Under The Microscope: Ernie Els
Full name Theodore Ernest Els
Nickname The Big Easy
Born 17 October 1969 (age 39)
Birhplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight 220 lb (100 kg; 16 st)
Nationality South Africa
Residence Wentworth, England;
George, South Africa
Spouse Liezl (m.1998)
Children Samantha (b.1999), Ben (b.2002)
With Ernie’s poor form of late, it’s easy to forget just how successful he has been. He has 60 professional wins to his credit (16 on the PGA Tour and 24 on the European Tour) including three major championships: the U.S. Open in 1994 at Oakmont, in1997 at Congressional and The Open Championship in 2002 at Muirfield.
Other highlights in Els' career include topping the 2003 and 2004 European Tour Order of Merit, and winning the World Match Play Championship a record seven times. He has held the number one spot in the Official World Golf Rankings and has been ranked in the top ten for a record 750 weeks. In July 2005, Els injured his left knee while sailing with his family in the Mediterranean. Despite missing several months of the 2005 season due to the injury, Els won the second event on his return, the Dunhill Championship. Many argue however that Els never truly found his best form since.
What’s In Ernie’s Bag
I was listening to a fascinating guest on The Last Word with Matt Cooper last week. His name was Ken Ring, an alternative meteorologist, from New Zealand. Several months ago, Ring also spoke to Cooper, and made the bold prediction of hailstones in June in Ireland. True to form, last week in Glenties Donegal, it pelted hail. Ring’s weather almanacs are the equivalent of the bible to Kiwi farmers, where by observing the cycles of the moon and the tides and their effect on atmospheric pressure, he has a much higher strike rate than conventional weather men.
The weather is something you just don’t think about when it comes to major sporting occasions. I set my alarm clock for eight o clock last Saturday morning and had the corn flakes in front of the telly in anticipation of a classic second rugby test between France and the All Blacks. Instead, I watched 30 players trying to hold on to a bar of soap in the bath. The rain was so bad, I decided bringing four kids to do the weekly shopping was less tortuous. The weather Gods can never be taken for granted.
In the golf world, we’ve already seen the effect of climate first hand at Baltray this year. Nasty wind and rain virtually eliminated half the field, before blazing sunshine and calm embraced the rest. The difference between a few closely spaced isobars, arguably propelled one man, namely Shane Lowry, to super stardom. In fairness he did close out the tournament with some gusto, but you just cant help but wonder if the result would have been different if the fie ld all enjoyed the same conditions. Lowry’s decision to turn pro straight after, brought back memories of Justin Rose doing the exact same thing in the immediate aftermath the 1998 Open and regretting it. I hope, like Rose, that in the fullness of time, Lowry will grow into the accomplished and successful champion Rose is and we all know he can be. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that.
Which brings me to another question. Who in the world of European Tour officialdom decides the schedule and do they ever pick up the phone and talk to the Met Office? Surely the tournaments would be better scheduled according to the predicted climates in the various countries on the tour itinerary. If I were on the board, I would insist all tournaments in Ireland and Britain (Majors excepted) take place between July and September. But no, I’m not on the board and they came in May. What happened? It poured rain, made our country look on TV like the most inhospitable place to golf in the world, discouraged plane loads of potential golf tourists and annoyed 50% of the players who, when they sit down to plan next years playing itinerary, will think twice about coming to Ireland again. Strip away the veneer of Shane Lowry’s playoff win and you have a right royal European Tour cock-up.
The fact that the exact same thing happened at Bethpage was uncanny. Again half the field was subjected to terrible conditions and the halfway leaderboard read like a cross between the Futures Tour and the has-beens tour! Names like Ricky Barnes, David Duval and a guy called Yano lead the way after the second round compliments in no small part to the weather. I said last week that journeymen don’t win majors and maybe, just maybe, the weather Gods heard me and decided to do something about it. They simply handed it to Glover.
Dr. and The Medic: Laid Off
You hit inconsistently with hooks and slices but it is not due to a poor coil, weight shift problem or posture.
Check to see where your hands are positioned at the top of your backswing. If your hands are laid off or are not holding the club correctly at the top then it will cause the clubhead to come into the ball incorrectly.
Using a mirror or a video camera with it pointed towards your trailing shoulder, swing the club back and stop at the top. Now look to see where your hands and clubhead are positioned. Are they positioned over your shoulder, as they should be? If they are, you know you have made a full turn while keeping your body on plane. If they are over your head or trailing arm, or if they have drifted too far away from your body, you know that you need to work on correcting your hand positioning at the top of your swing. Another way to check your hand position is to stop your swing at the top. Then simply allow your hands to drop straight down. You know that your hands were in proper position if they drop onto your shoulder.
The Caption Contest
Thanks to all who entered our quiz last week. We now have four names from which we will this week draw the winner of a free one year subscription to Setanta Sports (including Setanta Golf). This week we want your funniest caption for the picture below. Text your caption and contact details to 087-3140467. The winner gets a classy golf shirt from Golfstyle, Galway.
Here’s a new alternative golf ball for better players who want max control over their short game. The wafer-thin, soft urethane cover provides serious spin around the green. A new urethane coating increases spin by 500 rpm on shots from rough. Shallow dimples plus an invisible seam contribute to its penetrating flight. The large core—gradually firmer from center to perimeter—is designed to maintain a high launch while limiting driver spin. Z-Star is an acronym for "Spin, Trajectory, Acceleration and Resilience." Used by players such as Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh.
Bet Your Balls
Odds thanks to Boylsports who have kindly given us a €30 charity bet each week.
All winnings from June will go to Barretstown.
BMW International Open
Golfclub München Eichenried
25 Jun 2009 - 28 Jun 2009
Charity Bet: €20 win
Niclas Fasth has been to been to the depths with his game and is now beginning to climb back out. Very solid in Wales on the tours last outing, eventually finishing second, his first top ten of the season. A determined character, Fasth is returning to the site of his last victory on tour in 2007.
Charity Bet: €10 win
N obody strikes the ball like Bicks. When you watch him on the range, you cant help but wonder why he isn’t in contention more often. Problems with the short stick however see him down in 142nd in the order of merit. Bickerton tied third here last year shooting 68, 67 on the weekend and loves the Munich layout. Also second in 2002.
Did you ever notice the way the expression on an interviewed golfers facial expression always turns stone cold when the interview is over? Not so however with genial Thomas Levet, the golfing equivalent of Mary Poppins. The ever beaming Frenchman has already won in 2009, claiming the Open de Espana. Has gone low in Munich in the past also, shooting 63 on his way to second in 2004.
TPC River Highlands · Cromwell
Two top tens in 14 events this season is a little less than you would expect from Ryder Cup hero Hunter Mahan, but the 14 cuts made is pretty impressive. Usually kick starts his season here in Connecticut where he won in a playoff in 2007 and very nearly repeated the feat last year tying second behind Stewart Cink. Fantastic showing in Bethpage too!
Six foot four inch Stewart Cink is an imposing figure, but imposing probably isn’t the word to describe his 2009 tour campaign. Since his third in the WGC matchplay in January, Cink’s game has been in the doldrums. Tied eighth at The Memorial a couple of weeks back indicating some form. The defending champion this week has the unenviable distinction of being married while still in college!
If you are looking for a bit of an each-way flutter, try Michael Letzig. The titleist staff player is a pro since 2002 but graduated onto the PGA tour in 2008 having finished 12th on the Challenge tour in 2007. Letzig can go low too, he shot an excellent 63 here last year on his way to 10th. Having only missed one cut all season, I predict a breakthrough soon for Michael Letzig.
Tickets to the U.S. Open cost over $100. Though Thursday was rain soaked with very little golf to watch, the USGA decided against refunds or rain checks for those fans who bought tickets. In a recession hit environment with sponsors hard to come by, the treatment of fans by the USGA does nothing to shed the elitist tag that still dogs the organiztion.
Five time PGA Tour winner Ken Green has had to have his lower right leg amputated following his road accident on June 9th. Green was driving on the Interstate near Hickory, Mississippi, when the right front tire of his motorhome blew out. Green was unable to control the vehicle and ran off the road and down an embankment before hitting a large oak tree. Green's brother and girlfriend were killed and Green, who was not wearing a seat belt also suffered serious head injuries.
During his time in professional golf, Green was the John Daly of his era. He has had over two dozen fines levied by the PGA for pranks which included sneaking some buddies into The Masters in the trunk of his car and drinking beer on the course while playing with Arnold Palmer at the 1997 Masters.
The USGA needed some extra helpers to squeegee the water logged greens on Saturday. Those hanging around looking for work after missing the cut included former major champions Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els, David Toms, Justin Leonard and Michael Campbell. Bunker rakers were needed for Saturday too. Rory Sabbatini, Luke Donald, Brian Gay and Miguel Angel Jimenez were all asked but declined. Paul Casey is rumoured to have been seen on a greens mower hard at work shortly before the final round.
Matteo Manassero, who tied for 19th last month at the Italian Open on the European Tour has won the British Amateur championship, making the 16-year-old the youngest player and first Italian to win golf’s oldest amateur tournament. Manassero, who also had the best score in stroke-play qualifying, defeated Sam Hutsby of England 4 and 3 in the matchplay final. The victory makes Manassero eligible for the British Open next month and the Masters next year.
South African Bertus Smit pipped Iam Woosnam to win the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open at Royal Porthcawl and in doing so realised a truly improbable fairytale. A former wheat farmer, 56 year old Smit uffered a stroke in 2006 which left him partially blind with only 45 per cent vision in his right eye. He holed a 25ft birdie putt on the last hole for a final round 69 to finish on five under par 211 capture his first title in his 49th Senior Tour appearance.
Born December 30, 1975 in Cypress, California
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13.2 st)
Nationality United States
Residence Windermere, Florida
Spouse Elin Nordegren (m.2004)
Children Sam Alexis (b.2007)
Charlie Axel (b.2009)
His driving accuracy was questioned. His ability to close out tournaments was under scrutiny. Some said his knee would never recover. His relationship with swing coach Hank Haney has been under the spotlight. What did Tiger do? He whispered to the media, then roared inside the ropes. Aside from his stunning come form behind win, Woods hit all 14 fairways off the tee at Memorial, completing one of the strongest driving performances of his career. He missed only three in the first two days and his 18 fairways hit in a row is his longest such streak since 2003. If he wins at Bethpage, it will truly be one of the most amazing comebacks from injury in world sport.
What’s In Tiger’s Bag:
The Who, What, When Quiz
Thanks to all who entered our quiz last week. For those who don’t know, the good folks at Setanta have given us a free one year subscription to Setanta Sports (including Setanta Golf) to give away to a lucky SpinDoctor reader. We need one more winner this week to go into the draw for the big prize. To win, just e mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the answers to the following questions. Clues are on www.golfspindoctor.blogspot.com
Q1. Who won the last US Open staged at Bethpage Black?
Q2. What venue will stage the US Open in 2010?
Q3. When was the last non-US winner of the US Open?
Only two days now until the US Open, the greatest test of a professional golfer, begins at Bethpage Black. We put out the call for your tips for the US Open and thanks to all who replied. Boy do you guys love Tiger! Here are the pick of the bunch.
“Tiger Woods, not very original, but if he could win it on one leg last year you would have to fancy him to do it with two this year. Stenson seems to have slipped under the bookies radar but he could be a good bet for top European.”- Chris Ablett.
“I believe that 2006 winner Geoff Ogilvy has a great chance. He has been in excellent form this year winning his third WGC event. Putting is a key factor in the US Open and Ogilvy can certainly perform on quick greens. The slicker they are the better he likes it. He knows how to play Par Golf when he has to. His short game is very good and this combined with his wonderful touch on the greens gives him a great chance. He is very cool under pressure.”- Eamonn Hughes
“Tiger will win because he's the best. The course should also suit Angel Cabrera.”-Dion Breen, La Cala.
“A friend of mine played Bethpage Black in April [ 22nd] and he said the rough was almost eight inches deep around the greens, so if they allow that to thicken and grow more, then as always, scrambling will be the biggest test at the US Open. My pick is Phil Mickelson; if his wife hadn't fallen ill I'd sell my cobra s9's and put the money on him to win here. We all know the short game is top notch, but another factor are his three second place finishes in New York based US Opens. If his head is in the right place, he has to be the man this year, the crowd will be rooting for him, like they were for Darren Clarke at the K-club.”-Brian O’Callaghan
“My heart says Phil Mickelson. My head Says Geoff Ogilvy. Geoff showed some form at The Memorial after a recent lull having won two events earlier on the year.”-Brian Quinn, Setanta Golf.
“Tiger and Ogilvy aside, my outsiders are Kjeldsen and Dougherty, at 175/1 and 200/1 respectively, they are good value!”- Kieran Murphy.
“One has to put Tiger in as favourite but I feel Paul Casey has a real shot. He has the length and more importantly he hits his irons very high. Bethpage is very long and has small greens. Casey is in a good place mentally at the moment. He showed his class in the way he closed out the PGA at Wentworth.”-Brian Shaw, Doonbeg.
“Obviously Tiger will be there or there abouts but there has to be each way value and I like Justin Leonard and Luke Donald - two plodders that will keep it straight! Each are playing fairly well and have some course form Tied 12 & T18 in 2002.”-Gavin Kelly
“Big Phil will be emotional, 'it can go both ways' so lets say top ten for him. Casey is in great form so he’s my top European. Rory McIlroy will make the cut and will win in 2010. Back on form Tiger to win!”-Bill Donald, K Club
“My outside bet for the US Open is Steve Stricker. He is one of those players that promised a lot but has failed to deliver so far. His form at present would suggest that he is not too far away from a major win this season.”- Seamus Walsh
“ABT anyone but Tiger. Sadly I get more enjoyment when Tiger is beaten by someone else (which is not very often) than to see him winning by a wide margin. I accept he is the best golfer on the planet. Instead of making the courses tougher which is playing into his hands, should they not try and make them a little more user friendly which might give us a better and more exciting finish with maybe any one of six or seven players in with a shout in the last few holes? Retief Goosen is my choice, he is too good a player not to win another Major. If he gets into contention on the back nine on Sunday he will be more than a match for Tiger or anyone else.”- Mike Barrett
“It’s hard to look past Tiger. His mind-blowing final round finish to win the Memorial tournament proves he is coming back to his best. This pre-US Open win has an eerily familiar feel to 2002, when he won the Memorial before heading on to Bethpage and triumphing there.” Eoin Hahessy, Director of Communications for the 3 Irish Open
Is the winner listed above? Whatever happens get the recliner oiled up, the pizzas in the freezer and those handy twisty top beers chilling in the fridge because Bethpage is going to be awesome!
Dr. and The Medic: US Open Type Bad Lie
One option is to go for it but you could end up taking more strokes overall because you did. Considering how unlikely you will be successful at this, you should try to find the closest, safe way to get the ball back on the fairway.
Do not allow your fellow golfers or even yourself make you feel as if you are a chicken if you do not take the difficult shot. So, step back several yards and look to see which direction you should hit the ball in order to provide a better second shot. Can you hit it diagonally to the left or right? Off to the side might not get you closer to the green but you will save strokes overall because you can get the ball in a better position for a good shot. You might even find that you have a better approach to the green if you hit the ball a few yards behind you, onto the fairway. So look at the green and decide which side you want the ball to land on it and it might change the way you play this shot.
This TW9 Tour Milled Satin Wedge from Wilson Staff is the very same that Padraig Harrington used to win the 2008 British Open within one week of seeing them, and then the PGA Championship just weeks later. The new, lower-lofted cavity back options bridge the gap between the modern pitching wedge and sand wedge for improved gapping. The tour milled grooves provide shot stopping spin while the wedge has a classic satin finish. Priced at €99 in GolfStyle, Galway
Odds from Boylesports.com
last week: Winner Alright! Brian Gay 45/1; David Toms (2nd) 22/1
US Open Bethpage Black
USA Pick: Jim Furyk: 16/1
As long as Brian O’Driscoll can fall out of bed in the morning, he will be the first name on any teamsheet. The same applies to Jim Furyk in the US Open. With the exception of Tiger, Furyk’s record in the toughest major is stellar. Winner of the lowest scoring US Open of recent times (-8) at Olympia Fields and two second places since, in 2006 and 2007. Runner up also to Tiger also at The Memorial so expect to see the swing like an “Octopuss falling out the tree” producing pin-seekers at Bethpage.
Rest Of The World Pick: Geoff Ogilvy: 16/1
This was a toss up between Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera, neither can be disregarded but the recent formbook suggests the Aussie. I believe Geoff Ogilvy to be the only man in the world who can go toe to toe with Tiger and win. A talented all rounder as a kid, he won several state and national athletic accolades before finding golf as a teenager. Twice a winner already this year in the Mercedes Benz and the Accenture matchplay and some signs of form in the Memorial with an amazing third round 63. Some fine tuning on the practise ground should see him right for a tilt at his second major, having winged home in 2006.
Elder Lemon Pick: Kenny Perry 50/1
This one came down to Steve Stricker (40/1) and Kenny Perry. There is a case for Stricker following his recent win at Colonial and his accolade of being the best scrambler on the PGA tour. However, I loved Perry’s attitude at The Masters, the manner in which he played that major and the dignity he displayed in defeat. He attributed his form that week to 18 hours spent on the practise green at Augusta and stated he wished he had discovered that method of major preparation years ago. It’s almost a given that he will mirror that build-up at Bethpage, for what may be his last big tilt at a major. Without a top twenty since the Masters, time is running out for my favourite player.
European Pick: Ian Poulter 66/1
I’ve agonized over Poulter, Stenson and Paul Casey for this slot. None have any form to speak of in the US Open- Casey’s is best with a 10th and 15th. However, the betting value lies with Ian Poulter. Second behind Stenson at TPC (the fifth major), second in last years Open and the pick of the European’s in the Ryder Cup, Poulter is increasingly becoming the rock solid character for the big occasion. That allied to his scrambling ability (ranked second) make him an educated each way shot.
Stats Pick: Tim Clark 80/1
Bethpage is extremely long, tree lined, with dangerous bunkers and small slick greens. Accuracy is the key here as proven by Jeff Maggert and Nick Faldo with top five finishes in 2002. Maggert’s current incarnation is Tim Clark, ranking fourth in driving accuracy and sixth in putting. The news that Bethpage is firming up will also be music to the ears of the South African. Bottled a fantastic chance to win at Colonial, but at least it shows he is on form. Clark’s stats are too good to ignore. Don’t say you were not warned about the man who tied third in Pinehurst in ’05.
Less than 24 hours after winning the Memorial with birdies at three of the last four holes Tiger Woods was back at work at Bethpage. He played seventeen and a half holes with caddy Stevie Williams, swing coach Hank Haney and two police officers. After hitting his drive on the last, he laid up with an iron in the middle of the fairway. Woods got into a golf buggy and exited via a service road, leaving his ball in the fairway and disappointing the 100 fans who had gathering after getting word that he was out on the course
The Black Course at Bethpage State Park, measures more than 7,400 yards of wooded Long Island countryside. It is a public course, one of five in the park. Golf carts are not allowed. Bethpage Black has changed since its last hosting in 2002, adding another 212 yards, plus the longest par four in US Open history (the 525-yard seventh), an extended green at the par-three eighth that now brings a water hazard into play and a dangerous new fairway bunker on the 460-yard, par four ninth. The big news however is that the rough has been eased considerably since 2002. In the aftermath of Woods win then, USGA came under heavy criticism for the unplayability of the rough. Bethpage now has a graduated rough that still gives players who stray offline only slightly, a fighting chance.
In what has become something of a tradition nowadays, celebrities and a member of the public took on the US Open Layout in the Golf Digest sponsored challenge. This year, Michael Jordan, Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Justin Timberlake were joined by a Larry Giebelhausen, the contest winner. Jordan played badly on the front nine but was a respectable four over on the back. Roethlisberger fared the best of the group, shooting an 81 with impressive birdies on 10 and 15. Timberlake had an 88. Rocco Mediate was on the bag for Roethlisberger, Anthony Kim for Timberlake and Fred Couples for Jordan.
Fun aside there have been whispers that Bethpage is not playing as tough as previous US Open venues.
Sergio, Camillo and Adam Scott:- if your looking out for beautiful women in the gallery, follow this group. Woods, Harrington, Cabrera:- I wouldn’t be surprised if the winner came from this group. Watch out for their grandfathers, Rocco Mediate, Kenny Perry, Tom Lehman coming nine minutes behind! Ogilvy, Furyk, and Casey:- second, third and fourth in this bunch? JB Holmes, Alovaro Quiros, and Nick Watney:- Would not want to be in the group in front of these bombers. Michael Campbell, Boo Weekley, Rod Pampling:- an interpreter may be needed with these guys accents. We’ve noticed that the USGA have got a bit lazy with some pairings too, check out the surnames in these three groups:- (1) Soren Kjeldsen, Soren Hansen and Peter Hanson; (2) Vijay Singh, Jeev Milkha Singh and K.J. Choi (3) Andres Romero, Eduardo Romero and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight 165 lb (75 kg; 11.8 st)
Residence Zürich, Switzerland
Anders is a winner on tour already in 2009 claiming the Joburg Open in South Africa. Won the BMW PGA Championship twice in 2007 and 2002. Went to University of Houston where he enjoyed success on the US collegiate scene and has finished in the top 60 on the Order of Merit every year from 2000 to 2008.
Tee minus two weeks to the US Open. This year the slug-fest returns to Bethpage Black, site of the “people’s open” of 2002. It is rare for a US Open to return to the same venue so soon but the last staging on the municipal course proved so popular that the US tour vowed to return as soon as possible. This will be the third US Open in the New York area in the last seven years with Shinnecock Hills hosting in 2004.
So here’s a quick recap of what happened in 2002. Tiger Woods, the bookies favourite at the time, duly obliged by up-and-downing from absolutely everywhere to win at three under par but that wasn’t the real story. The big winner that week was Phil Mickelson who became the darling of the Bethpage crowd. The “cult of Phil” carried him on a wave of euphoria to a second place finish behind the all dominant Woods. Sergio Garcia who entered the final round in second place slipped to fourth after being heckled by the crowd for his grip, re-grip, re-grip pre-shot routine. As I recall however, the Black course, which was billed as an absolute monster, actually proved quite a tame test as US Open’s go with wily course managers like Jeff Maggert and Nick Faldo finishing in the top five.
The previous winners of the US Open read like a who’s who of the World’s elite players. With all due respect, names like Christian Cevaer and Steve Stricker just aren’t on there. Last year Tiger beat Rocco on one leg at Torrey Pines. In 2007 Angel Cabrera bullied it around Oakmont and held off Jim Furyk to win his first major. The year before, 2006, belonged to Geoff Ogilvy but was probably best remembered in Europe as the one Monty threw away. Remember he missed the green with an eight iron and handed it to the grateful Aussie? Michael Campbell won at Pinehurst in 2005, a pinnacle of performance so sadly followed by the huge troughs he has endured ever since. Retief Goosen won at Shinnecock in 2004 with an incredible birdie on 16 to edge Phil Mickelson who double bogeyed 17 to throw the title away . 2003 was a very low scoring affair with Jim Furyk winning at Olympia Fields on eight under. Which brings us neatly back to Tiger at Bethpage in 2002.
What will happen this year is anyone’s guess, but two of the usual suspects certainly seem to be clocking in right on time. Tiger is coming off his greatest driving week for six years (49 of 56 fairways hit.) After hitting a mountain of balls of the practise ground in Isleworth over the past couple of weeks, analyst Peter Kostis described how still the “bill of Tiger’s cap” remains throughout his swing; a subtle change that has done the trick. Jim Furyk, who always seems to there or there abouts, was giving those irons the one eyed stare-down treatment at the Memorial indicating he is in the mood. There are plenty of questions about the rest however? We know now that Phil Mickelson will be there, but will his mind be? Will world number three Paul Casey be able to muscle his way into contention and find his putting touch on the ultra slick US Open greens? Can Cabrera, now a proven multiple major winner, get in the mood again with his long lazy style? What about Geoff Ogilvy after his collapse when in contention at Muirfield Village? Or can a journeyman pull it off this year, like Rocco so nearly did last time?
The history book alas, does not list any journeymen on the recent victory list. Where do they seem to go at major time? They always seem to get close, to the playoff even before succumbing to a big gun. Wouldn’t it be great to see a new young European major winner? Somebody to bring focus back onto the European Tour, somebody like Rory McIlroy or Martin Kaymer would do nicely. They certainly have the game, but have they got the major temperament, the patience, the course management nouse? I want to hear who you think will win the US Open and next weeks “Bloggy” will be devoted to you and your tips. E-mail your name, your tip and the reason why to email@example.com or text me at 087-3140467.
Dr. and The Medic: Outside the Bunker
The ball landed just outside of a bunker, requiring you to stand in the bunker while the ball is higher than your feet lying on the grass.
Play this shot just as you normally would when the ball is above your feet. One vital adjustment is to make sure you have stable footing in the bunker.
Look to see how much lower your feet are than the ball. Choke down on the shaft by this much. Swing more around your body. If you do not, you will end up digging the club into the soil with very little distance. It might help to think of this shot as if you are using a hurl with a flat, rounded swing.
The Who, What, When Quiz
Thanks to all who entered our quiz last week. For those who don’t know, the good folks at Setanta have given us a free one year subscription to Setanta Sports (including Setanta Golf) to give away to a lucky SpinDoctor reader. We need two more winners over the next three weeks to go into a draw for the big prize. To win, just e mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the answers to the following questions. Clues are on www.golfspindoctor.blogspot.com
Q1. Who is Phil Mickelson’s caddy (pictured)?
Q2. What brand of equipment does Jim Furyk use? Check out his hat pictured above
Q3. When did Tiger Woods win his first major. 1996, 1997 or 1998?
Using Hot Metal Technology in its clubhead to increase ball speed, this MX-700 Hot Metal Fairway Wood from Mizuno is a genuine driver alternative from the tee. This forgiving driver has an understated design which hides the increased clubface size at address, as well as high COR and MOI to give you maximum distance and forgiveness. Around the €120 mark from Golfstyle Galway.
Odds from bestbetting.com
Purse: $5.6 million Winning Share: $1,008,000 FedExCup Points: 500
It’s called the St Jude Classic because staging a tournament the week before the US Open is a hopeless case. However I like the cut of David Toms’ jib this week. After his early season second in Hawaii, Toms has consolidated with five top tens in the months since. Won this event back to back in 2003 and 2004. Came second in 2005 when he shot a final round 63, only to be pipped by Justin Leonard who shot a 73. Also finished third in 2007 behind “aqua-man” Woody Austin.
Brian Gay 45/1
Between himself and Davis Love, the Gay-Love partnership have notched up an impressive five Verizon Heritage titles between them. With on form Love not entered this week, I’m plumping for Gay. It hasn’t been a happy time for him since his Hilton Head win, withdrawing from the Players Championship and missing the cut at the Byron Nelson but his last outing at The Crowne Plaza Invitational was an altogether more encouraging affair. This week sees a return to a happier hunting ground for Gay, who will recall a good fourth in 2007 and tied fifth in 2004.
Jerry Kelly 120/1
It’s a case of all or nothing for Jerry Kelly. Missed three straight cuts after winning a million dollars at the end of April. Came back under my radar last week with a closing round 67 on the ultra difficult Muirfield Village layout to finish 14th. No discernable form to speak of at Southwind but any of you who know golf know that Kelly is streakier than a rasher and when he’s in the mood, he’s unstoppable. If this guy ever needs a heart transplant they only need to check his sleeve to find it.
Two Irish Opens, a Ryder Cup victory as captain and a European Seniors Tour title certainly make Ireland a happy hunting ground for Ian Woosnam. Woosie shot 67 in the final round to whiz through the field in Ballybunion, then triumphed in a playoff with American Bob Boyd. Rumours that the donned a tricolour, then climbed onto the roof of the clubhouse and down a pint of Guinness as are yet unconfirmed!
Meanwhile in the US, Bernhard Langer became the first three-time winner on the Champions Tour this season, shooting 67 in Triton Financial Classic for a six-stroke win over Mark O'Meara. Langer, now a seven time winner on the Seniors tour finished on 15-under at The Hills Country Club course in Austin Texas.
This is a story about John Daly and drink, but hey, this time it’s all good news! As Daly prepares to return to the US Tour after his controversial six-month exile he has signed an endorsement deal with a sports drink company. He will display its Big Red brand of the All Sport company on his golf bag. "Corporate America believes in his comeback," said their rep.
Last Wednesday at a wet and windy Muirfield Village Golf Club, an unusual skins game drew huge crowds. With a combined 32 major championships and 139 PGA Tour titles between them, the great Jack Nicklaus teed it up with Tiger Woods. The two were joined by Kenny Perry and Stewart Cink in one foursome while Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Jim Furyk and Padraig Harrington also played a skins game in the group ahead. Nicklaus who is now 69 joked, "They had me paired in the other group, and I said, uh-uh. I said, 'I haven't played with him for nine years. I'd like to play with Tiger.' So they said OK. I'm really looking forward to it. I told him I'd give him a couple of extra shots if he needed it. I'll throw my 98-mile-an-hour clubhead speed at him." Jack didn’t disgrace himself either, rolling back the clock at the par-5 11th to make a birdie and win two skins. Asked whether he expected to be the same way at age 69, Woods quipped: "I just hope I'm above ground." The game came down to a chip-off, where, you guessed it, Tiger chipped in. Talk about looking for signs and portents!
Maybe it’s just me but I’m getting a really bad feeling about Celtic Manor as the venue for the Ryder Cup. It’s June now, yet the twenty ten course always seems to be sodden wet. What is it going to be like in September? I also the impression that the pro’s hate it. Last Sunday was the biggest bore-fest ever on the European Tour with previously unknown Dane Jeppe Huldahl (pronounced Yippee Roald Dahl) stealing victory. All the big names seemed absolutely disinterested as the tournament petered out without so much as a whimper. The European Tour takes a three week break before returning in Munich (we wont count the St Omer Open!)
Everyone has been talking about Tiger spending every waking hour on the driving range at Isleworth. He did however decide to ditch the divots for a couple of hours for a meeting with none other than Barrack Obama in the White House! Woods reported “I would love to be able to play golf with him and just talk. Maybe one day we can do that. He's got a lot on his plate, but is a very down-to-earth person, especially for someone who is the leader of the free world.” Instead of discussing the crisis in General Motors or the going hostilities in Afghanistan, Woods reported “What I especially enjoyed was learning about its (The White House) history and details about all the different rooms. It was pretty neat stepping back in time. I also enjoyed talking with the Secret Service agents.” I think that’s a no to a Tiger presidential campaign in the future!
The Who, What, When Quiz
Thanks to all who entered our quiz last week. For those who don’t know, the good folks at Setanta have given us a free one year subscription to Setanta Sports (including Setanta Golf) to give away to a lucky SpinDoctor reader. We need three more winners over the next three weeks to go into a draw for the big prize. To win, just e mail email@example.com with the answers to the following questions:
Q1. Who won the Open de Espana in 2008? clue in pic
Q2. What Dublin golf links was recently ranked No.1 in the Golf Digest top-100? clue in pic
Q3. When did Tiger Woods last win a major?
Attachment: Castleknock GC
Height and weight: 6ft 11st
Interests: Snooker, football, cinema
Turned Pro: 1997 (plus 2)
University College Dublin graduate Peter Lawrie is the quiet man of Irish golf. Learned his trade on the European Challenge Tour from where his finally broke onto the main tour at the end of 2002. Hard work, steely determination and a cashmere putter insert has seen Peter retain his full playing status ever since. Claimed his maiden European Tour victory at the Open de España in 2008, defeating home favourite Ignacio Garrido in a play-off. Attached to Castleknock Golf Club in Dublin.
Believe it or not there are a few things about golf that annoy me. I have kept them to myself up to now, but after watching an episode of “Britain’s Got Talent” I turned into Simon Cowell for an hour and started to let fly. Heres my irksome top of the pops.
Shorts: Look here lads, shorts are not for golf. The only people that should be seen in shorts on the golf course are Michelle Wie, Natalie Gulbis and co. There’s just something sinister about men in cream tailored shorts with spindly legs like an Ostrich’s neck! If you want to show your nobbily knees and varicose veins, why not try Junior B football.
Tartan Raingear: Go straight to your rain jacket and check it for a tartan patch. In the same way that every Ford Sierra in the eighties had to have a huge spoiler, every item of rain apparel back then had to have a tartan patch. If you are still sporting tartan on your Sunderland jacket, why not make give it a new lease of life as a nice bed for the dog.
Yellow Golf Balls: He drives a BMW, his driver costs €300, his irons another €1000 and he takes out a yellow molitor and expects to play well. Easier to find in the rough he says! Yellow is the cowards colour, we say. If you are ever playing a match and your opponent takes out a yellow ball, rejoice- you have every reason to be confident, because he clearly has none!
Black Golf Gloves: Talk of black gloves, brings to mind images of OJ Simpson struggling to put his hand in and Michael Jackson struggling to keep his hand off. Black gloves are just not golf. Titleist golf gloves are the best in the business, and hey, they don’t come in black. They just wouldn’t lower themselves to that level.
Rubber Tee Organizers: Long tees, short tees, coloured tees, neatly assorted in a dainty rubber wedge around a wet sponge with a marker stuck in the side, just in case. Just like bullets in a magazine. Makes me feel like shooting! They were meant to be cheap golf related Christmas presents, never meant for actual use.
Wooden Golf Clubs: Okay I know there was a time when all there was, was wooden clubs, that’s how “woods” got their name. But surely in this day and age, there is no place for a persimmon three wood with a red insert held in by four screws. I suppose it’s a bit like Federer showing up to play Wimbledon with a wooden racket, it just wouldn’t work.
Ball Retrievers: Says so much about you. You are pretty sure your ball is going into the water. You are looking forward primarily to retrieving someone else’s ball from the water. It’s a bonus when it’s a ball belonging to the guy in the group in front and he can see you. That moment when you pull it out and read the brand must be so exhilarating for you! I bet you hold the group behind up by trying to get that elusive Ultra in the middle of the pond. The definition of an absolute cheapskate!
Dr. and The Medic: Pause
You have a really quick turn and inconsistent contact with the ball.
You need to keep the transition at the top of your swing nice and smooth. Do not forget that you are supposed to have a slight pause at the top of your backswing. Even if your arms are slightly faster than your body, this transition period will allow your body to catch up and swing in sync during the downswing.
Watch your swing and check if you have a natural pause at the top. If your arms are swinging the club back too quickly, you will not be able to make a full backswing because it will make it too difficult for your body to catch up. So by the time you are swinging your arms down, your body is still trying to catch up. Take a slower backswing; a swing that is 75% power will give you a similar distance and it will give you far more accuracy. Notice a pause at the top before you unwind your body and arms together into the forward swing.
This is the S9-1 Driver from Cobra as seen in the hands of Camillo Villegas and J.B. Holmes. Why have one sweet spot when you can have nine! Cobra designed the face shape with a 1:1 length-to-width ratio, allowing for a more efficient transfer of energy from the clubface to the ball. This refined Hotter 9 Points technology maximizes COR for higher ball speeds and more consistent ball flight across the entire clubface. As long a driver as you can buy and much cheaper since the newer L5V came out. Around the €200 mark in Golfstyle, Galway.
Bet Your Balls-
The Celtic Manor Wales Open
The Celtic Manor Resort
04 Jun 2009 - 07 Jun 2009
It has been a fantastic year already for gritty Dane Kjeldsen with a victory in Andalucia and a tidy third in Wentworth. Ended the 2008 season in the best possible fashion with victory in the 21st and final Volvo Masters, his second European Tour title. Has some form at the Manor also with a joint second finish in 2007. Watch out for Soren’s unique putting grip.
Dodd made us a few quid on the each-way bet with a tied fifth finish again last week. Finished with a superb 68 to sail through the field on the tough London Club layout. Has now won ten times more money in the last two weeks than he won in the entire 2008 season. Top ten finishes in Celtic Manor in 2004 and 2006.
Khan finished in the top 20 last week for the first time in ages. Seems to have turned a horrible run of form around with a superb joint first finish at the recent Open Championship qualifying at Walton Heath. I predict a continuance of his form this week. Remember 2004 when he came back from four shots behind with seven holes to play to defeat Paul Casey at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off in this event.
The Memorial Tournament
Muirfield Village Golf Club · Dublin, Ohio
Zach Johnson 25/1
Zach is well and truly back to his best this year and currently stands atop the FedEx points race. Has already won twice this year, the Sony and Texas Opens but the real key is Johnson’s consistency; he has finished in the top 25 in seven of his 13 events including another 10th place at the Colonial. Has a nice bit of course from too with a tied second in 2006. Watch for the Zach attack to continue into major season.
Kenny Perry 25/1
Okay we tipped Kenny last week and it didn’t quite happen for him. But we’re not going to do a Tevez on him and drop him after one poor showing. After all this week is Kenny’s favourite week of the year. He is the unquestionable boss of Muirfield Village with an unmatched record. Perry defends his title this week, he also won in 2003 and was tied third in 2007. Many golf pundits believe that since his second at The Masters, Kenny is gearing himself up for a final tilt at one of the majors. This would be perfect final warm up.
With the US Open around the corner let’s spare a thought for last years playoff loser Rocco Mediate. I think another Rocco major run may not be likely so I’m banking he will stand up and be counted this week instead. Tied sixth in last years staging. Interestingly Tiger is in the field also this week. Will they be paired together and will the barber’s son make the cut?
Part time paddy Mark McNulty won the Principal Charity Classic on the Champions Tour by sinking a 30 foot putt in a thrilling playoff. His birdie putt win came at the end of the fourth playoff hole to eliminate a game Fred Funk. Second round leader Nick Price also made the playoff but was eliminated when both McNulty and Funk birdied the second extra hole. McNulty’s win is his seventh on the Seniors Tour.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a breakup, you will know just how tough it is. Poor old Sergio got the flick from Morgan Leigh Norman and it ruined more than his game. No more long walks on sandy beaches, no more canoodling in the bunkers and whispering sweet nothings in each other ears. Yes, Sergio is going to miss Greg terribly.
Tiger is back at the Memorial this week and the two big questions are who will his coach be and has he figured out how to drive it straight? This is major month! Tiger is a three-time winner of the Memorial but has skipped the tournament two of the last three years because of family matters and knee surgery. Woods has not tasted victory in what is Jack Nicklaus’ tournament since winning his third in a row in 2001.
An update from Phil Mickelson about his wife Amy's breast cancer diagnosis was posted on his website. “We have a wonderful team of doctors helping us and it is believed that we caught this early,” it read. “We are anxiously waiting for a number of test results that will help guide us in the best possible direction." In a show of support the PGA tour and associated bodies staged a "Pink Out" on the Saturday of the Colonial, urging all players and supporters to wear pink.