The likeness is uncanny, isn’t it!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
What’s in Rory McIlroy’s Bag, Lough Erne Golf Resort Review, 3 Irish Open Preview, GolfDotz, Sergio, Daly and more
Under The Microscope: Rory McIlroy
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.
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: Titleist 909D2, 8.5 deg loft, ROMBAX 7VO5 Shaft, X-Flex.
3-Wood: Titleist 906 F2, 13 deg loft, Fujikura Fit-on! 11 Pro 95, X-Flex
5-Wood: Titleist 906 F2, 18 deg loft, Fujikura Fit-on! 11 Pro 95, X-Flex.
Irons: 2 iron to 9 iron: Titleist ZM Forged blades, Project X Shafts, 6.5 Rifle. Grips Golf Pride Tour Velvet Full Cord
PW: Titleist Vokey, 48 deg loft, Project X Shaft, 6.5 flex Mid Wedge: 52 deg loft, Project X Shaft, 6.5 flex SW: Titleist Vokey, Spin Milled, 56 deg loft, Project X Shaft, 6.5 flex Lob wedge: Titleist Vokey, Spin Milled, 60 deg loft, Project X Shaft, 6.5 flex
Scotty Cameron Newport Prototype 34" in length
Titleist Pro V1X
4 Lads In A ’09 Car: Lough Erne Golf Resort Sneak Preview
There was only one man wearing a blazer on the Bord Failte stand at the PGA show back in January. Ever the curious Mayoman, I marched straight up for introductions a la Enda Kenny. “Andy Campbell, pleased to meet you!”, boomed the man with the brass buttons. I was shaking hands with the director of golf at the new Lough Erne Golf Resort.
Exactly four months later, a chance dental appointment with my daughter in Enniskillen, allowed me to drop in to see Andy again. This time our chat was on his own turf, the AA five star rated hotel and golf course set amid 600 acres of woodland and lake frontage provided by Lower Lough Erne and Castlehume Lough. As we entered the spanking new hotel I spotted Andy chatting to some fairly posh looking types. I guess it must be an art in itself making conversation with the diversity of people that cross his path daily, from the dripping rich prospective members, to lowly plebs like me. But part of the job is speak every mans language and he certainly spoke mine with his “Fancy a bat?” invitation when we had the cuppa drank. The blazer was swapped for raingear and we were headed out as gore-tex clad twins for a sneak preview of the much heralded Faldo course at Lough Erne.
Five minutes later we were stood on the sixth tee on Nick Faldo’s latest creation, belting into the valley below. Our opening salvo’s were less than full blooded but we were comforted by the knowledge that not another living soul had golfed these holes before. Well not many anyway! As we strolled to our second shots I was eager to learn about more about Andy Campbell and hear what credentials are needed to land what some might argue is the best job in Irish golf. Not alone has he held senior management roles in Carden Park and The Dukes Course in St. Andrews, but Campbell comes decorated with the golfing equivalent of the George’s Cross in greenkeeping and the purple heart in course superintending. Although he says that in his role as resort director, he doesn’t get in the way of his head greenkeepers work, I can only imagine the interview for that job must have been like the interview for head pro at Tiger’s home club!
Having parred our opener, we proceeded to the par four seventh, Devenish Drop. It think it must be a misprint because it’s more of a Devilish Drop from the tee. A drive into the prevailing wind that strays left or right of the fairway make par tough. It usually takes me nine holes to recognise a tournament worthy layout, but it took a mere fifteen minutes to figure that Lough Erne is a future European Tour Venue. If they want it, that this. Faldo and his design company have maximised all the natural beauty of the terrain and matched it expertly with the kind of modern golfing layout to test the best. Clever use of elevation changes from tee boxes often make the landing area seem less and likewise the greens frequently don’t fully show themselves on approach until you are practically on them. Having been jabbed by our first hole and stung by our second, I was floored by our third, the “saddleback”, which requires the kind of pinpoint accuracy that only Faldo in his Pringle cardiganed prime could deliver. Unfortunately I only possess it for one round each year and this certainly wasn’t it.
They say that often the most successful people in life get in when everyone else is getting out and it may well be true in this case. Lough Erne fits snugly into an opening in the golfing market as a gateway to the Northwest and the closest resort of its kind to the soon to be refurbished Belfast airport. The closest comparison to a course like it Ireland would be Glasson but it’s really reminds me of Loch Lomond with golf combined with top of the range hotel, spa and even a fully fledged seafood restaurant behind the ninth green.
Andy then told me of Rory McIlroy’s association with Lough Erne and his big day on July 22nd. Though the course officially opens in fifty days time on the opening day of July, the event everyone is talking about is the “Duel On The Lough”, a modern reincarnation of “Shell’s Wonderful World Of Golf”. This time it’s not Snead versus deVicenzo for $1000 but McIlroy versus Harrington, mano a mano for €200,000 with an expected audience of 4,000 spectators and a host of TV coverage.
Like its touring pro Rory McIlroy, Lough Erne is destined for big things are there are many parallels to be drawn between the two. Though both are young, their golfing pedigree is unquestionable and the tag “great” is almost guaranteed as both mature. For more information on Lough Erne and the “Duel On The Lough” check out the website on www.loughernegolfresort.com.
Bloggy Underfoot: The 3 Irish Open
It’s a hugely exciting week for Irish golf. The Irish Open is coming to Baltray in a new rejuvenated form thanks to the sponsorship from mobile phone company “3”. With an increased prize fund of €3,000,000 this week, many of the top names such as Harrington, McIlroy, Westwood, Clarke and Monty are entered. Chuck in a couple of phenomenal drivers such as a John Daly and Alvaro Quiros and old favourite like Ollie and you have quite a tournament on your hands.
Of course to make a tournament successful, the attendance and participation of the crowd is paramount. If you haven’t been to the Irish Open in a few years, I strongly suggest a visit. For keen golfers and their kids a day with the touring pro’s is like no other. Although Thursday is generally regarded as the quietest day, it is often also the day on which the best golf is played. Everyone starts from par with great optimism and the grappling for birdies begins in earnest. Thursday is also the day you can get up close and personal with your favourite stars. Friday is attractive in that the tension builds as the cut beckons. Saturday or “moving day” sees the reduced field attack again and Sunday is payday, when the winner is crowned.
Whateve r day you decide to attend, arrive early and allow yourself at least an hour to visit the range and watch the pro’s hit balls. You will be surprised at just how similarly all the players hit it. They always remind me of downhill skiers, there’s only thousands of seconds between them Watching a pro work through the clubs in the bag for half an hour can teach the club golfer more than any lesson. Take note of their excellent rhythm and timing. They don’t seem to lunge at the ball like us amateurs. Their practise is structured and organized, not one ball is wasted. The chipping green and practise bunker is also fascinating; this is one area where precision rather than power are required. The pro’s hit poor shots just like us, but their ability to get up and down from off the green time and time again is the result of countless hours of short game practise. And then there is the putting green, always a hive of activity with gadgets and gizmos aplenty. Anything to get the ball in the hole.
I usually spend the early part of the day following my favourite groups on the course. The pace of tour play is always very brisk and from outside the ropes you are always on the move and time flies. Just be wary of moving around the greens when the players are putting out. It’s the one thing that really irks them. Its nice to spend the afternoon session at a chosen green or two watching several groups pass through. I always find it fascinating at how similar the field play into each hole, the only difference is usually with the putter.
Here’s my Baz Luhrmann inspired guide to enjoying your trip to the Open.
Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you one piece of advice for a windy spring day in Baltray sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now
Enjoy the power and beauty of the pros; oh never mind; you will not understand the power and beauty of the pros until you return to your club.
But trust me, the next day you’ll look at the same guys on TV and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how good they actually are and how fabulous they really look…They are not as fat as widescreen TV’s make them appear.
Watch how players don’t waste your time on worrying about bad shots; sometimes they’re ahead, sometimes they’re behind; but the event is long, and in the end, an Irishman will win. Stretch. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Wear a good pair of runners.
Read the European Tour directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read golf magazines, they will only make you feel useless!
Accept certain inalienable truths, Rory will thrill, “Wild Thing” will meander (off the tee!), and you too will watch it live. After you do you’ll fantasize that when you get home, you will play like Rory and thrill like Daly. Don’t slag Rory too much about his hair, or by the time he’s 40, it will look 85.
Be careful which golf professionals advice you receive, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. They too had bogeys.
But trust me on the sunscreen… and enjoy the Irish Open!
Dr. and The Medic: Tension Pusher
You tend to push your drives when you are under a lot of pressure.
Work on trying to relax to prevent tension in your hands, arms, and shoulders. If you are not behind the ball, it will become too difficult to avoid moving in front of the ball.
Try to stay tension free. Do not try too hard to take the club all the way back during the backswing. You should allow your front shoulder to get over your back foot. Remember to stay behind the ball and to allow the clubhead to move through the ball instead of hitting at it.
I Want One Of Those: Golfdotz
How do you mark your Titleist? If you’ve seen the ad and looking for a different way to identify your ball, try golfdotz. Golfdotz are a new generation transfer that simply bond with the skin of the ball when firm pressure from your thumb is applied. The transfer takes about five seconds and the makers guarantee the logo will last longer than the ball! Check them out on www.golfdotz.com
Garcia Smile Caught On Camera
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
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
“3” Irish Open
May 14-17, 2009
Baltray, County Louth
In the world of boxing they say a true champion is one who can pull himself up off the canvass after suffering a knockdown. Thomas has suffered most than his fair share of sucker punches in his career so it’s great to see a return to form for the great Dane. An excellent putting day with the long putter saw him tied for third in Spain two weeks back and he followed up with a tied sixth in Italy last week. Thomas will remember his last win at the Irish Open in 2006 and has the game for the Baltray links setting.
Raphaël Jacquelin 45/1
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 like Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell. Through in form players like Lawrie and Maybin and it promises to be a cracking week. My sneaky fancy of the home contingent is Ryder Cup legend Paul McGinley. Paul cut his teeth on the county Louth links and cites it as one of his favourite courses. Known as one of the best strikers on tour, one good putting week would transform McGinn’s season.
Valero Texas Open
May 14-17, 2009
The Resort Course at La Cantera Golf Club · San Antonio, Texas
Charlie Wi 33/1
After top tens in March at the Honda and Transitions the scales were balanced somewhat with a couple of poor performances. However a good tied second at the Zurich in New Orleans on a low scoring course brought Wi right back into the spotlight. Another missed cut at Sawgrass will not worry Wi as he will come to Texas fresher than much of the field. Tied second behind Zach Johnson last year.
Mark Wilson 80/1
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
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.
Harrington, Player, Jacobs And Alliss Pay Special Tribute To Christy O’Connor Senior, Celebrating 50 Years At Royal Dublin G.C. On T 2 Green This Week.
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.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Get your groove on - (line)! Jerry Fish and the Mudbug club will be playing at the 3 Irish Open but if you can’t make it you can always go online to join in the fun
The 3 Irish Open is all social networked
Stuck in work - wish you were in Baltray for the 3 Irish Open – well you can be!
All the action from the course and behind the scen es at the 3 Irish Open at Baltray is live across our social networking sites. So those unlucky enough not to be able to attend in Baltray next week from the 14th-17th May, can pretend they are working while sneakily –
· logging onto the dedicated 3 Irish Open Facebook or Bebo pages where you can get all pictures and videos of the behind the scenes action of the 3 Irish Open
· Jamming in your ear phones to hear RTE’s Shane O Donohoe talk to leading PGA European Tour players such as Graeme McDowell, golf lovers such as ex Irish rugby player Keith Wood or Westlife’s Shane Filan on Irelands only dedicated golf podcast
· Following the tweets of Shane O Donoghue on Twitter as he gives his observations on the 3 Irish Open and all the news on the course
The links to all these are available through the 3irishopen.ie website. So get clicking, become a friend, become a fan, download the podcast – why not? sure your only missing work!
Fans have the chance to make significant savings at The 3 Irish Open by taking advantage of advance ticket offers. Ireland’s fastest growing mobile network and sponsors of the 3 Irish Open, has announced plans to host a complimentary sponsor’s day on Thursday 14th May at The 3 Irish Open. Anyone who registers their details at www.3irishopen.ie before Sunday 10th May will receive a complimentary invitation to the first day of competition on Thursday the 14th. Simply register at www.3irishopen.ie by Sunday 10th May and you will have a fantastic day of golf ahead! Normal gate prices apply for anyone who has not pre-registered before May 10th.
Season tickets to see Daly and many of the world’s best players in action for four days over the classic links layout at Baltray, County Louth, are available at a 30 per cent discount if purchased before midnight on Sunday, May 10; while advance Daily Ticket purchases carry a 25 per cent discount on the Gate price. Junior fans, under the age of 16, who are accompanied by a paying adult, will be granted free access to the tournament throughout the week. To take advantage of these outstanding advance ticket offers, please visit: www.europeantourtickets.com and www.ticketmaster.ie or call the following numbers: Republic of Ireland Customers call: 1 890 252 698; Customers outside of the Republic of Ireland call: +44 (0) 800 023 2557
The 3 Irish Open Ticket Prices are as follows:
Adult Daily Gate €20 Adult Advance €15
Adult Season Gate €50 Adult Season Advance €35
Senior Daily Gate €15 Senior Daily Advance €10
Senior Season Gate €35 Senior Season Advance €25
Juniors U-16 Free if accompanied by a paying adult.