We’ve saved the very best golf commercial for last. This brilliant Nike advert tells the story of “sunshine and lollipops” that all the pros enjoyed while Tiger was out injured. An absolute classic. The guy who came up with this should be knighted!
We’ve saved the very best golf commercial for last. This brilliant Nike advert tells the story of “sunshine and lollipops” that all the pros enjoyed while Tiger was out injured. An absolute classic. The guy who came up with this should be knighted!
Dubai World Championship Betting Preview
presented by: DP World
Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
19 Nov 2009 - 22 Nov 2009
Rory McIlroy 9/1
With all the hype about jostling for places in the Race To Dubai, it’s easy to forget that there’s a massive tournament here for the taking. Everything seems to point to Rory this week. The course is part of the Jumeirah group, McIlroy’s main sponsor, and he will be eager to reprise the form of his last visit to Dubai where he won the Desert Classic in February. Another good second last week where he peppered the pins but failed to convert key putts for the win. Ryder Cup captain Monty will be delighted to see McIlory joined by Ross Fisher and Martin Kaymer in the battle for the Race To Dubai pot. All three will make up the backbone of the European Ryder Cup team.
Ernie Els 16/1
Some say Ernie Els no longer has the mental resilience to close out a tournament. To put it in rugby parlance, Els has had several five metre scrums this year, but just can’t seem to get over the line. On the other hand Els is something of a Dubai specialist with three Desert Classic wins under his belt. His good showing at the HSBC cannot be ignored, but whether he can keep his head while all about him are losing theirs is anyone’s guess.
Justin Rose 28/1
It has been another stinker of a year for Justin Rose on both sides of the Atlantic. Of 22 events on the US Tour Justin has had only two top tens, the first at the Wyndham Championship and the second last week at the Miracle Classic. Of the 13 events he has played to retain his membership of the European Tour, he also has only one top ten. However that was a second place finish in Dubai, behind Rory McIlroy back in February. It sounds like I’m playing down his chances but the news inside the ropes is that Justin has found his form again and he has the game to tackle the dreaded Earth Course.
Henrik Stenson 16/1
By all accounts the Earth Course in Dubai will be a monster this week. First place bags €830,675 and the total prize fund is €7.5 million. The course itself is a risk reward track and the last four holes will measure exactly a mile, 1760 yards. Henrik Stenson is just the man for this type of occasion. Never mind that he has no form, in the past he has always come from absolutely nowhere to win, like at this years Player’s Championship. A Dubai resident himself, Stenson has not finished worse than seventh in his last four tournaments in Dubai. Don’t say I didn’t tell ya!
Full name Rory McIlroy
Born 4 May 1989
Height 5 ft 9 in
Weight 160 lb
Residence Holywood, Northern Ireland
European Tour Wins: 1
With only the Dubai World Championship left to play for, Rory McIlroy leads the Race To Dubai standings by €128,000 from Lee Westwood. The top four golfers in the race, which include Rory, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Ross Fisher are covered by €500,000.
The young Rory McIlroy attended Sullivan Upper School and played golf at Holywood Golf Club. From a Late Late Show appearance as a child chipping balls into a washing machine, McIlroy has developed into one of the World’s top players. He was a member of Europe's winning 2004 Junior Ryder Cup team and the following year became the youngest ever winner of both the West of Ireland Championship and the Irish Close Championship. In 2006 he again won the West along with the European Amateur Championship in Milan, Italy. In 2007 he briefly topped the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Rory came to the attention of the golfing world with his performance in the Open at Carnoustie in 2007 with his superb opening three under par 68 on his way to winning the low amateur medal. He then played in the Walker Cup for GB&I, fulfilling his last duty as an amateur. Rory burst into life as a professional, culminating in him becoming the youngest player in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the end of 2008 and then his European Tour breakthrough with a wire-to-wire victory in the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic. By winning in Dubai at the age of 19 and 273 days he became the sixth youngest winner in European Tour history. Twelve other top ten finishes this year have brought the young Rory McIlroy to 17th in the World Rankings and more importantly to this week, where he is within touching distance of one of golf’s greatest accolades, the Race To Dubai title.
What’s In Rory McIlroy’s Bag
What a season is was. As this weeks Dubai World Championship brings to a close another thrilling year of World golf we look back at the top 10 stories of 2009.
1. Rory’s Acceleration
Who could have guessed that in only his second full year on the European Tour, Rory McIlroy who be in pole position for the Race To Dubai trophy. Rors has more than quadrupled his 2008 earnings with a stunning 13 top-10 finishes including a win at the Dubai Desert Classic. He may have been seduced by the US Tour, but Rory has reaffirmed his European Tour vows for more year at least.
Terminal Number 1 in Dubai?
2. Injury Dominates
The physio unit on the European Tour in 2009 had more players carrying a knock than the Liverpool dressing room. Last years order of merit winner Robert Karlsson missed practically all the year with a serious eye injury. He returned at the Alfred Dunhill Links but hasn’t shown anything like his 2008 form since. Everyone’s tip for a major Paul Casey suffered a rib injury and by trying several times to come back too early (a la Stevie Gerrard) only made it worse. The Darwin award winning golf injury has to go to Martin Kaymer who missed several months after breaking his foot whilst karting with mates. In the west it’s called “Acting the Lug!”
3. Tiger’s Back, err, I Mean Leg
Fractures, tears, knees and ligaments; they said he could never come back as good as before. But guess what, he did. Tiger is not the Six Million Dollar Man, he’s the One Billion Dollar Man! Coach Hank Haney has rebuilt Tiger making him stronger, fitter, straighter than ever before. His haul included six tour wins including Arnie’s event, the Memorial and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational coupled with his five points at the President’s Cup. What’s missing from Tiger’s trophy cabinet? Nothing Major.
4. Watson’s Dream
To anyone under 30 years of age, Tom Watson was just a name bandied about by journalists and golf historians as one of the “legends” of the game. They had never seen Watson in his prime, just not enough youtube footage to know how good he really was. Until Turnberry 2009 that is. The 59 year old veteran won a whole new generation of fans by grabbing the British Open by the short and curlies for all four days before eventually being pipped in a playoff by Stewart Cink. A Watson win would not only have been the biggest story in golf, it would have been the biggest sport in sport. Seeing really is believing.
5. Dark Clouds and Silver Linings
As golf grows so too does media coverage and players lives off the course are increasingly under the spotlight. In 2009 Seve continued his battle with an aggressive brain tumour. Surviving four operations, Seve emerged fighting, vowing to tee it up one last time in St. Andrews. Phil Mickelson’s wife Amy also battled breast cancer this year. After treatment the prognosis for Amy was good, meaning Phil could return to the tour for the end of season where he picked up the Tour Championship and the HSBC Champions Trophy. Every cloud….
6. The Strangest Major Season
I wonder if anyone in the whole world predicted the four major winners. Angel Cabrera who had not one anywhere since the US Open in 2007, did a smash and grab on the Masters, eventually shaking off Kenny Perry in a playoff. The Open at Turnberry saw Stewart Cink come up along the rails to disappoint the media world who had already written the Tom Watson headlines. Lucas Who won the US Open borefest and Y.E Yang outpointed (I mean out-putted) Tiger woods over 12 gruelling rounds at the USPGA. Weird yet wonderful in an underdog way.
7. The Amateur Winner
The Irish Open was in danger of being washed down the drain, quite literally, until the winds abated, the clouds parted and the sun finally broke through. Those on the wrong side of the draw must have felt like they were starting from the dirty side of the track at Imola, from where victory is impossible. They watched through soaking raingear as the afternoon players in t-shirts battered Baltray into submission. Chief among them was amateur Shane Lowry, who could see the chequered flag several times before crossing it for a truly unforgettable Irish victory. In winning Lowry fast tracked himself to the professional ranks, but more importantly saved the tournament and gave all of us with his recession depression something to cheer about. Nice one Shane.
8. Best of the Rest
Who would have believed that John Daly could actually be thin? Little John is only half man he was, I mean that literally, following gastric band surgery. The top European performer in the majors this year was Englishman Ross Fisher who was within touching distance in both the US and British Opens. Not bad considering he was ready to down tools at Turnberry if he received a call from his pregnant wife. And lets not forget David Duval, the former world number one who came from nowhere to tie for second at the US Open. He missed 15 cuts either side of it and didn’t finish in the top 50 of any the five events where he saw the weekend. But for that one week Duval reminded us all of just how good he really was in the not too distant past. See you in 2010!
The Mount Juliet Fourball Rules Quiz
Thanks to everyone who entered our rules quiz this year. For our last prize of the season we have a super fourball in Mount Juliet, Kilkenny. Simply e-mail your name, address and answers to email@example.com or text to 087-3140467. Thanks to Barry Rhodes, our rules expert for the questions.
Q1: True or False: A player is entitled to place his clubs in a bunker when his ball lies in the same bunker.
Q2: True or False: A player is allowed to use sand to raise his stance on the teeing ground.
Q3: True or False: Annika is attending the flagstick for her fellow competitor, Lorena. Her attention is diverted by some noise coming from an adjacent green and she does not notice that Lorena has taken her putt. Lorena’s ball hits Annika’s foot and comes to rest a few inches from the hole. Annika is penalised two strokes.
Last weeks answers:
Q1: True or False: In match play, if a player plays from outside the teeing ground when starting play of a hole her opponent may require the stroke to be cancelled and replayed from within the teeing ground. Answer: True. Note: However, the opponent may also elect to let the stroke stand.
Q2: True or False: In stroke play, the maximum penalty a player may incur from playing a wrong ball is two strokes, no matter how many times he plays it. Answer: True. Note: The competitor must correct his mistake by playing the correct ball into the hole or he will be disqualified.
Q3: True or False: Sand and loose soil are loose impediments that may be removed on the putting green and through the green. Answer: False. Note: Sand and loose soil are loose impediments only on the putting green.
Congrats to last weeks winner Ray Rochford, Killeagh, Cork who gets to bring three mates to Carton House in Maynooth.
I Want One Of Those: Make The Putt Bra
Ahead of tomorrow crunch World Cup qualifier, this little invention gives a whole new meaning to the “wearing of the green”. Japanese lingerie maker Triumph International have unveiled the "make the putt bra," the only brassiere in the world that unfolds into a putting mat. Sensors in the cups electronically congratulate you with a "nice in!" when you can a putt. Ladies- now you can just stop and drop for a few practise strokes anytime. Gents- beware. Combining life’s two greatest pleasures in this way could cause cardiac failure.
Monty – Over Shoulder Boulder Holder Upper???
Woods Value For Money
Tiger Woods gave value for his $3 million appearance fee by winning the JB Were event in Kingston Heath, Australia. Round criticised for his appearance fee, Woods put on quite a show in the event had the look and feel of a major. An estimated 100,000 people thronged to see Tiger claim his first win down under and his 13th in different countries. The Australian government, which paid half of Tiger’s appearance fee claimed the event was a sound economic success, grossing $20 million. Brian Cowen are you listening?
Much Ado About Nothing
The new 2010 conforming groove irons were being used by at least a dozen players at last weeks Miracle Classic on the PGA Tour. “It’s much ado about nothing, at least score wise,” said Davis Love III, who has been the conforming wedges for about a month now. “Is it going to change the Tour? No. Tiger is still going to be really, really good,” he added. From next season all players must use irons with “conforming grooves” which are smaller than the old grooves and not as sharp along the edges. The impact will be mostly noticed in wedges. Tests indicate a Tour player gets 3-4% less spin with the conforming grooves. “I couldn’t tell any difference,” said Heath Slocum.
Heading into this week’s Dubai World Championship Rory reckons his ball striking is in a great place. After struggling early in the HSBC Champions event two weeks ago he discovered that his ball position had got too far forward and moved it back to produce a more penetrating ball flight. The tweak allowed him to climb the leaderboard on Sunday finishing fourth and he reaffirmed his form last week with another blistering final round to finish second. Rory was paired with Phil Mickelson at the recent HSBC Champions event and he reported on his blog that the two got on famously, to the point of having a long driving contest during the tournament!. On the fifth tee on Friday, Rory hit a drive as good as he could straight down the middle. Up next, Phil himself unleashed a monster drive pitching his ball at Rory’s and running a further five yards. As they were walking off the tee Mickelson asked Rors “did you get that one?” devilishly implying that he had plenty more in the tank. Speaking of tanks, Rors has also traded in his Ferrari for a Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 in white. Four miles per gallon we reckon!
Creamer Soaked In Wie
It was ten years in the making but Michelle Wie finally won her first LPGA Tour title at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico. Wie finally fulfilled her promise with a three under 69 for a two-stroke victory over Paula Creamer. Wie bounced up and down and pumped her right fist after canning the winning putt as Solheim Cup teammates Morgan Pressel and Creamer showered her with champagne. "Wowwwww ...... never thought this would feel THIS great!!!!" she posted on her Twitter account, clearly never having been doused in Champagne before.
This week we have for you a fourball voucher at the magnificent Carton House in Maynooth. You even get to choose which course to play, the O’Meara or the Montgomerie, venue for the Irish Open’s of 2005 and 2006. E mail your name, address and answers to firstname.lastname@example.org or text to 087-3140467.
Q1: True or False: In match play, if a player plays from outside the teeing ground when starting play of a hole her opponent may require the stroke to be cancelled and replayed from within the teeing ground.
Q2: True or False: In stroke play, the maximum penalty a player may incur from playing a wrong ball is two strokes, no matter how many times he plays it.
Q3: True or False: Sand and loose soil are loose impediments that may be removed on the putting green and through the green.
Last weeks answers:
Q1. True or False: A fellow competitor or spectator, may not assist a competitor in removing a large loose impediment. Answer: False. Decision 23-1/3.
Note: The player may seek help from anyone to remove a loose impediment, providing that there is no undue delay in play.
Q2. True or False: Time spent in playing a wrong ball is not counted in the five minute period permitted for searching for a ball. Answer: True. Definition of Lost Ball.
Q3. True or False: A player who is naturally right-handed may carry a left-handed club to use for shots where she might otherwise have to turn a clubhead over, for example, where her ball is lying against a tree. Answer: True. Rule 4-4.
Here’s the scenario. The club competitions are over, your schedule is free and you’re itching to head off somewhere nice for a fourball. Maybe a Yank is coming home for Christmas and bringing the clubs and you want to impress by going to a spectacular location for a great days golf. Well before I go into hibernation for the Winter, I’ve been googling to find the best Winter deals out there and here’s the best of what I uncovered.
1. Mount Juliet:
Designed by Jack Nicklaus, Mount Juliet is still the only Irish course to host the World Golf Championships, twice! If they gave Michelin stars for golf courses, this place would have one. The Winter Special includes golf with breakfast or lunch for €85. My advice is to get there early and enjoy the practise ground and the tricky 18 hole putting green. Tiger tamed it but can you? Full details on www.mountjuliet.ie or call 056-7773071
2. Castleknock Golf Club:
Castleknock have come up with a novel event this Winter. On their website are listed loads of dates where you can play for €30. That’s not all though. On those dates, the winners qualify for a chance to get a years free golf! Ten minutes from the city centre and always dry in Winter, Castleknock is where I head for a few holes when I’m up for a match or a gig! Bring your autograph pen too. European Tour winner Peter Lawrie often makes an appearance to fine tune his silky smooth putting skills. Full details on www.castleknockgolfclub.ie or call 01 6408736
3. Carton House:
If its choice you’re after Carton House has it in spades. The O’Meara course is a superbly laid out test while the Montgomerie is the ultimate exercise in course management being as it is one giant bunker with the odd fairway and green dotted around to give you hope. Their Winter special includes golf (on either course) with brekkie for €65 or with lunch after the round for a fiver extra. There are loads more permutations and discounts on www.cartonhouse.com or call 01-6517720
4. Adare Manor:
The Big Lebowski of Irish golf, Adare Manor is the dude! Unimaginably massive, this course could host a major at a week’s notice. The big news is Tiger Woods is coming back to play in the JP MacManus Pro-Am in Adare in July next year. To celebrate that, Adare are including two day admissions to see the Tiger with every green fee of €80. Full details on www.adaregolfclub.com or call 061-605274.
5. Dromoland Castle:
Find me a course in a more beautiful setting or with a better stretch of finishing holes on this island and I will bow to your golfing knowledge. The guys at Dromoland have dreamed up another cocktail of Winter Specials for societies and groups. For a green fee of €55 you get treated to a steak after your round and societies (of 12 or more) paying €50 per person get to come back a second day absolutely free! More details on www.dromoland.ie or call David Foley on 061-368 444. The closing six at Dromoland are up there with the Alp d’Huez as one of the great sporting levellers!
Pic: The par-5 18th at Dromoland
odds by Boylesports
UBS Hong Kong Open
Hong Kong GC
Fanling, Hong Kong
12 Nov 2009 - 15 Nov 2009
While the other players are winding down, the South African contingent are gearing up for four European Tour events in their homeland. One to note in this category is Charl Schwartzel who makes a compelling case for an each way wager this week. An unfortunate airline cock-up a month ago resulted in Charl having to replace all his clubs, but since then his golf has improved. Tied for sixth at the Portugal Masters and followed that with a tied fifth in Singapore two weeks back. Unlucky to miss out on last week’s WGC event in China where he performed well in the past, Charl will be eager to get back in the groove this week. Schwartzel is still touted as the next big thing and on current form a top three finish is certainly a possibility.
We’re plumping for ex-paratrooper Thongchai Jaidee again this week. The Thai finished tied 14th in the Barclay’s Singapore Open two weeks back when heavily fancied. Already a winner this season at the Indonesia Open and the Ballantine’s Championship, Jaidee has one more live chance to win a hat trick of titles in one Season. Although outside the top 10 last year, Thongchai has an impressive record at the Serapong course. Tied second in the 2008 staging behind Miguel Angel Jimenez and tied third in 2007, when another Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara took the title.
Graeme is like a box of technical Lego; it looks fantastic on the cover and all the pieces are there but putting them together is impossible. In Singapore it seemed that McDowell was going to overhaul Ian Poulter until the wheels came off and he slipped to a closing 74 to finish tied fifth. Along with his top 10 at the USPGA, that was McDowells biggest payday of the season and a far cry from the two wins and fifth place in the order of merit in 2008. He brings his recent improved form to a venue he has played on in the past two stagings, finishing tied 11th and sixth.
The younger of the two Molinari brothers returned to action last week following his second place finish behind Lee Westwood at the Portugal Masters in October. Francesco will be looking to cap off his best ever season on Tour having had eight top ten finishes including the HSBC in Shanghai. He made the Cut in the three Majors he played – the US Open, The Open and The US PGA Championship where he finished tenth. He also finished second in this event last November. A closing 65 saw him get into a three man playoff with Rory McIlroy and Lin Wen-Tang which Lin won.
Born: 22 November 1980 in Ascot, Berkshire
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Residence: Cheam, London
Professional wins: 3
What a year it has been for Ross Fisher. The newly crowned World Matchplay Champion has contended for Majors, virtually cemented his Ryder Cup spot and became a Dad in an action packed 2009. And who knows there may be room for a Dubai World Championship to top it all off.
Ross Daniel Fisher was born in Ascot, Berkshire. His home course is the famous Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey, location of the European Tour administrative headquarters. . Fisher joined the European Tour in 2006. In 2007 he won the KLM Open by one stroke over Joost Luiten and subsequently finished the year ranked 43rd on the Order of Merit.
In July 2008, Fisher won the European Open on the Heritage Course at The London Club in Kent. Despite never having played the course either in competition or in practice, Fisher shot a first round 63 - the lowest round of his professional career - which featured a wind-assisted 413 yard drive on the 9th hole, his last of the day. Fisher finished 2008 sixth on the Order of Merit.
Fisher's progress continued in 2009 when he reached the semi-final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona and finished second at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. On both occasions he was defeated by countryman Paul Casey. He finished fifth in the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, New York. At this years Open Championship at Turnberry, he held a two stroke lead in the early stages of the final round before taking a quadruple bogey eight on the par four 5th hole, eventually finishing in a tie for 13th place.
With Fisher’s win over Anthony Kim at the Volvo World Matchplay at Finca Cortisan in Spain he climbed to 17th in the official world golf rankings and fourth in The Race To Dubai.
What’s In The Bag Ross Fisher
The Rory Show
What a great tournament the HSBC Champions turned out to be, even if the Tiger-Phil duel didn’t happen in the end. Apart from Mickelson’s win the big news was Rory McIlory’s closing sprint in the Race To Dubai. Rory’s final day 63 saw him jump 13 places to finish fourth. His earnings of €212,000 mean he climbs to second in the Race with only two events left. Rors is the only Race contender heading to Hong Kong this week and we reckon if he manages to scoop it of the first tee, he will earn enough cash to lead the race heading into the next week’s final event in Dubai. With Westwood, Fisher and Kaymer choosing to take the week off, or most probably head to Dubai to prepare, it remains to be seen whether Rors, or his Race opponents, have got their scheduling tactics right.
HSBC Champions Wrap
Ernie to Phil: “You got the trophy, I got the salad”
Ernie Els is back! Well sort of. His final round 63 in Shanghai earned him second spot and a cheque for €454,000, his best by a country mile this season. It wasn’t without its flaws however, as Ernie was hit yet again by the jitters on the 18th. Leading the tournament by one, he chose to go for the green with his second on the par five 18th when a three shotter would have seen him get into a playoff. He dumped his three wood second hopelessly into the water, 40 yards short of the carry, took six and ended up losing by a stroke. Elsewhere Paul Casey managed only two holes of his final round before having to pull out with a recurrence of his rib injury. He flew immediately to see a specialist in the USA and will miss this weeks event in Hong Kong. A decision is to be made about Casey’s participation in the Dubai World Championship. Of the rest of the Irish in Shanghai, Padraig Harrington shot a below the radar final round 67 to finish tied 25th, one shot better than first round leader, Shane Lowry.
Woods in Bush
A disappointed Tiger Woods arrived in Australia on his private plane yesterday, ahead of his first appearance in an Australian tournament for 11 years. Woods is to play at this weeks JBWere Australian Masters, at Melbourne's Kingston Heath. "Anything that could go wrong went wrong for me today," Woods said of his final round at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. "Just one of those days." Woods has not visited Australia since competing on the U.S. team that lost the 1998 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne. However he is set to pocket a $3 million appearance fee to tee it up, a greater amount than the tournament prize fund. Woods is joined in the Bush by Geoff Ogilvy and Ireland’s Gary Murphy, a massive Home and Away fan!
Sam The Man, Again!
Sam Torrance has won the European Senior Tour Order of Merit for the third time. Torrance narrowly defeated fellow former Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam to claim his third John Jacobs Trophy following the final event of the 2009 season. Torrance’s third place in the OKI Castellon Senior Tour Championship took him just €3,380 clear of 2008 order of merit Woosnam in the closest Order of Merit contest since 2000. Sam’s season earnings of €170,696 sealed his third Order of Merit victory following 2005 and 2006. Tommy Horton holds the most Senior order of merit titles with five.
How fitting that the Poultergeist should wait until Halloween to win again on tour. See what happened when the Barclays Singapore Open winner met up with the SpinDoctor to discuss James Bond, Make-Up and Arsenal.
WGC - HSBC Champions Preview & Betting Tips
Sheshan International GC
05 Nov 2009 - 08 Nov 2009
Tiger Woods 7/4
Tiger has been out in his garage with the Mr Sheen and an old pair of jocks taking a thick layer of dust off his clubs in preparation for his flight to China. The HSBC Champions event has now been granted WGC status and the prize fund of seven million euro is second only to the Dubai World Championship. Six wins on the PGA tour and a perfect five points at the President’s Cup make Tiger the Sea The Stars of the golf world. A rusty Tiger has finished second twice in this event in 2006 and 2007 and though he has been out to stud for the past few weeks, will be giving this one his full attention.
Phil Mickelson 11/1
It’s a bit confusing but this tournament has already been staged as part of the 2009 season, so a little leap of faith is required when understanding the dates! Phil Mickelson was an impressive winner in 2008 and was right in the hunt in (trust me) 2009 until a pulled drive on the 15th cost him double bogey and a successful defence. Already a WGC winner at the CA-Championship in March. Phil put the clubs away after double wins at the Tour Championship and the President’s Cup but returned with his usual low key acclimatizing event in Shanghai where he finished in the top-20. Will it be Phil and Tiger having a ding-dong in China?
Soren Kjeldsen 66/1
If you’re looking for some long odds form in this elite field try Soren Kjeldsen. I’m sure the Dane will be reminded on the range that this time last year he was lifting the last ever Volvo Masters title at Valderrama. Soren’s season highlights are a win at the Open de Andalucia early doors and a tied sixth at the USPGA Championship. His stats show excellent November form for the past few seasons so write him off at your peril. The commentator’s always refer to him as a “gritty little competitor”, kind of like a Ray Houghton only blonde.
Attachment: Cordoba GC
Date of birth: 12/09/1969
Place of birth: Cordoba, Argentina
Height and weight: 6ft 15st (183cm 95kgs)
Family: Children: Federico (1989), Angel (1991)
Turned Pro: 1989
A weary Angel Cabrera will make the long journey from Finca Cortisan in Spain to Shanghai in China for next weeks WGC HSBC Champions event. Despite finishing with a round of eight under in the consolation match, Cabrera lost out to an on-fire Robert Allenby at the 19th hole. Despite that disappointment Cabrera can look back at the 2009 with some satisfaction having captured his second major victory at The Masters.
Cabrera's rise is the definitive rags to riches story. His father, Miguel, was a “changarin”- handyman. His mother, by all reports, a dark-haired beauty worked as a maid. Angel was three or four when his parents split up and he was left in the care of his paternal grandmother. As a child caddy at Cordoba, Cabrera became interested in golf. Touring pro Eduardo Romero recognised his potential, encouraged him to concentrate on the game, and gave him financial assistance in his early professional years.
Known in Argentina as “El Pato” – the Duck entered Masters week ranked 69 in the world and was to become the lowest ranked player to win the Masters Tournament when he defeated Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell in a play-off at Augusta National. Cabrera became the first Argentine winner of the US Open Championship when he won his first Major title at Oakmont Country Club in 2007, holding off World Number One Tiger Woods and another former US Open Champion Jim Furyk, to win by a stroke. Followed Roberto de Vicenzo, who won The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool 40 years earlier, as the second Argentine Major Champion, sparking massive celebrations across the country while his home town of Cordoba came to a standstill. As a result of his Major triumph, he was accorded Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour.
What’s In Angel Cabrera’s Bag
I’m beginning to get a teeny bit worried about patterns emerging on the European Tour. It’s gone beyond a joke at this stage for own Padraig Harrington, who seems stuck in the weekly rut of one super round immediately followed by a dodgy one leaving victory just out of reach. And if you think that’s tough, try Retief Goosen. He’s been in the hunt after three rounds so many times this year but time and again has failed to shoot a sub 70 final round. He lead the Portugal Masters by a shot going into the final round but his closing 75 compared to Lee Westwood’s 66, saw him fall away at the death. Retief’s collapse was a carbon copy of his BMW performance in Germany back in June where he was two clear after round three or his Barclay’s Scottish Open capitulation the following week.
I wonder if it has anything to do with the course set-ups? They seem to be pretty much the same every week too. It used to be the PGA Tour that ended up with ridiculous sub par numbers every week, but for the four weeks up to and including the Portugal Masters the winning score on the European Tour has been a minimum 20 under. I know it’s just after Halloween but the tour venues are hardly monsters anymore. By my reckoning there have only been five events all year in the US where the winning score has been 20 under or better.
By that token, it seems hardly believable that the news came through from St. Andrews last week of their intention to change the famous 17th prior to next year’s British Open. The Road Hole re-jig includes an additional 25 yards from a new tee with the idea of bringing the enormous greenside bunker more into play. The sight of new kid on the block Rory McIlroy reduce it to a drive and floated seven iron to set up birdie at the recent Dunhill Links might have had something to do with the decision.
"The 17th was played at the same yardage in 1900 as it was in 2005 and this fuelled our belief that the formidable challenge of this iconic hole should be returned for the Open Championship,'' said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A. "Over the years we have seen the threat from the road behind the green, and to a lesser extent the Road Bunker, diminished as players have been hitting shorter irons for their approach shots, allowing them to avoid these hazards more easily. This change will ensure that the hole plays as it was originally intended.''
Aside from the extra yardage, the hole will still retain the same character with the old machine shed and Old Course Hotel in the line of sight from the tee. Apparently former Open champion Henry Cotton had suggested the change as far back as 1964 but his suggestion, until now, had fallen on deaf ears (probably literally)!
If I were in charge of the R&A, I’d play the first two rounds of The Open clockwise and the third round anti-clockwise as they used to do in the past at the Old Course. Its hardly Tiger proofing, but hey wouldn’t it be fun. Speaking of the feline one, I doubt the 2000 and 2005 Open winner at the Old Course is quaking in his boots at the thought of 25 extra yards. He can make it go that far with a stare.
A putting lesson from Tiger
Sean O’Hair attributed his good finish at the Tour Championship to a putting lesson received from Tiger Woods prior to the tournament. We’re pretty sure Tiger didn’t bill Sean but if he did it looks like Tiger Charges $32,000 for a half hour lesson. At Woods' fifth annual charity Block Party for the Tiger Woods Learning Center in California, organizers auctioned off another Tiger putting lesson for 32k, which contributed to the total raised of $500,000. Other auction items included an audience with Woods and singer Sheryl Crow which went for $11,000. Those who claimed 50 bucks of that total was for Sheryl were judged a tad harsh.
Seve Feelin’ Groovy
Having undergone "aggressive" radiotherapy treatment used over the past six weeks, Seve’s doctor’s have reported “very positive” results. This follows a series of exhaustive checks in the 52 year old Spaniard’s recovery from four separate operations last year to remove a malignant tumour from his brain. On his website, Ballesteros said that he would now rest as much as possible after feeling fatigue over the course of treatment. The five-time world matchplay champion was said to have kept a close eye at proceeding at Finca Cortes last week, an event he helped promote.
Montgomerie’s War Strategy
General Sir Colin Montgomerie has demanded of all prospective Ryder Cup Team members that they compete in both the PGA Championship at Wentworth and also the Wales Open at Celtic Manor - venue for the 2010 match against the Americans. "I feel every European that is qualified for that event (the PGA Championship) should be playing and I will be asking for that personally in my role," Monty said. One man who refused to commit to Monty’s plan was Sergio Garcia, claiming he may already have other commitments. Garcia has never played in the Wales Open and not competed at the PGA since 2000, says he will make the effort but only if it fits in with his schedule. "He (Montgomerie) hasn't talked to me yet, so maybe he doesn't think I'm going to make it," Garcia said. Where’s my handbag, Sergio?
Thin Not Crispy
Among other things, this season will be remembered for startling weight loss. Some like John Daly did it with a gastric band inserted around three of his stomachs; other like Lee Westwood (pictured), locked himself in the gym for half the year. The latest stick insect on Tour is Niclas Fasth who appeared worryingly gaunt in Singapore last week. Its unclear whether he used Slimfast, Special K or the Posh Spice diet. What’s next we wonder, Darren Clarke sweating stones on Strictly Come Dancing maybe?
Honorary Munster man Ian Poulter took the Barclays Singapore Open in stuttering style on Sunday. Poults carded a closing 72, one over par, to edge out China's Liang Wen-chong and complete a nervous wire-to-wire victory. The win is Poults first since the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan in 2007 and first on The European Tour since Madrid the previous year. Blast from the past Adam Scott was tied third. Meanwhile in Spain, nice guy Ross Fisher defeated nasty guy Anthony Kim in the final of the World Matchplay Championship. The 28 year old played an amazing 126 holes in four days. Ironically, the trophy which was kept at Wentworth from 1964 until 2007, when the tournament left is going back as Fisher is a member there since childhood. On the Challenge Tour, Edoardo Molinari (brother of Francesco) smashed Tour record for earnings in a single season after winning the Kazakhstan Open to bring his total to €188,079.
Dr. and The Medic: Trapped Behind
You’re not sure where the clubhead is during your backswing. You lose your balance during your swing and often suffer backache following your round.
Your hands may be getting trapped behind during your backswing. This results in a flat swing plane. In order to effect a correction to hit the ball, your body must turn quickly, often causing loss of balance and creating huge pressure on the vertebrae of your lower back. You need to develop a steeper swing plane.
With the club held only in your left hand, practise swinging always ensuring your left hand is in front of your body throughout. Lift your arm up higher than normal on the backswing. Put your right hand on the club and check your swing plane in a window or mirror. What may feel steep will look correct. With the correct plane, you will be able to effect a more solid downswing that will not hurt your back and produce much better balance throughout the swing.
The Rules Quiz
Just for fun this week see how much you really know about the rules of golf. Taken from “999 Questions on The Rules Of Golf” by Barry Rhodes.
Q1. True or False: A fellow competitor or spectator, may not assist a competitor in removing a large loose impediment.
Q2. True or False: Time spent in playing a wrong ball is not counted in the five minute period permitted for searching for a ball.
Q3. True or False: A player who is naturally right-handed may carry a left-handed club to use for shots where she might otherwise have to turn a clubhead over, for example, where her ball is lying against a tree.
Last weeks answers:
Q1. True or False: You hit your ball into a totally flooded bunker. There is no place in the bunker you can drop. There is no penalty for dropping outside the bunker at the nearest point of relief. Answer: False
Q2. True or False: A player carrying a broomhandle putter is entitled to use it when measuring relief. Answer: True
Q3. True or False: In a match Nick places his putter gently on the ground in front of his ball in the act of lining up a putt. Padraig claims the hole saying Nick has illegally touched the line of the putt. Padraig is correct. Answer: False
Check out details of the the Adare Manor Golf Challenge below. If you haven’t played it recently, be sure to go back and play it this Winter. With each green fee you will get priceless tickets to see Tiger’s return to Ireland next Summer.
Westwood Pumping Iron
Donal with Lee after his Portugal Masters win.
Following his recent win in the Portugal Masters at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course, Lee Westwood spoke about the importance his fitness had in bringing back that winning feeling. “I looked at the guys at the top of the game and every one of them seemed to have big arms, big shoulders and impressive core body strength,” Westwood said. “I thought, if I’m going to compete at this level, I need to develop that physical strength”, he added. Westwood joined the likes of Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh in embarking in a punishing training schedule when not in competition. His average driving distance for the tournament was 306 yards and that coupled with his legendary accuracy proved the difference in Vilamoura. Westwood hit 87.5% of greens in regulation and 10.3 fairways per rounds.
Gary Player Moves East
While golf development projects stall around us and courses struggle to stay afloat it’s seems there’s “no recession around here” in Bulgaria. The country whose only claim to fame used to be Dimitar Berbatov has unveiled the first of two new courses designed by Gary Player. Player, who still manages to squeeze out around 4,000 stomach crunches before breakfast was on hand recently to open Black Sea Rama and oversee the final stages of construction of Thracian Cliffs, both set to become premier European golf resorts. Thracian Cliffs, built along five kilometres of Cape Kaliakra Cliffs has already been compared to Pebble Beach. Player on the other hand, has been compared to Simon Cowell.
Immelman’s Latest Injury Woe
Trevor Immelman’s injury woes continue but the former Masters champion now expects to be fit again for the 2009 PGA season. The former Masters Champion has suffered severe tendonitis all season and after exhausting the possibilities of natural healing finally underwent surgery on his left wrist last week in New York. The procedure was performed by the same doctor who successfully operated on Luke Donald and Jim Furyk. Immelman is expected to start strength exercises in six weeks, and hopes to begin chipping and putting after three months of rehabilitation. This is not the first injury to befall the amiable South African. In December 2007, doctors removed a calcified fibrosis tumour from his ribcage, which after tests was found to be benign. Nevertheless, treatment and recovery caused him to miss the first eight weeks of the 2008 PGA Tour season.
2010 Race To Dubai Fixtures
The European Tour will again feature the Race To Dubai in 2010. the new season will feature two new events, the Africa Open, pencilled in for the East London Club in Januray and the Hassan 11 trophy in Rabat to be held in March. The Hassan 11 trophy has been contested since 1971, but is now set to get European Tour status and will feature a pro-celebrity format. Three events to be dropped from next years schedule include the Johnnie Walker Classic, the Malaysian Open and the Indonesian Open. The European Tour has had to overcome serious financial difficulties this year with the collapse of its backer Leisurecorp. Nakheel Leisure who stepped in to, in effect save the Tour, negotiated a reduced prize fund for this years Race to Dubai.