April 2009

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Under The Microscope: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy Bag2

Country: Northern Ireland

DoB: 04 May 1989

Height: 5ft 10ins

Interests: Manchester United FC, cars, tennis, movies, music

Course Attachment: Lough Erne.

Happy belated birthday Rory, your teenage years are behind you. What a first 19 years from a kid chipping into a washing machine on TV to 2009 Dubai Desert Classic Championship and worldwide superstardom.

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.

McIlroy & Bag 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.

In The Bag

Driver

Driver: Titleist 909D2, 8.5 deg loft, ROMBAX 7VO5 Shaft, X-Flex.

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Fairway wood:

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

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Wedges

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

Putter:

Scotty Cameron Newport Prototype 34" in length

Ball:

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.

lough erne 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.

Whateve3 Irish Open Logo (1) 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!


Dr. and The Medic: Tension Pusher

Problem

You tend to push your drives when you are under a lot of pressure.

Cure

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.

Therapy

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.

I Want One Of Those: Golfdotz

clip_image010How 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

 

 

 

 

Tailored Shorts

Garcia Smile Caught On Camera

sergio smile  getty 86501449 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.

Daly Tribute to Fortycoats

daly fotrycoats 86483749 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

bookmaker_paddypower

“3” Irish Open

May 14-17, 2009

Baltray, County Louth

Thomas Bjorn 25/1Thomas_Bjorn_0002

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.

Raphaël Jacquelin 45/1

raphael-jacquelin 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.

 

 

 

Paul McGinley 25/1

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 PaulMcGinleylike 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.

 

Valero Texas Open

May 14-17, 2009

The Resort Course at La Cantera Golf Club · San Antonio, Texas

Charlie Wi 33/1

Charlie-Wi_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.

Mark Wilson 80/1

history-lg-mark-wilson 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.

 

Brian Davis 50/1

brian davis 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

· Reading the blog entries of Retief Goosen’s former caddy Colin Byrne or golf consultant to the 3 Irish Open John McHenry 3 Irish Open Logo (1)

· 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 whJERRY FISH 3 IRISH OPEN_MX2o 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.


If you would like to take part in our weekly Irish Examiner course review piece and fancy playing the K Club Smurfit course, Ireland's last host course of the European Open then send me a mail at examinerspindoc@eircom.net with your name, handicap and mobile number. Tee time is 10.40am this Thursday. The only thing you need to have in your pockets are tees and a pitchmark repairer!!

4 Lads In A Car: Killeen Castle

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.

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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.

donal with bags 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.Castle and 18th Landscapejpg

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.

Quotes

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Alan Maher, 12 h’cap: “An awesome challenge in an incredible setting.”

colum gleeson

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.”

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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?

barry o connell

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

locker rooms 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!




Under The Microscope:

Kenny Perry

kenny-perry

Birthday: 10th August 1960

Height: 6’2”

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.

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In The Bag

Driver

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."

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Fairway wood:

TaylorMade Burner (14.5°) with Fujikura Rombax TP75 shafts

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Irons: TaylorMade r7 (3-PW) FST KBS Tour shafts, X-flex. Used to use blades but now prefers cavity-backs with more offset.

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Wedges

TaylorMade Rac Z TP (56°, 64°) Cleveland CG 14 (60°)

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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.

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Ball: Titleist Pro V1x 2005 version

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Misc

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.


Bloggy Underfoot-

“The Players Championship

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. clip_image022Again. 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.

· Bob Tway’s 12 in the fourth round in 2005 is the worst ever score at the infamous par-3 17th. players champ

· 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.


Dr. and The Medic: Use Your Hips

Problem

You have a very fast turn but don’t seem to be getting the power or accuracy that you desire.

Cure

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.

Therapy

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.

I Want One Of Those:

The Tow Caddy

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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/

Tailored Shorts

More Information on John Daly

john daly getty 86297403

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!

Haney and Tiger Split “Speculation”

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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.

Bet Your Balls-

The Players Championship

Setanta Golf Logo

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.

Stephen Ames 60/1stephen ames

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 Villegas 50/1camilo%20villegas%202

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.

Italian Open

Francesco Molinari 14/1

Stephen Dodd 50/1

Soren Hansen 18/1

The SpinDoctor’s “Close Encounter of a Munster Kind” with Ian Poulter







Height: 6-1
Weight: 189
Birthdate: January 10, 1976
Birthplace: Hitchin, England
Turned Pro: 1995




What's In The Bag
Driver: Cobra S9-1 F Speed (9.5°) with Fujikura 6X07, X flex shafts
3 Wood: Cobra Speed Pro Prototype (15°) with Grafalloy Pro
lite 35X shaft
5 Wood: Titleist 906F (18°) with Grafalloy Prolite 35X shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 909H (19°) with Aldila NV Hybrid 85 X shaft
4-7 Iron: Cobra Pro CB with Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
8-PW: Cobra Pro MB (8-pw) with Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design (54° with 12° bounce and 60° with 5° bounce)
Putter: Odyssey DFX 5500









We've managed to get an interview with Ian Poulter. Instead of asking him deep and meaningful questions about golf, we decide the best thing to do is to get the Poultergeist to take part in the Irish Examiner sixty-second Larry Gogan inspired quiz. Ready? Start the clock….

Doc: Dinner with wine or pizza and beer?
Poults: Ahhhh…(5 seconds go by) Champagne.

We have to stop the clock to clearly explain the rules of this quiz to Poults and just how serious it is to the Irish nation. We explain that it took us at least a half an hour to prepare the questions the night before in less than ideal media working conditions (i.e. in the boozer). Larry Gogan would never put up with this kind of messing.

Start the clock….again….

Doc: Daniel Craig or Sean Connery?
Poults: Daniel Craig
Doc: Slacks and shirt or jeans and tee-shirts?
Poults: Slacks and shirts. (Oooh posh!)
Doc: Blondes or brunettes?
Poults: Blondes
Doc: Loads of make-up or just enough to bring out natural beauty?
Poults: Just enough to bring out natural beauty.
Doc: And what about in women?
(Ian realizes we’ve tricked him)…My wife is gorgeous!
Doc: Pat Jennings in 1976 or Pat Jennings in 1978?
(Another tricky little question to test Poults supposed love of Arsenal. Jennings played with Spurs in 1976 and Arsenal in 1978)
Poults: Pat Jennings 1978 Yesss!!! (Damn, he got it right. The Poultergeist knows his Arsenal.)
Doc: The Open or The Masters?
Poults: The Open
Doc: Ryder Cup Captain or a senior major?
Poults: (Long silence……the fashion Guru is stumped. We feel sorry for him and volunteer the answer “Ryder Cup Captain, because you’re going to win an ordinary Major”. Now that’s what you call kissin’ ass!)
Doc: Only Fools and Horses or Fawlty Towers?
Poults: Ah, ooh, both. They’re both great.
Doc: Bergkamp or Henry?
Poults: Bergkamp
Doc: The Beatles or The Stones?
Poults: The Beatles
Doc: Lost or 24?
Poults: 24
Doc: A good gig or a movie?
Poults: A movie
Doc: European Tour or PGA Tour?
Poults: Ah, I can’t answer that. Both
Doc: Tea and scones with Nelson Mandela or Barrack Obama?
Poults: Nelson Mandela.
Doc: England World Cup soccer win or an Arsenal treble?
Poults: Arsenal treble
Doc: Win from the front or come from behind?
Poults: Win from the front.
Doc: Ricky Hatton or Joe Calzaghe?
Poults: Ricky Hatton (though by his expression it’s a close one)
Doc: Georgie Best or Diego Maradonna?
Poults: Georgie Best no question. I don’t like that hand-ball (stuff that Diego specialized in).
Doc: Knight Rider or MacGyver?
Poults: Knight Rider
Doc: Ricky Gervais or Billy Connolly?
Poults: Ricky Gervais
Doc: Shawshank Redemption (deep and meaningful) or Something About Mary (hilarious but shallow)?
Poults: Shawshank Redemption
Doc: Ewen Murray or Peter Alliss?
Poults: Peter Alliss.

Doc: Stop the clock. Ian Poulter, you have successfully completed the Irish Examiner sixty-second Larry Gogan inspired quiz but instead of a gawdy old plaque we’ve brought you a Munster jersey (with thanks to Jimmy Staunton in Elverys). Now be a sport and put it on and lets pack it down like Horan and Hayes!

With thanks to Ian Poulter, Katie Tiarks and Mick Walsh for all their help.

4 Lads In A Classic Car

I’ve had to take a break from playing for the past couple of weeks due to an uncooperative third vertebrae. However, whilst on my back, I’ve been doing some research into the best value golf around and I think I have uncovered two doozies.

The Amendoeira Golf Classic: Ballinrobe Golf Club, May 1st -9th
Maybe I’m getting old but weren’t classic prizes supposed to be four deep fat fryers or some dodgy art? But no, they don’t bother with such tokens as those in Ballinrobe Golf Club where they’ve teamed up with Oceanico Development to lay on the “euromillions” equivalent of classic prizes. The course that Padraig Harrington called “The finest championship golf course in the West of Ireland” are sending the winning mens and ladies teams on golfing trips of a lifetime to the Amendoeira Oceanico resort in Portugal with five star accommodation included. The victorious teams will warm up on the O’Connor and Faldo Oceanico layouts before capping off their week away by taking on the famous Vilamoura Victoria course, home of the Portuguese masters. At €140 per team entry and only €20 re-entry, Ballinrobe have extended the duration of the event to nine days due to the enormous demand. All proceeds go the club development fund and further details can be got online at http://www.ballinrobegolfclub.com/ or by phoning 094-9541118.

The Ryder Cup Experience: K Club, March to September
Imagine the opportunity to play competitive golf for the ultimate reward - to stay at the K Club and relive the Ryder Cup Experience.
The K Club have dreamt up a fantastic event whereby players firstly compete in tournament conditions on the Smurfit Course with the winners qualifying for the final round on the The Palmer Course as per set up from last day of Ryder Cup in a competition. The Qualifying round costs only €75 PP (including K Club snack) and will take place on the Smurfit Course from March to September & the monthly winner’s final will take place on the Palmer course - 25th & 26th September 2009. Full details are on http://www.kclub.com/




Bloggy Underfoot- Slow Play
There’s a “weed” like problem appearing on golf courses up and down the country. When clubs try to dig it out, they can never seem to grab it by its root and so it spreads. This “weed” is slow play. Top courses with great layouts, glassy greens and luxurious facilities that depend on revenue from green fees and societies are starting to lose money hand over fist because they are “getting a name” for dawdling play. The clamour for early tee time booking on a Sunday at most clubs is now akin to getting tickets for Munster versus Leinster at Croke Park, because a dawn start means a three and a half hour round as opposed to a five hour water-boarding torture. So what’s causing the 90 minute delay as the day wears on? Here’s my tuppence worth.

The Traffic Jam Theory: Many people believe one of the main causes of slow play are obstinate players. They are very often of the same genetic code as the guys who hold everyone up on the road, driving in third gear with two wheels over the median line and even then attempt to “resist arrest” when you dare tray to overtake. Many of this demographic will have taken up golf relatively recently, and through no fault of their own, have not received a grounding in the basic rules and etiquette of the game. They subsequently revert to type and treat the golf course like a road. “What we have we hold”, is their philosophy, meaning no one is getting through, lost ball or no lost ball. They’re frequently the same people that leave those pothole size plugmarks on the green, oblivious to the other course users.

The Sabbatini Theory: Remember what caused Rory Sabbatini to throw his toys out of the PGA tour cot a couple of years back? Playing partner Ben Crane’s seemingly endless pre-shot routine, which eventually caused Sabbatini to blow his top and sparked the whole “Keep up” furore with his wife even getting involved. How this filters down to club golf is that players see the pro’s on TV going through their pre-shot checklist and try to emulate them. Worse still, this philosophy is being taught to very young players, leading them to believe that “slow is good”. What they don’t see on TV is that touring pros though deliberate when making a shot, move extremely quickly between shots and start their routine while their partners are playing. The rule on tour is that a player has 50 seconds to play if first to hit while subsequent players in a group get forty. A set hole completion time allocation is assigned on the caddy’s yardage book. Two strikes and the tour referees hit you with a one shot penalty and a £2000 fine. Those of you lucky enough to be going to Baltray in a couple of weeks will be amazed by the pace of play. Contrast that to the ambling down the fairway of the slowest club golfers, who leave their bags the wrong side of every green and insist on marking the card whilst standing beside the flag after the completion of every whole.

The Course Ranger: Often called “Rectum Rangers” because theirs is the dirtiest of jobs. They flit between the first tee and the eighth green desperately trying to keep the conveyor belt moving. Did you ever notice a new ranger starts out very eager, but after a few weeks of being called “insert expletive”, ends up a despised figure on a hiding to nothing, like a politician on the doorstep before and election. Most just give up trying and become like ex-boxers; no fight left in them and are just downright charming. The best ranger I ever encountered was in Enniscrone, a retired guard, with zero interest in the game, who moved the players around the course with all the military precision of a war strategist. He would stand tall atop the dunes like a major general surveying the troops and his mere presence in your eye line made you break into a march.

So where are to go from here? Why not try my solution? If slow play is to be eliminated from our courses, apart from effective rangers, we need all golfers to undergo a basic “induction training” programme if you will. This can be in the form of a small meeting in a clubhouse or even better from tee to green on the course with an experienced member. Topics to cover should be structured well and might include topics such as speed of play, when to let groups through, respect for the course, where to leave your bag around the green and how to pick up your ball if you have played more than seven shots on any hole. Even experienced but slow players could be cajoled into attending by asking them to “help out” on the evening. Now call an EGM and hurry up!


Dr. and The Medic:
Problem
You want to hit it longer off the tee.

Cure
Work on gaining a balanced finished with your belt buckle pointing towards the target.

Therapy
Practice hitting your driver at 75% of your normal swing speed. Work on making a smooth tempo at first. Then focus on making a good arm extension at impact and well after it. As you coil to the top of your backswing, make sure your body weight is shifting onto your trailing leg. Remember to keep your smooth tempo with arm extension as you move through the ball with your body weight shifting onto your forward leg. Finally, focus on finishing your swing with your belt buckle pointing towards the target. Once all of these steps feel natural in your swing, increase the swing speed whilst making sure you always have a nice tempo and balanced finish.

I Want One Of Those: Robo Cup
RoboCup, is a new ball return robot that won ‘Best New Product’ at the annual PGA Merchandise Show. From an idea inspired by a mouse trap spring, the RoboCup is a cool plastic disk that sits into any golf hole. When your putt drops in it shoots the ball right back to you up to 14 feet, depending on green speed. A set of batteries last for 15,000 putt returns. Inventor Keith Foley came up with the idea after watching the Fore Inventors Only show on The Golf Channel. Check it out on http://www.finetunegolf.com/. Freddy Funk said of the RoboCup, "I love the RoboCup... it's an old man's dream!" I was thinking more along the lines of Caroline Morahan myself!


Tailored Shorts

Hole In One History
Former University of Georgia all-American Brendan Todd created history on the Nationwide Tour last week carding two hole-in-ones on the same hole on consecutive days. At the Athens Regional Foundation Classic in Georgia, Todd hit a seven iron into the cup on the par three 17th on Thursday, then repeated the feat with an eight iron on Friday.

Ochoa Wins But LPGA Tour Slumps
World number one Lorena Ochoa shot a 5-under par 68 on Sunday to edge out Norway's Suzann Pettersen by one stroke in a dramatic final round of Corona Championship in Mexico. Ochoa birdied the 15th and 16th holes to finish one ahead of Pettersen on 25-under. Ochoa’s played without regular caddie Dave Booker, who got hurt playing a soccer match on Saturday and had to call on her childhood coach Rafael Alarcon to caddie for her. However dramatic Ochoa’s win, the decline in popularity of the LPGA tour of late has been startling. The retiring of Annika Sorenstam, falling attendances, poor TV figures and the withdrawal of long time sponsors have plunged the ladies tour into crisis.

Lehman and Langer Together?
There are three givens in life, time, tide and a Champions Tour debutant winning on his first time out! This time it was Tom Lehman’s turn, who, on his first start, emerged victorious in a two man team event alongside Bernhard Langer. Lehman made a par putt on the second playoff hole to defeat Craig Stadler and Jeff Sluman and land the pair The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf title. In winning Lehman became the 13th Champions Tour debutant to win.


Bet Your Balls- odds from paddypower
Open de España
PGA Golf de Catalunya
Girona, Spain
30 Apr 2009 - 03 May 2009


Ignacio 40/1
There is a very strong Spanish contingent playing at their home open week including Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez. It looks like form boy Ganzalo Castano is going to take a weel earned rest this week so we’re plumping for long odds chance Ignacio Garrido. Struggled for form for the past couple of seasons but our formbook shows a lifecycle similar to the Mayfly. Second behind absent defending champion Peter Lawrie last year.

Peter Lawrie 40/1
Though not to be seen on the official entry list, word has it that the Castleknock touring pro will defend his title this week. Sent out a warning shot in the final round of the Ballintines with a blistering 66 in tough conditions to climb from 38th spot to finish joint eighth. Last years event was staged in Seville but as the thousands of Irish holidaying golfers who have played at PGA de Catalunya there will attest to, this track is right up Lawrie’s street with equally difficult greens. Stands a decent chance if jet lag doesn’t intervene.

Søren Hansen 20/1
It’s that time of the year again folks. We have to tip-toe into the cave and gently wake Soren from hibernation. Hansen hasn’t teed it up on the European Tour since missing the cut at The Masters and so makes a welcome return this week. The 2008 Ryder Cup star finished third in last years staging in Seville.



Quail Hollow Championship
Monday Apr 27 – Sunday May 3, 2009
Quail Hollow Club · Charlotte, N.C.

Rory Sabbatini 33/1
Known as the angry man of the tour but he hasn’t been to my club on a Sunday morning. Tore through the field last week climbing from eighth to finish second behind deserving winner Jerry Kelly. With top tens also to note from the Northern Trust and FBR events, this could be the breakthrough week for the South African. Tied for third in this event in 2007, he brought good from into the event that year also.

Jim Furyk 22/1
Jim has some major points to prove this week. Took home the spoils at the then entitled Wachovia Championship in 2006 having also tied for second the previous year. His best result in 2009 was a third at the CA Championships but also had a decent run at Augusta where we pointed to renewed confidence on the putting green. A regular top tenner here, does he deserve your tenner?

David Toms 40/1
Does he have the heart for it again this week? Nice to see the re-emergence of Toms this year. Tied fifth again last week at the Zurich, his third top five finish of the year. We’re going with form rather than performances on this course for Toms this week but the Quail Hollow Club has been kind in the past to good putters such as Ben Curtis and Steve Stricker







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