear a good pair of runners.
Read the European Tour directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read golf magazines, they will only make you feel useless!
Accept certain inalienable truths, Rory will thrill, “Wild Thing” will meander (off the tee!), and you too will watch it live. After you do you’ll fantasize that when you get home, you will play like Rory and thrill like Daly. Don’t slag Rory too much about his hair, or by the time he’s 40, it will look 85.
Be careful which golf professionals advice you receive, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. They too had bogeys.
But trust me on the sunscreen… and enjoy the Irish Open!
You tend to push your drives when you are under a lot of pressure.
Work on trying to relax to prevent tension in your hands, arms, and shoulders. If you are not behind the ball, it will become too difficult to avoid moving in front of the ball.
Try to stay tension free. Do not try too hard to take the club all the way back during the backswing. You should allow your front shoulder to get over your back foot. Remember to stay behind the ball and to allow the clubhead to move through the ball instead of hitting at it.
How do you mark your Titleist? If you’ve seen the ad and looking for a different way to identify your ball, try golfdotz. Golfdotz are a new generation transfer that simply bond with the skin of the ball when firm pressure from your thumb is applied. The transfer takes about five seconds and the makers guarantee the logo will last longer than the ball! Check them out on www.golfdotz.com
It may seem as unbelievable as photos of the Loch Less Monster or footage of the Yeti but last week an eagle eyed snapper struck gold by capturing Sergio Garcia smiling. The grin which was time at 0.8 nanoseconds occurred whilst Garcia was being presented with a shirt designed for him by a young golf fan. Garcia is also pictured holding the bag he uses to hold all the toys he later chucked out of his pram.
He’s a PR mans dream. John Daly warmed up for his Baltray appearance by paying the ultimate tribute to his boyhood hero Fran Dempsey. The Wild Things paid homage to the Fortycoats actor by wearing a pair of his famous pants on his way to a tied second finish at the Italian Open!
Odds thanks to www.paddypower.com
May 14-17, 2009
Baltray, County Louth
In the world of boxing they say a true champion is one who can pull himself up off the canvass after suffering a knockdown. Thomas has suffered most than his fair share of sucker punches in his career so it’s great to see a return to form for the great Dane. An excellent putting day with the long putter saw him tied for third in Spain two weeks back and he followed up with a tied sixth in Italy last week. Thomas will remember his last win at the Irish Open in 2006 and has the game for the Baltray links setting.
After three missed cuts in Spain and Portugal over the past month something had to give for Raphael Jacquelin. And it did. Three rounds in the sixties in Italy saw the much liked Frenchman tie for second alongside new fashion icon John Daly. The last time the event was staged at Baltray in 2004 Jacquelin also tied for second with our own Padraig Harrington. The winner on that occasion was Aussie Brett Rumford.
The home entrants in the field this week reads like a who’s who of Irish golf. We have a major champion in Padraig, a new star in Rory and links specialists like Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell. Through in form players like Lawrie and Maybin and it promises to be a cracking week. My sneaky fancy of the home contingent is Ryder Cup legend Paul McGinley. Paul cut his teeth on the county Louth links and cites it as one of his favourite courses. Known as one of the best strikers on tour, one good putting week would transform McGinn’s season.
May 14-17, 2009
The Resort Course at La Cantera Golf Club · San Antonio, Texas
Charlie Wi 33/1
After top tens in March at the Honda and Transitions the scales were balanced somewhat with a couple of poor performances. However a good tied second at the Zurich in New Orleans on a low scoring course brought Wi right back into the spotlight. Another missed cut at Sawgrass will not worry Wi as he will come to Texas fresher than much of the field. Tied second behind Zach Johnson last year.
Wilson went from a 129th place finish at the Northern Trust Open to a convincing victory one week later at the Mayakoba Classic at the beginning of March. The Chicago resident has form on the track with tying for second in 2008 and third in 2005. This is Wilson’s ninth year on tour, having studied mathematics at university.
European interest this week is few and far between as the Sawgrass hangover runs its course. Our pick of the remainder is Englishman Brian Davis. A two time winner in Europe, he may be his own worst enemy on the course but he remains one of the best ball striking journeymen around. Davis is working on standing more upright over his putts and as his performance at Sawgrass has shown, it seems to be working. May has traditionally been a month of career best performances for Davis.
On Tuesday 12th May The Royal Dublin Golf Club will honour one of their most esteemed members and icons of Irish Golf, Christy O’Connor Senior. He celebrates 50 years at the Bull Island Links and will be honoured accordingly with a special celebration on the evening. In a specially compiled video tribute, produced by Shane O’Donoghue, some of the most respected golfers of all time share their thoughts on the magnificence of Christy’s game.
The famous finishing hole at the club will be renamed ‘Christy’s Garden’ to mark this significant milestone at the club and you can hear these tributes to Christy exclusively on this weeks T 2 Green golf podcast show, which goes live on the 3Irish Open website, www.3irishopen.ie at 7am on Wednesday morning.
Padraig Harrington speaks of his vivid memories of being in awe of Christy’s swing and practice routine when he looked on as a young teenager at the outset of his own remarkable golfing career. Gary Player commends Christy as having one of the most natural swings he has ever seen in the game alongside the legendary Sam Snead. John Jacobs, one of the most revered men when it comes to swing analysis, and a Ryder Cup team-mate of Christy’s in 1955 professes that if he could choose one swing to watch, it would certainly be Christy’s. Long-time friend and fellow Pro Peter Alliss also speaks fondly of his former Ryder Cup partner and shares his memories of Christy and The Royal Dublin Golf Club.
Also in this episode of T 2 Green we speak to Paul McGinley ahead of The 3 Irish Open at Co. Louth Golf Club in Baltray. A course he knows well from his amateur days and relishes the thought of playing a true links course for this prestigious European Tour fixture.
Championship Director, Ben Watson of the European Tour fills us in on how the staging of the event is shaping up and what the spectators can expect. John McHenry, Golf Consultant to 3, looks forward to John Daly’s colourful appearance in Baltray following his show of form in Italy at the weekend where he finished in second place and the ‘Golf Guru’ will be on hand as usual to give us his hot tips for the weekend on the European and PGA Tours.
T 2 Green, presented and produced by Shane O’Donoghue in association with 3, is available to download for free on The 3 Irish Open website www.3irishopen.ie or on iTunes. Tune in next week for the final episode of the 6-week series.
The 3 Irish Open is all social networked
Stuck in work - wish you were in Baltray for the 3 Irish Open – well you can be!
All the action from the course and behind the scen es at the 3 Irish Open at Baltray is live across our social networking sites. So those unlucky enough not to be able to attend in Baltray next week from the 14th-17th May, can pretend they are working while sneakily –
· logging onto the dedicated 3 Irish Open Facebook or Bebo pages where you can get all pictures and videos of the behind the scenes action of the 3 Irish Open
· Jamming in your ear phones to hear RTE’s Shane O Donohoe talk to leading PGA European Tour players such as Graeme McDowell, golf lovers such as ex Irish rugby player Keith Wood or Westlife’s Shane Filan on Irelands only dedicated golf podcast
· Following the tweets of Shane O Donoghue on Twitter as he gives his observations on the 3 Irish Open and all the news on the course
The links to all these are available through the 3irishopen.ie website. So get clicking, become a friend, become a fan, download the podcast – why not? sure your only missing work!
Fans have the chance to make significant savings at The 3 Irish Open by taking advantage of advance ticket offers. Ireland’s fastest growing mobile network and sponsors of the 3 Irish Open, has announced plans to host a complimentary sponsor’s day on Thursday 14th May at The 3 Irish Open. Anyone who registers their details at www.3irishopen.ie before Sunday 10th May will receive a complimentary invitation to the first day of competition on Thursday the 14th. Simply register at www.3irishopen.ie by Sunday 10th May and you will have a fantastic day of golf ahead! Normal gate prices apply for anyone who has not pre-registered before May 10th.
Season tickets to see Daly and many of the world’s best players in action for four days over the classic links layout at Baltray, County Louth, are available at a 30 per cent discount if purchased before midnight on Sunday, May 10; while advance Daily Ticket purchases carry a 25 per cent discount on the Gate price. Junior fans, under the age of 16, who are accompanied by a paying adult, will be granted free access to the tournament throughout the week. To take advantage of these outstanding advance ticket offers, please visit: www.europeantourtickets.com and www.ticketmaster.ie or call the following numbers: Republic of Ireland Customers call: 1 890 252 698; Customers outside of the Republic of Ireland call: +44 (0) 800 023 2557
The 3 Irish Open Ticket Prices are as follows:
Adult Daily Gate €20 Adult Advance €15
Adult Season Gate €50 Adult Season Advance €35
Senior Daily Gate €15 Senior Daily Advance €10
Senior Season Gate €35 Senior Season Advance €25
Juniors U-16 Free if accompanied by a paying adult.
As I was watched the Bahrain Grand Prix last week, I marvelled at how they can just build a state of the art grand prix facility nowadays from scratch and have it instantly regarded as one of the best in the world. Little wonder then that the equivalent in the Irish golfing world has just arrived in the form of the new Killeen Castle complex in Dunsany, Co. Meath. I use the word “complex” because it’s not fair to describe it as just a course or as a resort, it’s so much more than that. Killeen Castle is probably best described as an Olympic Village for golfers. From the superb practise facilities to the showpiece Jack Nicklaus signature golf course and with the added bonus of the only Dave Pelz short game school outside the USA, to say it is “state of the art” wouldn’t even begin to cover it.
Colum Gleeson plays his second to the stunning 18th.
Since I couldn’t possibly cover all the bases on one visit, my mission for the day was to tame the signature 18 hole ‘Bear’ that Jack himself designed. I was joined on the crusade by Alan Maher, a 12 h’cap out of West Waterford GC and former Cork minor hurler (sure weren’t they all!), by Colum Gleeson, a seven h’cap from Rathfarnham with an arc like Tiger on stilts and John Lydon, a three h’cap from Ballinrobe, who, on his day, can play to three! We were directed to the blue tees, not quite the distance of the Monster ‘black’ tees but at over 7200 yards for a par 72, quite a test. Or so we thought.
They say to lay a course out successfully, the crucial stage of design is when the diggers are actually pushing the Earth. That box is well and truly ticked at Killeen Castle, with trademark Nicklaus hole layouts, bunkering and greens in exactly the right positions. Jack gives you oceans of space off the tee but you need to make the most of it, because if you’re if not long with your drive, there hasn’t yet been a club invented to get you onto the green. Our hurler Alan, and IT guru Colum regularly pucked their drives 300 yards, but still found themselves with four irons and hybrids while shorter hitters Johnny and myself floundered around with 3-wood approach shots and relied on our short games to bale us out. And you know what? Time and again, they did! The hand cut greens are enormous and so true that a ten footer started on the right line will invariably oblige and drop in.
By tackling the 2011 Solheim Cup venue off the blue tees, we were, in truth, a little out of our depth to score well. At times it was like trying to slay a Bear armed only with a baguette. Of course, we chose our own fate but you should be comforted in the knowledge that like a ski slope there are easier ways to come down this particular mountain with a choice of shorter tee boxes available.
Killeen Castle will go straight into my top five parkland courses in the country. When you then add in the “entry to exit” personal service, the magnificent clubhouse, the food and the practise facilities, the whole package is simply unique in Ireland. When you take into account that the whole experience is available for €100, it defies logic. Resort boss Barry O’Connor is delighted with the take-up of 250 new members and is confident that another 150 will join in the next year or so. He should be, they will. Be sure to log on to www.killeencastle.com for further details on this remarkable course that Jack built and check out the blog www.golfspindoctor.blogspot.com for loads more pics and reaction.
Alan Maher, 12 h’cap: “An awesome challenge in an incredible setting.”
Colum Gleeson, 7 h’cap: “The line of sight from the tee to the green, on every fairway, is broken by the placement of hills, trees and fairway bunkers and crafty jack uses all these impediments to add to the challenge. The setting is both serene and dramatic in places and definitely contributes to an absorbing round of golf.”
John Lydon, 3 h’cap: “This place is incredible. You won’t find 40 points winning a Sunday competition here. A 3 handicap off the blues in Killeen Castle is probably equivalent to a 1 handicap anywhere in the country.”
Who’s In Charge?
El Bosso Grando (Big Boss) Barry O’Connor
Note the phone, the journal and the pen. A sure sign that Barry means business. It’s a little trick he picked up in his time in Doonbeg. With over 250 members already in Killeen Castle, things are ticking over nicely. And his car doesn’t get flipped over on a daily basis by the wind anymore, which is a bonus.
Soundness Factor 10/10!
The Facilities and The Service
Presidential probably sums it up best. The lockers are spacious and sparkling. The sauna is cranked up and bathrobes etc are all laid on. You’ll find sun-block, deep heat and every kind of soothing balm imaginable at the sinks and the showers are probably the best I’ve ever seen. Four nozzles and all the pressure you wish your powerhose had!- You need to make sure all of your bits are out of the way before turning on!
You get saluted at the gate, your bag taken at the clubhouse and greeted with a warm smile throughout. I’ve only seen this kind of service once before, in Doonbeg. It adds immeasurably to the experience.
Any negatives? None that I can think of. Er, maybe get some lucozade and sparkling water to sell in the pro-shop!
Watch out for our review of the Dave Pelz short game at Killeen Castle school coming soon!
Birthday: 10th August 1960
Weight: 15 stone 10 lbs
Birthplace: Elizabethtown, Kentucky
Turned Pro: 1980
Kenny Perry has won eight times on tour since 2003. Had he won at Augusta, Perry would have become the oldest champion at 48. He attributes his success that week to 20 hours spent on the putting green in the build up. “I wish I had discovered this method 20 years ago”, the ever gracious Perry said in the aftermath of the playoff defeat. Off the course Perry has been honoured for his contribution to social projects. He donates five percent of all his winnings to Lipscomb University in Nashville to provide scholarships for students. He also took out a loan to build Country Creek, a public course in his hometown of Franklin, Kentucky. In 1995, Perry bought 142 acres of land and borrowed more than $2.5 million to design and build the only public course in the town. He can often be found working behind the counter where visitors often ask him, "Do you know Kenny Perry?" He has shot 60 on the course twice himself.
TaylorMade R9 (9.5°) with Fujikura Motore shaft. Changed recently from the Tour Burner. “I've probably lost five to seven yards in distance," Perry said, "but it's given me a lot of confidence in its straightness. I think I can win a U.S. Open with this driver because I'm driving it so straight."
TaylorMade Burner (14.5°) with Fujikura Rombax TP75 shafts
Irons: TaylorMade r7 (3-PW) FST KBS Tour shafts, X-flex. Used to use blades but now prefers cavity-backs with more offset.
TaylorMade Rac Z TP (56°, 64°) Cleveland CG 14 (60°)
Putter: Ping G2i Craz-E. No longer available in the shops. A member of Perry’s club, gave him this putter saying it could help is game. How right he was.
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x 2005 version
Wears a blue bracelet in memory of Eric Baumgartner, who had cystic fibrosis. Perry got to know him through Make-A-Wish where they played together. He sadly died shortly after.
It’s The Players Championship this week and I can’t wait. The Players Championship for the pros is like grandparents visiting the grandkids; all the fun with none of the responsibility. Branded as the unofficial fifth major, The Players is played on Pete Dye’s Sawgrass masterpiece and is the tournament especially laid on for guys that haven’t the bottle to win real majors. It’s the one with the famous par three 17th hole that, from the blimp, looks like an eyeball diagram from secondary school biology. The scene is set perfectly and all the usual suspects seem to be in pretty decent form. Except for defending champion Sergio that is. All the putting progress he made last year with coach Stan Uttley seems to have disappeared and guess what, he’s back with the belly putter again! With an average of 30 putts per round at the moment, Garcia is languishing down at 174th in the putts per round stats on the US Tour. Thus you can pretty much predict what’s going to happen him this week. As soon as the defending champion arrives in the carpark, the US media will jump on his back and harrang him about his putting woes. Sergio will put on his angry Seve-face and all the toys will come flying out of the Spaniard’s cot. Again. Can Sergio’s happy memories of the Stadium Course get the ball in the hole this year? Methinks it would be nothing short of miraculous if he contends. And what about Tiger and his wonky driving? When you hear talk of changing his driver shaft three times on the practise ground, you just know his confidence with the big dog is low. He almost seemed human off the tee at Quail Hollow, but it’s only a matter of time until he figures out that his three wood arrow straight “stingers” actually still go further that most of the fields drives. Sawgrass hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for the special one, who, since his victory in 2001, hasn’t featured in the top five since. As well as his dodgy driving, Tiger’s putting hasn’t been good of late, with a couple of uncharacteristic short range misses in pressure situations costing him last week. That’s the long and the short of Tiger’s tribulations but you know he wont be far away come Sunday.
The cameras will, of course, be trained on the famous 132 yard par three 17th. In reverence to this wonder of the golfing world we did a bit of poking around the annals to come up with a few facts that are guaranteed to make you look clever in the pub.
· Not surprisingly, Tway has the worst cumulative career score at the 17th, standing at 32 over par. That’s eight shots worse than the second guy – Duffy Waldorf at 24 over par.
· Tom Lehman leads the list of players in the credit at the 17th, with a cumulative career total of 12 under.
· The best seat on the 17th belongs to veteran NBC cameraman John Boeddeker who spends eight hours a day suspended 120ft in the air, strapped into a bucket on top of a crane.
· Tradition allows the caddies to hit and hope at the 17th on a Wednesday. The prize for nearest to the pin is the contents of a jar that players fill with tips, which add up to over a thousand dollars. There is also an official watch presented by the Tour.
· As with all the greens, the 17th green has its own ventilation system that sucks moisture through the grass, allowing the greens to remain slick and fast.
· Spectator mounds, grandstands and hospitality boxes allow 25,000 to cram around the 17th hole.
· Mark Calcavecchia once described the 17th as follows: “It’s like a 3pm root canal appointment – you’re thinking about it all morning and don’t feel good about it.”
· Course designer Tom Doak is not a fan of the 17th either. It has been copied around the world and Doak has described it as ‘the germ that started the plague’.
· Jose Maria Olazabal and Jerry Kelly tie the longest putt ever holed on the 17th – at 51 ft and three inches.
· Vijay Singh once hit the 17th green playing left-handed in a practice round. Mike Weir matched him swinging right-handed.
· Only one player has birdied in the 17th in all four rounds – Paul Azinger who did it in 1987.
You have a very fast turn but don’t seem to be getting the power or accuracy that you desire.
Stay synchronized. You will lose both consistency and distance if your arms are out swinging your body or your hips are out of sync with your shoulder turn.
On the practise ground, check to make sure you are not unwinding your hips too quickly during the swing. If this is the case, try flaring out your lead foot to help restrict your hips during the backswing. This will also help slow your hip movement during the forward swing.
With the Summer coming those of you with golfing teenagers will doubtless be looking forward to getting them out of your hair by letting them spend the whole day mucking around the golf club. For kids cycling to the club, here’s a cool new invention. The TowCaddy attaches to your bike like a trailer then detaches at the golf course to become a pullcart. The brainchild of Howard Fullmer, the Towcaddy is so much safer than carrying a bag while cycling. More info on http://www.towcaddy.com/
Barcoded Trousers, whatever next!
If you thought a Bull running through a supermarket in Ballinrobe was traceability taken a step too far, then John Daly’s attire at the Open de Espana really takes the biscuit. Daly fronted up for the first round wearing high tech “barcode” trousers. Fans travelling to Baltray in a couple of weeks should bring their portable infrared barcode readers to access their hero’s complete biography!
Tiger Woods was so angry with his Masters performance, he said he used a "Band-Aid" swing to get around Augusta National on the final day. That kicked off gigabyte of internet chatter that Hank Haney's days as Woods' swing coach were numbered. The stats say that with Haney, Tiger has found 57.82% of fairways, in comparison to 68.66% during his six years with Butch Harmon. On a possible split, Tiger said "That's complete speculation," "It has nothing to do with Hank.” Haney was not at the Quail Hollow Championship, but he did spend the previous weekend with Woods in Florida working on his game. The result last week? Trees, trees and more trees down the stretch as Tiger threw away another glorious chance at victory. Even David Feherty managed to call him a loser to his face three times in one sentence in a post round interview. We think Tiger might just have the “Wanted- New Coach Ad” written but not posted up. Just yet.
Phil Mickelson 9/1
You need to be a slick putter to perform on the slickest of greens at Sawgrass. Mickelson is just simmering nicely in the build up to this week. The 2007 champion has had his issues with the driver of late but a fantastic final round 67 at Quail Hollow, renowned as one of the toughest driving courses in the US, surely fired a warning shot over the bows of the field. Expect Lefty to be ramming home those four footers with the blade again this week.
They say its horses for courses and they don’t come much more horse like than Stephen Ames. The greatest human being ever to come out of Trinidad and Tobago has made The Players Championship his pet project over the years. Second in 2002 behind Craig Perks in the one of the most memorable stagings of the tournament, Ames went on to steamroller the field in 2006, winning on that occasion by six shots. A top five finish last year too so you’d be crazy not to back this equine wonder.
Kenny Perry 33/1
Kenny comes back this week with the pain of his Masters defeat still fresh in his mind. He’s not the kind of guy to wallow in self-pity however and The Players Championship represents the next big chance for the Kentucky man. Putting will be the key this week and they don’t come much better right now than Perry who tied for third in 2004. A little bit of mental baggage has to be overcome in round one though, Perry’s last round on the Stadium course was a nine over 81. But don’t let that put you off, he was only 47 then and lacking a little experience.
Camillo knows what it’s like to perform on the big stage having won last years Tour Championship in some style. Not a pick based on form but I saw something in his Quail Hollow performance last week which leads to believe he’s not far away from his best. Can he make the giant leap from last weeks mid table mediocrity to the winners rostrum at Sawgrass? Well he is the Spider Man!
Lucas Glover 60/1
No form to speak of Sawgrass, but that may not be of any consequence as this years Lucas Glover is a completely different model to previous versions. A solid tied second place at Quail Hollow last week, due in no small way to a fantastic short game performance. Glover lead the field in putting and the stats also proved him to be the best scrambler. A long driver and a top ten birdie average on the tour, Glover may feature again if he can keep this good form going.
Francesco Molinari 14/1
Stephen Dodd 50/1
Soren Hansen 18/1