Four Lads In A Jumbo 2009- The Oceanico Portugal Golf Holiday
Four lads in a jumbo is back. To the uninitiated, “Four lads in a Jumbo” is meant to be a clever golfing version of the BBC’s “Four Men In a Boat” starring Dara (Ahhhh) O’Briain, Rory McGrath (Neanderthal looking guy) and Gryf Rhys Jones (no not your man in the knickers from Notting Hill, the guy from Alas Smith and Jones). In it they squash into a boat and negotiate some waterway of unearthly beauty with hilarious consequences. Our version, “Four Lads In a Jumbo” is based on the premise of a four guys jetting off in a a jumbo for a golfing holiday, uncovering some courses of unimaginable beauty at unbeatable prices, all again with hilarious consequences. Well kind of. When I say “four lads”, I mean myself and my mate Johnny, and when I say “jumbo” I mean a Ryanair sardine tin with the seats welded in the “upright” position.
This year we hit off for Portugal on a mission to discover the Oceancio courses. Ever since I saw the ad with Nick Faldo and Christy O’Connor chipping balls, I have been intrigued. The ad has Christy and Nick, (I mean Sir Nick) in a kind of “duelling banjo’s” scenario, only with wedges. Faldo goes first, pitching 20 or so balls onto a green about 50 yards away, each ball rolling out precisely to create a perfectly straight line of white dots. Then Christy chips his bucket. The camera does a close up of his balls rolling out; on the face of it they seem to be stopping in random order around the green, but then the camera pans out to reveal the words “not bad” spelled out by Christy’s Pro-V1’s. Bloody excellent I would say.
The Set Up
Oceanico itself is not a course. It is the name of the company that owns seven (or is it eight, I cant remember) courses in the Algarve region. We played four of them. The flagship course is Victoria, in Vilamoura, home of the Portugal Masters and for my money the best of them. The other course we played in Vilamoura was the “Old” course. The remaining two courses on our Oceanico adventure, namely the “O’Connor” and “Faldo” courses are situated at the Amendoeira resort about 35 minutes away from Vilamoura.
Ryanair fly direct from Dublin or Shannon to Faro. The experience is not pleasant, jockeying for position in queues, bags being checked for exact weights and then there’s the actual flight. Not to mention those Celtic Tiger buggers who have “priority boarding” sniggering down at you. Sitting in a Ryanair plane is like being David Blaine, bound upright in a strait jacket for two hours, but hey, it gets you there. As soon as you land, you try to put the flight out of your mind, gather up what shreds of dignity remain and walk away. But hand on, there’s one more kick in the arse. Sly Mike has decided golf clubs now cost €60 return and are now limited to 15Kg, over which an extortionate excess will be charged. I suppose the lesson here is to travel light. Maybe leave the fifth pair of beige slacks behind. The marina in Villamoura is like a beige slacks festival every night. It’s not pretty.
When you google “car hire” all the big players come up first. They have the dearest fares and the hidden excesses. We used a company well down the search hits page called “Yor Car”. The price they give is fully inclusive of all charges and you don’t pay until you get there. We booked one of the smallest kinds of car, a Seat Leon. When you exit the baggage reclaim in Faro, just walk left to the Café area where you will find all the reps from the teeny car hire companies sitting around drinking coffee. Our car cost about €120 all inclusive for the week (it’s cheaper to pay by cash) and when we signed a few autographs we were introduced to our charcoal Leon. We christened it “The Cowen-Mobile” because it wasn’t the quickest “going-forward”. And like Mr Cowen, this rental car wasn’t in pristine condition by any means, it had been in more minor scrapes than Steve Collins, but you know what, we loved that. Yor Car aren’t bothered about charging customers exorbitant fees for a scratch here or a bump there. That takes away a whole heap of rental car driving pressure straight away. It may have had the well scuffed up look, and needed a headlamp bulb, which in fairness the rep stuck in after his coffee under a street light, but it went. The deal with the petrol is you get the tank half full and leave it back half full, which again is fair. When you drop the car back you stick the keys under the visor and walk away. There’s no guy in a suit with a clip board marking X’s in a schematic of a car (at the mere notion of a scratch) and rubbing his hands with glee. I would use Yor Car again tomorrow; I might pay a few quid extra for a better class of car though.
The best job is to bring your Sat-Nav with you to Portugal. If you have a sat-nav on your phone and intend using it on your trip remember a couple of things. Firstly you may need to download the mapping of Portugal onto your device from a disk on online store. You need usually need a licence to use the sat-nav in Portugal. Nokia have a 7 day free licence which you can access through their web page or you can pay a €1 daily fee to use the service while abroad. Nokia users should also bear in mind that to search a destination on a Sat Phone, the phone must access the internet. It all adds up. I recommend getting a good old fashioned map of the area. The signage in Portugal is plentiful but utterly confusing. They seem to have an aversion to putting signs on T-junctions. Even though we both had sat-nav on our phones, we ended up getting a map and relying on that.
Getting To The Courses
The majority of the Oceanico courses are dotted around the outskirts of Vilamoura, though the road signage does its level best again to fool you. Okay, the sign may say “Campo do Golfes”, but the only problem is it doesn’t say which bloomin’ Golfes you’re heading for. They might only be five or ten minutes away, but that can easily turn into 25 if you’re not heading in the right direction. My advice here is to do a bit of planning on google maps, and plot the route from your hotel to the desired course.
Getting to the Amendoeira resort is quite simple. It’s 35 kms from Vilamoura and basically from the town you head for the A22 motorway. You get onto the A22 heading for Portimao/Lagoa direction. You then take the number 8 exit, signposted Algoz. When you take this exit, you get a great view of the Oceanico Amendoeira resort, the courses and the fantastic clubhouse. Having taken the exit and seen the courses in the distance, just follow the sign for Silves to bring you to the entrance.
A Good Base and Where To Stay
Most golfers base themselves in Vilamoura. It’s a surprisingly big town, but has one main gathering point, the marina. There are loads of hotels by the marina but they are priced accordingly. We stayed in the Aparthotel do Golfe which is situated away from the Marina, right beside the Old Course. For €20 quid a night, we had our own studio apartment, which was spacious, spotlessly clean and modern.
Pic: The Marina in Vilamoura.
The Aparthotel do Golfes hotel is ranked near the top of the Trip Advisor listing and is the choice of everyone “in the know”. We booked over the internet (use 1800hotels.com or booking.com) having googled the name and looked through the deals. The hotel is ideal for all the Vilamoura courses and a taxi into the Marina is about €5 each way.
Where To Go In Vilamoura
Along the Marina strip, there are loads of restaurants and bars. Food is reasonably priced and menu’s displayed outside by all. For a treat I recommend the Dom Miguel restaurant, it’s not on the main strip, but literally two minutes walk away. Pic: Aparthotel do Golfe, Vilamoura
The food there is a little more expensive than elsewhere, but still far cheaper than Irish prices.
For drinks the main pub is the Irish Cabin, a super pub of sorts, with live music every night. Further down is O’Neills, a small but busy hostelry. The pub I enjoyed most was Rui’s Bar, just behind the Cabin. The resident musician there is a guy called Ciaran Fox from Shannon. During the main season he has his house band and mixes songs with humour.
Pic: Vilamoura Marina at Night. He has that rare talent of engaging instantly with all the people, moulding with ease a homely atmosphere of friends having a drink and a sing-song. Ciaran also has a great gimmick of asking the audience to shout up requests for songs with the sole aim of immediately ridiculing the responses. On one occasion where he asked for requests, one guy shouted up, ”Midnight In Moscow”. Fox turned to him, glanced at his watch and said “I’m not 100% sure, but I’ll take your word for it!” Oh Yes, one last thing on this. In Portugal they like to drink pints of “Super Bock”. If you’re offered any, politely decline. Its Probably the worst lager in the world! We should have figured that out by the silly name, before we drank several units.
A pic of Johnny Lydon, Pelle Edberg and Johan Edfors and me after about a dozen “Boks”, each and every one of which we regretted the following day. As for the boys Edberg and Edfors didn’t break par for weeks after and vowed never to drink with Irish lads again.
Video: Ciaran Fox in Action in Rui’s Bar, Vilamoura
It really bugs me when people go on about “rack rates” in golf courses. They are supposedly the ‘walk in off the street’ green fees for a course. They don’t really apply when you’re travelling abroad to play off- you usually have the golf organized beforehand. And that’s really the way Oceanico operate. If you log onto www.oceanicogolf.com you will find all the packages and special offers on the homepage. I don’t want to go into too much detail with prices, because I want this review to stay relevant over time, but at time of writing there are offers there including four rounds of golf on the best courses, hotel accommodation, transfers from Vilamoura to the courses and airport all for under €600. That’s as cheap as chips. If you did add up the “rack rates” alone for the four golf courses, you wouldn’t have much change without even thinking of accommodation! My advice is to bang off an e-mail to Oceanico and they will send you loads of options all priced and broken down clearly.
The Vilamoura Courses
The Old Course
We played the old course in the middle of our itinerary but I advise you to play it first. The Old Course is literally yards from the Hotel do Golfe and winds its way through a forest of umbrella pines. Opened in 1969 it is one of oldest courses in the region. An avid golfer, who appreciates good course layouts can immediately see how this course, would, in the past, have required all the shots. Unfortunately with today’s ballistic weaponry, a long player can unlock all the defences except for maybe the umbrella pines, the last soldiers of the resistance left to defend the old lady. But that’s not say they don’t claim the odd victory in the war.
The condition of the course is as you would expect from Oceanico, immaculate. The greens are like small little dartboards, reasonably fast, and as Spandau Ballet sang “So True”. The truth is however, the Old Course is now more a warm-up before the big games at Victoria, Faldo and O’Connor. It’s kind of like the Minor game before the All-Ireland Senior final, very enjoyable at the time, but you will look back in a few years and only remember the Seniors. Having said that, I do remember the sixth hole. A 233 yard par-3 with about a 40 yard drop that is just impossible to club. Johnny hit the sweetest hybrid in there, it touched the outer atmosphere before hammering back to Earth about six foot from the pin. Birdie. Though the round ends with a pretty featureless hole, all in all, the Old Course was an enjoyable jaunt, the only pity is that modern drivers are able to smash the Old Course’s locks that guard the score. Now if they took your driver off you going in the gate, it would have been a different story entirely.
The post mortem was carried out in the clubhouse which is small and quaint, with very reasonably priced food. I do however recall that a pint of beer was around €5, way more expensive than anywhere else we went. Did the Old Course give me a warm fuzzy glow? Maybe not, but it’s always warm and the umbrella pines are substitute aplenty for warm fuzz.
The Victoria Course
At the Portugal Masters in 2009, Lee Westwood’s winning score for four rounds was 23 under. However if you think for even a milli-second that this fact makes this course in any way easy, you are sadly mistaken. Unless of course you can drive the ball 320 yards arrow straight and take an average of 26 putts a round. Then it’s easy. If I recall correctly, and I’m cutting and pasting here, Westwood hit every fairway on the final day and 87% of the greens in regulation overall.
Pic: With Lee Westwood after his Portugal Masters win on the Victoria Course
The Victoria course is excellent in so many ways. Though not set in terribly undulating terrain there are subtle rolls on the fairways and hollows and run-offs in front of and around most greens. Not to mention water. If you’re not playing the kind of target golf the pros do, be sure to bring the full compliment of wedges as they will be needed. Also of all four courses we played, the rough was most severe in Victoria. And it is tough to hit out of that raw broccoli they call “rough” in Portugal. Lucky that day, I happened to be blessed by the Greek God of chipping- “Upandoonis”, and I made more saves than Shay Given and Davy Fitzgerald combined. Nice!
The last three holes at Victoria are real TV drama holes, not unlike Sawgrass. The 16th is a 209 yard par 3, which is visually very deceptive. The 17th is a risk reward 593 yard par five. If you want to go for the green in two you need a serious carry off the tee. But that would be too easy so they stuck in a whole pile of water just to make it interesting. If you do manage the drive and decide to go for it in two, remember that the green is a narrow target, protected by water on the front and on the right with trees and even more broccoli and trees behind. Water also plays a huge part in the 18th (pictured) ,a 465 yard par four. It is what the Portuguese might call a “beach” of all hole; water down the left and sand down the right off the tee, before you again have to skirt the water with the approach. If you make par there, it’s more than Padraig Harrington could do, and he is good.
Video: Victoria Course
The Amendoeira Courses
Video: Amendoeira Clubhouse Tour & O’Connor Course
Before I tell you about the courses in Amendoeira, let me mention the facilities that surround them, for these are what make the whole experience unforgettable. The Amendoeira resort is basically a small village under construction. Lots of lovely apartments flank the closing holes of the O’Connor course, with a clubhouse of biblical proportions standing at the highest point on the site. You spin down one little road and it brings you to a beautiful par-3 course, reminiscent of Augusta and fully floodlit. You branch down another road and it brings you to a fitness centre with a gym, various courts, astroturf and grass pitches and training facilities. I don’t think there is any sport that’s not catered for on the site, there is even two international bowls greens adjacent to the clubhouse, one flat and one crowned.
Padraig Harrington representing Ireland at the Opening of The Academy Par-3 Course
On entry to the site you drive up the hill to the clubhouse where you will be greeted by a staff member who will take your clubs from you. The next time you see them they will be snugly attached to a buggy equipped with ice cold water, towels, tees and accessories. With a half hour to go before your tee time, you can spin up to the practice ground, which is the best I have ever seen. The whole layout is fantastic, the bays are elevated, you hit down to defined yardages on mini greens below, the trajectory of the ball crystal clear against the ever blue sky. On the left hand side of the range are half a dozen raised pitching greens with a large chipping green capping it all off. The Callaway fitting centre overlooks the entire range, where those requiring expert fitting and trackman analysis can get well and truly sorted.
The Irish Heavyweights (Ahem) vs Team GB at The Academy Grand Opening.
The O’Connor Course
From the clubhouse you drive past the massive bronze statues of either Christy Junior or Sir Nick, dependant on which course you are playing. It seems there may have been a trade off between the two when it came to deciding who was going to get which area of land to work with. In the end Nick got the more undulating and possibly more interesting golfing terrain whilst Christy got the flat land, but the land that flanks the houses and runs right up to the clubhouse.
If you’ve come to the O’Connor course for the ultimate golfing examination, you’re on the wrong wavelength here. This is holiday golf. Christy wants you to have fun. He has left the fairways as wide as the fields in Mitchelstown and the greens as big as in St. Andrews. There are some deft little touches in bunker placement and tiering on the greens that might add a shot or two but nothing too tricky. If the O’Connor course were a radio ad, it would be bright, short, clean and crisp; there would be some terms and conditions, but no nasty shocks. My favourite hole is the 15th, which measures 404 metres from the back tees and demands a long accurate tee shot as the fairway is flanked on both sides by water. On a course that is otherwise generous off the tee, the tee shot at 15th can give you the hee-bee-gee-bee’s. The second shot will need a solid long iron to carry the scrub and reach the green. If you manage a par there, e-mail me. I will be impressed. The 18th is a nice hole too, demanding a right to left tee shot to leave you in a position to reach the devilishly tiered green which sits below the clubhouse. Every punter in the resort will watch you crash and burn here if you’re not careful. It’s a bit like “Gladiator” on that 18th!
The Faldo Course
Where Christy wanted to give you a gentle examination, Nick is more into interrogation. The Faldo course is definitely the tougher test of the two Amendoeira courses and in my opinion, shades it for quality. Designed with a kind of desert feel, tee shots need greater precision, it plays longer, there are more elevation changes and crucially the first time you play it, it may well get the better of you. That’s a pity for holiday golfers who might only get one shot at it, because this course will have you dying to turn the buggy around and do it all over again straight after you play. Its one of those tracks where course management and strategy are required, so bombers beware. My favourite hole was the 670 yard par five 13th; it wouldn’t be reachable in two if it was on the moon. The back nine is definitely hillier and that little bit harder to score on but overall the Faldo course is another notch on his bedpost of Sir Nick’s jobs well done.
Another nice touch is the way the staff clean your clubs after the round, so that when you collect them out front afterwards, you can actually see the grooves on your irons for the first time since you bought them.
Pic: Left to Right- Doc, Gerry Fagan and Johnny. It was Gerry’s idea to loiter outside the Ladies!
Finally, thanks to our contact Ollie Woods who looked after us during our stay and to Oceanico owner Gerry Fagan who treated us like prodigal sons when we snuck into the clubhouse after the Portugal Masters. Gerry is an authority on all things golf and relating to “hips”. Yes “hips”, and don’t even get me started on that one! Anyway before we left we awarded both Ollie and Gerry the highest distinction Mayo can bestow- the “The Order Of The Reek”.
The ghost of legendary golfer “Old Tom Morris,” The ‘Grand Old Man of Golf’ emerged from the grave recently and made a rather spooky visit to the newly-opened Championship Faldo Course at Lough Erne Golf Resort.
The four time Open Champion who was born and bred in St Andrews and died at the ripe old age of 86 in 1908 was mightily impressed with the work of fellow major winner Sir Nick Faldo. Most notably, Old Tom Morris was astonished at the close resemblance of The Faldo Course to many of the famous “links courses” he played a part in designing including Carnoustie, and Royal County Down.
This is the first time Old Tom has surfaced from his resting place at the Home of Golf in Scotland to inspect a modern championship layout and he walked the entire course as he did in his hey day armed with a feather ball and hickory shafted clubs he was famed for making. Following his ethereal round he was full of praise for the course and said:
“How the modern game has changed in just over 100 years. A great test of golf has been created by Sir Nick Faldo here at Lough Erne and the condition of the course is truly amazing. I should also imagine that there might be a slight change in design fees in 2009 as I charged £1 per day plus expenses for design work back in my day”.
Old Tom was also stunned that The Faldo Course had managed to remain open inspite of the recent deluge of rain which forced many courses to close. The Sand Capped fairways and USGA Spec Greens allow for Tournament Standard All Year round playing conditions and continued usage of Golf Carts. At the Winter rate Green Fee this is sure to prove a real treat for both local and visiting Golfers.
Tiger Woods went to the trouble of posting a statement on his Web site to thank his sponsors, staff and volunteers at the Tiger Challenge, which he unfortunately wasn’t able to make.
Furyk, who closed with a 5-under 67, won his first event since the 2007 Canadian Open. The way he played the final two holes made it clear Furyk has not forgotten how to win. He canned a tramliner for par on 17 when it looked for all the world like a bogey was as good as he could do. Furyk was in a horrible spot in the bunker well below the 17th green and semi boned his second to 35 feet beyond the hole. He was hopeful of lagging a tricky putt to 3 feet to make no worse than bogey. Instead, he watched it break sharply to the right over the final few feet and drop into the cup for the jammiest dodger of a par you will ever see. He followed that with a 9-iron to 5 feet on the last before calmly knocking in the birdie putt for a one shot win.
Furyk gives tiger a little lift. Watch where you putting that finger Jim!
McDowell, the replacement for Woods at this tournament, had to hole out from 18th fairway to tie Furyk, and he very nearly did, his ball narrowly missing the hole. His subsequent birdie gave him second place alone.
Allenby’s Claw Grip Is The Don
Meanwhile in Sun City South Africa, Robert Allenby claimed his first win in living memory at the Nedbank Challenge. Allenby did his best to lose the tournament by acting like a “Flamin’ Galla” by taking bogey on the last when a par would have done.
The playoff was held on the par-4 18th, which both players bogeyed in regulation. Allenby reached the green with his second shot for the first time in seven attempts at the third playoff hole. Stenson, meanwhile, went through the green and then chipped 25 feet past the pin. Allenby two-putted from about 5 feet for the win.
Meanwhile Overnight leader Retief Goosen cemented the worst stat on tour with a 75 to finish fifth in the 12-man field. He is no. 1 scorer in rounds 1 to 3 on the European Tour and no. 198 in final round scoring. He shrugged off the stat with his usual warm smile. Not.
Robert Allenby- “I’m stoked at the win. I cant wait to get back to the Bay to see Alf, Miles and all my friends.”
The police asked Tiger's wife how many times she hit him. "I don't know exactly...put me down for a 5."
Phil Mickelson contacted Tiger's wife to pick up tips on how to beat Tiger.
What's the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a ball 400 yards.
Tiger Woods wasn't seriously injured in the crash, but he's still below par.
What were Tiger Woods and his wife doing out at 2:30 in the morning? They went clubbing
Tiger Woods crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He couldn't decide between a wood and an iron.
Ping just offered Elin an endorsement contract for her own set of drivers; to be named Elin Woods..."clubs you can beat Tiger with."
Tiger just changed his nickname but still kept it in the cat family--his new name?: Cheetah
Tiger was driving an Escalade, can he blame the accident on his caddy?
Hello Mister Woods this is the On Star operator we have detected that an angry person has put a golf club through your window, we are contacting Nike for a new club.
Who among us doesn't hear a car crash and immediately grab the closest golf club we can find??!!
Tiger's new movie: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hydrant.
Tiger Woods owns lots of expensive cars. Now he has a hole in one.
Poor choice; he should have gone with the driver.
RATE €70.00 per person Mon - Sun
This green fee rate includes 18 Holes on The Heritage Championship Course with the choice of Cooked Breakfast with Tea/Coffee OR Soup & Sandwiches
RATE €80.00 per person Mon - Sun
This green fee rate includes 18 Holes on The Heritage Championship Course
& Steak Dinner in the Clubhouse
RATE € 90.00 per person Mon – Sun
This green fee rate includes 18 Holes on The Heritage Championship Course, Breakfast Bap with Tea/Coffee on arrival, Soup & Homemade Brown Bread in the Spike Bar after 9 holes & Steak Dinner in the Clubhouse
Please note all of the above offers are valid
from 1st August 2009 until 30th April 2010
Tiger Woods has just released the following statement on his website:
"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.
Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.
But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don't share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions.
Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it's difficult.
I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology."
If you’ve never played the Russell you’re in for a treat. It is one of the finest parkland courses in the country and has excellent stay and play rates.
Weekly Special (Sun - Fri) - Round of Golf €39.00. Offer till March 31st'10
Weekend Special (Sat) - Round of Golf & Lunch €59.00. Offer till March 31st'10
Weekend Special (Sat ) - Round of Golf €49.00. Offer till March 31st'10
2am. Tiger lying on the ground with injuries to the leg and face. Elin standing over him wielding a golf club. The 4x4 planted into a fire hydrant. It all looks pretty suspect doesn’t it? Anyway the fun is in the speculation. Instead of dragging poor Tiger down a back alley over this, has anyone considered that there might be a perfectly innocent explanation. It might go something like this.
Explain 2am: Everyone knows Tiger is a champion. And you don’t get to be a champion without hard work. He is so busy practicing up to 18 hours a day that he gets home VERY late every evening.
Explain the lnjuries: Though tired and weary, when he gets home every night at 2am, Tiger makes a special effort to spend some quality time with Elin, teaching her the game of golf in his specially constructed indoor practice area. Though usually Tiger never lets anyone touch his clubs, such is his love for Elin, that he lets her use his 3 iron. What he does not realise is that to the mere mortal, his 3 iron looks like a poker. Anyway having gently arranged her tender fingers on the club into a Vardon grip, Tiger puts down a pristine Nike One Black and takes a step back. Elin makes a swing, takes an unholy shank, the ball ricocheting off the radiator, hammering of Tiger’s bad leg before heading back and to the left finally smashing into Tiger’s face. Back and to the left, back and to the left………
Explain the car in the fire hydrant: After the injurious shanking incident, Tiger suggests that they take the lesson outside as it might be less dangerous. Ever the patient professional, Tiger, at this stage looking like Rocky coming out for the 15th round against Apollo Creed and only able to see out of one eye, suggests they create their own par-3 in the driveway to make Elin’s golfing experience as real as possible. The loveable rogue suggests a nearby fire hydrant would be the perfect water hazard and lets out a couple of thousand gallons to “re-create” the famous 17th at Sawgrass. Of course every good par-3 needs a hole-in-one prize, something like a car, and it has to be sitting out in the middle of the lake. Tiger heads over to the car to move it into the water. As he limps through the darkness and the sodden grass and sits into the car, with the water belting like a thunder storm on the windshield, Tiger realises that instead of recreating the 17th at Sawgrass, he has unwittingly made his front lawn into the first tee of the Ryder Cup at the K Club. A cold sweat breaks out, the pain in the leg is back worse than ever, and Elin looks like Stevie, imploring him to take a 3-iron. “No” says Tiger, “Clarkey is 300 yards up the middle, how hard can it be with driver?”. At that precise moment all Tiger’s driving demons come flooding back and he finds himself on his arse in the lawn, with the car straddling the fire hydrant and Elin standing there with the 3-iron and an “I told you so” look. Pretty simple really.
And the moral of the story? Well there are a few.
You don’t need driver on the 1st at the K Club.
Cavity backs are so much easier to hit than blades.
Never hit a golf ball when there is a radiator nearby.
Bad driving can permeate through the rest of your game, or “life” in Tiger’s case.
As Bob Rotella says: If the last image you have before you hit is the water hazard, you will find the water hazard.
Well done to Lee Westwood on grabbing the Dubai World Championship and The Race To Dubai. Those trophies were wonderful though, weren’t they? Firstly the mace thing must have been a leftover from some Ornage Order standoff at Drumcree and did you see the Race To Dubai trophy? It was huge. Lee could barely lift it. Maybe they should have considered making it from steel instead of depleted uranium! Bring on 2010.
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.