May 2010

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Butch Harmon is really growing on me. Apparently he has no fee for teaching tour professionals. Instead the deal is you pay Butch what you think the lesson is worth! The son of a Masters Champion, Butch is widely regarded as one of the top coaches in the world so when Sky Sport’s signed him up as one of their men in the booth, eyebrows were raised. People wondered why a man of his stature and wealth would want to go from working with Phil Mickelson on the range to spending countless hours in a cramped booth commentating on TV. Could it be that he actually enjoys it? Either way the man is so steeped in the game golf, even his throw-away comments are fascinating.

During the first round of the US Open Butch was talking abouclip_image002t the redesigned tee boxes on the par three fifth hole at Pebble Beach and mentioned that it was once the site of an old house.

In 1915, the Pacific Improvement Company hired Samuel Morse to help liquidate its land holdings in Monterey County, including the land that would become Pebble Beach. Eager to impress his new employers, Morse almost immediately sells off a single parcel of land overlooking majestic Stillwater Cove. Morse commented at the time, “I will probably regret this.” Later that year, it was decided to place a golf course rather than private homes along the coastline. Although Morse attempted to buy the Stillwater Cove property back, but the owner declined. Thus when Pebble Beach was built the fifth hole had to be placed inland.

Negotiations with the owner of the house continually broke down, the old codger in it was not for moving. Finally however a deal was done and in 1998 Pebble Beach acquired the old house. One day later the bulldozers had reduced it to rubble and Jack Nicklaus and co set about redesigning the par three on the coast as it was always intended.

But that was only half of Butch’s story. Next Pebble Beach fenced off the plot of land where the old tee box was and stuck a “For Sale” sign on it. The plot, being on the site of one of one of the most famous and picturesque golf courses in the world, obviously drew much interest. Eventually the site was sold to two “golf speculators” for what Butch described as a “vastly inflated” price. In fact, he figured, Pebble Beach probably turned a tidy profit on the deal, the sale of the plot probably covered the cost of buying the old house, knocking it and redesigning the golf hole.

So who were these two “golf speculators” who bought the site of the old tee box in Pebble Beach for the vastly inflated price tag? One is a mystery, the other is Claude Harmon, also known in the golf world as “Butch”!

mars-bars-graeme mcdowell Graeme McDowell’s Dad Kenny, recalled stories of Graeme’s introduction to golf and the role Mars bars played therein.

“Whenever they went for lessons with the local professional, he used to line them all up you see and have a target from maybe 100 yards and say, ‘Right, the closest to the target gets a Mars bar.’ Well after about six goes, Graeme was about another 50 yards back. They kept moving him back a bit because he was so good. He ate a lot of Mars bars.”

“We left him over in the morning because myself and Marian both worked and in the summer holidays, we left him over to the club when I was going to work at a quarter to eight. They had a lunch box and we took them over their tea. And we had to go looking for them in the dark. Marian would be saying: ‘They couldn’t be still at the golf course.’

“And I’d be be saying, ‘I’ll tell you where they will be. There is a big bush at the back of the 17th green on the Royal. I bet you they are there.’

“So I flashed the car lights and next thing Graeme pops his head out, ‘Coming now dad, give us five more minutes.’ They were knocking shots into the 17th. You know what it’s like, you are hitting shots in the dark and your eyes become accustomed to it.”  

Congrats to Graeme McDowell on his 2010 US Open win.  Here’s what was in his bag.

gmac us open win Player Profile and WITB: Graeme McDowell

Born 30 July 1979 (age 30)

Portrush, Northern Ireland

Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)

Weight 168 pounds (76 kg; 12.0 st)

Residence Portrush, Northern Ireland

College University of Alabama at Birmingham

Turned professional 2002

Current tour(s) European Tour

Professional wins 5

What’s In The Bag Graeme McDowell US Open Champion

whats in the bag graeme mcdowell 2010

Biography

2010 US Open Champion Graeme McDowell hails from in Portrush, Northern Ireland. After a stellar amateur career in Ireland which included winning the Irish Amateur Close Championship, Irish Youths Championship, World Universities Championship and South of Ireland Championship in the year 2000, McDowell took a golf scholarship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2001 he was a member of the Great Britain and Ireland team which retained the Walker Cup at Sea Island in Georgia and the following year McDowell won the Haskins Award for most outstanding collegiate golfer in the United States. He still retains “Blaze”, the Alabama mascot as his headcover.

McDowell turned professional in 2002 and won that season's Volvo Scandinavian Masters, which was only his fourth start on the European Tour. He has since added four more European Tour titles including the Celtic Manor Wales Open earlier this month. That win all but guaranteed his Ryder Cup spot. McDowell played in the 2008 Ryder Cup, earning two and a half points for the European team.

McDowell Shorts

Read My Lips: No More Bush

george-bush-sr This most high profile contact Graeme has in his phone is ex-president of the United States George Bush Snr. Apparently all the Bush’s are big golf fans and ould George gave Graeme his number after a friendly round.

Bono

Graeme’s favourtite non sporting hero is Bono! The Dublin crooner doesn’t feature in his Karoake partypiece however. “I sing Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol” says Graeme “and I’m pretty good at it too!”

Japan’s Toro Taniguchi survived the cut and expulsion from the US Open after he was accused of using innocent beach goers as target practice during the US Open.  Apparently it’s a common practice in Japan, where exhausted car factory assembly workers go to their local multi story driving range and attempt to hit range employees who wear padded uniforms and helmets.  Taniguchi explained the situation to baffled USGA officials who had not got a clue of what he was saying, as it was in Japanese.  Here he is pictured clearly aiming for an innocent couple out for an afternoon stroll.  Shame on you Toro.  Shame.

toru taniguchi

Prediction

Name

Ave finish in 2010

Last 5 events finish

World Rank

Scoring Ave

Since last missed Cut

% chance of winning

1

Phil

Mickelson

26.08

27.60

2

70.00

1

86.696

2

Lee

Westwood

19.08

11.00

3

69.27

10

86.418

3

Tiger

Woods

54.33

54.33

1

70.70

2

84.299

4

Steve

Stricker

20.80

29.00

4

69.95

13

81.180

5

Jim

Furyk

29.50

28.40

5

70.25

1

79.587

6

Luke

Donald

27.07

7.00

6

69.57

5

78.000

7

Camilo

Villegas

28.38

33.60

15

70.09

2

73.073

8

Retief

Goosen

22.20

23.60

17

70.24

5

72.361

9

Graeme

McDowell

29.57

17.40

37

69.83

6

71.575

10

Rory

McIlroy

39.00

37.40

10

70.25

3

71.226

 

Tiger Woods had his say on England’s World Cup campaign yesterday, urging Fabio Capello not to “bench” bumbling goalkeeper Robert Green for the next game.  Woods had been watching team USA being gifted a draw against England by Green.

Jim Furyk it seems can go one better.  Following Sunday’s final round in Pebble Beach Furyk is set to jet to South Africa to join up with the USA squad.

Hard man Furyk trains every morning on the driving range by standing afuryk world cupt the opposite end to the players and heading the driven golf balls as they speed through the air.  “That’s why my forehead is so white” says Furyk, “it has turned to concrete from the constant impact of golf balls”.

At a press conference yesterday, midfielder Landon Donovan urged Furyk to miss the cut at Pebble Beach to join the USA squad sooner.  “He’s tall and ugly and has a sweet right foot, we need the fear big Jim brings to the defence if we’re going to bring the World Cup back to the US” said Donovan. “He swings the golf club like an octopuss falling out of a tree and we need some of that mayhem on the soccer pitch.  I cant wait to see Furyk make a “Messy” out of Messi”.

Tiger Woods 6/1

tiger woods Tiger Woods goes into the US Open in much the same way as the Irish rugby team went into last weeks test with the All Blacks. Both are missing vital components. In Woods case, his coach is gone, his swing is gone, his driver is gone and his wife is, well, gone. Given all the turmoil in his life, Tiger still possesses a singular determination to win golf tournaments like no other. Seemed to be swinging in the slot much better at Memorial and his short game and upper body strength still give him a decided advantage over the field. Winner by a street here in 2000, whatever happens Tiger this week, it’s going to be fascinating to watch.

Phil Mickelson 7/1

phil-mickelson-drive-thru-green-jacket Is the grand slam really a possibility for Masters champion Phil Mickelson this year? One thing we know for sure, if he drives it as crooked as he did two weeks back at The Memorial he hasn’t a hope. My guess though is that Phil will have that aspect of his game sorted and will really fancy his chances at Pebble Beach, a course on which he has three career victories. His magical short game have helped him to five second places at US Open and reports of studious preparation on the Monterey Pennisula track are ominous for the field. (pic: Phil with kids at the drive-thru the morning after the Masters. The Green jacket was at the end of the bed so he stuck it on!)

Lee Westwood 11/1

clip_image001He may be ranked third but Lee Westwood is simply the best player in the World at the moment. He’s finished in the top-10 in eight of his last 11 events including second at The Masters and tied fourth at The Players. A brilliant win last week at the St Jude Classic proves his game is right where it needs to be. A word of warning though; last weeks exertions both mentally and physically in the smothering humidity of Memphis must have taken its toll and all Westwood’s conditioning reserves will be called upon this week. Tied fifth at Pebble in 2000.

Luke Donald 33/1

luke donald artist First, second and third in his last three events, Luke Donald is back on the PGA Tour a changed man. A weight has been lifted from the Englishman’s shoulders with his victory in Madrid and having all but wrapped up his Ryder Cup place. Rested and refreshed Donald won get a better crack at the US Open. At 7100 yards Pebble Beach is about 400 yards shorter than some of the monsters they use for this event and should be very manageable for him.

Robert Karlsson 66/1

robert karlsson When I think of Robert Karlsson and US Open my mind goes back to Torrey Pines in 2008. While all the cameras were on the Tiger versus Rocco drama, the truth behind that event was that Karlsson gifted it to the field. He finished three shots back tying fourth but gave a whopping five shots to the leaders on the Saturday. Played brilliantly at the St Jude Classic last week and is sure to be buoyant about his chances. Nobody would deserve this more than Robert having missed most of last season with a serious eye problem. Dropped from 100/1 to 66/1 yesterday.

Dustin Johnson 40/1

Dustin johnson Six foot four inch Dustin usually starts Major’s at a much longer price than 40/1 so it’s interesting that the market odds setters feel the same way as I do. Finished his last four events under par with a top-10 at the Byron Nelson a worst place of 34th. He won the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the second straight year , only five others have done that, including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Sam Snead. The only other player besides Johnson to go straight from college and win in each of his first three years on the PGA Tour is Tiger Woods. Though the course will be unrecognizable with its US Open set-up, don’t count out a good week for Dustin.

78697467TL177_U_S_Open_Cham

Player Profile and WITB: Luke Donald

Born 7 December 1977 (age 32) in Hemel Hempstead, England

Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)

Weight 161 lb (73 kg; 11.5 st)

Residence Evanston, Illinois;

High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK;

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Spouse Diane Antonopoulos

Career

College Northwestern University

Turned professional 2001

Professional wins 7

Number of wins by tour

PGA Tour 2

European Tour 3

Biography

This week at Pebble Beach is yet another opportunity for Luke Donald to shed his “plucky loser” in Majors tag and with his current form, he may not get a better chance.

The Englishman was rewarded for returning to the European Tour for a three week stretch by winning the Madrid Masters. Donald’s victory came just a week after an agonizing second place at the BMW PGA Championship.

The son of a Scotsman Donald was born and raised in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Along with brother Christian the pair played junior golf at Hazlemere and Beaconsfield Golf Clubs. Christian caddied for Luke in club events, cultivating a working relationship that was to endure all the way to the PGA Tour.

A three time All American collegiate player, Donald turned professional in 2001 and the following year won the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. In 2004 he won the Omega European Masters and the Scandinavian Masters on the European Tour and his 2006 Honda Classic after moving the PGA Tour moved him into the top ten in the world for the first time. A barren spell followed punctuated by the glory of winning his singles match, 2&1 against Chad Campbell in the 36th Ryder Cup to help ensure Europe win the trophy for a third successive time.

Leader in sand saves and seventh in putting on the PGA Tour, this year Luke seems to kicked on as a player and his victory in Spain once again elevated him into the worlds top 10.

What’s In The Bag 2010 Luke Donald

 whats in the bag luke donald 2010

Donald Shorts

Quite The Artist

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Luke is an avid collector of contemporary art having majored in art at Northwestern University. He has produced works for the PGA Tour on a number of occasions and once painted a portrait of Stephen Ames for charity!

Sponsor

Luke has lucrative sponsorship agreements with RBS, Ralph Lauren and Footjoy among others. However the most eye-catching is his Mizuno equipment contract. He reportedly receives $1 million per annum just to wear their hat with the promise to quadruple it if he wins a Major!


doc with participant Brian Finnerty at Doonbeg The Doc with Brian Finnerty on the tee in Doonbeg at “Doc’s Dawn Raid”

Last Friday saw the inaugural Doc’s Dawn Raid in association with Golfbidder where golfcentraldaily.com and Irish Examiner SpinDoctor readers joined me in stunning Doonbeg for a day of unadulterated golfing fun. Having met on the driving range at 8am readers from all over the country tested 60 top models of drivers from Golfbidder before tackling Greg Norman’s masterpiece which was in superb condition. Thanks to Brian Shaw and his team in Doonbeg and all the participants and watch out for the next Doc’s Dawn Raid coming soon! docs dawn raid doonbeg

Left to Right: Hugh Sheehy, Val Lambe, Martin Waters, Mark Moran, Tony Desmond, Doc, Colum Gleeson, Johnny Lydon, Tom Kennedy, Brian Shaw (Doonbeg) and Brian Finnerty.

It looks like nappies and talcum powder will be in the player’s suitcases for next years St. Jude Classic after some unsavoury sights threatened to soil, I mean spoil, Sunday nights entertainment. For long time leader Robert Garrigus, it was less a case of “Squeaky Bum Time” and more a case of “Sweaty Bum Time” as an embarrassing patch appeared on his nether region in the stifling heat and humidity in Memphis. Garrigus case of crotch-rot only added to his misery as he imploded on the last hole blowing a three shot lead and the tournament. It all brings new meaning to the phrase “filled his pants”!

arnold_palmer_pebble beach Arnold Palmer and his design company have been commissioned to toughen up Pebble Beach for this week’s US Open. During one telephone call to Palmer, one of his chief designers mentioned that he was knee deep in one of the many new bunkers being installed on the third fairway. Palmer shot back: "Knee deep? Hmmm. No. Take them all the way to your waist. I want those bunkers to be penal.” He has moved fairways closer to the ocean, added bunkers, rebuilt greens and lengthened the course to nearly 7,100 yards for the first time with the aim of giving it more teeth. Whether the changes were needed or not is a hot topic. Pebble Beach held its own in the 2000 US Open when only Tiger Woods broke par. The biggest difference from the way the course is set up for the annual AT&T Pro-Am is on holes 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 18 which no longer have a strip of rough along the ocean side of the fairway to keep balls from bouncing in that land along the cliff’s edge.

clip_image002 I know Ian a while now but I had dinner with him at The Masters this year and we had a good chat about how the modern game has almost ruined him. The larger driver heads with low and deep centre of gravity that are designed to be forgiving means he hits the ball too high with them. Today’s drivers are designed to go straight but the technology used in them also means it is hard for him to shape the ball. We had a meet up last week during The Seniors at Carton House and have a plan to not only design a new driver set-up to help him lower the flight with a deep faced low flighted head but we are also going to introduce a new steel shaft for his irons with more tip feel and better energy transfer to claw back the years and get him some of the old yardage back. If I can get him some feel back through the right shaft and set-up he will hit it further with less effort and more control.”

with Derek Murray from www.foregolf.ie

Bloggy Underfoot: Open Smells For Rose

It’s the second Major of the year. Everyone who is anyone is fit and ready at Pebble Beach. No one golfer is all powerful right now and it seems this Open is wide open.

clip_image002

Though Pebble Beach host the AT&T National Pro-Am late every season, we have to go back to the year 2000 to review the venue set up to Major specifications. Tiger annihilated the field back then, the only player to finish under par winning by 15 strokes. What caught my eye were his closest challengers back then, Ernie Els, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington. All four are in great form and still capable of great things. Is Tiger 15 shots worse than he was in 2000? Five days will tell. I personally don’t think he is, as I recall from the 2000 staging, Tiger got himself into more than his fair share of trouble off the tee, but his power and masterful short game rescued him time and again.

clip_image004

The US Open in 2000 also followed the tragic death of defending champion Payne Stewart eight months earlier. I don’t think I will ever forget the dawn tribute (pictured) paid to Stewart by his fellow pro’s prior to the tournament when, lined along the 18th fairway, they simultaneously struck balls into the Pacific Ocean in his memory.

I may have started this piece with an erroneous statement. Everyone who is anyone will not actually be at Pebble Beach this week as USGA bosses have deemed that Memorial Champion Justin Rose does not merit a place in the field. It is an absolute travesty of justice that the in-form Englishman who defeated a top class field (including Phil and Tiger) at one of the Tour’s toughest courses (Muirfield Village) has been left out. With all due respect to sectional qualifiers, I just don’t see how a guy that shoots two decent rounds over one day qualifying in Walton Heath gets into the US Open while a recent Tour winner such as Rose is left out. Rose had one last hope, the USGA reserve one special place in field and while commentators felt it should go to either Rose or Robert Garrigus, the journeyman pro who blew a three shot lead on the final hole last week in Memphis, it eventually was handed to 2008 contender Rocco Mediate. Though it may not really be Open after all, it promises to be a fascinating weekend.

early extension Problem:

Early Extension occurs when the hips and spine of a golfer straighten up to early in the downswing. This can be seen when the hips and pelvis mover closer to the ball on the downswing the lower body cannot rotate freely through impact and instead it pushes forward and the golfer stands up.

Cause:

Research carried out by the Titleist Performance Institute has shown that any limitation in a golfer performing a full overhead deep squat can force a player to early extend during the downswing. These limitations may alter a good address position and force players to change their spinal posture throughout the golf swing. A massive 65% of golfers suffer from Early Extension.

Exercise:

To help achieve a deep squat practice the Dumbbell Assisted Deep Squat. Start by getting a 5kg dumbbell and a chair or small step. Standing in front of the chair holding a dumbbell extend the arms in front of you. Slowly begin to lower into a deep squat. The dumbbell should help maintain the centre of gravity. At the bottom of the squat place the dumbbell on the chair then slowly raise to a standing position.

Report from the European Tour website:

Marc Farry became the fifth first time winner on the European Senior Tour in 2010 when he held off a spirited challenge from Ross Drummond to win the Handa Irish Senior Open presented by Fáilte Ireland.
The Frenchman fired a final round 69 to finish on ten under par at Carton House Golf Club in Co. Kildare, two strokes clear of Scotsman Drummond who had to settle for finishing runner up for the fourth time in four seasons on the Senior Tour.

  A war of words opened last night between the Great Britain Olympic Council and its Irish counterpart, over who actually owns Graeme McDowell. The amazing thing about the argument is that it has nothing to do with golf.

GMac’s incredible 1.4 metre leap into the air fromdowell leapm a standing start in a Celtic Manor bunker last Sunday sent Olympic high jump coaches scrambling to sign the Ulsterman for the London games. Even “Sky” Sports commentators (who you would think might know about all things celestial) were at a loss to explain McDowell’s incredible bound. Wearing a black shirt and an orange tie, analyst Mark Roe said he hadn’t seen such feats of levitation since the Exorcist, in which he starred alongside Robert Lee.

McDowell is now back in Portrush having tests carried out on his rocket like ankles. Team GB are said to be waiting in the wings to sign McDowell for the London Olympics but face a standoff with their Irish counterparts. McDowell’s bunker jump easily beat the Irish record set in 1963 outside a pub in Killarney but came up agonisingly short of the British best, set by Daley Thompson when he won the decathlon in 1980-something.

Whilst the Olympic Councils argued, beleaguered US company Sea World were straight out of the blocks to sign McDowell, booking him up for 8 weeks during the Summer. “We’re very excited about the prospect of having GMac leap out the water to ring bells with his nose, and he’s a damn sight safer than our killer whales” said a Sea World spokesperson.

Lee Westwood 13/1

lee westwood Though a big Rory McIlory performance cannot be ruled out, the big European hope has to be Lee Westwood. He has by far and away the best stats of the field going into this week and with Pebble around the corner, is sure to be mentally and physically right. Whether a player wants to win the event before a major, with all the emotional baggage it brings, is up for debate but I think Lee wants to win every time he tee it up right now. Four top-10’s in his last five events the stats equation churns out an 88% chance of a Westwood win.

David Toms 22/1

toms Finished just outside the top ten in his last event at Colonial with four rounds in the 60’s. Although carrying a shoulder injury that will need an operation, Toms continues on Tour. Southwind is one of his favourite courses and with two wins, and three other podium finishes including last year behind Brian Gay, it’s easy to see why.

Ben Crane 18/1

heritage_hat_crane Winner of the Farmers Insurance open early doors, Crane is right back in form with three top tens in his last three events. Played decent here last year and has a great chance of becoming a two time winner on Tour. Tied third at Colonial last time out so bound to be fresh and ready for a massive two weeks. To be watched at Pebble Beach also.

Brian Gay 28/1

brian-gay Brian Gay lorded it over the St Jude field last year, winning by five shots, but this season has found himself in somewhat of a cul de sac. Proved at the Byron Nelson however that this Gay just wont lie down, and though Jason Day seemed out of reach-around the turn, Gay almost reeled him in with a fantastic 63 to tie second. Likes to snack on the course so don’t be surprise to see several bars of fudge packed into Gay’s bag at Southwind.

Robert Allenby 20/1

allenby The Marconi Pennsylvania Classic of 2001 was Robert Allenby’s last PGA win. Always seems to be in the mix of late but like the Minster pack this year, just cant get over the line. Came back last year a month after finishing second at the Players and missed the cut but that allowed him get to Southwind early for a tilt this week. Tied fourth last year and you guessed it, second in 2008. It could be a Battle Royale between Davis and Allenby for second this week.

 

Waterford teenager Kevin Phelan took his first step towards golfing stardom by Qualifying for next weeks US Open.  The University of North Florida freshman golfer qualified on Monday at McArthur Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla. Phelan shooting rounds of 73-65 (138) to co-medal and secure his Open place. Phelan made up for a triple bogey on the final hole of his first round by making a 30 yard flop shot on his final hole for an eagle and a spot in the years second major.

Meanwhile,the price of contending at The Memorial took its took on Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler as both failed to qualify for next week's U.S. Open. At a 36-hole qualifying event in Ohio, Rose, finished tied for 31st on four under par, while Fowler missed out by six shots.  "Being in contention definitely wears you out quite a bit, and this is my third week in a row playing," Fowler said.


Open Qualifying Scores





pos
player
hole
r1
r2
total
to par
status
1
36
62
67
129
-11
Qual
T2
36
66
65
131
-9
Qual
T2
36
69
62
131
-9
Qual
T4
36
64
68
132
-8
Qual
T4
36
65
67
132
-8
Qual
T6
36
66
67
133
-7
Qual
T6
36
66
67
133
-7
Qual
T6
36
64
69
133
-7
Qual
T6
36
68
65
133
-7
Qual
T10
36
64
70
134
-6
Qual








Report From The European Tour Site
Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie produced a remarkable course record equalling 62 on Sunningdale New today to earn himself a place in next month's The Open Championship at St Andrews - the course where he finished runner-up to Tiger Woods five years ago.


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