June 2010

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Last week: Winner alright, we tipped Raphael Jacquelin 66/1 and Francesco Molinari 28/1 who paid out each way.

Luke Donald 35/1

clip_image002Some analysts argue that the only thing stopping Luke Donald from winning majors is his nerve. With a win, a second and third place in his last five events however the Englishman’s confidence must be sky high. Played excellent in Adare in very tough conditions. Tied fifth in last years Open at Turnberry. With bookies paying out to seven places, Donald is well worth an each way look.

Ernie Els16/1

story_ernie_els Now injury free, Ernie Els is having his best season in years. Winner of the WGC-CA Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Els dearly wants another Major win. Came close at the US Open, finishing third at Pebble Beach and hasn’t been outside the top eight in the last four stagings of the Open. After impressing the crowds at Adare, he missed the cut in Loch Lomond but that may just prove to be a blessing in disguise given the conditions. Ernie’s going to win a major this year; it may well be at St. Andrews where he tied second in 2000.

Rory McIlroy 16/1

mcilroy Rors will take a lot from GMac’s win at Pebble and will be out to emulate his great friend’s achievement. “I know this place like the back of my hand,” says McIlroy of St. Andrews, a course on which he has never taken more than 70 as an amateur or professional in competition. The home of golf features in the Dunhill Links Championship every October and McIlroy has finished second, tied eighth, and third in the past three stagings.

Padraig Harrington 16/1

padraig harrington 2010 british open practice news The nay-sayers are so preoccupied with Padraig Harrington’s so called slump it’s easy to loose sight of his two wins in the last three Open Championship stagings. The Dubliner is also twice a winner of the Dunhill Links Championship (2002 and 2006) which features two rounds on the Old Course. Few would also argue that Harrington has the best links land short game in the field. What a way a win here would answer the critics.

 

Lee Westwood 16/1

Lee-westwood-image Westwood’s US Open tilt was hindered by the physical and emotional toll winning the St Jude Classic the previous week took. Reports are mixed regarding Westwood’s calf injury and it may just be that the whole scenario is acting as the perfect subterfuge in the build up to the Open. The most consistent European around this year and hungry for the Claret Jug after having had one hand on it at Turnberry last year. If Tiger could win on one leg then surely Lee can too. Beware the injured golfer and all that!

Best of the Rest

Maybe this season hasn’t hit the same heights as 2009 when he won three times, but Steve Stricker (33/1) did bag the Northern Trust Open back in February and returned for the first time since the US Open at the John Deere classic where he shot a first round 60 and blew away the field. You have to go all the way back to the 1998 for Stricker’s best major finish, second behind Vijay. Justin Rose (22/1) is another form player in the field having won The Memorial and the AT&T National, Rose took part in the JP McManus Pro-Am having had practically no sleep. A well rested Rose will be at The Open with the equivalent form as Graeme McDowell going into the US Open. Not beyond the realms of possibility.

Long Odds Glory

If you’re looking to have some fun with some of the longer odds players in the field, take a look at Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher at 125/1. The Scot has finished in the top six in four of his last six events including fourth last week in Loch Lomond. High in confidence, an excellent links player and a man high in confidence Gallacher could produce a dividend with the likes of Paddypower paying out up to seventh. Another Irishman that thrives on confidence is Shane Lowry at 100/1. A great Open qualifying round and a cheque for 100k last week have the Esker Hills man up to high dough for St. Andrews. Is the home of golf all that dissimilar to Baltray?

Player Profile and What’s In the Bag at the British Open 2010:  Ernie Els

Name: Theodore Ernest Elsclip_image001

Born 17th October 1969

Residence George, South Africa; Wentworth, England

Height 6ft 3in

Weight 220 lbs

Parents Hettie & Neels

Wife Liezl

Children Samantha Leigh (26th May 1999),

Tour Wins: 62

(PGA Tour 18

European Tour 25 (7th all time)

Japan Golf Tour 1

Sunshine Tour 15

Other 13)

Profile

Ernie Els is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the game, having won more than 60 professional tournaments, including two US Opens, an Open Championship, and a record seven World Matchplay titles. The international scope of his victories is second to none. He is one of golf’s truly global players.

Ernie was born in South Africa on 17th October 1969. As a youngster, he was outstanding in soccer, cricket, rugby and tennis. At the age of 13 he won a significant regional tennis event, the Eastern Transvaal Junior Championships. A year later aged 14 and playing off a scratch handicap, Ernie won the world junior golf championship in San Diego, California. Ernie was awarded his Junior Springbok colours in 1984, the State President Sports Award in 1987, and in 1988 his full Springbok colours.

His classic, powerful golf swing is universally admired, and aspired to, from both sides of the ropes. And while his easy-going nature masks a fierce competitive drive, it is all of these qualities, along with an engaging on-course persona, that have helped make Ernie one of the most popular golfers in the game today.

What’s In The Bag 2010 Ernie Els

whats in the bag ernie els 2010

It’s British Open time again folks and we’re heading back to the home of golf, St. Andrews in Scotland. It could be argued that this Open is wide open as no clear favourite has emerged in the run up. The winner could be young or experienced, a bomber or a tactician; it really is that open.

There are no tricks to St. Andrews, theclip_image002 course has not essentially changed during the lifetime of the field, save the lengthening of the 17th “Road Hole”, which probably will prove to be inconsequential in terms of scoring in any case. Nine out, nine home, what you see is what you get. There is no rough, a consequence of having to cater for the busloads of visitors to the course every day who have to be conveyor-belted through the 18 holes. Rough would slow down pace of play and take away from the enjoyment of the golfers; neither an option for the cash register in Bonnie Scotland.

St. Andrews however does have its defences and whoever is going to win will have to possess someone vital attributes. The first is course management and experience. Although wide open, the fairways are dotted with pot bunkers in all the right places and landing in one costs one stroke, to hack back out. When Tiger won in 2000, he didn’t hit a bunker all week. Padraig Harrington who played two practice rounds over the weekend reported the fairways to be like concrete and though recent rains will have softened them somewhat, shot placement whilst taking into account where the ball will run to when it lands will be vital. Harrington thinks the course sets up well for the golfer with a high ball flight who can control his ball-spin. One player with that skillset comes to mind immediately, but he’s off in Florida, on his wife’s doorstep, staring at the ground. Taking that into account, it’s wide open.

The wonderful thing about St. Andrews is that it is not ageist. That “run” that we mentioned removes most any advantage the big batters have and brings players like Tom Watson, who came so close at Turnberry last year into the frame with realistic chances. I recently saw Tom Watson’s instructional DVD “Lessons Of A Lifetime”, and was simply stopped in my tracks with the ability and knowledge of the now 60 year old player. On a side note, that DVD is by far and away the best I have seen and trust me, I have seen thousands! Veteran and past winner John Daly also seems to be reborn, his beer days behind him and his tummy permanently tucked in. He has a wonderful short game touch, another of the ingredients needed at the home of golf.

Of the Irish raiders, nobody knows the course better than Harrington. It hasn’t happened for Padraig yet this year but he knows how to bring home Majors. Another of that ilk is Graeme McDowell, who is still the form Irishman in the field. Two wins in three events and McDowell is a links expert. Whether he can put his Pebble Beach success aside and just say “no” to some media requests this week will determine how he fares. Spare a thought too for Rory McIlory, he has seen his mate GMac do the business and get this, McIlroy has never shot more than 70 in St. Andrews. If he keeps that record intact, we may be on the way to same class of a “Paddy Slam”. Enjoy!

There are quite a few pieces of new kit floating about on Tour at the moment. Quietly moving through the hands of the top players in the world these prototypes are being rigorously tested to see if they will make it, first on Tour and then perhaps also in the general market place. Every now and then I would catch a glimpse of a very special wedge design or a shaft that is a one of a kind, made specifically for a professionals requiremclip_image002ents. It is very rare to see this kind of thing and usually it is reserved for the top 10 players in the world. However last week while the Tour Truck was stationed at The JP McManus Pro-Am I came across this very tasty Taylor Made Rossa Daytona by Kia Ma fully pimped up. The white "ghost" paint job and custom pressed shamrocks was specially made for the man himself. On the back of the head the three tungsten weight ports were paint filled in the green, white and orange Irish flag colours. Kia Ma is a Vietnamese putter specialist who looks after all the top end putters for Taylor Made. His design work is recognised as some of the finest craftsmanship currently available. He hand builds the custom putters in use at the top levels on Tour and his team spends countless hours in the pursuit of perfection for his Tour players. This one of a kind priceless putter for JP McManus proves you don't have to be one the best golfers in the world you just need to be one of the most generous.

with Derek Murray, Foregolf.ie

The X Factor is the difference in the number of degrees of rotation the shoulders turn in relation to the hips. The bigger the difference the more powerful your swing is likely to be. For example if your shoulders turn 95 degrees and the hips turn 45 degrees you will have an X Factor of 50 degrees.

Any restriction in thoracic spinal mobility will make it very difficult to g

clip_image002

et a big X Factor. Limited thorax to hip separation is another prime cause of golfers not achieving a big X Factor which leads to shots lacking power.

Torso turns on one leg is a great exercise to achieve a bigger X Factor. Stand on one leg, cross the arms over the chest and get into golf posture. Try to rotate the torso back and forth for up to 25 seconds without moving the lower body. Repeat on the other side.

Jim McLean Demonstrates The X-Factor During The Downswing

Log on to www.wayneocallaghangolf.com for more info.

2010 British Open Practice News

After weeks of having to hand water fairways and greens at St Andrews, recent torrential downpours on the Old Course have softened it a little too much according to course manager Gordon McKie. On one day St Andrews received 13mm of rain between 7am & 11am. Conditions were so bad McKie sent staff home about 11. The subsequent grass growth boost has resulted in extra cuts and rolls required on particular greens to bring them all closer together and achieve the consistency required for the event.  Ireland’s Padraig Harrington is completing his practice rounds this weekend in the inclement conditions.  Harrington surmised last week that high ball hitters who can control ball spin would have a much better chance of winning such was the dryness of the course. It is expected now however that the softer conditions will result in significantly lower scoring than initially predicted. More 2010 British Open Practice News as it emerges.

seve tumour As British Open week beckons thoughts are again turning to Seve Ballesteros who remains at home in Pedrena.  In a BBC TV interview with Ken Brown, Seve though in high spirits, looked to be ailing physically.

"Every day I see the unbelievable things that happen to people and I don't understand why," said Ballesteros in a recent newspaper interview. "I think 'Why does it happen to those people'. I think the same thing with myself. Why did it happen to me? It is unfair, because I have been a good person. But it happens to some people and not to others.”

"It's like when you start a round.  You bogey the first three holes, but there are still 15 to play. Here I am more or less at the 12th hole."

"There is always a beginning and there is always an end.

"This is the difficult thing, when you see that the end is coming."

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R&A bosses were today said to be “extremely worried” abojimenez ash cloudut whether the British Open will actually go ahead as planned next Thursday after fears emerged of a new Ash Cloud descending over Scotland. Just weeks after the Icelandic Volcano debacle that grounded flights all over Europe, reports emerged last night of a new more deadly eruption. Transatlantic pilots first noticed smoke and ash spewing from veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez, shortly after his Open de France win last Sunday night.

Up to 4,000 flights are being cancelled into Scotland and the UK's air traffic control service said no flights would be allowed in UK airspace until at least 0700 BST on Thursday amid fears of engine damage. Jimenez is still spewing ash and the wind direction is expected to continue bringing clouds into UK airspace.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said he was "closely monitoring Jimenez" and experts have warned that the tiny particles of pro-v1, glass from Rioja bottles and bunker sand contained in the ash cloud from the still-erupting Spaniard could be sufficient to jam aircraft engines.  More from the Spaniard as it emerges.

effect of jimenez on jet engine 

Player Profile and WITB 2010: Martin Kaymer
clip_image002
Full name Martin Kaymer
Born 28 December 1984 (age 25)
Düsseldorf, West Germany
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
Residence Mettmann, Germany
Scottsdale, Arizona
Career
Turned professional 2005
European Tour Wins 5
Martin Kaymer was born in Düsseldorf, Germany. He turned professional in 2005 and came to the attention of the golfing public when he shot a 59 in an EPD tour event in Germany. He earned his European Tour card in 2007 via the Challenge Tour where he played in eight events from August to October and won two of them.
Kaymer earned his maiden European Tour victory in 2008 at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. He picked up his second victory of the year at the BMW International Open, becoming the first German to win the event in its 20 year history. Kaymer earned €1,794,500 that year and finished in eighth on the Order of Merit but narrowly missed selection for the 2008 Ryder Cup. He did however attend the event as an assistant to the European side on the invitation of Nick Faldo.
In 2009, Kaymer won two weeks in succession. Firstly he claimed the Open de France where he defeated Lee Westwood on the first hole of a playoff. Kaymer also won the next week at the Barclays Scottish Open where he returns as defending champion this week. The German won early in 2010 claiming the he Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and is now the US PGA Champion 2010 having defeated Bubba Watson in a dramatic playoff in Whistling Straits.

What’s In The Bag 2010 Martin Kaymer


Kaymer Quotes

What really happened with the Go-Kart?
“It happened in Phoenix. I went to go-cart track with a few guys. There was a guy behind me and a guy in front of me and the guy behind me pushed me at full power into the guy in front of me. My foot was flipped back. I can't really remember because the pain was insane. I broke three bones and my big toe was bent under the others so they had to rebreak it and set it.”
The Ryder Cup
“I went to that Ryder Cup a special guest of Nick Faldo. It sounds a little strange but I am so thankful he didn't pick me as a wild card because it helped me so much just to be there and see what the atmosphere is like and learn what the whole tournament's about. After that week I knew that I was not ready for that stage. Now I know what I can expect and I really want to play there.”
Golf In Germany
“In Germany, we have only Bernard Langer. He's the biggest golf hero we have. Obviously I'm trying to do my best to make golf bigger. In Germany we have soccer. That's our biggest sport by far. But golf is growing and it would help a lot if Germany would get the Ryder Cup in 2018. The Olympics will obviously help too.”

kyle and donalWhen I walked up to Orson Hodge he was sitting in his wheelchair clutching a photo of Bree. Placing my hands on his shoulders I whispered “By the power of the desperate housewife, may thine legs regain power.” Moments later Orson rose to his feet, and with a tear in his eye we embraced. Having regained his composure Orson suggested a few holes of golf, his treat, and sure who am I to argue?

padraig with kids

In the immediate aftermath of Padraig’s hat being stolen, he managed to round up some suspects.  Can you help find who took his hat?

Is it

A)-the kid at the front?  Nope, that’s a Clare hat. Rarely seen on a Dubliner.

B)- the girl in the middle?  Hmmm, she is definitely hiding something under her jumper.

or

C)- the kid back left with the suspicious grin!!!  You Scamp!!

donal withJPMcmanus

It’s a testament to JP McManus that when he asks the world’s top golfers to take part in a charity event, to a man they say yes.  JP managed to assemble a field fit a Major or WGC event with 12 of the 15 top players in the world taking part.  Among them were Woods, Els, McIlroy, Harrington and the newest Major Champion, Graeme McDowell.  Not forgetting the world’s best golf blogger! Sure when JP needs me, who am I am to say no.  It is the fifth staging of the JP McManus golf pro-am, which has raised €55 million for charities in the midwest since 1990.

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Here is the list of professionals  in the field for the 2010 JP McManus Pro-Am on 5th and 6th of July at Adare Manor.JP_ProAm

JP McManus Pro-Am Field

Click on any players name to view their profile on the official site.

lee westwood clot calf problem Lee Westwood was taken to hospital today amid fears he had a blood clot in his right leg.

Westwood pulled out of the pre-tournament pro-am in Paris after waking up to discover swelling in both his calf and his ankle. Tests revealed the golfer was suffering only from a muscle strain, his manager, Andrew Chandler of International Sports Management, said.

It was initially feared he might have a deep vein thrombosis brought on by large amounts of air travel. "Lee will see how he feels in the morning, and if there is still a problem he won't play. But long-term this isn't an issue."

Pic: Calf Problem for Westwood

rod stewart Ian Poulter, the man with his finger firmly on the pulse of golfing fashion, caused heads to turn today at the Open de France when he unveiled his new IJP shirt and hairstyle at the Pro-Am.  “I’ve modelled this green sequinned vest number on an old favourite of mine ‘Rab C Nesbitt’” said Poults.  Taking the arms away allows me to swing much more freely.  Several of the other players have already expressed an interest in wearing this gear including Phil Mickelson, who says it gives him ‘support’ in all the right places!”

Commenting on his new hairstyle Poults claims it saves on sunblock.  “The hair almost totally shields my neck and face from the sun’s harmful rays.  I have just enough room to see out, which is all I need.”

Of course its all just harmless fun from the Doc’s imagination, hi Katie in London!

Rory-McIlroy-lough erne Speaking on the build up to the Open de France Rory said

"I have played a lot with G-Mac over the years and to see what he has done lifts me. If G-Mac can win the US Open the way he did, I have played with him enough week in week out to know that I can go out on any given week and do the same thing.

"A lot of guys are doing well. Poulter won for the first time in the States, I won, Luke Donald is hitting form, Lee won in Memphis, Justin won and now G-Mac winning the US Open. There are a lot of guys playing well at the minute and that is great for The Ryder Cup. Hopefully we can carry that on to the next two Majors where British and European guys can kick on."

Well done Ireland’s Colm Moriarty who secured his St. Andrews place colm moriarity open qualifier 2010 through qualifying at Kingsbarns.

“It’ll be my first time in The Open,” said the Challenge Tour player, who was a member of Great Britain and Ireland’s 2003 winning Walker Cup team. “I’m delighted to make it to St Andrews.”

Finishing top of the leaderboard at Fairmont St Andrews was amateur and former tennis ace Laurie Canter. Zane Scotland,  finished in second place on the Torrance Course  to earn his first Open Championship appearance since he appeared as a 16 year old, ten years ago.

At Ladybank, England’s Phillip Archer who once shot a 60 on the European Tour  finished tied on top with 18-year-old English amateur, Tyrell Hatton.

Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher and Gregory Havret of France have earned their places in the Open Championship, after finishing as the top two players, not already exempt, in a cumulative money list running from week 19 of the Official World Golf Ranking up to and including the BMW International Open.

gregory havret Player Profile and What’s In The Bag (at the US Open) Gregory Havret

Full name Grégory Havret

Born 25 November 1976 (age 33)

La Rochelle, France

Height 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)

Weight 82 kg (180 lb; 12.9 st)

Residence Aix-en-Provence, France

Turned professional 1999

European Tour Wins 3

Biography

A couple of weeks back Gregory Havret’s season was coming undone rapidly. With a best finish of tenth at the Madrid Masters, his route to the US Open at Pebble Beach would have to be via sectional qualifying at Walton Heath. Although he held two monster putts at the death, the first to get into a playoff, the second to secure his Major place, Havret could never have imagined the week in store. Playing with Tiger Woods in the final round, the Frenchman held his nerve, only losing out by one shot to Graeme McDowell.

Havret won the French Amateur Championship three years in a row from 1997 to 1999, and in 1999 he won the European Amateur. He turned professional in 1999 and finished 60th on the Order of Merit in 2001, his rookie season on the European Tour, recording a maiden tour victory at the Italian Open. Havret's biggest career victory to date came in the 2007 Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, where he beat Phil Mickelson in a playoff. In August 2008 Havret recorded a second tournament victory in Scotland at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. Havret started the US Open at 391st in the World Golf Rankings and ended it at 104th.

What’s In The Bag 2010 Gregory Havret

 

Gregory Shorts

clip_image004Havret The Matador

Playing with Tiger Woods in the final round at Pebble Beach didn’t phase Havret. He and compatriot Raphael Jacquelin once entered a bullring, complete with 200 Kilo bull, for a game of football during a friend's stag party in Madrid. Havret said after 'It was a little one, but still big enough. 'It got me, but I was not injured. It just pushed me a bit. Now you understand how mad we can be sometimes - it was fun.

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Before his US Open final round Havret wrote on his Facebook wall: "merci a tous.. sincerement, je ne sais pas trop a quoi m attendre, ce qui est sur c est que je me donnerai comme jamais jusqu au dernier shot, j espere vs faire vibrer autant que je vibre!! bises" Translated that means, "Thank you everyone. I don't really know what to expect, but what I do know, for sure, is that I'm going to give it everything I've got till the last shot. I hope I'll make this as exciting for you as it is for me." He certainly did that.

way-zenio_01_neu I use a system called Zenio for custom putter work on Tour. It is a system that works through a plate that sticks over the face of the putter and relays by bluetooth all the information from each putt. I can read pace and rhythm of the putt, face strikes and angle of face through impact. It fires all the information back to me 10 paces away on a palm pilot and I can use all this information to help me build the perfect putter. Well, I can reveal that there is a driver on the way that has a computer chip inside the head and has strands of fibre up the shaft. This new high tech driver will be able to tell you your club speed, face strikes, load on the shaft, face angle and a whole host of information from your swinging driver. You will be able to plug the driver into your laptop or have it synced with your mobile phone to access all your club data from your practice at the range or your most recent round of golf.

with Derek Murray from www.foregolf.ie

Bloggy Underfoot: Federer and McDowell

clip_image002I remember years ago watching Roger Federer win Junior Wimbledon. I rang Paddy Power and asked for odds that Roger would win four Men’s Titles. I was quoted 100/1 but never bothered placing a bet. As Charlie McCreevy once said of a budget “Sure hindsight is 20/20 vision”. Around the same time if you asked me which of the new breed of GB&I golfers would win a Major in the future, I would have said, either David Howell or Graeme McDowell. Both had solid if unspectacular games, but both also seemed to possess that strength of character and self belief that is needed to cross the line in a Major.

The years passed and with David Howell’s spine resembling a train wreck, he has for the most part swapped his driver for a microphone. As for McDowell, until last week I thought his performance in the Major’s had been rather disappointing. The bookies agreed, sending him off at 80/1, though he won last time out in spectacular style at the Celtic Manor Wales Open. Using McCreevy’s hindsight theory, shouldn’t we all have known Graeme was going to win.

The manner of McDowell’s victory, was, in my opinion, one of the best I have witnessed. There was no sign of an asterix on the trophy. There were no excuses to be made for Tiger or Phil or Ernie. All three were on the leaderboard with McDowell and he beat them fair and square. Don’t think for a second either that Tiger had not prepared; trust me his build-up was akin to “Franc” getting ready for a wedding.

Add into the mix the fact that McDowell’s playing partner Dustin Johnson committed the golfing equivalent of hari-kiri on the opening holes. Dramatics, lost balls and rulings for Johnson left McDowell standing arms folded on the fairway for a momentum wrecking eternity. How this did not drag down the Rathmore man, I will never know. Perhaps Johnson’s travails in some way diffused the tension for Graeme; Conor Ridge his manager had discussed before the round with McDowell the strategy of adopting the persona of a shark about to attack during the final round, stealthily gliding along below the surface, ready to deal the deadly blow at the perfect moment.

So here we are having watched Graeme McDowell win first at fifteen under in Wales and then at level par in a US Open. I’m off to ring Paddy Power again. What odds on four McDowell Majors? I wont miss out a second time!

seve iconic logo I know Seve dearly wanted to come to the British Open in St. Andrews to say one final ‘thank you’ to all his fans.  Indeed many believed he was desperately fighting towards being fit for the occasion.  The news that doctors have advised him not to travel is very worrying.  We wish Seve all the very best.  Here’s the statement from Seve’s website:

Having considered the advice of the of the doctors’ team, Severiano Ballesteros has decided not to travel to Scotland for the British Open taking place at St Andrews in July.
Madrid, June 23rd 2010.- Yesterday, June 22nd, Severiano Ballesteros visited his doctors at La Paz Hospital in Madrid. During his visit, Severiano Ballesteros underwent some tests which he repeats every three months. These check-ups are routine and monitor the progress of the Spanish athlete following his diagnosis of a brain tumor in October 2008.
The medical team, who are responsible for Severiano Ballesteros have informed him this morning that at this time he should not put himself under any undue stress or in potentially emotional situations. It is for this reason that they have advised him against travelling to St Andrews. From La Paz Hospital, Dr. Belda, the oncologist who looks after Severiano Ballesteros considers that “despite the excellent general state that Mr. Ballesteros enjoys, we do not think the trip to Scotland, this coming July, would be appropriate. It is important that Mr. Ballesteros continues with a peaceful life and our advice has been not to travel to Scotland.”
After hearing the doctors’ opinion Severiano Ballesteros declared: “I very much wanted to be at The British Open in St Andrews next month to personally thank all the golf fans and friends who have given me their support, not only during these two years, when I have been recovering from my illness but also to thank them for the affection they have shown during my golf career. I am aware that there might be people who have been preparing their trip to encourage and cheer me up. Hence, I do not want to disappoint anyone at the last minute and after listening to the doctors’ advice I have taken the difficult decision not to travel to St Andrews.”
Severiano Ballesteros is resting and continuing with his recovery process at his home in Pedreña, Spain.



Justin Rose 18/1

justin rose Unceremoniously left out of the US Open field after kicking everyone’s ass (including Tiger and Phil) at the Memorial a couple of weeks back.  Justin’s bound to be refreshed hungry and psyched.  Had a podium here in 2005, the last time he had a run a form! Only joking Justin!

 

Kenny Perry 22/1

Kenny Perry There’s nothing wrong with the Ping Craz-e putter Kenny, Gregory Havret canned everything with it last week at Pebble.  Kenny’s not far away from good form, 33rd has been his lowest finish in his last five events.  Winner last year and sixth in 2008, the ATM that is Seniors Tour is beckoning for Kenny, but not before one last tilt at the Travelers

Hunter Mahan 20/1

hunter mahan  4,2,1,2: No its not the form of a horse, its the form of Hunter at TPC River Highlands over the last four years.  Actually come to think of it, there are resemblances.  Hunter is playing rubbish of late, but what the hell, he owns the place.  What’s the story with his beards though, I’ve seen more hair on a gooseberry!

Ricky Barnes 33/1

ricky barnes lynette Ricky seems to contend every week now, bombing, gouging, falling off his shots, throwing his right shoulder around like a shot-putter.  Hey it may not be pretty, but this boy is getting the job done.  27th at Pebble and top-10’s in his previous two, could this be Ricky’s week?

Padraig Harrington 14/1

padraig harringtonPadraig said last week he just needed that spark to get him over the line.  Tied 22nd at Pebble, Harrington’s game is in good shape coming in British Open time.  With fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell winning last week, it brings Irish Major wins to four from the last twelve.

 

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”!

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