March 2010

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Winner Alright: Last week’s tips: Phil Mickelson winner 11/1; KJ Choi 4th 60/1

Verizon Heritage Classic, Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head, South Carolina

Purse: $5,700,000

Past winners:

2009 Brian Gay

2008 Boo Weekley

2007 Boo Weekley

2006 Aaron Baddeley

Brian Gay 20/1

brian gay The Verizon Heritage has always been a horses for courses event with form lines being pretty much thrown out the window by the winners of past stagings. Brian Gay, the defending champion missed the cut at Augusta and headed straight down to Hilton Head to prepare for his defence. Gay’s win last year was stunning, his Sunday 64 steam-rollered the field and he romped home by a full ten shots. He may have struggled slightly of late but Gay has six top 30 finishes already this year and is the straightest hitter on tour. I expect a spirited defence.


Jim Furyk 10/1

jim furyk The Masters was horrible for Jim Furyk. Heavily backed beforehand Furyk left the bookies smiling as he missed the cut by nine shots. Ironically he had not missed a cut since last years staging of the Verizon Heritage Classic. Don’t let that dissuade you too much because Jim is still one of the straightest batters out there and also brings a recent win at the Transitions to the party. Furyk finished fourth in 2008 (when Boo Weekly went back to back at Hilton Head) and came second in 2005 and 2006.


Paul Casey 12/1

paul casey The word inside the ropes on tour is that Paul Casey could contend this week. You can immediately discount his Masters missed cut last week as Casey was never likely to contend after being out with yet another niggling injury. If he makes it to Thursday injury free, he will certainly be one to watch as he brings happy memories from his final round in 2009. One year ago Casey scraped into the weekend, but figured out the Harbour Town Links on Sunday, shooting a very impressive 66.


KJ Choi 15/1

kj choi What a run KJ gave us last week at the Masters. Starting the week at 60/1 he even lead for a time on the back nine Sunday until a duffed bunker shot on 13 stunted his progress. Driving the ball solidly and putting brilliantly, KJ has form in both of the categories needed to win here. Now with three top five finishes in his last four events, the question is whether KJ has the stamina to keep his form for one more week given his gruelling Masters where he played all four rounds with Tiger.

Early odds from Betfair

Chalk and Cheese

98400022 phil mickelson green jacket

What a stark contrast there was between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson following the final round on Sunday. Tiger was interviewed by Peter Kostis, the pair seemingly all alone behind some media building while Phil Mickelson was surrounded by his wife, kids, Bones, Butch and the army of genuine fans with whom Phil has genuinely engaged. With all the talk of Mickelson trying to eclipse Woods on the course, is the real question not “Is Phil the man that Tiger is striving to become”?

Tiger’s Week


How did Tiger Woods manage to shoot 68-70-70-69 at the Masters considering the following. Monday: Tiger faced the free media for the first time. Tuesday: Another salacious story breaks about a young neighbours visit to Tiger’s office. Wednesday: Billy Payne whips his ass about failing as a role model. Thursday: Nike airs a controversial advert featuring Tiger’s father seemingly speaking from beyond the grave. Friday: Tiger developed a “two way miss” on the range. All this and he still managed to finish fourth!

Quotes Of The Masters

"Going fishing." – Jack Nicklaus, after starting the Masters, when asked about his plans for the remainder of the week.

"Did I? If I did, I'm sorry." – Tiger Woods, after being asked about swearing during Saturday's round.

"He said, 'Dad, show me. Show me you can still play this golf course.’ You know what? I wanted to show him I can still play the golf course." – Tom Watson, after his first round 67 with son Michael on the bag.

"We liked the ad. It certainly got people talking." Phil Knight, Nike founder on the controversial Tiger advert aired on the eve of the tournament.

Magic Manassero

120093_m16 matteo manassero At 16 years old, Italian Matteo Manassero became not only the youngest player in Masters history, but achieved the best finish by a European amateur for 73 years. The young Italian came joint 36th on four over par, two places better than then British Amateur champion Sergio Garcia achieved in1999. Manassero, is not set to turn professional in time for next months BMW Italian Open in Turin. “Playing on a course like this obviously makes you understand that you can play on every course," Manassero said after his final round.


You struggle to hit the ball any great distance and lack upper body strength and core power.


Upper body strength in one of the main differences between top pro’s, men and women golfers. Upper body strength is an essential component if you are to generate power in your swing.

Exercise: .

A great exercise to improve upper body strength is to perform Push Ups on a Swiss Ball. This exercise targets the pectorals (chest) muscles and core stability. Roll out on a Swiss Ball with your head face down until the ball is under your thighs. Maintain a stable core with a neutral pelvis start to perform push ups. If you want to make this exercise harder try rolling farther out on the Swiss ball.


Log on to PGA Pro and TPI fitness instructor for more info.

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This week’s readers fourball is a trip to Mount Juliet in Kilkenny. Renowned as being among the best parkland courses in the world, Mount Juliet Golf Club hosted the 2002 and 2004 American Express World Golf Championships, which were won by Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. For full details of all Mount Juliet’s golf specials log on to To enter text your answer with name and address to 087-2029040 or e-mail to no later than Friday next.


This week’s question: Who Am I?

I was born in 1963 in Scotland and am best known by my nickname. Although I have won eight European Tour Order Of Merit titles, I will always be known as the best player never to win a major. The Ryder Cup is my greatest achievement, I’ve played in eight, and never lost a singles match. I wont be playing in Wales but wont be far away!

Congrats to last weeks winner Gerard Fleming, Banteer, Cork who wins a fourball in Dromoland Castle.

On The Tour Truck: Get A Grip

grips pic The only part of the club you should have contact with when swinging is the grip and yet I see so many club golfers ignore the importance of the right size grip and when it is time to put on new ones. On Tour I have often put new grips on for some Tour players every 4 weeks. At The Masters none of the Tour Trucks are allowed on site so a lot of time is spent by the tech staff running back and forward to the trucks parked down the road with clubs to be gripped and delivered back to the players. A few simple things to be aware of; The grip should fit the hand and when you grip the club the fingers on your left hand ( for a right handed golfer) should just touch the soft fleshy part of your hand below the thumb. If your knuckles are white or your forearm muscle feels tight the grip is too small. Ask for some extra tape the next time you get new grips or get a Midsize. If the grips on your clubs looks shiny and the rubber feels hard and a little soap, water and a scrub doesn’t improve them then its time to replace them. New grips will feel like new clubs and your control will improve.

with Derek Murray from

clip_image002I take it all back. The Masters turned out to be one of the best ever even if the tricolour was not on the leaderboard. The last time no Irishman made the cut in a major championship was the USPGA in 1999. It was very interesting to see the contrasting reactions of Rory McIlory and Padraig Harrington on missing the cut. Rors looked a beaten man on Friday, shoulders slumped, back aching, mentally drained and in need of a break from the game. By contrast Padraig Harrington was very philosophical about his performance and accepted the weekend off with a smile. Amazingly Harrington spent Saturday on the range in Augusta, proclaiming himself very happy with his days work as he left Augusta.

374161 tiger press conf At this point I have to hold my hand up and say I was wrong about Tiger when I said that he could not contend after four months in the freezer. Perhaps my impression of a bearded Tiger pacing around an addiction clinic in pyjamas and a hoodie was a tad misplaced. He emerged like he had never been away. He looked lean and cut on the tee and didn’t seem in the slightest bit spooked by being back in the spotlight. Sporting a new driver, Tiger drove it straighter than ever before (until Sunday at least), and when the odd one did get away like on the ninth on Friday, he could produce the kind of miracle shot that no other pro could even dream of. Even Ian Poulter said he rushed back to his hotel 374338 tom watson to catch the replay of Tiger’s shot on TV and later said it was a shot he wouldn’t ever have dreamed of let one have the ability to play. Tiger did tell one little fib however. After one bad shot he dropped the club and shouted “God Dammit”, proving he’s not really a Buddhist.

The Augusta cameo’s were great this year too. Freddie “I’m just holin’ everything” Couples wasn’t been asked questions about his drive on ten or his putt on 18, rather he was busy nattering about playing in Ecco plimsoles. For a 50 year old guy who doesn’t use a glove or golf shoes to play the way Freddie played was just too cool for school. Then there Tom Watson with his son Michael on the bag. During a practice round Michael pulled his drive into the trees, supposedly by accident, as a ruse to get a little alone time in Augusta with his girlfriend. While in the wphil with family oods, Michael produced a sparkler and popped the question. That made 60 year old Tom so proud that he only went and shot the lights out in round one, even outdriving the likes of Ernie Els in the stats. Augusta was supposed to be “unplayable” by Watson’s own admission, he’s having a fairytale twilight to his career. As one commentator put it, “in any other sport, he'd be on a gurney. Here, he's on the leaderboard!”

And finally a word for Phil. He’s so good he doesn’t even need to drive it straight to win at Augusta. His second shot to the green on the par five 13th was the shot of the week. Stimyed behind trees with 204 yards to go, most of the field would have just chipped out but Phil but his six iron from its scabbard went for broke and the rest is history. When asked later about the gap in the trees through which he hit Phil set the media centre alight with laughter saying “It was big enough, certainly big enough for a ball to fit through.” Big Phil, big man, big heart. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Viva the Masters!

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1. The Divine Intervention at Amen Corner Award: Phil Mickelson

phil with family

Phil and Amy wearing Denis Taylor’s Sunglasses.

Phil Mickelson enjoyed the kind of lucky breaks during his final round that are normally reserved for ex-Taoisigh during raffles. Tackling the turn on Sunday Phil went:

Ninth Hole: Tee shot hammers off tree, bounces back into fairway. Par.

Tenth Hole: Tee shot hits tree, bounces back into the only playable place possible. Par.

Eleventh Hole: Ball hits fan, ricochets back onto short grass. Par

"He just had this peace to him that I haven't seen in awhile," said Bones. Is Phil God?

2. The Best Outlaw Award: Shingo Katayama

shingo the gringo

Shingo: Gringo

Shingo Katayama let us all down in round one when he had to remove his cowboy hat for “safety reasons” in the high winds. He didn’t disappoint the fashionistas for long though when he transformed into a Japanese Johnny Cash. You the man Shingo “The Gringo”!


The What The Hell Happened Us Award: Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia

sergio and adam scott

Adam and Sergio: We used be sh*t-hot, now we’re just sh*t!

Adam Scott to Sergio Garcia: “Didn’t we used to be young, dashing and good at golf?” Garcia and Scott have now slipped to 18th and 46th in the world rankings but they can console themselves in the knowledge that Tiger himself was once ranked outside the top 50. When he was three years old!

The “I’m Ken Brown” Award: Oliver Wilson

oliver wilson 5th hole in trees

Oliver Wilson as Ken On The Course

Is there anyone on the face of the Earth that actually enjoys Ken Brown’s “On the Course” clips for the BBC? Well we now have proof old Ken has at least one fan in Oliver Wilson. Wilson took time out during his first round at Augusta to recreate Ken’s famous ‘pine straw’ clip. Speaking from his home in the Seventies, Brown said “Wilson should stick to the golf, he clearly hasn’t mastered my crouch and camera stare”.

The Wrong Caddy Award: Padraig Harrington

ciaran harrington

Padraig Harrington with new caddy Ciaran. Ronan was Inconsolable

Little wonder that Padraig Harrington missed the cut at Augusta after his bizarre decision to replace his tried and trusted caddy Ronan Flood on the eve of the Masters. Flood was said to be “inconsolable” after receiving a text from his boss informing him he was to be replaced by Harrington’s two and a half year old son Ciaran. In an interview after missing the cut Harrington said, “In hindsight dropping Ronan may have been a mistake; I ended up carrying my bag and my caddy!”

The Worst Disguise Award: Kultida Woods

kultida woods

Tiger Woods mam Kultida came to Augusta disguised as one of the Jackson Five. Tida, or should that be Tito, had her sun-hat custom made from two decommissioned hot air balloons!

And Finally The Worst Dressed Award: Ryan Moore

ryan moore

Ryan Moore: Packin’ timber

Ryan Moore wanted to make at statement at Augusta. Unfortunately nobody could stop laughing long enough to hear it. Moore’s outfit says “I can rap like P. Diddy or sort out Quinn like the Financial Regulator. Sorry Ryan but we reckon you’re packing a bit too much timber to carry that outfit off.

Well done Phil on your awesome success at the Masters,  Here’s the text on our tips and how they fared:

US Masters Golf 2010 Betting Preview. “Bet Your Balls”

Phil Mickelson 11/1: Winner!

phil mickelson masters 2004Some say big Phil’s mind is elsewhere with his family’s health issues, but on the course he remains the most exciting and compelling Augusta performer. His record is phenomenal; a two time champion (in 2004 and 2006), four thirds and six other top 10’s. Was horrible off the tee last week, but such is the measure of the man he followed three final round double bogeys with six straight birdies on the back nine. Only three times in the last decade has the Masters winner finished outside the top 22 in driving accuracy so Phil has 72 hours of work to get it sorted on the practice tee. Mickelson is to the Masters what the Stig is to Top Gear.

KJ Choi 60/1: Tied 4th

80580430 kj choi mastersFive foot eight and full of muscles! Former weightlifter KJ Choi represents great value for the Masters. Rescued a terrible ’09 with a good finish to the season and has maintained his form this season with consistent top 25 finishes in his last four PGA tour events. KJ chalked up a second at the Transitions and a third in Malaysia on the European Tour last month. His form line is very similar to 2004, when he finished third behind Ernie and Phil. Ranked 12th in greens in regulation, historically a vital stat to win at Augusta. If fellow countryman YE Yang can bag a major, why not KJ?

Hunter Mahan 50/1: Tied 8th

hunter mahan mastersStatistically the Masters winner dominates two statistics, driving accuracy and greens in regulation. Hunter ranks highly with approximately 70% in both and has already won on tour in Phoenix this year. Shot an impressive first round 66 last year on his way to finishing tied tenth. Proved a factor in three of last years majors finishing in the top 20. One to watch.


BBC golf have reported on the par 3 contest at The Masters. Here’s the report

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen won the traditional pre-Masters Par 3 Contest at Augusta, which Tiger Woods skipped.

No player who has ever won the event on Wednesday has gone on to win on Sunday.

World number one Woods, favourite for the Masters despite his long lay-off from golf, has not played the Par 3 since partnering Arnold Palmer in 2004.

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and Jim Furyk of the United States each achieved hole-in-ones, while some pros allowed their children to take shots.

Oosthuizen, who won in Spain two weeks ago to grab his Masters spot, became the third successive South African winner of the Par 3 Contest.

After Rory Sabbatini and Tim Clark took the nine-hole event with five- under-par 22s in 2008 and 2009 respectively, Oosthuizen went one better and was only one shot outside the all-time record.

He finished two ahead of 16-year-old Italian sensation Matteo Manassero, Korean KJ Choi - who partners Woods on Thursday - and Americans David Duval and Jerry Pate.

I fancy a number of golfers at odds of 30/1 or better at Augusta this week but also fear the great unknown which is just how Tiger Woods will fare after 5 months off? My solution is simply to structure my bets so as to take Tiger out of the equation.

I touched on some of the many betting markets available to punters in my Masters Overview and now that it is time to put my money down I am looking to take advantage of that range by making use of the “Without Woods” market available at a number of bookmakers but in particular Betxchange who have the best prices about my particular fancies.
First up a case can be made for all of the men at the top of the betting boards but you can also argue against them all as well.
Woods 5/1 has just emerged from a personal scandal and has not competed for 5 months, Els 14/1 would probably have been better off not playing in Houston and no longer has Ricci Roberts on his bag, Mickelson 14/1 has had a poor start to 2010, Harrington 20/1 has also not been in the greatest of form.

masters nicklaus press conferenceTHE MODERATOR: We welcome Jack Nicklaus, great to have you here. Like to remind us all of Jack's accomplishments in golf. Winner of 18 Majors, including six Masters, five PGAs, four U.S. Opens, three British Opens, winner of 73 PGA TOUR victories, six-time Ryder Cup Team member, including twice as captain, captained four Presidents Cup teams, has competed in 45 Masters Tournaments, tied for fourth all-time.
Jack, thank you for being with us.
JACK NICKLAUS: Fourth? (Laughter) Has to be Arnold and Gary. Who would be the fourth?

Masters 2010 Betting Tips: odds from Paddypower

Phil Mickelson 11/1

phil mickelson masters 2004 Some say big Phil’s mind is elsewhere with his family’s health issues, but on the course he remains the most exciting and compelling Augusta performer. His record is phenomenal; a two time champion (in 2004 and 2006), four thirds and six other top 10’s. Was horrible off the tee last week, but such is the measure of the man he followed three final round double bogeys with six straight birdies on the back nine. Only three times in the last decade has the Masters winner finished outside the top 22 in driving accuracy so Phil has 72 hours of work to get it sorted on the practice tee. Mickelson is to the Masters what the Stig is to Top Gear.




Padraig Harrington 14/1

Padraig-Harrington masters

There’s a log jam of players stuck on three majors including Harrington, Els and Mickelson and Padraig makes no secret of his desire to be the first to four. Excellent run in too with a third in the CA Championship and top ten at the Transitions. Let’s hope the final round aberration in Houston on Sunday was just that. Harrington has the ideal short game for Augusta and plenty of course management experience. Two top-10’s at the Masters in 2007 and 2008. Winning a green jacket would make Paddy “Ah, ah, ah, ah, delighted!”


KJ Choi 60/1

80580430 kj choi masters Five foot eight and full of muscles! Former weightlifter KJ Choi represents great value for the Masters. Rescued a terrible ’09 with a good finish to the season and has maintained his form this season with consistent top 25 finishes in his last four PGA tour events. KJ chalked up a second at the Transitions and a third in Malaysia on the European Tour last month. His form line is very similar to 2004, when he finished third behind Ernie and Phil. Ranked 12th in greens in regulation, historically a vital stat to win at Augusta. If fellow countryman YE Yang can bag a major, why not KJ?




Hunter Mahan 50/1

hunter mahan masters Statistically the Masters winner dominates two statistics, driving accuracy and greens in regulation. Hunter ranks highly with approximately 70% in both and has already won on tour in Phoenix this year. Shot an impressive first round 66 last year on his way to finishing tied tenth. Proved a factor in three of last years majors finishing in the top 20. One to watch.

Charl Schwartzel 55/1

They say that Masters debutants are at a massive disadvantage but you have to like the chances of South African Charl Schwartzel. Already a two time winner on the European Tour this season Charl has taken his form to the USA finishing second at the WGC CA Championship and bagging a top 10 finish at Houston last week. Has the length, the swing, the putting stroke and the form to be the first debutant winner since Fuzzy on 1979.


Retief Goosen 25/1

Okay we all know Retief suffers a bit from white line fever but the forty something always provides value for money. Fifth and fourth in his last two outings, his resurgence this season has lead many to fancy him to add to his two majors. In the top three from 2005 to 2007, I expect him to figure each way come Sunday. Retief has an underrated short game and he’ll need the touch or a heart surgeon around the cryptic greens in Augusta. Goosen with a belly putter though is kind of like that surgeon with the back of a hammer!

I don’t fancy

Tiger Woods: Unless there was a module at the Clinic in Mississippi on dropping the hands inside causing a miss right off the tee, Tiger still won’t be able to hit the Augusta fairways.

Ernie Els: He’s only gone and gave caddy Ricci Roberts the flick in favour of his mate. Big Easy, big mistake.

Anthony Kim: Probably still plastered after winning in Houston, and has thumb is hanging off apparently.

-Louis Oosthuizen’s Bag Check following the Open de Andalucia 2010-

louis looking cool

Vital Stats

Residence: Pinnacle Point, South Africa & Manchester, England

Date of Birth: 19/10/1982

Place of Birth: Mossel Bay, South Africa

Height & Weight: 5ft 10in 11st 4lb (178cm 72kgs)

Family: Wife: Nel-Mare (m.2007), daughter Jana (2009)

Turned Pro 2003 (plus 6)






Longest Drive


Fairway Hit %


Putts per Round


Average Drive


Greens in Regulation


Putts per GIR




GIR Rank


Rank (ppr)



Lodewicus Theodorus "Louis" Oosthuizen travels to the Masters as the latest European Tour winner having secured his maiden victory at the Open de Andalucia. The win elevated Louis to 44th in the world golf rankings and guaranteed his Augusta ticket. It will be the South African’s second Masters, having missed the cut last year. Born in Mossel Bay, South Africa Oosthuizen won numerous amateur titles before turning professional in 2002 playing off plus six at the age of 19. He once shot a 57 on his home course Mossel Bay which he says happened 'by accident' as he was aiming for 59! Though the winner of five professional tournaments on the Sunshine Tour, Louis has had to endure a long wait to notch up his first European Tour success in Spain. There was a welcoming committee for Louis after the final putt disappeared - fellow countryman Thomas Aiken and a host of the South African caddies drenched Louis in Champagne to help him celebrate. He did, however, have to leave the Trophy behind at Malaga Airport as it was deemed a 'Dangerous Object' by Monarch Airlines!

Louis Oosthuizen What’s In The Bag 2010

whats in the bag louis oosthuizen 2010

He’s an Ogre

74930197 oosthuizen shrek Louis nickname on Tour is “Shrek”, due to his striking similarity to the green Ogre that lives in the swamp, even sporting the gap teeth. Far from being embarrassed by it however, Louis has embraced Shrek to the extent that he even uses him as his headcover!



Anyone For Tennis

louis family_portrait_1 The Oosthuizen family’s first love is tennis. Louis Dad and brother are accomplished provincial players in the homeland and while Louis himself played representative tennis at all youth levels, he opted for golf. Lucky for us!


Louis lists his passion as movies and hunting. We reckon he likes movies about hunting and wonder why it is that all South African golfers love to hunt. Fellow tour winner Charl Schwartzel would also rather be armed when not golfing!

natalie gulbis  stretching


Lack of shoulder mobility results in poor ball striking and loss of power because the club tends to get out of position during the backswing and results in a golfer trying to make compensations on the downswing with the body or hands to square the clubhead.


A common swing fault associated with poor shoulder mobility is a Flat Shoulder Plane. Statistics show that 45% of amateurs suffer from this swing characteristic. If the range of motion is poor golfers tend to lose their posture and the shoulders will turn on a flatter than normal plane to try to gain width and a full turn in the backswing.

Stretch: .

Hold a club in front of you at both ends keeping your arms straight. Without letting go of the club, and keeping your arms straight, move it over your head and behind you. You should only need to bend your elbows slightly. This stretch is carried out by most pros before they hit balls. Check out the TPI fitness page and type in Tom House Shoulders For Golf to see some more great exercises to increase your range of motion in the shoulders you could be as flexible as Natlie Gulbis pictured.

Pic: Natalie Gulbis: Stretching Is Important

Log on to PGA Pro and TPI fitness instructor for more info.


It’s Masters week and where better to give you a fourball than the Augusta of Ireland, Dromoland Castle. The Ron Kirby design has recently been transformed thanks to a €5 million course investment by the owners and is in magnificent shape. For details on the course and rates log on to To enter text your answer with name and address to 087-2029040 or e-mail to no later than Friday next.

This week’s question: Who Am I?

I’m 51 now and have four tour wins but am definitely best known for my Masters win in 1987. Faced with Seve and Greg Norman in a playoff, I chipped in from a seemingly impossible position right of the 11th for the win. I’m still pretty handy too, I finished tied for 30th last year!

Congrats to last weeks winner Seamus Walsh who answered Paul McGinley and wins a fabulous fourball on the Montgomerie Course in Carton House.

cabreras green jacket in the champions locker room Cornflakes. I’ve had them pretty much every morning of my life, but you know what, I still look forward to a bowl at brekkie time. It’s the same with the Masters. We spend 51 weeks of the year criticizing it and the other enthralled by it. If golf were food then the host course Augusta National would be like the good China, it spends the whole year in the dresser held down by blu-tack, but by God when it comes out the food upon it looks great.

Pic: Cabrera’s Green Jacket in the Champion’s Locker Room

To me, there’s something quite comforting about the quaintness of the Masters. To the non-golfer, it must just be plain weird. Here you have Augusta National which prides itself as being its own little socialist republic of golf, so to speak. The top guys wear green jackets, make up silly rules and generally potter around. The boss is called a Chairman, the key qualifying criteria for which seems to be having a funny name. Ex-chairman Hootie (and the Blowfish) Johnson has now been replaced by Billy Payne (in the ass). For one week of the year, Billy and the lads actually open the course and invite the world’s best to come and play; assuming of course they present the armed yellow hard hats at the gate with the correct credentials. Apparently it’s easier to get in to “Judean People’s Front” than the Masters but that’s what makes it all the more intriguing.

masters of the universe]

The lucky few who bought tickets in 1975, or badges as Billy calls them, get to be called ‘patrons’ and to watch the event. The chosen ones, i.e. who haven’t sold their badges to touts, get to look forward to a weekend of extreme hillwalking, disgustinginly cheap food (I’ve heard it described as both), being herded around like sheep and not being allowed to touch anything.

Pic: Billy Payne as Hee-Man

At the end of the event, Chairman Mao, er Billy sits in an incredibly small room, called the Butler Cabin beside an American football commentator called Jim and after some heavily scripted ad libbing makes the exact same speech year after year. He then congratulates the new champion, fakes surprise and says “and I think I hear him coming now!”. That’s the cue for the champ to be pushed in from behind the camera to undergo the initiation ceremony of getting to wear his very own green jacket that’s three sizes too big and doesn’t match his golf shirt. Why don’t the third round leaders ever wear something that goes well with green, I always ask myself? Where was I? Ah yes, the Butler Cabin. Did you know if was named after the Irish carpenter who spent a half day building it?

For all its careful choreography and staleness, the Masters has moved with the times in the one area you would have expected never to change. The course. Augusta is constantly undergoing tweaks, whenever Aldila bring out a new shaft, Billy shoves the tees back five yards. And the greens there are faster than anywhere. They kind of start off like like Olazabal’s stubble. The staff cut them at some ungodly hour like 4am and then give them another “freaky” at 7am just before play. To the unitiated, a “freaky” is another, tighter, cut, like shaving in the wrong direction, which makes them ultra slick. So if they start like Ollie, they end up like Camilo Villegas.

So bring it on I say, all one a half hours coverage per night on the BBC. I think I’ll watch it with a bowl of Cornflakes. China bowl, of course.

clip_image002There’s putting and then there’s putting at Augusta. It’s all about green placement around The Masters course where hitting the green is sometimes not enough. When they get there, one of the most critical aspects in the pro’s bag this week is how the putter is set up. With speeds on the green getting up to lightening pace and with massive drops and elevations it makes for a very interesting week of putting stats. Loft on the player’s putters is critical this week and setting the loft on most heads at 2 or 3º will be the norm. This low loft setting will help to start the ball rolling quickly and reduce the amount of “skid” or bobbling of the ball when it is hit especially as the greens get faster. Having good roll helps enormously with pace and can be the difference between in the hole or five foot past. I’ll be on the Cleveland Truck at the Masters and look forward to bringing you all the tour truck gossip stateside on my return.

with Derek Murray from

Ror’s At Augusta

Like all the top pro’s our man Rory McIlory made his own trip to Augusta a couple of weeks back to do some reconnaissance. He spent three days there with his lifelong friends Harry Diamond and Stephen Sweeney and played four practice rounds on the hallowed turf. The friends stayed in the Eisenhower Cabin which overlooks the course and got the grand tour of the Champions Locker Room, the Butler Cabin and the Crowe’s Nest. Michael Bannon, Rory’s coach spent last week getting his swing “back on track” in Houston and though a recent scan on Rory’s back revealed some lingering issues, let’s keep our fingers crossed for him at Augusta.

Argentinian Beef


Don’t tell the IFA but Argentinian Beef is on the Champion’s Dinner menu at the U.S Masters. Every year the menu is decided by the reigning champion and last years victor Angel Cabrera has decided on his country’s most famous meat. Cabrera warmed up for the event by hosting and cooking at a "preview dinner" for 100 guests in Houston to raise money for his foundation. El Pato is rumoured to have made a special dipping sauce for salad and bread. Whatever next we ask? Harrington getting a grilling on Masterchef?


Palmer on Tee


Arnold Palmer will again hit the first tee shot at the Masters this year as honorary starter. He is set to be joined this year by fellow legend Jack Nicklaus. It is also widely expected that Gary Player will re-unite the big three as starters in 2011. A long held tradition at the Masters, honorary starters have included legends of the game including Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen who started in 1981, and were then joined by Sam Snead in 1984. This trio continued until 1999 when Sarazen died.



Ernie tells Ricky to “Puck” Off


Ricci Roberts won’t be on the bag of Ernie Els at the Masters. Roberts, who guided Ernie to two wins already this season will hand the bag over to Dan Quinn by pre-arrangement. Els had suggested to Roberts last year about a job sharing role on the bag with him and Els friend Quinn. Quinn is himself an accomplished amateur golfer and career sportsman having played NHL ice hockey with the Pittsburgh Penguins for 14 seasons. Quinn is also booked to take Ernie’s bag for the PGA Championship later this season.

only at augusta

How many Augusta staff does it take to change a light bulb? Lots, if this picture is anything to go by. Six staff get busy painting a 10 metre stretch of cerbing. After a quick dash off to trim Billy Payne’s nose hair and a spot of green jacket dry cleaning the gang then went for evening prayer at the Butler Cabin before being bussed back just in time for lights out at the Augusta State Penitentiary.








Rory Leonard (Banbridge)




Ben Best (Rathmore)



David Ruddy (Thurles)




Pat Murray (Limerick)



Martin Walsh (Styal, UK)




Thomas O’Flynn (Fota Island)



Jeffrey Hopkins (Skerries)




Jack Senior (Heysham, UK)



Rory McNamara (Headfort)




Luke Lennox (Moyola Park)



Ross McConnell (Belvoir Park)




Cian Curley (Newlands)



Desmond Morgan (Mullingar)




Barry Anderson (Co. Sligo)



Niall Gorey (Lee Valley)




Paul Cutler (Portstewart)



Daniel Coyle ( Co. Louth)




Eoin Arthurs (Forrest Little)



Tony Cleary (East Clare)




Richard Bridges (Stackstown)



Richard Carter (Lansdown,UK)




Michael Sinclair (Knock)



Michael McGinley Jnr (Grange)




Dermot McElroy (Ballymena)



Paul Dunne (Greystones)




Eddie McCormack (Galway)



Simon McConnell (Ballyclare)




Gareth Bohill ( Co. Louth)



Brian Casey (Headfort)




David Kernohan (GalgormCastle)



Jonathan Hurst (Shawhill,UK)




Ciaran Boggan (Co Meath)

2009 US Open sensation and former US Amateur Champion Ricky Barnes is set for the biggest role of his life when he takes to the screen in the ABC studios award winning show Desperate Housewives.  The hot and cold PGA tour golfer has been contracted to deputize as Lynette Scavo for six episodes later this year while actress Felicity Huffman finishes shooting her latest film in LA.  According to show creator Marc Cherry “We searched the world for a Lynette double and drew a blank.  Her looks are so ‘distinctive’.  Then I saw Ricky Barnes face on a box of washing powder and thought ‘Oh My God, that’s her’.  Barnes, who hasn’t had a prime time TV slot since his US Open cameo is said to be delighted with the development.  “I’m delighted with this development and thank God everyday for giving me the jaw of a Neanderthal”, said Barnes.

ricky barnes lynette

Here’s what the computer predicts for the Shell Houston Open


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