April 2009

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The Who, What, When Quiz

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Great news! You never have to miss US Tour golf aharringtongain, (well for a whole year anyway!)  The good folks at Setanta have given us a free one year subscription to Setanta Sports to give away to a lucky SpinDoctor reader. Four weekly winners over the next four weeks will go into a draw for the big prize. To win, just e-mail examinerspindoc@eircom.net with the answers to the following questions.

lawrie castleknockQ1. Who is set to battle it out with Rory McIroy in Lough Erne’s “Duel On The Lough” on July 22nd?

Q2. What Dublin golf club is Peter Lawrie affiliated with?

Q3. When will St. Andrews next stage the British Open?

What’s In Nick Dougherty’s Bag

clip_image004Date of birth: 24/05/1982

Place of birth: Liverpool, England

Height and weight: 6ft 1in 13st 6lb (185cm 85kgs)

Interests: Flying, socialising, football, music

Turned Pro: 2001 (Plus 4)

 

Bag Check Irish Open 2009

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Bloggy Underfoot: Dear Mr. Lowry…….

Dear Mr Lowry,

On behalf of the European Tour we would like to welcome you. Please find enclosed your laminated pass, note that this expires in 2012. Show this to the security guard at the gate each week to gain entry to the event. As a new member of the Tour please allow me to offer some useful advice and set out our basic ground rules.

Language: Our events are extensively televised. As such, the use of foul or offence language on course is strictly forbidden on the Tour. Please note shane lowry tour cardwe are also very well aware that the Gaelic term for “word” is “focail”; we will be watching out for sly use of this also. Breach of this rule will cost you €5,000, so choose your words carefully.

Dress Code: Please note that the maximum size of logo’s players may wear on their shirts is 40mm x 80mm. Our sources tell us that you plan to wear an Offaly GAA jersey with the phrase “Offaly, now we’re Awfully Good”; please note that this is not permitted despite what Tom Cribbin might tell you.

Sponsorship: As regards equipment contract, you may choose whoever you like but when it comes to other sponsorship deals we have one all encompassing rule of thumb- “Arab and Chinese, thank you please!” In other words if anyone under five foot tall or wearing a white sheet offer you money, you should bow and take it!

On The Range: Speaking of bowing, players are assigned defined practise areas on the range in which to practise. These are allocated on a first come first served basis, with one exception. If Colin Montgomerie enters the range and expresses an interest in practising in your area you must vacate immediately. Do not make eye contact and only speak if spoken to. If you are permitted to speak, all sentences spoken to Mr. Montgomerie should end with “Your Eminence”.

Nickname: As you know all Tour players must choose a nickname for advertising and media purposes. We have given it some thought and suggest the name “Lumpy” which is currently not being used in Europe. We wondered how you felt about it. Please let us know.

Finally: Off the course please bear in mind that in all aspects of your public life you still represent the European Tour. As such you are not permitted come within 500 metres of John Daly outside of playing time. We dread to think of the consequences for the future of the tour if you two got together.

                                            Yours Sincerely,

                                          Georgie Porgie, Director of the European Tour

                                    

Dr. and The Medic: Driver Off the Deck

Problem

You are playing a par 5 and you did not catch your drive.

Cure

If the ball is sitting up, consider taking your driver and hit it off the deck. However, if you have a poor or tight, go for your three wood instead.

Therapy

This is something you can practise in your back yard or at the driving range. To hit your driver off the deck, you will want to set the ball back a little farther in your stance than normal. Open your stance and set your hands so they are aligned with the ball. Keep your lower body still. Focus on maintaining a good rhythm as you make a full shoulder turn and sweep the ball off of the grass. This is not the kind of shot that you want to catch the ball on your upswing because do not want to allow grass to come in between the ball and the clubhead.

 

I Want One Of Those: Cleveland Niblick

What goes around, comes around and the niblick is back. If you areclip_image010 having trouble with the Damien Duffs around the fringes, the niblick could help you. Bringing together the greatest characteristics of a wedge, putter, iron and hybrid, this ultimate hybrid scoring club is a fantastic way to improve your approach, recovery and pitch shots. Features zip grooves for extra stop. €125 from Golfstyle, Galway.

 

 

 

Bet Your Balls- European Open and Colonial

Odds with thanks to

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The European Open

The London Golf Club

Ash, Kent, England

28 May 2009 - 31 May 2009

Ross Fisher 12/1

Ross-Fisher-240x220 Let’s stick with Ross Fisher again this week. Showed us some decent form under pressure from his home crowd at Wentwoth.Romped to a seven stroke victory last year in the first staging of the European Open at its new home, The London Club. The Nicklaus design provides a long tough test which much of the field struggled with last year.

Graeme McDowell 30/1

graeme_mcdowell_25565t The Northern Irishman had to withdraw due to shin splints in Baltray after shooting the course record in the second round. Returned to demonstrate decent form in Wentwoth. Finished third last year but promised so much better going into the final round.

Stephen Dodd 66/1

dodd_PR Whether this week will or will not provide the breakthrough for Welshman Dodd is debateable but one thing the tour pundits all agree on is that Dodd’s form has shown positive signs over the past number of weeks. In 2005 Dodd won over €1 million including the Irish Open but that is in stark contrast to the mere €24,000 earned last season.  I wrote this tip before his excellent Wentworth performance so let’s hope he hasn’t shot his bolt.

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

live on

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Colonial CC, Ft. Worth, Texas

Kenny Perry 30/1

perry With Tiger searching for a new coach, Phil caring for his wife and Paul Casey home in England, the Colonial needed a saviour.  Enter Kenny Perry, the Kentucky slugger.  Winner early at the FBR and second at the Masters, Perry has triumphed here in 2003 and 2005 so must be well worth a flutter.

pampling Rod Pampling 40/1

The former Irish Open winner loves this event. Has finished in the top three in 2006 and 2008. Shot a third round 63 on his way to tied second last year with Tim Clark. The defending champion is Phil Mickelson who has pulled out of the tour indefinitely to support his wife in her battle with cancer.

Stephen Ames 33/1

stephen amesDidn’t disgrace us in Texas with a fine top ten finish after a string of poor results. With career earnings of over $16 million, the Trinidad native will not be happy with is current 60th spot in the Fed-Ex standings. Ames has finished tied second, third and tied fourth in previous stagings of this event. Will 2009 provide the elusive win?

Under The Microscope: John Daly

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full name : John Patrick Daly

nickname : “The Lion” and “Wild Thing”

height : 5' 11"

weight : 235 lbs.

birthdate : April 28, 1966

birthplace : Carmichael, CA

family : 3 Children: Shynah Hale, Sierra Lynn, John Patrick

The US Tour’s loss has been our gain. Apart from Tiger Woods there is no bigger draw in golf than John Patrick Daly. Daly was born in Carmichael, California. His family moved from California to Dardanelle, Arkansas and John started his golfing career aged four. In high school Daly also excelled in football and baseball but eventually chose to give them up to further his career in golf. He played team golf at the University of Arkansas and turned professional in 1987. After being called in as ninth alternate, the Wild Thing pulled off an incredible victory in 1991 US PGA Championship at Crooked Stick. His second major victory came in the Open at St Andrews in 1995 after a play-off with Costantino Rocca. Daly enjoys writing lyrics and playing guitar and even recorded a largely autobiographical album entitled "My Life," featuring a guest performances by Willie Nelson. Though not widely publicized John Daly is involved in many charitable causes, most notably Make-a-Wish Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. A very welcome visitor to Baltray last week.

What’s In John Daly’s Bag
Driver

Adams Speedline 8.5° with UST proforce tour xx flex shaft

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Hybrids

Adams Hybrid FW 15° and Adams 9031DF 18°with Hybrex Tour shaft

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Irons 3-9

Adams Idea Pro Black with True Temper Sensicore Shafts

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Wedges: Titleist Vokey 48°, 52°, 60°

Putter: “Heavy Putter K4”

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Ball:

Titleist Pro V1


4 Lads On A Trip Down Memory Lane:  The K Club

There has never been a better time to get out on Ireland’s marquee courses for reasonable green fees. To celebrate the K Club’s latest Ryder Cup promotion, I took three readers to relive the memories on the famous Palmer Course at the Staffan venue. The K Club are offering a fantastic 2006 online green fees for €99 on the Ryder Cup track and site of 13 European Opens. I was joined for the day by Examiner readers Alan Moynihan, Daniel O’Leary and Brian Finnerty. My instructions to the three were to watch the highlights of the 2006 Ryder Cup and previous European Opens on You Tube the day before our game. It’s great fun to watch the pros play the holes you are going to tackle the following day. Kerri Wells of the K Club told me there are still some tee times left so get on to www.kclub.com and click on the tee times promotion button to grab a piece of the action. Here are a couple of my favourite K Club holes and the Ryder Cup memories that accompany them.

k club 1st darren clarke Hole 1: Slight dog right with water on the left off the tee and trees to the right. The second shot is also over water, slightly uphill to a well guarded green.

Memory: The roar of the Ryder Cup crowd as an emotionally charged Darren Clarke made his way to the tee clad in his green jumper. He ripped his drive down the right of the fairway, stitched the second and canned the putt. One up and a great memory. In contrast Tiger pulled his opening drive here into the water.

 k club 7th woodsironlake Hole 7: Smurfit’s Favourite and one of the best holes in Irish golf. The drive must be long and accurate with water on the right and trees on the left. A good drive leaves a long iron second shot over a vast expanse of water to a narrow sloping green.

Memory: Tiger Woods was lining up a putt near the edge of the green, close to the water. Steve Williams, who was cleaning Woods' golf ball with the 9-iron in hand from the previous shot, then lost his balance, tripped and dropped the club into the water. Because of the depth of the water, Williams was unable to reach in and grab the club, which meant his boss was forced to use 13 clubs until a diver in a dry suit returned the 9-iron to him on the 15th hole.

k club 14th casey hole in one Hole 14: A 213 yard par three with a stream flanking the left. The anti-water shot brings the bunkers on the right of the green into play from where par is a minor miracle.

Memory: England's Paul Casey hit a sensational hole-in-one here to seal a 5&4 foursomes triumph over US pair Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson. It was only the fifth hole in one in Ryder Cup history. Casey, who won the World Match Play tournament at Wentworth only six days earlier, was congratulated by countryman David Howell as the crowd roared their approval.

kclub 16th clarke Hole 16: The famous risk-reward par five where the shot to the narrow green crosses the Liffey.

Memory: In the wake of losing his wife to cancer, Darren Clarke got to experience camaraderie, friendship and a European Ryder Cup win on this hole. After chipping in for victory with Lee Westwood on Saturday, Clarke repeated the dose defeating Zach Johnson here in the singles. After receiving a hero’s welcome from the crowds, Clarke broke down in tears and was showered in hugs from Ian Woosnam, Tom Lehman and Tiger Woods, among others.


Bloggy Underfoot: Sky Testing My Limits

I took a trip to Baltray last Tuesday to get a glimpse of the professional tour from inside the ropes. Though the Irish Open wasn’t to begin for a further two days, the preparations had begun in earnest. The majority of the field were on site and the speculation was just beginning as to just who was going to do well. In the press tent I tested the media reporters knowledge of golf history by asking them to identify a famous Irish amateur golfer from an old photo I had been sent. Needless to say, nobody present could identify the young athletic figure in the photo. That was until the Irish Examiner’s Charlie Mulqueen studied it. “That’s Joe Carr”, he immediately answered. How prophetic and fitting it was that the week was to start and end with famous amateurs.

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Joe Carr and Henry Cotton in Valderrama in the late 50’s

My primary aim for that day was to stock up on my “what’s in the bag” files for our Under The Microscope section. It basically involves approaching the player with a polite request to photograph the bag and jot down what equipment they are using while they practise. It’s quite non invasive and painless and the players are always very co-operative. It’s a good ice-breaker and leads to a bit of friendly chat also. A nasty left to right wind on the practise ground for much of the day meant most of the field stayed away, because pros don’t like to hit balls in conditions that could affect their swings. Of the hardened campaigners that did brave the practise ground elements it was great to see Nick Dougherty back on tour. He told me that he’s been through a tough period since the death of his mother and is only now getting back to serious golf. A new 2-thumb grip on his putter has brought a whole new optimism to his game. His eventual tied fourth finish was nothing less than what he deserved. Ryder Cup team member Oliver Wilson was also in great form, working hard and really looking forward to the PGA in Wentworth this week. He is coming off a successful spell on the US tour and I for one will be watching out for him after a decent showing in Baltray.

My work on the range was all but done when who docked in only Colin Montgomerie. It is a surprise to see Monty on the range at any time but to see him there on a windswept Tuesday morning was quite exceptional. There were two reasons for his presence; he had never missed three cuts in a row in his career before and having clocked up two MC’s in the previous two weeks was desperate to avoid that horrible statistic in Baltray. There was also the matter of a tour committee meeting that evening regarding an extra Captains pick for next years Ryder Cup. With all that was on his mind, I wasn’t surprised by his polite but firm “no” to my request to probe his bag. He has a way of saying “no” like no one else. There’s always one, and Monty will always be ‘the one’. Little did I or anyone know at the time but the real star of the week was quietly going about his business under the radar on the other side of the range.

Monty might be the one, but Shane Lowry was number one. He joins Barrack Obama and Brian Cowen (and the guy who put €300 on him at odds of 1000/1) as the world’s most famous Offalymen. What a tournament the Irish Open turned out to be. After a sodden monthly medal I settled down to watch the final round action with one of Deirdre Lydon’s famous steaks in my local. As the Sunday afternoon unfolded it became increasingly apparent that Sky Sports TV coverage was shocking in its ineptitude. For a professional organization, the commentary team had little or no useful information on either Shane Lowry or Robert Rock. Indeed as Lowry battled through a tough period mid-round I took great offence to the way the Sky team focussed on the Clara man’s choice of language rather than his game. As far as I could see Shane ‘threw’ three perfectly acceptable “f**ks”, all following bad shots. How was he to know a furry microphone was on him? And did it matter? Lowry was David and Goliath was floundering on the ropes. Ewen Murray then weighed in with what I could only describe as a below the belt jibe about Lowry standing in the “through-line” of professional golfers who were out there “earning a living”. I have the utmost respect for Murray and acknowledge him as the best analyst in the game, but those comments, in my opinion should have been said quietly in Lowry’s ear after the event, and certainly not on TV. As the evening wore on, the backtracking seemed to start, but not once did anyone on Sky fully acknowledge the supreme feat of Lowry, who as a young amateur emulated Padraig Harrington’s achievement of two years ago. Have they forgotten the 25 year period between John O’Leary’s and Harrington’s Irish Open victory. Bruce Critchely even referred to “Steve” Lowry and the fact that it was lovely to see that his raincoat was “British”. Sky cut their coverage about 30 seconds after Lowry’s final putt as if in a final gesture of disgust that an amateur could outplay the professional tour stars. What they missed and what RTE covered were the scenes of unbridled joy and celebration, never before seen on the European Tour. Well done Shane and must do better Sky!


Dr. and The Medic: Score Early

Problem

You are nervous and stressed out for the first few holes of your round or don’t seem to really start motoring until about the fourth tee box.

Cure

Play out the course in reverse on the practise ground. This way you will have already played the shots required for the day and the first few holes will be still fresh in your mind.

Therapy

Even if you do not have enough time to practice every hole on the course, select at least the last and the first two holes to get warmed up. Visualize how you should play the course and which shots you will need to use. Start with 18th hole and work back through the 17th, 2nd and 1st hole. If you hit a poor shot, repeat it until you are happy with the way it needs to be played. When you start your round you have no need to be stressed because you just played the holes, have hit the required shots and know you can play them well.

I Want One Of Those: The Swing Glove

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Your hands are the only point of contact with the golf club and one of the key components of the golf swing is the flat left wrist. Many amateurs break or “cup” their left wrist during the hit causing a loss of control and power. From Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods professionals always maintain a flat left wrist through impact and follow through. The swing glove is a training aid to promote this from one of the worlds top instructors, Rick Smith. Its hard plastic insert will allow your wrists to hinge correctly but not break at impact. By practising with the glove you can train yourself to swing correctly through repetition. The plastic insert can be removed for competition play. Retails for about $25 from www.swingglove.com

Tailored Shorts

Went-worth Some Investment

Wentworth-West-Course Following this week’s BMW PGA championship, Wentworth plan to rebuild all the greens and approaches on the West Course. The current poa and colonial bent grass greens will be dup up and completely replaced by USGA tournament specification greens.

Gonzalo Gutted

ganzalo british masters Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano won’t be defending his British Masters title at The Belfry after the news came through that it has been dropped from the European Tour schedule. The event’s Quinn Insurance sponsorship deal expired and no replacement was found. The worsening economic climate has resulted in this, the cancellation of one the Tour's oldest events, having been staged every year since 1946. The Austrian Open will now take place in its slot of 17-20 September. This latest axing follows the earlier cancellation of the English Open until 2011 at least.

Per Ulrik Johansson’s Search

I witnessed a lovely moment on the putting green at the Irish Open. Per Ulrik Johansson was busily trying out all the putters, gadgets and gizmos that surround the green. He just devours the stuff, endlessly searching for that special something to change his tour fortunes. After speaking to the “Daly Golf” putting team, he picked up a little plastic sign that sat alongside their line of putters and asked Fred Daly’s son Robin “What does this do? Is it an alignment device? How does it work?”. “It’s an advertising sign!”, came the reply as Robin Daly took it back off the ever so slightly embarrassed Swede and sat it back on the ground. Per Ulrik’s search goes on.

Bet Your Balls-

with thanks to www.paddypower.com

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BMW PGA Championship

Wentworth Club

Surrey, England

21 May 2009 - 24 May 2009

Angel Cabrera 20/1

A stellar field has gathered this week to do battle for the €4.5 million purse. The Argentinian contingent includes Andres Romero but we’re plumping for El Pato, Angel Cabrera. The 2005 champion will attempt to emulate legends like Seve, Langer and Faldo in winning the title weeks after claiming the green jacket at Augusta. Loves the lengthened Wentworth layout which suits his immense long game. Reached the final of the HSBC matchplay in 2007 where he lost out to Ernie Els.

Ross Fisher 28/1

The next couple of weeks will be huge for young Englishman Ross Fisher as he returns to his home club Wentworth and then on to the London Club where he will defend his European Open title. Fisher is Wentworth’s touring pro and he has a long association with the venue having started as a junior there. A prodigiously long hitter of the ball, Fisher spent recent weeks on the US Tour, which included his first Masters appearance, but says he feels fresh going into the next two weeks.

Anders Hansen 40/1

Two of Anders Hansen’s three wins on tour have come at Wentworth. He claimed his maiden title there in 2002 and repeated the feat in 2007 defeating Justin Rose in a playoff. Hansen’s 2009 season started with a bang with victory at the Joburg Open, but he has struggled to recapture that form since. Nevertheless having spoken to him in Baltray, he really is gearing up for a strong showing at a venue he loves.

 

HP Byron Nelson Championship

Monday May 18 – Sunday May 24, 2009

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Ian Poulter 18/1

Continuing his commitment to the PGA tour, Ian Poulter will tee it up for a share of the 6.5 million dollar purse at the Byron Nelson while the European Tour’s flagship event is taking place in Wentworth. After a tied fifth at Quail Hollow and a second at the recent Players Championship surely a win can’t be far off for the Englishman. Poulter has gone low in the course, shooting 65 in the third round in 2007 on his way to third.

Charley Hoffman 25/1

If you think Rory McIlroy needs a haircut, get a load of Charley Hoffman! Hoffman has been out of form since his second place in the FBR in January but finished with rounds of 63 and 66 last week in texas for a top ten finish. Finished in the top ten at last years Byron Nelson despite a horrid final round when victory was there for the taking. He may feel this event owes him one.

Jerry Kelly 40/1

Kelly’s missed cuts in his last two events are understandable given his heroics at the Zurich Classic in April where he won over a million dollars. Has happy memories of the Four Seasons Resort club in Texas having shot the low round of the day on day four in 2007. His 64 then saw him tie for third, and now that he has won this season, Kelly will be eager to challenge again this week.

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!!

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