Under The Microscope: Geoff Ogilvy
Full name Geoff Charles Ogilvy
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia
Residence Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
Height 6 ft 2 in
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 13 st)
Turned professional 1998
Professional wins 8 (PGA Tour 6, European Tour 4, Other 2)
After two years in Europe, Geoff Ogilvy joined the US PGA Tour in 2001. Following four years of top 100 anonymity, Ogilvy claimed his first professional tournament win in 2005 at the PGA Tour's Chrysler Classic of Tucson. In February 2006 he beat Davis Love III in the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Later that year Ogilvy won his first major championship at the 2006 U.S. Open, holing a 30-foot chip at the 17th, and then getting up-and-down for par at the 18th, while Monty and Mickelson imploded around him. He then finished runner-up to Henrik Stenson when defending his title at the 2007 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Ogilvy underlined his penchant for WGC events by winning the 2008 WGC-CA Championship and this years WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship defeating Paul Casey.
Married to Julie, a chef, in November 2004 in Scottsdale Arizona, the Ogilvy’s have two children, Pheobe and Jasper. Geoff is a keen cyclist, and dreamed as a kid of riding in the Tour de France. His sporting hero is Lance Armstrong, for his outstanding ability to overcome adversity and win. Geoff also reportedly picks out a nice version of "Stairway To Heaven" on a string guitar! His favourite film is The Usual Suspects and the favourite band on his ipod is Led Zeppelin.
What’s In Geoff’s Bag
Those who know me know that I don’t want Tiger to win The Open. I know people say we are blessed to be in a generation witnessing greatness but I just don’t fancy another Tiger and Stevie love-in, throwin’ high-fives around the place and Tiger doing that incredibly annoying pointy finger thing when the ball rolls into the hole. At least I’m consistent in my views. Watching biactol boy Stephen Hendry winning his umpteenth Word Title at the Crucible drove me to dementia, as did the site of Schumacher acting like a conductor on the podium for the Italian national anthem after another Ferrari Formula One win and just last week I was actually cheering for the tennis player I hate most in the whole world, just because he was playing Roger Federer. Rotten Roddick as I call him, had his usual crazy stare going on and was positively wizzin’ out sweat through the peak of his cap yet there was I, roaring him on. Thus every time a major rolls around, I fear that Tiger will dominate, and the whole thing will peter out into a procession.
However, this time out, for the first time ever, I actually don’t think Tiger will win. After much research I can now confirm that there exists firm empirical evidence that Tiger wont be stealing the Claret Jug at least this year anyway. Why? Firstly Tiger has never ever been to Turnberry before. His record for majors on courses where he has never played a professional tournament before is four from 23, not exactly Tiger-esque. Then there’s the fact that the Ailsa course at Turnberry is far too easy. I know they wheeled back in designers Ebert and Mackenzie to toughen the place up, but by all accounts, they didn’t do very much except make the bunker faces a little more penal and stick 10-20 yards on to a couple of holes. What that does for the likes of Tiger Woods is bring the half of the field who never even get a sniff of the cut under normal circumstances, immediately back into the equation. Tiger thrives when the rough is fit for making round bales and par fours are 550 yards long. Commenting on the Turnberry’s rather tourist type links layout, Nick Faldo famously joked that 67 is the real par on The Ailsa. Many commentators are predicting a winning score of 13 to 16 under, and saying that the only defence the Ailsa course has is the wind, which brings me neatly to the second reason why Tiger will fail. All this year, Woods has been struggling with his driving. On the weeks he gets it right however, he wins. He won at Memorial, then last week at the AT&T. When he’s on his game, Tiger has rhythm and the tee shots go straight. Timing and tempo are to Tiger, what a sip of Lucozade Sport is to Ronan O’Gara. When Tiger falls out of his rhythm, even for one swing, he seems to veer drastically off line. And nowhere on Earth is it harder to maintain timing than on a windswept links in Scotland with Rory McIlroy biting at your ankles. To further prove my theory, I have actually looked back over all Tiger’s Open performances. During his two wins at St. Andrews in 2000 and 2005, Tiger was the best driver in the field and conditions were benign. In 2006 in Liverpool, with the sun beating down on him, Tiger only missed eight of 56 fairways on his cruise to victory. On all the other occasions since 1997, Tiger has had his windstopper on, struggled with his timing, failed to drive it well and came up short. So, sorry Tiger, I’m not scared of you anymore, but please please please don’t win!
Dr. and The Medic: Feel The Rhythm
You always hear about people talk about the rhythm and flow of their swing but you have never noticed it in your swing.
You might have a natural flowing swing and may not even need to worry about it. However, it would be useful to videotape your swing and watch to see if your swing is as fluid as you think it is. Watch to see if you are taking the club back too fast, pausing at the top for too long, or have a choppy swing. Finding simple rhythm errors in your swing can help you add extra yardage and accuracy to your drives.
Tee up several balls in a row so you can hit one and immediately move on to the next one. Try swinging the club with your legs together. Feel your timing and rhythm as you hit each ball. If you are over swinging the club, you are likely to lose your balance and fall down. Anytime you want to get a better feel for your natural rhythm out on the course, just make a couple of practice swings this way.
The Doc’s Rules Quiz
Question 1 – True or False: In a Stableford competition, at the par 5 2nd hole, Tony gets a gross 5, net 4, for 3 Stableford points. By mistake he records a gross 5 for 4 Stableford points. Tony is disqualified for recording more points than he is entitled to.
Question 2 - True or False: A player may only remove loose impediments on his line of putt by picking them up or by brushing them aside with his hand or a club
Question 3: True or False: A player may clean his ball whenever it is lifted under a Rule that requires its replacement.
Last weeks answers
Q1 True or False: In match play, a player’s ball is accidentally deflected by an opponent’s caddie. The opponent loses the hole. Answer: False, rule 19-3
Q2 True or False: A player must start a stipulated round with fourteen clubs. Answer: False, rule 4-4, maximum 14 clubs.
Q3 True or False: In stroke play, Tony returns a card with the correct scores for each hole but the total is incorrect. Tony is disqualified. Answer: False, rule 33-5
Congrats to the winner Garrett Martin, Bray, Co. Wicklow who wins a classy Kartel shirt compliments of Golfstyle Galway.
The latest reincarnation of the two-ball putter from Odyssey features a modified, extended mallet head with weighted alignment wings, a double-bend shaft and full-shaft offset. The Odyssey White Hot XG 2-Ball F7 Putter combines the 2-Ball alignment system with a new fang design and White Hot XG technology. Inspired by proven, high-performance, multi-layer golf ball technology, White Hot XG utilizes a multi-layer insert for unrivalled on-green performance. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “cashmere insert”. Priced €199 in Golfstyle, Galway.
Bet Your Balls-British Open
with odds thanks to Boylesports
Paddy Pick: Graeme McDowell 40/1 -
I’m a firm believer that golf goes in annual cycles. G-Mac won in Loch Lomond the week before the Open in 2008. Though he found the going difficult last week, I know he will relish the Turnberry layout. Easy links, flat, birdies aplenty; sounds like Baltray where Graeme shot a 61 on the second day before retiring due to injury. The fact that his form of late has been poor has lengthened his odds but McDowell is a major champion in waiting and he wont ever get a better chance. An excellent driver, just needs one hot week with the putter. I like his preparation too, two days in Portrush before the off.
As Billy Joel says “You may be right, I may be crazy, but I just might me the lunatic you’re looking for”, because only a certified madman would back DL3 over the likes of Greg Norman or Kenny Perry. Okay Greg won in Turnberry before and has been practicing like hell, and Kenny Perry is on a roll but I know something about Davis that you don’t know. Okay, here’s the secret. Love loves Turnberry, he plays it at least once every year incognito and shot 62 socially a couple of years back. He’s been on a upward curve on the US tour, so don’t discount a long odds place!
Brit Pick: Ian Poulter 25/1 -
Since he pulled on that Munster jersey with me back in January, I have been a fan of the Poultergeist. We established recently that Poults is never going back to France, because the photographers don’t know when to take pictures, but sure what do you expect when you show up in pink trousers and a Peacock’s hair-do. Seriously though, second at Birkdale and second at Sawgrass and his form since crossing the pond is not be coiffed at, I mean scoffed at. Ignore the fashionista at your peril.
You Cannot be Serious Pick: Sergio Garcia 20/1-
It’s been a rotten old year for Sergio. Greg Norman beat him at the Open and Greg’s daughter beat him out of the bedroom. Even the one thing he has always had complete control over, namely the golf ball, just refused to go in the hole. Last year aside, Sergio has been the Open nearly man, with three top five finishes in as many years. Nobody has visited Turnberry on more occasions to practice then Sergio, surely the Open owes the hapless Spaniard just one title. Dry your eyes mate.
Nursery Pick: Matteo Manassero 500/1-
Remember when Rory McIlory burst on to the scene and we all thought he was young. Enter Italian Matteo Manassero, the 16 year old British Amateur champion. This kid has oodles of talent and his nerves ends haven’t even formed yet. Matteo proved he can mix with the big boys with a top-20 in the Italian Open, so I think he’s nailed on for that silver medal and maybe just maybe a little bit more. Ten years from now, this guy will be the lynch-pin of the European Ryder Cup team.
Some of the games top players will sadly be missing from this weeks Open. Phil Mickelson, currently on leave from the tour to care for his wife Amy in her battle with cancer, was further rocked last week by the news that his mother has also now been diagnosed with the same illness. Mickelson’s absence will bring to an end his record of 61 consecutive starts in majors, currently the longest active streak on tour. Kenny Perry however, who shunned the Open last year, has decided to travel to Scotland this week, though his mother is critically ill with blood cancer. After meeting with her doctors, Perry is confident that her condition stable enough to allow him leave for the week. Meanwhile Spanish legend Jose Maria Olazabal failed in his bid to qualify at Kilmarnock Barassie last week and joins Swede Robert Karlsson and former Augusta winner Trevor Immelman in the wings. Karlsson is suffering from a blister behind his retina and has not played since May while Immelman has not fully recovered from a wrist injury he picked up at The Memorial.
I for one will be tuning into my favourite weather girl Ursula Bracken this week, of course strictly to find out the forecast for Turnberry. With poor weather having played a huge part in both the Irish Open and the US Open, every one is praying for some respite this week. Except for Padraig Harrington that is, who is praying for a monsoon to aid his three-peat attempt. Rory McIlroy has expressed his desire for calmer conditions saying "I don't know whether I have my best chance of winning a major on a links because I have a high ball flight," in the wake of his top-10 finish at Bethpage. "Only if a links course is calm do I think I can do well. So hopefully Turnberry will be benign." Although the long term forecast is for it to be overcast with some wind and rain, Turnberry natives will tell you it can change at the drop of a hat. As the Turnberry lighthouse keepers used to say, things can change at a moment's notice. During the John Player Classic of 1973 held at Turnberry, on the second day, when the course was battered by the equinoctial gales, causing five of the seven tournament marquees to be ripped asunder and hurtle down the fairways. That day Tony Jacklin, carded a 74, which he would describe as "the best round I've ever played." In describing the conditions, Jacklin told how, when it came to the par-5 17th, now 559 yards, he needed a driver, a 1-iron and two 3-irons just to reach the green.
Pic of the week:
Paula Creamer brings new meaning to the phrase “Choking Down”!
Poor old Gonzalo Fernandez Castano failed in his bid to land the Scottish Open title last week because he had other more pressing things on his mind. The third-round leader revealed after his third round that in a phone conversation his wife told him their shar-pei dog named Petra had been missing for two days. "I got some bad news before my round and have to say I was thinking about something else than golf," Fernandez-Castano said in the post-round press conference "Unfortunately my dog got lost two days ago and when I called my wife before the round she was really sad." Asked if he had to choose between winning the tournament or getting his dog back, he replied, "Believe it or not I’m going to say, find the dog." It must be very rough rough on him!
An American man who assaulted a fellow golfer with a 6-iron last summer was sentenced last week to 21 months in prison. Nicholas Shampine, 34, was found guilty of second-degree assault during a jury trial in May. Shampine attacked James Compton at the Auburn Golf Course last July 13 after Compton's fourball complained to the ranger that Shampine's party was taking too long at each hole, according to court charging paperwork. Members of Shampine's group were also upset at Compton's group for being too noisy, authorities said. A shoving match broke out and Shampine struck Compton in the left temple with the golf club, prosecutors said. Compton fell to the turf in convulsions, bleeding heavily and was taken to Harborview Medical Center. Shampine told Auburn police that he attacked Compton, 46, to protect his brother, who was golfing with him. The Prosecutor Dan Soukup said that Compton still suffers memory loss and confusion. Compton and his wife spoke at the sentencing and asked the judge to give Shampine the maximum sentence. Shampine is said to be over 20 stone in weight, and Compton, who was reportedly hitting everything fat all day, just figured…….!
Under The Microscope: Ben Curtis
Born: May 26, 1977 (age 32)
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio
Height: 5 ft 11 in
Residence: Stow, Ohio
Turned Pro: 2000
PGA Tour Wins: 3
Curtis hails from Columbus, Ohio where his family runs the Mill Creek Golf Club. With golf in his blood from a young age was a successful amateur in home state. After in inauspicious start to life in the professional ranks, Curtis earned his tour card via Q-School in 2002. He entered his first major, the British Open at Royal St George's in 2003 making history as the first debutant to win a major in 90 years. Mind you he had a helping hand from Thomas Bjorn who is still trying to hack out of the greenside bunker on the 16th. 2008 was Curtis's best season to date, recording five top ten finishes and missing only four cuts all year. He tied for seventh at The Open in Royal Birkdale and tied for second in the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. This second place finish qualified him for the 2008 Ryder Cup, his first appearance in the event. In 2009, Curtis took up membership of the European Tour.
Your Honour: When I was a young fella playing under-16’s football for Ballinrobe, the “Cornmarket” was our meeting place for away games. We were usually ordered to be there at five o’ clock sharp. Our bus driver, affectionately known as “The Mule”, simply did not do late. His determination to leave on time was legendary, irrespective of whether our county midfielder was there or not. They even came up with the saying, “Time, tide and the Mule’s Bus wait for no man.”
Sure enough time has passed and the Mule still ferries the kids to matches, always on time. I’m in my mid-thirties now and becoming more conscious than ever about my age and it’s effect on my golf game. I often find myself wondering if I can compete with all these young, fearless, supple, technically perfect whipper-snappers. It’s hard to figure out why, as one gets older, this fear of the youth surfaces for golfers, because when you look at it analytically, I submit the opposite should be the case.
Okay, I will concede the kids look the part with their white trousers and Oakley shades, while us elders alternate between navy and beige. But, as Shakespeare put it “All that glisters is not gold, often have you heard that told”. What have the following golfers all got in common: Angel Cabrera, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen? The answer is they are all either 40 or turning that corner in the next year. Vijay Singh is 46 and has won 22 tour titles worldwide since turning 40. Kenny Perry picked up his second PGA title this year at the tender age of 48 and has climbed to fourth in the world rankings. It is these very names that are the first to be scribbled when wagering on Major championships. And who, around this time last year, took a week off from “popping a few shrimps on the barbie” and playing tennis out the back of his retirement home to nearly steal The Open? That’s right, 50-something, Greg Norman. Surely the older generation are building up a solid case here.
The prosecution argue that the youngsters have some advantage on the greens. Picture yourself, they say, with a slippery eight foot downhill left to right putt for par. The difference between a teenager and a forty-something striking that putt can be summed up in one word- “consequence”. The teenager is thinking “If I miss this, I will drop a shot” while the forty something is thinking, “I’ve missed this putt a thousand times, if I hit it too hard I might not get the one back!” Our assertion however, is that there a plenty of other times during a round where the experience of having been in a situation and messed up, does actually stand to the older golfer. He or she knows when to lay up, when to take a penalty drop and when to lag a putt. Younger golfers never lay up, would rather slash and burn than take a drop and bolt every putt at the hole.
I had the same two conversations recently with an 17 year old low handicap club golfer and a 34 year old European Tour pro. The debate surrounded the new R9 driver from Taylormade. The first question the 18 year old asked was “Does it go further than the others?”. The first question Chilean professional Felipe Aguilar asked was “Does it go straighter than all the others?”. When pressed as to whether he was concerned about distance, Felipe added, “Who cares about 10 yards when you’re up to your knees in rough.” And that, your honour, is why an oldie may very well win the Open.
Dr. and The Medic: Swing Plane Drill
You slice your drives due to an over the top swing.
Work on matching your swing plane to the angle of your clubshaft at address.
Stick an old shaft or long stick in the ground about seven feet behind the ball. Put it into the ground at an angle so that it matches the angle of the shaft of your club at address. Set up to the ball and double check to see that the club in your hand and the shaft in the ground are slanted at the same angle. This is the swing plane that you want to try to swing along as you take the club back and as you are returning it to the ball. Many over the top players lift the club up away from the ball instead of extending and rotating their arms back during the backswing. So, as you do this drill, think of trying to hit the shaft behind you as you take the club back. Then continue rotating your arms as you complete your backswing. Match this same path as you return the clubhead down to the ball and mirroring the angle of the shaft behind you.
The Doc’s Rules Quiz
Do you really know the rules of golf? Try these questions and text your answers to 087-3140467. The winner will receive a Kartel shirt as worn by Paddy Harrington!
Q1 True or False: In match play, a player’s ball is accidentally deflected by an opponent’s caddie. The opponent loses the hole.
Q2 True or False: A player must start a stipulated round with fourteen clubs
Q3 True or False: In stroke play, Tony returns a card with the correct scores for each hole but the total is incorrect. Tony is disqualified.
Last weeks answers
Q.1 - In stroke play, Tony looks into Donal’s bag to determine which club Donal used for his last stroke. What is the ruling?
Is it A: Tony incurs a penalty of two strokes, B. Tony is disqualified or C: There is no penalty. Answer C, no penalty
Q.2 – True or False: A ball is in a bunker when any part of it touches the bunker. Answer True
Q3 – True or False: A player has fourteen clubs in his bag. At the first hole he slices his drive out of bounds and in frustration snaps the shaft of his driver over his knee. The player may run to his car and get a replacement driver. Answer False
Congrats to the winner Barry Lynch, Carrigaline, Cork who wins a classy Kartel shirt compliments of Golfstyle Galway.
From the same stable as Singh, Weekly and Toms, this set of irons from Cleveland has one more awards than Slumdog Millionaire. The Launcher Combo iron set features a hybrid 4 and 5 iron with the rest having a 12% larger face than any previous Cleveland model. Geared to the mid-high handicap golfer for maximum forgiveness and distance. €445 in Golfstyle, Galway.
Bet Your Balls
The Barclays Scottish Open
09 Jul 2009 - 12 Jul 2009
I love Tim Clark for many reasons. He seems to be constantly up against the eight ball, but battles on gamely. He looks up to Peter Stringer, physically can’t roll his wrists, has to use a long putter and has been runner-up more times than I’ve had hot dinners. Tim’s most recent implosion came at last months Colonial where he filled his pants over several short putts to win. Loch Lomond is the exception for Tim, where he won in 2005 and had top ten finishes on three other occasions.
The Scottish Open has the same prize fund as The Irish Open but has one of the strongest fields of the season due to its place in the calendar. Funny that. I think the big guns will have their eyes on the Major prize, so I’m going at some long odds chances this week. Charl Schwartzel is heading for his best year on the European Tour. On his first outing since Bethpage he sparkled in the opening rounds before fading in France. That experience should get him up to tour tempo for an assault on the Loch Lomond title that narrowly eluded him in 2006. Johan Edfors emerged victorious on that occasion.
We’re more than happy with Richard having given us another good run for our money in France. That’s three top tens in three starts for the genial Aussie who has now begun his sprint in the Race To Dubai. A ten under total here last year saw Green tie for third behind McDowell and Kingston, and he will be bubbling with confidence at the prospect of going one or two better this week.
John Deere Classic
Monday Jul 6 – Sunday Jul 12, 2009
TPC Deere Run · Silvis, Ill.
While the whole country seem to have left for Scotland this week, it looks Kenny Perry has been left behind to mop up another title. It has already been a dream season for the 48 year old Kentuckian, with two wins and a narrow Major loss at Augusta. The fact that he enters the John Deere as the defending champion for strengthens the chances that Perry will climb further up the world rankings from his current fourth position.
Toms’ re-emergence this year as one of the world’s best. In 16 events this year, he has finished in the top 10 seven times, including three second place finishes. The most recent of those was at The Travellers at the end of June. The weakened field this week might just present Toms with his best chance of victory this year. Toms has actually triumphed at this venue in the pre-John Deere days having won the Quad City Classic in 1997.
Martial arts expert Wi is about as solid a touring pro as they come. The Americanized South Korean has made 12 cuts from 16 events this year including three top 10’s and a second place at the Zurich Classic. Went low in the opening round last year with a 64 out of the blocks and performed solidly thereafter to tie fourth. An educated, if somewhat hopeful, each way shot.
The risk-reward game “PowerPlay” is coming to Cork. Two PowerPlay championships will be staged at Fota Island Resort on the 10th and 24th of July. Fot those not familiar with the game, there are two flags on every green, a Black ‘PowerPlay’ Flag placed in a tough location, and an easier White Flag. The player must nominate on the tee, which flag he intends to shoot for. Entry to the PowerPlay matches cost €40, and include a generous BBQ afterwards. For further information and to book your PowerPlay round and BBQ please contact Fota Island Resort at 021 4883700 or visit fotaisland.ie.
Have you ever wondered how the pro’s can get so much backspin even out of heavy rough. Well, no more. The PGA Tour's recently voted in new groove regulations for clubs with 25° or more loft. There had been some calls to delay until 2011 but the decision was driven in by PGA tour supremo Tim Finchem. The decision was met with positivity by most pros on tour, including Tiger Woods. “It'll be interesting seeing guys catching flyers and not being able to spin the ball back out of the rough... short-siding yourself is obviously going to pay a little more of a price," Woods said. Pros plan to negate the effect of the change by switching to a higher-spinning ball or add a 64-degree wedge. But before you throw out your old wedge, the rule change will only come into force for casual golfers in 2024!
After a hectic couple of weeks in Bethpage and Munich, Rory McIlory finally got a well deserved rest last week. During his time off he caught up on his blog entries announcing some new additions to his garage. The first was a new dog, a labradoodle called Theo. The second was a Ferrari F430 in gun metal grey. Rory reported on his travels to Birmingham with his Dad to collect the auto and drive it up to Stranraer and then on the Ferry to Belfast. The decision on the make and model was heavily influenced by one Darren Clarke. Whatever next? Rory with a big Cuban cigar strolling down the last at Turnberry?
Dougherty in Biz Hub Swing Vision
We’ve started a new department in the Irish Examiner where we attempt to emulate the likes of Bob Kostis and Ewen Murray in carefully examining the swings of the top pro’s. Our focus this week was on BMW International winner Nick Dougherty. After deconstructing Nick’s putting stroke frame by frame, we have unanimously concluded that he may be a little too crouched over the ball! The pictures never lie.
Under The Microscope: Anthony Kim
Born June 19, 1985 (age 24)
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Height 5 ft 10 in
Residence Dallas, Texas, USA
College University of Oklahoma
Turned professional 2006
PGA Tour Wins: 2
Watching this week’s defending champion Kim and our own Rory McIlroy playing together in Bethpage, it seemed almost like a dress rehearsal for the battles these two are set to fight in years to come. Now 24, Kim admits to having gone about life on tour completely the wrong the way in the beginning. His penchant for partying was garnering more headlines than his stellar talent. “I tied for second at the Valero Texas Open in my first tournament and said, ‘This is a piece of cake. I don't even need to practice’. Why should I listen to the older guys?" With valuable lessons learned since, Kim is now firmly pencilled onto the timesheet for future golfing superstardom.
In May 2008, Kim won his first PGA Tour tournament at the Wachovia Championship, defeating former British Open champion Ben Curtis by five shots. That July, he won the AT&T National, hosted by Tiger Woods, defeating Fredrik Jacobson by two shots. Other highlights of Kim’s career to date are his mauling of Sergio Garcia 5 and 4 in Ryder Cup singles and his amazing 11 birdies in the second round of this years Masters at Augusta.
What’s In Anthony Kim’s Bag
Deep depression followed by anger, followed by a period of monk like contemplation was the order of the day last Saturday. As soon as Ronan got the ball, everyone around me roared “Don’t kick it away”. Instead, up the ball went, and ROG unfortunately timed his run perfectly to tag the Bok. If only he had stuck to his word. He promised faithfully that in pressurised situations he would stop and take a sip of Lucozade Sport; surely the delay involved in taking on board a few mls of liquid energy would have seen him arrive at the crime scene just a after the Bok landed. A draw would have resulted and we would all be psyched for a decider next week. Just what makes people do the daftest things under pressure?
Take the US Open and Ricky Barnes, the former US amateur champion. As an amateur, I remember Barnes as being naturally brilliant with a swing all his own. During the backswing there were elbows flying and knees buckling and during the downswing there were wrists breaking and hips lunging, yet the ball went perfectly straight every time. When he turned pro, all the moving parts of Barnes swing, fell out of sync and his game left him. What resulted was a couple of years of complete swing rehabilitation, which brought him into contention in Bethpage. However in the rarefied atmosphere of the final group on Sunday in Bethpage, the swing he worked so hard to build deserted him again resulting in that painful frittering away of shots we have become so used to watching.
I was especially happy for David Duval. When he was at the top, I did my usual thing and judged the book by the cover. I decided back then there was something sinister about a man who always wore shades, never smiled and walked liked he had a poker up his bum. He was world number one, shooting 59 and winning every week. He didn’t even have to look at the ball when he was hitting for God’s sake! In my defence, I was much younger then, and wasn’t alone in wanting anyone but Duval to win. It’s all different now. Duval is no longer aloof and distant. He is now a tragic hero who fell from the very top, with some weird form of vertigo. Of course there was more to it than that. While he was at the top, Duval hated the circus around him and his competitive instincts dwindled. He simply craved family life. His golfing slump coincided with his marriage to Susie and the fulfilment of his deep desire to be a normal family man. Inheriting three step kids from his wife’s previous marriage, just added to the requirement to be more full time a father than any top professional golfer could ever afford to be. But now David Duval is back and just about successful enough that everyone loves him. His fellow professionals are delighted to see him too, the most ringing of endorsements coming from former European Ryder Cuppers who provided glowing character references for the Shaded One. You know the way when an Irishman describes a fella as being “Sound”, it has to be immediately followed by a story about drink, in which the subject displays his sound-ness by either buying or drinking lots of it? Well, to a man, every former member of the European Ryder Cup team declared Duval as being “sound”. Apparently he was the only American to embrace the pear and party until dawn in the European team room whatever the manner of drubbing received.
I actually feel a bit guilty about the manner in which I have dealt with Lucas Glover’s win. My kids called him “Mucous Blubber”. I am already transferring the dislike I had for Duval all those years ago to poor old Lucas. When he sunk the winning putt there was a muted sigh from the huge crowd. He didn’t help his cause by seeming about as happy with his major win as one of those trade union officials going in to those make or break talks. Actually screw the guilt. I feel my Lions anger resurfacing again. I want Duval or Barnes to win the British Open. Anyone but Glover. And remember, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have the ball in your hands with seconds left on the clock, whatever happens don’t kick it away!
Dr. and The Medic: Spinning Your Chips
You are a short distance from the hole, the greens are fast and you want to create spin to control the ball.
To help generate spin, cover the ball with your sternum at impact to create a steeper swinging plane.
Always keep your chest above the ball during your short shots. You do not need to lean back away from the target to apply spin. Set the ball behind the centre of your stance with most of your body weight on your forward leg. Open your stance and set the clubface square. It might help to think of rocking your shoulders back and through the ball to help you stay on top of it. It is critical to have the centre of your chest just above or slightly ahead of the ball as the clubhead at impact.
The Doc’s Rules Quiz
Do you really know the rules of golf? Try these questions and text your answers to 087-3140467. The winner will receive a Kartel shirt just in time for Captain’s Day!
Q.1 - In stroke play, Tony looks into Donal’s bag to determine which club Donal used for his last stroke. What is the ruling?
Is it A: Tony incurs a penalty of two strokes, B. Tony is disqualified or C: There is no penalty.
Q.2 – True or False: A ball is in a bunker when any part of it touches the bunker.
Q3 – True or False: A player has fourteen clubs in his bag. At the first hole he slices his drive out of bounds and in frustration snaps the shaft of his driver over his knee. The player may run to his car and get a replacement driver.
Thanks to all who entered last weeks Caption Contest and congrats to the winner Johnny Downes, Ballinlough, Cork who wins a classy Kartel shirt compliments of Golfstyle Galway. All the best captions are on the blog.
The very latest in smooth-rolling AGSI-technology, this is the forgiving Rossa Monza Spider Balero Putter from TaylorMade.
To maximise your confidence and performance on the greens, TaylorMade have introduced a Ball-in-Cup design on this putter. This visual aid makes it simple to line up the clubface with the intended line at address. Additionally, the appearance reinforces the image of a golf ball against the centre of the back lip of the cup for a firm, accelerating stroke while discouraging deceleration. Impossible to miss with this! €175 in Golfstyle, Galway.
Bet Your Balls-
Odds with thanks to Boylesports
Open de France ALSTOM
Le Golf National
02 Jul 2009 - 05 Jul 2009
Graeme Storm: 20/1
Englishman Graeme Storm is coming into form just in time for his favourite event of the year in Paris. Tied fourth last week with a five under final round in the wet conditions in Germany. Storm’s top 15 driving and putting stats mean there still is a little room for improvement. Won the event in 2007 edging out Soren Hansen by a stroke.
Soren Hansen: 40/1
Soren took a deserving rest after his superb, if somewhat under the radar tied sixth finish in Bethpage. The wily Dane has three top-three finishes in Paris since 2005; he finished third last year behind Larrazabal and Monty, second in 2007 and third in 2005. His cumulative earnings over that period in Paris alone are over €1 million. Surely a win must be coming soon for Hansen who lies 25th in the Race to Dubai.
I’m torn between Green and Niclas Fasth for this last Paris pick. A win is on the horizon for last week’s best final round putter Fasth, but he still needs to iron out some kinks with the driver. Thus I’m plumping for lefty Richard Green, the hardworking journeyman from Oz. Le Golf National has been a happy hunting ground for Green since coming second behind back to back winner Remesy in 2004. He has since managed a seventh in 2006 and fourth last year. Nice final round 66 for a top ten finish last week made me sit up and take notice.
Monday Jun 29 – Sunday Jul 5, 2009
Congressional Country Club · Bethesda, MD
It’s an all star field this week at Congressional with Tiger hosting. Since we never bet on Woods, my pick of the top players is Jim Furyk. A victim of the weather at Bethpage, Furyk failed to fulfil the promise he showed in coming second at The Memorial. He has however finished in the top three in the last two stagings of this fledgling event.
The moons are aligning perfectly for Allenby to make his usual few quid in the Summer months. Missed the cut in Bethpage after a top five at the St Jude signalled form. Tied third last year and went on to tie seventh at The Open. Top tenned also in 2007. An educated each way chance.
After a number of years on the US Tour, Pampling is back plying his trade in Europe this year. He returns to the US for this week by virtue of having finished tied third in 2008. Pampling obviously likes the Congressional layout, he finished in the top ten at the 2005 Booz Allen Classic which was also held at this venue. Each way shot only.
Former US president and World War II general, Dwight D. Eisenhower has been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame. The general will go in along with other members of the Class of 2009, having been selected in the Lifetime Achievement Category. One can only imagine who his competition was in the category. The best we can come with is Bill Clinton in dodgy woollens in Ballybunion.
Cheyenne Woods, carded rounds of 75 and 74 in her first-ever appearance in an LPGA Tour event at the Wegmans LPGA. She missed the cut by four strokes. Cheyenne is the daughter of Earl Woods Jr., Tiger's half-brother. How does Cheyenne's debut compare with her Uncle Tiger's? Tiger Woods was 16 years old when he played his first PGA Tour event, the 1992 Nissan Los Angeles Open at Riviera. He finished on four over, one better than Cheyenne but also missed the cut. Watch this space.
Vijay Singh offered to help pay the $500,000 bond for troubled financial and cricketing mogul Allen Stanford, but US law would not allow it because the three-time major champion is not a U.S. citizen. Stanford is accused of swindling investors out of $7 billion but has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Singh has an endorsement deal with Stanford Financial reportedly worth $8 million and though no longer being paid continues to wear the Stanford logo on his visor and shirt. “Vijay’s opinion is that Stanford has yet to be proven guilty and until then has chose to act supportively,” said Dave Haggith, a spokesman at IMG, the management company that represents Singh.
Who says nobody remembers who came second? Ricky Barnes, who tied second at Bethpage was the big winner when it comes to sponsorship endorsements. Verve, the energy drink, who had a logo on Ricky’s muscle-bound shirt, are set to pay $3 million for the privilege. Barnes who also wore a tiny Wilson Golf logo on his painter cap (or train driver cap or Cuban rebel leader cap) more than made up for the disappointing showing of their supreme leader Padraig Harrington, resulting in a certain Wilson future contract renewal. Wilson have also had to ramp up production of the Ricky style hats to cope to meet the huge demand. Personally I think Ricky is a dead ringer for Lynette from Desperate Housewives!
Winner: I said “address” not “undress”
Johnny Downes, Ballinlough, Cork
“Sorry luv, the only balls I have left are in my pockets”-Tony Lane, Skerries
“It takes a lot of balls to play golf dressed like that”- she said!- J Lehane, Clonakilty
Every other caption was just too filthy to print! Oops!
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.