Francesco over a five foot putt; Robbie Keane in front of open goal- both images that make me first wince, then cry. Francesco with his now binned belly putter nearly had the Portugal Masters in the bag last year only to see it slip from his grasp on the 17th. Although Lee Westwood won by three, the drop he got after being long and left in the trees in two was the luckiest of his life and his chip down to the hole was a serious hit and hope affair. Any other day Westwood might have doubled or worse. Playing with Francesco, Westwood tapped in for the poxiest of birdies while the Italian missed the five footer that would have brought the gap to one. He may be tired this week, but Victoria owes Molinari one after last year.
Huge hitting Alvaro Quiros Garcia was right back in the mix last week in Scotland finishing tied fifth. The Spaniard showed he has the short game to match his booming drives and that prospect coupled with the fact that he cruised home at the Portugal Masters by three shots in 2008 make him an irresistible punt this week. Quiros has now clocked up six top-10’s this season with the high point coming at the Open de Espana in Seville in April where he notched up win number four. Only the weather can stop Quiros this week.
Its an indisputable fact of punditry that the winner of last week’s tournament the previous year, if you know what I mean, performs really well the following week! Let me explain. Simon Dyson went into last week’s Dunhill as defending champion. As such he was under pressure from the media, sponsors etc. And he played well tying fifth. This week he head’s to Portugal with absolutely no media or sponsors obligations and will undoubtedly play better. Unlucky to fall short of automatic Ryder Cup qualification Dyson has form on the Victoria course with a top 10 in 2008 and with the three top tens in his last five starts remains one to watch this week.
It’s only a matter of time and perhaps watching some Zen relaxation clips on YouTube before Danny Willett claims his first Tour title. I held off on tipping him last week because I felt Portugal would be his huckleberry and fingers crossed it works out. Played sensational golf to finish second last week and only a couple of Kaymer miracle shots denied him. That second added to his third in Austria see Willett on the plane to Vilamoura very much expectant of a huge one this week on a course where he tied sixth last year.
To the mere mortal the Oceanico Victoria course in Vilamoura is a tough tight test but to these boys it’s like shelling peas. With a predicted winning score of about 20 under it’s a case of “go low” or “go home”. One player who caught my eye on the course last year was Alex Noren as he compiled a flawless final round of 62 with tough pins to tie for sixth. The German tied third at the Diamond Club in Austria before the Ryder Cup and returned with a 17th last week. One to watch late in the season, Noren won in September last year.
odds from betfair
Lee Westwood is not set to play again until next month because of his ongoing calf problem. Nevertheless it has been announced that Westwood is set to replace Tiger Woods at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking on October 31st.
Tiger Woods has topped the rankings for over five years, or 279 weeks to date. Tiger’s next outing is the HSBC Champions event from Nov. 4-7 in Shesan Shanghai. With a prize fund of $7 million, any one of Woods, Westwood, Martin Kaymer or Phil Mickelson could become number one in the following week's rankings.
Just why Lee Westwood has to wait until Oct 31st to be crowned World No. 1 for a week, I don’t know but if anyone out there does, answers on an email please.
"At Wednesday's gala dinner, we were all lined up to meet Prince Charles," said McGinley. "Protocol was explained, whereby you didn't address him unless spoken to and if you did respond, you called him 'Sir.' Fine, I thought. No problem.
"I happened to be at the end of the line of vice-captains and when my moment arrived, Colin Montgomerie introduced me as 'my vice-captain, Paul McGinley.' Whereupon I immediately put out my hand and said: 'Howya. I'm Paul.' Next thing I knew, Sergio Garcia beside me was doubled-up with laughter. Then I started laughing. Then Prince Charles started laughing."
From then on, it became the joke of the European team room. On seeing McGinley, players would come up to him and say "Howya", followed by "I'm Lee" or Ross or Ian or whatever.
If you found yourself on the edge of your seat watching the final round of The McGladrey Classic it’s probably because you fell asleep and slid into that position. Anyway here are the final round highlights from the 2010 McGladrey Classic on the PGA Tour.
Martin Kaymer completed a remarkable hat trick of Tour wins today by claiming the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship 2010. Final round scores are below:
Click on picture below to view Alfred Dunhill Links Championship 2010 Final Round Highlights from the European Tour website:
To celebrate The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort Winter Series, we have a readers fourball to give away at the former Seve Trophy venue. The Winter series is a four man team event, with 2 scores to count on all 18 holes in stableford format. The Entry fee is € 50 per person and the series takes place on October 21st, Nov 25th, Dec 23rd, Jan 27th, Feb 24th, March 31st, with the Grand Final on April 28th for the qualifying teams. The entry fee will also include food after your round in the magnificent clubhouse. For more details log on to www.theheritage.com or contact Niall Carroll on 057-8645500
To win a fourball voucher for The Heritage email the answer to the following question to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday evening:
Q: In what county is The Five Star Heritage Golf and Spa Resort?
Just days after the European Tour received a huge boost in winning the Ryder Cup comes the news that Justin Rose has resigned from the Tour. The Englishman who won twice on the PGA Tour this year has played in only half of the 12 qualifying events stipulated as a minimum for any European Tour member. After lengthy discussions with Tour officials, Rose will not however face a two-year ban (as stated in the rules) and plans to rejoin next season. Rose's name no longer appears on this year's "Race to Dubai" money list and he is set to miss Dubai World Championship next month.
photo credit: Ben van Hook
3 is proud to sponsor the best of the Irish golfing talent.
The Portrush native has had a solid season, if not quite as successful as last year which saw him charge up the rankings to break into the World’s Top 50 and make the European Ryder Cup team.
Jaysus I would have thought winning a US Open, the Celtic Manor Wales Open and holing the winning putt at the Ryder Cup could be described as a bit more than “a solid season”. That’s being a bit hard on the man; I wonder what constitutes better than sold? Maybe a grand slam? Couple of WGC’s? Come on lads, get the finger out and the site updated before anyone else sees it!
The Ryder Cup star said he has “zero expectations” going into this weeks Dunhill Links but said next year he’s headed to the other side of the Atlantic. Pic: GMac driving away from the Jigger Inn at St Andrews today.
The Northern Irishman admits the lure of the big money FedEx Cup is a major reason for him heading over to America.
"I want to give it a go next year because it's not a Ryder Cup year and I'd like to try the FedEx play-offs, although I wasn't particularly impressed by the format this year. I felt it was too volatile and didn't really reward consistent golfers on the PGA Tour.”
"But my schedule will continue to be European Tour-based as well. I am going to go out and play some golf in the Middle East, play some golf in Asia and obviously play the main events back here.
"It won't be maybe as US-based a schedule as a Luke Donald, Ian Poulter or Justin Rose, but more like a Harrington-type schedule.
Fears are growing over what accents GMac is set to have on his return!
STARS LINE-OUT TO SUPPORT KILLEEN CASTLE UNDER 30’S MEMBERSHIP DRIVE
Killeen Castle, venue for the 2011 Solheim Cup has launched an Under 30’s membership programme with the help of some top sports stars.
Golfing sensations, Lisa & Leona Maguire, who regularly practice on the Jack Nicklaus course and recently competed in the AIB Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle, launched the Juvenile Membership category aimed at 12-18 year olds. Alongside the twins, Irish and Leinster rugby stars Rob Kearney and Eoin Reddan pitched in to launch the Under 30’s Membership offer targeting 18 – 30 year olds. Some of the country’s top rugby stars utilise Killeen Castle for some time-out from their busy rugby schedule as part of Killeen Castle’s partnership with IRUPA (Irish Rugby Union Players Association).
Killeen Castle is fast becoming one of the most talked about golf clubs in the country and in addition to the visit of Solheim Cup Captain Alison Nicholas and her two vice-captains, Annika Sorenstam and Joanne Morley; the course has had some high profile visitors in the past week. Nick Faldo dropped in to check out the surroundings on route to an event at Lough Erne last week while US Open Champion Graeme McDowell spent three days practicing at the club ahead of sinking the winning putt at the Ryder Cup.
Pic: Lisa and Leona Maguire explain to Rob Kearney and Eoin Reddan that you shouldnt leave your bag on the green when putting. By D Maher, Sportsfile
Killeen Castle General Manager Barry O’Connor commented, “We are delighted to have been joined by some of the top names in world golf over the past week and it is testament to the growing reputation and quality of Killeen Castle. Despite the club being only two years old, over 400 members are enjoying one of the best golf locations in the country and we now want to attract more members to this stunning facility.”
Killeen Castle Under 30’s Membership
Killeen Castle Juvenile Golf (opens in Jan 2011)
· Open to persons aged 18 - 30
· Annual fee - €1,250 + VAT
· €5,000 entrance fee which can be paid over the period up to their 30th birthday
For further information please call 01-6893000 or visit www.killeencastle.com.
Goes to Bubba Watson who took a real shine to patting partner Jeff Overton on the backside. To each their own I suppose but someone should have stepped in when the pair held hands during the parade for the opening ceremony!
Goes to Jose Maria Olazabal. The Spanish Ryder Cup legend was in Wales for a corporate engagement and just popped down to Celtic Manor on Friday morning to wish Monty and his pals luck. No sooner had he appeared but Olazabal was bustled into the Team room and after giving a hugely motivational speech was conferred with the title “Fifth Vice-Captain”. Sweet!
Whoever designed the USA team outfits this year needed to be brought “down a back alley and lynched”! The Saturday violet cardigans were particularly stylish, back in 1952. The garb was never going to work on Rickie Fowler, he looked like he had raided his Grandad’s wardrobe. Apparently the cardies came with mothballs in the pockets!
Has to go to Paul Lawrie. The 1999 British Open champ was drafted into the Sky Sports commentary team and his boring monotone drawl made the likes of Alan Shearer look a polished pro. One of the theories surrounding Lawrie is that Sky put all the best analysts on their 3D coverage. Dour, Dull, Disaster: there’s 3D’s for Lawrie. Should be P45!
Miguel Angel Jimenez’s face when Catherine Jenkins took to the stage at the opening ceremony. To the Spaniard’s pure delight the Welsh beauty stopped in front of him to perform “In the arms of an Angel” and his grin was priceless. He was with that Angel in heaven!
Goes to Jeff Overton after holing his second shot for eagle in the Saturday fourballs. “Booya” kicked off 30 seconds of wild yelping between Overton and Bubba Watson. It didn’t manage to rattle Jimenez and Hanson though; they won two up.
Stewart Cink’s boned bunker shot on the 15th Saturday nearly decapitated two spectators and handed the Irish duo of GMac and Rory the lead with three to play. The big American quickly put it behind him though as he rifled in a clutch birdie on the 17th which ultimately won he a Matt Kuchar a most unexpected point.
It may have cost over €50 million to develop the Celtic Manor resort and they’ve come with some ingenious innovations in course design. Check out the moveable water hazards that be created and removed on the 18th fairway by simply turning on and off the tap.
Goes to the European Team who took all the fizz out of a brewing Rory versus Tiger handbags story by donning Rory wigs at the start of their practice round. What I want to know is where did they manage to get a dozen Rory wigs in Newport!
The 2000 strong crowd who gathered in the stands around the first tee sung their heart’s out making it more like Croke Park than a golf tournament. The best chant had to be the revised version of the “There’s only one” song to accommodate Francesco and Edoardo. “There’s only two Molinari’s, there’s only two Moliari’s, two Molinariiiiis!”
First pic of victory at the 2010 Ryder Cup. Report below from Ryder Cup.com
Europe have won The Ryder Cup by 14 ½ - 13 ½ after a day of tension and drama before Colin Montgomerie’s team came through at the death.
Ultimately it was Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell who secured the winning point after a dramatic win over Hunter Mahan on the 17th but it came right to the wire.
In the top match, Europe’s talisman Lee Westwood was defeated 2 and 1 by Steve Stricker and the US immediately put another point on the board when Dustin Johnson comfortably beat US PGA Champion Martin Kaymer.
Ian Poulter put the first European point on the board with a win over Matt Kuchar by a 5 and 4 margin and then Rory McIlroy, in the second group out, secured a vital half with Stewart Cink.
Luke Donald then added another point with a final hole win over Jim Furyk and behind the tension was mounting. Miguel Angel Jiménez was magnificent in beating Bubba Watson but Ross Fisher struggled on the back nine to have his lead overturned and he was beaten by Jeff Overton 3 and 2.
Francesco Molinari came up against an inspired World Number One as Woods ran in five birdies and an eagle in a seven hole stretch from the ninth to win that match 5 and 3 to put the score at 13-11.
Four matches were left at that stage, Europe up in two and the US up in two with the target of 14 ½ points within reach.
But the drama was simply intensifying. Phil Mickelson added another point for the US and then Rickie Fowler somehow got a half from three down with three to play to get a half after birdieing each of the last four holes against Edoardo Molinari.
Harrington succumbed to Zach Johnson moments later and the scores were tied – 13 ½ - 13 ½ with just one match left on the course.
US Open Champion Graeme McDowell was the man charged with bringing the winning point home and he was sensational. The American’s battled so well but McDowell, in the very last match, held against Hunter Mahan to seal the victory and Europe had regained The Ryder Cup.
Golf, and sport, simply does not come any better.
Europe have won the 2010 Ryder Cup. It all came down to the final match, where Monty picked GMac, the Celtic Manor Wales Open and US Open champion to anchor his team. Despite a flush of red that brought the score back to 13.5 each, GMac held his nerve against a charging Hunter Mahan to win on the 17th. Here’s the final scoreboard
Pic: Ian Poulter Celebrates Holing a Long Putt For A Win on The Third
Enjoy Rory McIlory’s 2010 swing on the practice ground in Biz Hub Swing Vision slow motion as he heads into the Ryder Cup opening day fourballs with Graeme McDowell. Notice that Rory is working on keeping the face a little more shut during the takeaway.
It looks like the morning fourballs on day one of the Ryder Cup could be an altogether much closer affair than many had predicted. The draw couldn’t have fallen more kindly for captain Pavin, though Jeff Overton has been given a chance to play early.
Here’s a way to make an obscene amount of money from the Ryder Cup starting with a tenner accumulator bet. We will preface this by saying its unlikely but miracles do happen. And if it does don’t forget the SpinDoctor! Odds from Paddypower
The European guns out first are overwhelmed by the emotive scenes on the first tee and freeze. Only Rors and GMac grab a half but Woods, Johnson, Stricker and co with no expectations on them crank up the steamroller and whoop the Europeans.
With the pressure of the morning session off their shoulders and now playing their own balls Kaymer, Donald, Jimenez, Rors, Hanson and GMac set about doing what they’ve been doing all Summer- winning. Roars reverberate around the valleys like for a Shane Williams try at the Millenium Stadium. Winnings €7590
Bubba doesn’t do nerves. He beat Corey Pavin in a playoff this year for Gods sake by blasting a near 400 yard drive into a bottle neck fairway then pitching it inside the leather. And he went for broke at Whistling Straits only seeing glory in the playoff. A massive hitter and many peoples choice to be paired up with Tiger, its not beyond the realms of possibility that Bubba will play a stormer.
Francesco may even get to play three of the four matches on the opening two days depending on how Monty sees the partnership with Edoardo progressing. These boys are the World Champions at foursomes and fourballs and Francesco, the more experienced brother has the steely nerve to deal with anyone in the singles.
The most probable scoreline according to the bookies is a one point win for Europe. Scenes of sheer joy, the crowd singing “Bread Of Heaven” amidst a shower of champagne. And oh yeah you’ll never have to work again!
Winnings €18,451,290. Easy!
The USA Team, green with envy after watching their European opponents all having fun with Rory wigs decided to come up with a team bonding idea of their own. They all posed yesterday in white woolly sweaters with the Ryder Cup crocheted on the centre. The brainwave of Hunter Mahan, the jumpers were knitted for the Team by the Grannies from the Shreddies adverts in a sweatshop just outside Newport.
In an effort to diffuse the whole Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy shootout at dawn affair the European Team and caddies donned Rory wigs to show they’re all part of Team Europe. At least so says Monty at today’s press conference. The whole Tiger V Rory individual scenario was getting a bit out of hand for Captain Colin. Monty also revealed the team had motivational speeches from Sam Torrance, Ian Woosnam and rugby legend Gareth Edwards among others. At 6.45pm the most special of guest made an appearance when Ryder Cup hero Seve Ballesteros made an impassioned speech over the conference line. Every member of the team got to speak with Seve in a call that lasted almost an hour. Monty said the call made him feel proud and “sad” given Seve’s current condition. That call focussed the minds of the team for some time after said Monty but it was lightened later in the evening when Sky Sports laid on a “Question Of Sport” style quiz for the team.
Colin Montgomerie played things very much as expected with his pairings for the first official practice session for the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor yesterday.
To nobody's surprise, Ulstermen Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy were partners and so were Italians Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, the first brothers to play in the match since 1963.
Behind them Lee Westwood, returning from seven weeks off with a torn calf muscle, was with US PGA champion Martin Kaymer - the two highest ranked players in the European line-up. They were in a group with Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez and Swede Peter Hanson.
The last group comprised Luke Donald, Ross Fisher, Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter.
Montgomerie plans to get all 12 of his team into action as quickly as he can.
Poulter and Fisher finished fourth in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup last November - the Molinari brothers won it with McDowell and McIlroy second - while Donald was second at the Tour Championship on Sunday and Harrington showed a return to form on the same day with a 64 in Paris.
As for the Americans, Tiger Woods was in the same group as Steve Stricker, with whom he won all four games in last year's Presidents Cup.
But, officially at least, Woods was paired with Hunter Mahan and Stricker with Zach Johnson.
Behind them it was Matt Kuchar with Stewart Cink and Jim Furyk - the new £7million man after beating Donald by a shot on Sunday and in the process the FedEx Cup - with Jeff Overton.
And in the last group Phil Mickelson with Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson with Bubba Watson.
That appeared to be the experienced Mickelson, who this week equals the American record by making his eighth appearance, showing three newcomers the ropes.
There was some rain to contend with and some of the hills nearby were shrouded in fog, but the 24 players were able to get on the course on schedule.
Padraig Harrington took his Vivendi form into Tuesday's opening practice session at Celtic Manor. "He's like a rookie today and has had three eagles already," Colin Montgomerie said. "He's playing the best golf of my team out there and I feel the criticism has been very unjustified. He's a world player, he's won three major championships and the stature of the guy is second to none within our team. He walked into Celtic Manor on Sunday as if he was a rookie, it was fantastic, and he was really up about the whole thing. There are reasons why he was picked and judge me on that selection on October 4 and not on September 28."
Montgomerie also had a word for Lee Westwood "For him to start off so confidently with three birdies in the first four holes, it's always good for one's self esteem... when you have not played in a while and you come in and start ripping the ball like he is," said Montgomerie.
The European Ryder Cup Team will be able to draw from iconic images of past glories as Captain Monty has several posted on the locker’s of the team room. Rory McIlroy may have been only four months old when Christy O’Connor hit his famous two iron on the 18th in the Belfry in 1989 but the portrait of Christy looking towards the Heavens has transcended generations. There’s also Seve and Olazabal demonstrating how a successful Ryder Cup partnership is built on friendship and trust. All designed to have the hairs standing on the back of the player’s necks as they board the first tee.
To Lift The Cup: Europe 4/6
Lets look at the stats. Since the 29th July when Ross Fisher won the Irish Open, European team members Martin Kaymer (US PGA), Peter Hanson (Czech Open), Edoardo Molinari (Johnnie Walker), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Omega Masters) and Kaymer (KLM Open) again have won in successive weeks. Throw into the mix Luke Donald’s win in Madrid in May and his performance at the Celtic Manor Wales Open where GMac won and the ingredients seem irrestible. Of course like every champion boxer who steps into the ring, there is a chance of an upset but at 4/6 the odds seem almost generous for what should on paper be a comfortable European win.
Day One Winner: Europe 5/6
At the last Ryder Cup USA had amassed five and a half points after day one and the match was as good as settled. The only possible European pairing from then that could be recreated next Friday is Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington and with that partnership disbanded immediately after in Valhalla the chances of them being paired again are slim to none. Indeed I expect McDowell and McIlroy to emerge first from the clubhouse on Friday morning followed by the Molinari brothers. All going to script the momentum the opening matches create will feed back to those behind. Monty aims to create the same atmosphere as at the K Club in 2006, where Europe gained the opening day advantage. He’s even okayed a massive spectator cauldron around the first tee to give the Yanks the hee-bee gee-bees. Hope it works!
Top European Points Scorer: Luke Donald 9/1
The case for Luke Donald as top European points scorer is strong. The Englishman is arguably the form dog of the European team having contended at The Tour Championship in Atlanta last week. Donald answered Monty’s call in coming to the Wales Open on the 2010 course and showed that he can manage the venue when he finished third in the event. There’s also the little detail that Luke has never been on a losing Ryder Cup Team having won in 2004 and 2006. In his two matches Donald has only tasted defeat once. That was in the singles in 2004 where he lost to Chad Campbell, a defeat he avenged when again drawn against Campbell in the 2006 singles. There is one proviso, Donald had Garcia as a partner for four of his Ryder Cup points and with the Spaniard on the sidelines with his soother this time around, a new wingman will be needed. Luckily there are plenty of suitable candidates.
Top US Points Scorer: Dustin Johnson 9/1
Tiger Woods at 4/1 in this category is very tempting but I feel Dustin Johnson is irresistible at 10/1. Johnson is untainted by any memories of defeat in a USA shirt and his game should be well suited to the Celtic Manor layout. Johnson proved (with no sleep) in Adare during the Summer that his length and accuracy off the tee can bring long courses to their knees. DJ also has an amiable personality and will be crowd favourite on both sides. He proved this year that he can handle adversity and learn from it. His crumbling at the US Open could have had a psychological impact on lesser men, but to get right into contention again at the US PGA and then win the BMW show his strength of character. I expect him to play all five matches and if Corey gets his pairings right, Johnson could be the US man of the match.