To all our international readers and Irish ex-pats around the world, here’s a four minute summary of what life has become like in Ireland. Brought to us by Crystal Swing, thought to be closely related to the H1N1 virus. Its called “He Drinks Tequila”, but it looks like Mammy’s been sniffing the stuff. International aid agencies are setting up triage tents all around the country in a bid to stem the spread of this virus.
Seriously though, one of the best-known professional golfers in Ireland has been appointed Director of Golf & Head Professional at the prestigious Lough Erne Resort in Northern Ireland. Congrats to Lynn and Lough Erne. Nice jacket Lynn, even if the sleeves are a bit long!
There’s a new sponsor this week in the form of “waste management” who have taken over from FBR. It’s anything but waste in Arizona however, with a top class field assembling at the start line. We are coming off two straight winners and (touch wood) we’re hopeful of the three-peat.
It says a lot about how comfortable a man is in his own skin, that he is relaxed about taking a week off to spend holidaying with his wife and family while his peers are battling it out in a WGC event down the road for huge money. Big Phil is back this week for his fourth start of the year, having tied 8th on his last start at Pebble Beach. Arizona is where Phil went to college, setting all kinds of NCAA records over four years. He’s won in Phoenix in 1996 and again in 2005 and came second in 2008, losing a playoff to JB Holmes. If 2010 is to be the biggest year of Phil’s career, he needs to get hot in the desert this week.
It’s a case of blunt force trauma with JB around and he has hit a real purple patch recently. He tied third at the Northern Trust Open and followed it up with a tied second at the AT&T and if he can continue his form this week he will be hard to stop. Holmes bullied the course into submission here in 2006, winning by seven shots and repeated the feat in 2008, beating Phil at the death. For once he will not be the longest hitter in the field, that honour goes to Alvaro Quiros. Hard to see past JB this week, a win or another podium finish is on the cards.
Na Na Na Na hey hey hey Goodbye! No not JayZ, that’s what Rory McIlroy sung to Kevin Na when he beat him in the WGC Accenture last week. Na may have lost but he showed some good form in that match which he can bring into this week. The Americanized South Korean has a second, third and fourth place finish already in the Phoenix Open in 2005, 2009 and 2008 respectively and I think he could do well again this week from 33/1.
Pic: Na with a textbook follow through.
Since the European Tour is off this week, I’m allowing myself a fourth pick. I really couldnt pick between Kevin Na and Matt Kucher. Kuchar’s a sleeper, has been for years, but seems to be starting to wake up. Tied sixth last year and has a couple of good finishes already under his belt at the Bob Hope (2nd) and the SBS (3rd). Did he used to go out with Demi Moore and do Punk’d? Or was that his brother Ashton?
Pic: Kuchar displaying onset on male pattern baldness type 13
|Year||Player||Country||Score||To par||1st Prize ($)||Purse ($)|
|Waste Management Phoenix Open|
|2009||Kenny Perry||United States||270||-14||1,080,000||6,000,000|
|2008||J. B. Holmes||United States||270||-14||1,080,000||6,000,000|
|2006||J. B. Holmes||United States||263||-21||936,000||5,200,000|
|2005||Phil Mickelson||United States||267||-17||936,000||5,200,000|
|2004||Jonathan Kaye||United States||266||-18||936,000||5,200,000|
|2002||Chris DiMarco||United States||267||-17||720,000||4,000,000|
|2001||Mark Calcavecchia||United States||256||-28||720,000||4,000,000|
|2000||Tom Lehman||United States||270||-14||576,000||3,200,000|
Nice one yesterday Poults, WGC Accenture Matchplay Champion 2010 has a nice ring to it. And we tipped Poults and Casey in our betting preview too which, added to the winnings from Dustin Johnson and Martin Kaymer make the balance very healthy indeed.
The Public’s confidence in their politicians, their businessmen, and even their priests has taken a battering recently. It have left people confused and disillusioned. The global recession has made the public even more cynical. Who is left to be placed on a pedestal? Our sports stars. When you were at your peak Tiger, your attitude toward the golf media and your perception inside the ropes was dodgy, at best. Because you are the best at a particular sport does not mean you get some kind of diplomatic immunity from societies rules. You behaved as if you were were no longer constrained by those rules.
There’s no need for an apology now, just a resolution to play by the rules of society like the greats who have gone before you in this sport we all love.
Tiger Woods will finally break his long silence and make a public statement about his future in Florida on Friday. What’s the bets he’s watching the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson, and dying to get back out. Word is Tiger could release details of his plans for a comeback at this conference
"Tiger plans to discuss his past and his future and he intends to apologise for his behaviour”, his handlers at the zoo said.
With Tiger and Phil out its up Lee Westwood and Steve Stricker to star in this all-star cast at this week’s World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play 2010.
Its Casey 20/1 versus Westwood 18/1 in one semi final and
and Poulter 28/1 versus McIlroy 16/1 in the other.
Its too close to call but if these guys each way are where my money is going.
Read on to see the logic
Lee Westwood, top seed in the Gary Player bracket, faces Chris Wood. Expect Westwood who has narrowly lost out twice recently, to come through, but not without a fight.
Also in this bracket is defending champion Geoff Ogilvy. The Australian is looking to become the first player to win the title three times, following his successes in 2006 and 2009. He was also runner-up in 2007 and has reached the final in three of the four times he has played.
This bracket looks like coming down to a head to head between Westwood and Ogilvy with possibly Henrik Stenson. Its Westwood for me to end Ogilvy’s involvement in the final of the bracket.
The winner of the player bracket will play the winner of the Snead bracket in the semi final. In the top half of this bracket Charl Schwartzel and Sean O’Hair look strong. However Paul Casey is lurking at the bottom of this bracket and I’ve been saying for weeks that he will go well here. He played better than anyone last year en route to the final but was out psyched there by Ogilvy. Its Casey to come through there.
For me that leaves Casey and Westwood in one semi final. Too close to call, so I wont, just yet.
This looks like boiling down to a battle between Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy, if McIlroy gets past Ollie Wilson in the second round. Wison’s a little scrapper who could give Rory a scare. If Rors ends up against Kaymer in the final of the bracket, it will be a case of long game expert versus short game expert. In the desert, I’m going with McIlroy to emerge here.
What about Ross McGowan to beat Steve Stricker in round One? Mark it down. But for me, whoever emerges from the bottom of this draw gets through. Its either Poulter or Cabrera, Cabrera is a hardened matchplayer, but Poulter has the form and a heart of steel. I’m going for Poulter here.
If all the pieces fall into place that leaves Poulter and McIlroy in the other semi final.
What the hell is happening to me? I learned Spanish in a day yesterday and am suddenly able to remember the names of all the number plates of passing cars. And I have come up trumps for the second time this season with my tip, Dustin Johnson obliging at 20/1. Okay he was the defending champion, but its proof positive that the “horses for courses” theory has some merit. I suddenly have the urge to book a Quantas flight to anywhere, their safety record is remarkable you know. Watch out for the Accenture tips tomorrow, I’m going to three-peat.
Dustin: Likes math, number plates and spitting.
Oh yeah, well done to Sky Sports for the half hour conversation on Dustin’s spitting habit Friday night. There’s no surer thing than if the Sky guys knock a man, he is pretty much guaranteed to win. Just ask Shane Lowry. Nice one again lads. I wonder what its going to be next week? Maybe jump on Pelle because of his headgear? Oh wait, ye did that already.
It was the turn of the European Tour to endure a bore-fest this week in the form of the Avantha Masters in New Delhi. Day four started with seven players tying for the lead, but the spark never came and the final round played out like a nil all draw in a game of rugby.
The highlight of the final round was a birdie at the last which saw Andrew Dodt claim the title by a stroke after the Australian posted a final round of 68 to finish on 14 under par.
Richard Finch's proved to be Dodt’s closest challenger, as he carded a six under 66. Also in the mix was England’s Richard Bland. His pained expression throughout belied his efforts, and he stepped on the birdieable 18th needing that birdie to force a playoff. He was dealt the cruellest of blows when his pulled tee shot ended up stuck to a tree, forcing Bland to hack away the ball and the chance of a first tour title.
Winner Dodt sank birdies at the 16th and 18th to claim his maiden European Tour victory. His previous best finish was a tie for ninth at last year's Barclays Singapore Open.
“It was a huge relief when I birdied the 18th,” said Dodt, who is The European Tour’s newest Member after taking affiliate membership last week and instantly finds himself in the top ten on The Race to Dubai.
Darren Clarke and Oliver Fisher finished in a group of six players on ten under following rounds of 71 and 70 respectively.
Official Scores and Prize Money
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Thursday Feb 11 – Sunday Feb 14, 2010
This week will be Dustin’s fifth outing of the year. He has three top 20 finishes including tying for third last week at the Northern Trust Open. Add to that the fact that Johnson is the defending AT&T champion and it all makes for a compelling case at 20/1. At six foot four inches, Carolina born Johnson is in the top five longest drivers on the PGA tour, handy for air-mailing the ocean at Pebble Beach.
Small and weedy? Not any more. “Iron” Mike Weir has spent the Winter bulking up in the gym. Videos of his punishing training regime are all over the net. You might not have thought it last week though as he slipped to a two round total of four over to miss the cut. The bookies aren’t too worried about that aberration, they’ve retained him at 22/1 most likely after his impressive sixth at the Bob Hope in January. Try as he might Weir has never quite scaled the cliffs at Pebble; notable near misses include 2004, 2005 and 2006 when he was never out of the top four. Those inside the ropes predict a big year for Weir and what better place to start.
When Matt Kuchar won the US Amateur in 1997 he looked like the best thing since sliced pan. His 2002 Honda Classic win confirmed his potential but his slide into anonymity after was remarkable. It was great to see him rise from the ashes with another win after a weird playoff at Turning Stone last year. He’s continued the form into 2010 with a third at the SBS and a tied second at the Bob Hope (with a brilliant final round 63). A nice final round 66 last week earned another top-20 for the big Floridian and he has all the credentials to contend again this week.
Avantha Masters Betting Preview
Mark Brown 80/1, Shane Lowry 33/1, Gareth Maybin 25/1, Marcus Fraser 40/1
DLF Golf and Country Club
New Delhi, India
11 Feb 2010 - 14 Feb 2010
All the talk this week is about the homegrown contingent, but what about the All Black, Mark Brown? This weeks host course, DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi has previously hosted the Johnnie Walker Classic in 2008 where Brown’s stunning final day back nine of 31 helping him romp to a three shot victory. That ended a remarkable seven days for the Kiwi, who seven days previous claimed the SAIL Open presented by Jaypee Greens, also in India. Brown has only made two cuts from five starts this season, but we’ve seen time and again, how players perk up when returning to happier hunting grounds. 80/1 is crazy odds for a past course winner in a depleted field.
I could not believe my ears at the Abu Dhabi Championship when the Colonel on Sky Sports said that Shane Lowry needed a good finish to prove he deserves to be on tour. Not only has Lowry emulated the likes of Harrington, McGinley and McIlroy in the Amateur ranks, he also became only the third amateur to win a European Tour title when capturing the 3 Irish Open at County Louth Golf Club in Baltray. And for the record Sky Sports, Baltray was not Shane’s back yard. As it turned out Shane gave the Colonel what he so desperately craved that week, a fourth placed finish in Abu Dhabi followed by a 24th the following week. Missed the cut in Dubai, but worth a look again this week if the putts start to drop. Now come on Bruce, ease off the lad.
The rise of Gareth Maybin has been measured, yet highly impressive. From the Hooters Tour in 2005, to the Challenge Tour in 2007 and the main tour last year, Maybin’s stock has been on the up and up. Five top tens on Tour in 2009 included coming second in the South African Open Championship and a share of fourth place at the Madrid Masters. Maybin continued his good form at the start of this season with a tied fourth at the Dunhill Masters and has remained solid since. Tied for 20th last week. Surely a win is around the corner for the Belfast boy.
The Aussie is the highest placed finisher from last weeks memorable Dubai Desert Classic to make the trip to India this week. His final round 75 saw him slip to a finishing spot of 11th but statistically Fraser was the best putter of the week, topping both the “putts per GIR” and “total putts” categories. In the ultra competitive atmosphere of the European Tour, it looks like being a tough year for Fraser, so he will be keen to strike while his iron his hot.
“The stories stating Tiger will return at the matchplay have no truth to them,” said Stevie out the window of his racing car.
Media reports had earlier suggested that Woods was set to stun the world by returning to the Dove Mountain course where he made his comeback from knee surgery last year. It is also a favourite event for Woods, who has won it in 2003, 2004 and 2008.
The Light Switch In Tiger’s Bedroom
Steve Stricker emerged victorious at the 2010 Northern Trust Open on the PGA tour. With a 6 shot lead going into the final round, Steve was “happier than heck” to fend off Luke Donald and hold on for victory down Hogan’s Alley at the Riveria Country Club.
Miguel Angel Jimenez turned back the clock to claim his 16th european tour title with a playoff victory over Lee Westwood in the 2010 staging of omega dubai desert classic. The highlights of a dramatic final round included two miracle escapes from Jimenez on the first and second playoff holes. What a great tournament; a “classic” in every sense of the word.
Omega Dubai Desert Classic- Betting Preview
Odds from Boylesports
Emirates GC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
It’s not often the same player wins two weeks running on tour but Charl Shwartzel has already managed the feat in South Africa this season. The sheer methodical, nerveless performance produced by Karlsson last week was incredible and I think he will challenge again this week. In the final round last year Robert shot a sparkling 65 to climb the leaderboard and tie for fourth. He likes the track and even a podium finish at 15/1 would still be a good payout.
Okay Casey is not back to full match fitness just yet but at times last week, especially on Saturday, his ball striking was phenomenal. He seemed to give-up half way round on Sunday, but even with a 74, he still managed to finish tied fifth. In better form this time last year, Casey shot four rounds of 68 to tie for fourth. I think he’s building towards something big, if it doesn’t come this week, watch out for in the desert in Arizona at WGC Matchplay. But then again, he always wins in Arabia and this is the last hurrah.
For a long odds punt this week, check out Thomas Bjorn. Tommy gave us his players rep role on the European Tour committee at the end of last season to focus on his game, and in fairness, it has improved. An eagle on a par four and a bogey on the last in the Qatar Masters, saw him finish with a 68 to claim eight spot. His roar of “Fuck It”, loud enough to be heard in Dubai, indicated however that he wasn’t best pleased with his work. He has good memories of Dubai; he won way back in 2001.
Sorry guys, but you can dress up the farmer’s insurance open however you wish but it just didn’t ignite. No Buick, no Tiger, no drama. A ring rusty Phil. Let’s just hope the US Tour can recover and gather momentum soon. Doc
Robert Karlsson proved a popular winner of the 2010 Qatar Golf Masters in Doha on the European Tour at the weekend. Here are the condensed day 4 highlights as Karlsson, Westwood and Quiros battled it out in the final round.
Well done to Castleknock’s Peter Lawrie who finished tied for 9th with a final round 69 to earn himself a cheque for €33,264.