March 2012
2012 US Masters Tournament, Augusta National GC, Augusta, Georgia
Purse: $8,000,000
odds on the exchanges

Updated Wednesday 4th April

Woods or McIlroy?

Woods: Paired with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Sang Moon Bae.
McIlroy: Paired with Bubba Watson and Angel Cabrera

I’m going to get this out of the way first and foremost by choosing between Tiger Woods at 6/1 and Rory McIlroy at 8/1. Both are just too short odds for me pre-tournament but I certainly don’t want to chicken out of a decision. I’m a McIlroy fan and he played three rounds like a champ last year and though most will remember his final round 80, he bounced back in style showing grit and determination to win the US Open.
On this occasion however I have to go with Woods  even though I’m still very wary of his tendency to flash the odd tee shot wide. Woods is an honours student of Augusta with his four wins. Some will argue he hasn’t produced the goods since his last win in 2005, but in his six attempts since, he’s never been outside the top six. I believe he achieved those results mainly with course knowledge and determination. This year Woods brings all that plus a win, a swing, a putting stroke and an experienced Augusta caddie in Joey LeCava. Things rarely pan out as you might expect but all the odds seem stacked in Woods favour this time around. Especially those given by the bookies. In the past few days all the money on the exchanges has come for Woods. Rory has slipped from 7's to a very generous 8/1.
View my new 2012 What’s In The Bag Tiger Woods Post Here
View my 2012 What’s In The Bag Rory McIlroy Post Here

Keegan Bradley 38/1 (was 44/1)

Paired with Charl Schwartzel and Kelly Kraft.
They say that experience is vital when it comes to winning The Masters but Keegan Bradley is something very special. I love his approach to the game, I love his work ethic, I love his concentration levels. For a man that has only played in 38 tournaments as a professional, in an era of Woods and McIlory he has achieved much. Closed out the USPGA at Atlanta Athletic Club like a veteran and I would not be at all surprised to see him finish in a place at Augusta. Insiders say Keegan has put in some serious amount of Augusta practice with Phil Mickelson.  And with Mickelson stating at his press conference on Tuesday that the unusually soft conditions negates the need for experience somewhat, it further strengthens Bradley's credentials.

Adam Scott 34/1 (was 42/1)

Paired with Bo Van Pelt and Martin Kaymer.
Somewhat of a veteran now in his 11th Masters. A pair of 67’s at the weekend last year saw Scott finish in a tie for second, his best Augusta finish yet. He always had the repetitive swing to contend at Majors, now he has the putter and the caddie to boot. Struggled last time out at the weekend from a promising position at the WGC Cadillac but I fancy this guy has a Major in him and why not now?
Reported to be playing well during the practice rounds after weeks training in the Bahamas and odds have come in.

Geoff Ogilvy 90/1 (was 120/1)

Paired with Matt Kuchar and YE Yang
Although last year’s Masters was dominated by Adam Scott and Jason Day, I thought another Aussie Geoff Ogilvy had a fine week. I liked his whole approach to the tournament considering he had only played in five Masters until last year. Two great rounds were followed by a stumble down the leaderboard on Saturday before a final round 67 elevated him again into a tie for fourth. Ogilvy found a modicum of form at the recent Transitions and his Sunday 66 brought back memories of his super cool US Open win in 2006. With the same approach to this year’s Masters Ogilvy could have another great week.

Best Of The Rest Preview

Luke Donald 18/1 tied for fourth here last year and will be happy to grind away and let Rory and Tiger take all the headlines. At the end of the day though Luke is the world number one and deservedly so. Donald ranks fifth on the PGA Tour scrambling stats and first in strokes gained putting. He may not be the guy who birdies five holes in a row to win but the green jacket over the years has come via many routes.
Bo Van Pelt 75/1 (was 120/1) was one over par heading into his second round last year and finished up tying for eighth. He putts just about as good as anyone on the Tour and has already clocked up top-10’s this year at Scottsdale, Riviera, Doral and Innisbrook. Look for odds for Bo to finish in the top-10. Paired with Scott and Kaymer which should help his cause also.
Hunter Mahan 36/1 (was 65/1) sees his odds halved after winning in Houston.  Long off the tee and extremely accurate he’s been in the top 10 in two out of the last three years. Mahan proved he knows how to win big in the desert and with most bookies paying out for the top six places Mahan is worth a punt. The only possible question is is his new Ping Nome putter that little bit too heavy for the slick Augusta greens?

The way Augusta is going distance is all important and converting on the par fives. Bubba Watson 55/1 (50/1) hits it crazy long, he’s number one on the PGA stats and surprisingly also tops the greens in regulation count. Bubba's odds have lengthened a little after practice, I would have thought they would move the opposite direction after all the rain at the course.
Nick Watney 65/1 (was 70/1) plays his fifth Masters this year and on paper has the game for Augusta. Didn’t break par any day last year but in his three appearances prior to that has always been inside the top 20.

Previous Top 10’s

rory-mcilroy-golf_t640Brian Keogh at the irishgolfdesk.com reports on Rory McIlroy’s appearance at Augusta for a practice round ahead of the 2012 Masters.

World No 2 Rory McIlroy continued his low key preparations for the Masters Tournament with a hush-hush visit to Augusta National on Wednesday.

The 22-year old, who led the tournament by four shots entering last year’s final round only to collapse to a nightmare 80, played a quiet 18 holes and was accompanied on his journey by his caddie JP Fitzgerald.

 

GolfCentralDaily has once again proved to be right on the throbbing pulse of daft stories, being first with Hank Haney’s story about Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, porn in the K Club and some mansize tissues.

A few weeks ago we posted the story Haney Book- Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson's Porn Marathon in K Club

Yesterday, in the real world, the K Club issued the following statement:

christy "The K Club does not have, and never has had a pay-per-view movie channel nor does it stock nor ever did stock adult movies on DVD or any other format or provide access to such movies for guests".

Pic: Christy Canyon not available in K Club so don’t ask.

The spokesperson with responsibility for Team USA's porn in 2006, Thomas Tank responded today saying:

“I never meant to insinuate that the K Club supplied Zach and Tiger’s porn that week.  The players actually watched their skin flicks on Tiger’s laptop.  He found a really good site, Xhamster I think, with no pop ups and loads of high quality streaming movies.  It was completely free too, most porn sites say the word “free” to get you in, but Xhamster actually was.  All the talk on the tee that week was Christy Canyon.”

Everybody knows Padraig Harrington can talk and now he’s even got Blarney on his shirt!  Blarney.com have joined IdentityX and Clune Construction on Harrington’s shirt for the next three weeks for a very special cause.

The three companies have together donated in the region of $200,000 to the Padraig Harrington Charitable Foundation which is raising much needed funds for Irish man Gerard Byrne who was recently paralysed from the waist down in a car accident.

, the largest Irish gift store in the world, is also giving a further 5% of all online sales during the period to Harrington’s foundation.

The three time Major Champion had the idea to offer space on his shirt for his Augusta National appearance which traditionally has the largest viewership figures of any golf tournament worldwide.

I’m guessing Blarney and the other sponsors won’t mind very much if the only thing covering their logos come Sunday week is a green jacket!

 

Ernie Els spoke to a really important associated press reporter yesterday.  I’m not sure but I think Ernie was locked in the bathroom crying and the reporter was outside with a cup of tea imploring him to just open the door and everything would be okay.

ernie els funny pic[5]Ernie: You can't go into a week putting pressure on yourself to win to get into another week.  I just want to have a good week. If I can win, obviously, that would be absolutely wonderful. But my goal here is not to get into the Masters, it's to play the Shell Houston Open as good as I can.

Reporter: You go right ahead and tell yourself that Ernie, if it helps dry those tears.

Pic: Ernie having some wine at the inaugural meeting of sportsmen who don’t get invited anywhere anymore.

Ernie: If I get into the Masters, that's great. If I don't, then I've had many Masters that I can look back at, and I'll get back in there next year.

Reporter: Ah it’s okay Ernie, you still have a sackful of money and a jet. And a chopper. And five homes.

Ernie: It'll be a very weird feeling.  Since I've been a professional at this level, I've played at the Masters, so it'll be a very weird feeling not to be there. I'll miss it.

Reporter: Ya and you’ll have to watch to Simon Holmes pontificating about Ryo Ishikawa’s swing on Sky Sports.  He got an invite didn’t he?

Ernie: It is an invitational event and they have their reasons to invite somebody or not, and that's the sad part. I'll probably miss it for the first time in 18 or 19 years. My streak will come to an end, unfortunately.

Reporter: I bet you have your phone close by though.  Diving on it when it rings

Ernie: I can't blame the Masters people for not inviting me. I've put myself in this position by not playing very well.

Reporter: Ah dont be hard on yourself Ernie.  You’ve played well, you’ve just putted like Ryo Ishikawa. Ooooooops.

Anti combover activists in Scotland have gone to an awful lot of trouble to highlights their plight.  Their latest salvo involves a Donald Trump spitting image puppet and a Queen classic. 

European Tour head referee John Paramor warmed up for his annual appearance at the Masters by issuing a nine foot carpet snake a world record 14 shot penalty for multiple breaches of the Rules Of Golf.  The snake, nicknamed Kevin Na is said to be distraught at the decision.

c0327snakeA quick thinking Floridian viewer found a picture of the snake with two golf balls in its intestines and immediately emailed it to Paramor.

“Kevin Na The Snake is deemed to have breached Rule 18 of the R&A Rules Of Golf, Moving a Ball at Rest” shouted Paramor.  “Not only did he move a ball at rest, he moved two, then ate the blasted things. And lied about it. I’ve had to make up a whole new set of new rules to cover this.  I’ve even had to delay lunch.  And I never delay lunch.”

Speaking from his home where he was last night writhing with close family and friends Kevin Na The Snake hissed to reporters, “I was just slithering beside a pool on the back nine at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, I was miles left of the golf course.  Then I saw what looked like a pair of sumptuous white eggs.  Or so I thought.”

Reacting to Paramor he said “He had to delay his lunch?  I didn’t even get lunch.  My enzymatic juices were powerless to break down the Nike Tour D and its bloody resin core.  You try crapping two bowling balls.  I’d give anything to sink my teeth into his ass right now; I’ve two days worth of venom in those bad boys.  I’m thinking of heading to Augusta. I will have my vengeance.”

Why in the world would Mizuno slight their own equipment by getting Luke Donald to film a masterclass then leave in a scene of him completely skulling a pitch shot over the green? And then spending two minutes talking about how terrible the shot was?  It has never been done before by a big equipment company and after this I’m guessing they wont be doing it ever again.  Cringeworthy.

 

Callaway’s latest promotional video stars Phil Mickelson’s caddie Jim “Bones” McKay as a customer service agent.  Hardly a classic but worth a watch.

Here’s what’s in Tiger Woods bag following his win at the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational and heading into this years Masters.

woodsDRIVER: Nike VR Tour (8.5°) with a Graphite Design Tour AD DI 6 shaft
FAIRWAY WOODS: Nike VR Pro Limited Editon (15°), SQ (19°) with Mitsubishi Diaman Blue Board 103 shafts
IRONS: Nike Forged VR-S Forged (3), VR Pro Blades (4-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100shafts
WEDGES: Nike VR (56°), VR Pro (60°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts
PUTTER: Nike Method 001
BALL: Nike Tour D

2012 Shell Houston Open Betting Preview and Tips

Odds on the exchanges

Steve Stricker 20/1

stricker[4] Some say Steve Stricker does not have the game to win a Masters but he sure as hell has one that can win in Houston. This tournament makes no apologies for being the Augusta warm up and sets up as easy as any course on Tour off the tee. The test here is around the greens and they don’t come much better than Stricker at that. Second in scrambling on the stats and tied fourth last year, I think he will do well this week.

Hunter Mahan 28/1

mahan Somewhat out of sorts since winning the WGC Cadillac with his new Nome putter but Mahan likes this Redstone Course. Since the event moved here (from the Member course) in 2006, Mahan has posted three top-10’s. He arguably could have done better if his short game was sharper but on his week is certainly one to watch.

JB Holmes 120/1

Wayne-Rooney-JB-Holmes Great to see JB Holmes back on Tour after his health scare last season. Hasn’t done much since his top 10 at Riviera back in February but shot a super four under final round in really tough conditions at Bay Hill. Holmes has a best of second here in 2009, losing a playoff to Paul Casey. Very generous odds of 120/1

Kevin Stadler 28/1

stadlers_top10 I’ve been keeping an eye on Kevin Stadler for the past few weeks and I really fancy him each way in Houston. Stadler played a seven week stretch leading up to the lower order Peurto Rico Open a couple of weeks back and improved his result in every one of the events. Tied for sixth in 2010 and known as an excellent scrambler, don’t say you weren’t warned!

Johnson Wagner 42/1

wagner It’s something of a milestone for Johnson Wagner this week as he starts his 150th event. The moustachioed one has been having a cracking season, winning the Sony Open, coming second at the Humana Challenge and finishing in a tie for fourth again last week. Couple to that the fact that Wagner won here in 2008 and suddenly those odds of 42/1 seem very generous indeed.

Best Of The Rest

Personally I’ll be having my customary two quid each way flutter on Keegan Bradley for the next couple of weeks but at odds of 17.5/1 you want some longer odds shots in this section! As if Kevin Na’s tied fourth from 90/1 didn’t pay you out enough last week!)

Fred Couples is in great form winning last week on the Champions Tour and loves Houston. He tied fourth in 2008 and tied third in 2009 and if his back holds up for the four days seems a nice each way bet at 150/1.

Chad Campbell is 250/1 and despite not having done anything of note since a good performance at last years British Open, shows up on my radar around Redstone. He tied second in 2008 and finished just outside the top 10 last year.

 

The PGA Tour has today issued a notice seeking to recruit retired golf writers in the build up to this years US Masters, after all the existing ones suddenly exploded yesterday.

MAS32_Veteran_Journalists_RLC_0Several ambulances were summoned to the site of the incident at Bay Hill yesterday only to be greeted by the splattered fragments of 17 American golf writers.

“They were frothing at the mouth, shouting ‘f**k yeah’ and licking pictures of Tiger Woods when they all just suddenly exploded”, said top Irish golf writer Brian Keyhole who was present in the media centre and witnessed the event first hand.

“From all indications, it looks likes they just spontaneously combusted,” said Tim Finchem of the PGA Tour. “We’re scraping up samples as we speak and we should know more when these are examined but initial indications are that the guys got a little over excited on learning that Michael Hoey had won on the European Tour.”

More as it emerges.

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Congratulations to Michael Hoey and Damien McGrane on their one two in Morocco. 

from the European Tour

hoeyA second successive 65 saw Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey win the Trophée Hassan II.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship winner, who trailed Damien McGrane by nine after an opening 74, was a brilliant 14 under for the weekend at Golf du Palais Royal as he finished with a 17 under par total.
“It’s all a bit surreal at the moment but it always feels like that for me,” he said.
“I was really trying to stay in the present all day and go through the routines of one shot at a time and everything else and then I was really surprised to see Damien had dropped shots as I played the 17th but it was great to have that three shot lead playing the last.
“When I saw that I just wanted to get a good drive down the last because it is a really tough hole and I managed to do that and the hit a great approach in there. I actually hit all the right shots at the right times over the closing holes which was really satisfying.
“I was actually thinking that I might struggle to make the cut after shooting two over in the first round but I started swinging the club really well and the confidence was there so it was great to back that up with the scores too. The second round was a good 67 and then to shoot two 65s over the weekend was pretty special really.”
Hoey’s three shot victory lifts him inside the top 15 on The Race to Dubai and puts him back in the hunt for a Ryder Cup debut later this year.
The 33 year old grabbed his fourth European Tour victory - and second in The Ryder Cup qualifying campaign – to take the €250,000 first prize.

With just under two weeks to Augusta Tiger Woods demonstrated his new Poolside  Draw Shot at the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational. 

 

Child psychologists are this evening probing a revolutionary new treatment in alleviating childhood crying fits pioneered by golfing legend  Arnold Palmer.  The octogenarian performed the technique on Annika Sorenstam’s whinging baby son William live on US television today leaving viewers stunned and intrigued.

Snapshot 1 (24-03-2012 21-21)One year old William was appearing with his parents on the broadcast to publicly thank Palmer for saving him as an infant from Angelina Jolie, who was trying to adopt him and add to her collection of 17 children.

“Everything went really well in rehearsals” said Golf Channel producer Todd Backstop “but we never took into account the sinister effect Johnny Miller has on small children.  He scares the living crap out of them.”

Snapshot 2 (24-03-2012 21-22)The television audience were left open mouthed seconds later as magical Grandad Palmer turned little William’s crocodile tears into smiles by waggling his wrists and presenting the baby with an exemption into his tournament in 20 years time.  “That’s the best present ever”  Sorenstam said after “ William can now look forward to a potential $40 million payday if he wins the event, taking into account inflation and Bloomberg’s 20 year forecast on the strength of the dollar in 2032.  It’s really great having that peace of mind that our baby’s welfare is secured.  He starts practicing in five years and  four months time”.

jo-frostPalmer is now due to appear alongside “you know it’s wrong but you definitely would anyway” Jo Frost in the next episode of Supernanny.  The pair are set to go head to head with rabid six year old twins who can turn their heads 360 degrees and speak fluent Latin without ever having been taught it. It’s rumoured that Palmer will attempt to exorcize the children’s demons by offering the pair a club and clothing contract and three PGA Tour exemptions in 2025.

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Admitting that he regularly makes himself into a large toasted sandwich and attempts to eat himself, Bubba Watson broke down in tears yesterday on US TV.  Speaking on The Golf Channel’s Morning Drive show, the mop haired star fought back tears as he described how he constantly feels hungry.

Watson told presenters “While the rest of the guys were in the gym pumping iron this morning, I had a second bowl of muesli then two of those tiny cheese things with the waxy red cover.”  He then went on to publicly chastise himself for experiencing hunger, a natural phenomenon governed by complex neural brain processes and designed to ensure the human body receives the fuel it needs to produce ATP (Adenosine TriPhosphate), the energy units essential to maintain the body’s metabolic processes and sustain life.

“I have let myself, my fellow professionals and The PGA Tour down”, Watson said in relation to his inability to play one round of golf without eating a Crunchy Granola bar and a banana. “My damn brain is writing cheques my body cant cash. We are so spoiled out here on Tour, things like energy bars and fruit are freely available. It’s a rock and roll world and I have to rise above it”.

Watson was later seen behind the studio shoving his arm into a large baguette.

 

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Bay Hill:- According to eye witnesses, up to three press writers wearing slippers and hearing aids burst into an Arnold Palmer press conference wheeling in what appeared to be a Loaded Question.  One of the men placed wooden wedges in front of the Question to anchor it, a second then loaded the Question with 100 pounds “SNUB”, then stood aside while a third man lit a long fuse.

ArnoldPalmer1“Why do you think Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald are not here?”, the Question boomed hitting Palmer in the pocket splattering him in sticky SNUB.

Thankfully the reeling Hall of Famer only suffered super-financial wounds and, dismissing officials who were attempting to clean off the SNUB, issued the following statement.

"I'm disappointed that they are not here, no question about it.  I'm certainly not happy that those fellas chose not to come this year. We are doing everything we can to entice them to come and play."

Wiping a large clump of SNUB from his face Palmer then issued this warning to his three would-be attackers.

“I had a letter from Rory seeking my consultation and told me he wasn't coming.  And of course that made me feel great.  And if you believe that, I'll talk to you outside afterwards.”

More as it emerges.

Congrats to Tom Kennedy on his new role in Mount Juliet.  The new boy has got straight down to work at the former Irish Open and two time host to the WGC by launching what might be the biggest gamble ever undertaken by an Irish golf course.

Basically Mount Juliet are offering everyone who plays the course their money back if Rory McIlroy wins The Masters.  With Rors quoted at just 4/1 with Paddypower this seems like an offer that just cannot be refused.  Full details are here http://www.mountjuliet.ie/MajorsOpenSeries/

Or you can call (056) 777 3000 to find out more.

Mount Juliet2

Mount Juliet3

Japanese golfer Ryo Ishikawa famous for having his face on his golf ball and managing to somehow get invites to all the big tournaments has revealed he his dying to show off the new mark he plans to put on his ball.

ryo ballSpeaking from Augusta after receiving an invite for the 2012 Masters, Ishikawa told Japanese TV, “This is going to be the coolest mark anyone has ever put on a ball.  It’s so easy anyone could do it and trust me when you see it you’ll be putting it on your ball.  I’m dying to show it to everyone at this year’s Summer’s British Open. But only if I get an invite, that is.”

Ishikawa’s management team last night quelled rumours that the young Japanese is actually using this as a clever trick to fool the R&A in getting an invite to The Open because he hasn’t a hope in hell of qualifying by rights.  “No honestly, I swear, you have to see the ball mark, it’s just sooooo cool” his manager said.  “Cross my heart and hope to die and swear on my two kids lives.  Just give us an invite and you will see it.  You wont be disappointed”.

R&A boss Peter Dawson who marks his own ball with a cool hexagon using five sharpies is said to giving the request serious consideration.

 

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Trophée Hassan II Betting Preview and Tips
Golf du Palais Royal, Agadir, Morocco 22 Mar 2012 - 25 Mar 2012
odds on the exchnges
Also see my
Matteo Mannassero 14/1
manassero After finish sixth in Abu Dhabi in February many expected more from Matteo Mannassero.
Last week however saw a return to form for the young Italian with a second place behind Julien Quesne. This will be Matteo’s seventh start of the season and though he still drives it short by Tour standards is one of the best putters ranking second in putts per round last week.

Okay I’m not in the mood for it anymore so I’m going to be blunt. Tiger Woods  Achilles is just fine.  He was having so much fun yesterday at The Tavistock Cup that he clean forgot to do some limping or wincing.

tiger woods So by my mathematics two rounds at Lake Nona plus four rounds at Bay Hill equals six rounds in seven days with a Major just days after.  Now unless you’re more naive than a Belieber, you’ll know that’s not the schedule of an injured golfer or one that’s nursing anything more than a bruised ego after missing a few putts and walking off the course.  All that was missing there was Woods running off with the flag shouting “It’s my flag and I don’t wanna play with ye anymore.”

For the record Woods shot a 66 and was having long driving contests with Bubba Watson, and for the record he’ll probably be 66 before his Achilles really starts to bother him.

 

More shocking revelations from Hank Haney's new book The Big Miss have emerged today.  This time they involve the small devoutly Catholic country of Ireland, Tiger Woods and 24 hours of high quality pornography.


tiger making the holeHaney recounted the incident on the eve of the 2006 Ryder Cup when Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson roomed at the Kildare venue and where his drives weren’t the only thing being tugged by the multiple Major Champion that week.

 
An excerpt from Haney's book reads, ' Tiger, when he got to the suite first, immediately purchased the adult movie 24-hour package and turned the television on. When Zach walked in, he saw the sights and sounds but didn't change the channel or turn it off. Tiger never commented on the movies, nor did Zach."


It is believed both men missed practice and a team meeting that day, preferring to remain in the darkened room, sitting transfixed either side of the sofa and only occasionally moving  to order Kleenex Mansize Tissues from room service.


The spokesperson with responsibility for Team USA's porn that week, Thomas Tank, recalled the incident. "Back in 2006  good quality porn was difficult to find.  There were many cases where the trailers looked very good with oiled up babes who really seemed to be having fun but when you started watching the scenes went on far too long and they all had fake boobs and extreme landing strips.  The stuff we got in Ireland was about 20 years old, it was some terrific wholesome old school porn.


As Haney recalled the incident between Johnson and Woods had a happy ending. Woods told Haney about the conclusion saying 'I got him pretty good.'

 

The PGA Tour was rocked to its foundations yesterday after it emerged that eight cases of racist abuse were confirmed at last weeks Transitions Championship.  The offences were all directed at Jim Furyk’s extremely white head.

cc_Jim_Furyk_Golf__1219103sFuryk’s head was exposed momentarily as he removed his cap to shake hands with fellow competitors after he completed his final round at Innisbrook sparking a deluge of racist slurs from nearby spectators.

Most of the chants were so shocking as to unrepeatable.  Others included “Chalk The Cue Ball, Chalk Chalk the Cue Ball”  “Who Switched on The 5 Hour Bulb?” and “We want Fester’s sunblock,  We want Fester’s sunblock, na na na na, na na na na. What is it? Factor A Zillion?”

PGA Tour boss Tim Finchem said today "We’re all shocked at these eight cases of racism levelled at Jim Furyk.  I can understand one, or maybe two racially sensitive comments based on the fact that Jim’s head looks like an untanned tit after a week in Barbados, but eight is unacceptable.

Finchem went to describe as “worrying” a report that two African American golf fans “ran in the completely opposite direction” when Furyk approached to sign autographs. 

"We can only hope that we don’t encounter more prejudice based on the colour of a man’s skin this week at the Arnold Palmer invitational” Finchem said.  “I think if we could keep the number down to three quality incidents of racism it will be a huge success”.

More as it emerges.

 

arnie logo 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Preview and Tips

Thursday Mar 22 – Sunday Mar 25, 2012

Bay Hill Club & Lodge · Orlando, Florida

odds on exchanges

Ernie Els 50/1

steve sands ernie els Found out a little in his short putting last week and then faced “that interview” with Steve Sands after. If Els is to have any chance of keeping up his record of appearing in every Masters since 1993, he needs to perform this week. Bay Hill is a course where experience counts. Els has won here when the course was a par 70 and again when it reverted back to a 72 in 2010. Good in the wind, we know he’s in good form so what’s not to like?

Jim Furyk 36/1

furyk A welcome return to form last week getting into the playoff at The Transitions. Shotlink placed Furyk fourth in greens in regulation, a stat which will be even more critical this week. Tied 11th in 2010 and tied ninth last year. If Furyk can do better than his opening round 74 of 12 months ago, he can contend again this week.

Sergio Garcia 27/1

garcia Of the European contingent I think Sergio Garcia has a decent shout this week. Bay Hill is all about shotmaking with it’s four par 3’s ranking collectively as the toughest on Tour and Garcia is haute couture when it comes to designing shots. Tied 16th last week just five shots off the pace but better than that, only took four bogeys all week ranking fifth in greens in regulation. The greens at Bay Hill are super tough, even the best struggle to make birdies, and this plays into the Spaniard’s hands. This will be his 11th event at the venue and been in the top 10 six times, including last year.

Justin Rose 19/1

rose Recent winner at the WGC Cadillac and sure to be in the mix again this week. Word from inside the ropes is that everyone is marveling at Rose’s ball striking right now. Don’t be fooled either at his tied 29th last week, according to shotlink Rose actually tied for first in greens hit in regulation, something that will pay more dividends this week. Rose won twice within a month in 2010, so don’t rule it out.

Best Of The Rest

webb[3] I feel a bit guilty for tipping Webb Simpson 22/1 last week so I’m going to make it up by going with him one more time at Bay Hill. He may not have cashed in at Copperhead but again but in a good performance with a tied 10th finish. Shot all four rounds in the 60’s and certainly is one to keep an eye on over the coming weeks. Kevin Na at 90/1 may not be a form dog coming into this week but he is a horse for course and those odds are too generous for a guy who tied 2nd as recently as 2010.

The Course

· Tough. Ranked 2nd hardest par 72 last year outside of the Majors.

· Average winning score over the last four years: 9 under

· Changed from par 70 to par 72 in 2010

· 7,419 yards

· Key stat: Greens in regulation.

· Expected Weather: Light winds

 

Maybe it’s best to leave the guy who has just missed a four foot putt to get into a playoff alone?

Steve Sands should have.  And while I dont agree with the calls to sack him over it, I do think Sands should have come up with questions a little more articulate than “Did you have the confidence to make that putt?” Here is the interview as posted on the deadspin website.  I’m guessing the PGA Tour wont be posting it on theirs!

http://deadspin.com/5894380/ernie-els-interview-was-equal-parts-short-and-painfully-awkward

 

In advance of the publication of Hank Haney’s book about Tiger Woods entitled The Big Miss, more leaks have emerged in The New York Times.

  • The big reveal is that the suggestion that Tiger Woods was interested in becoming a Navy SEAL was serious.  So serious in fact that it was SEAL training and not golf that caused Woods to tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He was involved in an exercise with the SEALs when the injury occurred.
  • Haney also says in the book that Tiger has a fixation with body builders saying that he is  "inordinately interested in muscle-building."
  • Haney has a whole chapter in the book about Tiger’s indiscretions.  It details Tigers obsession with calling and texting women on his mobile phone, whilst practicing his Haney.
  • Whether it matters or not, Tiger doesnt share his lollipops.  He often went into his house to grab, yet never offered one to Haney.  He said they were sugar free but was there something else in there he felt Haney shouldn’t be tasting??

It’s with great sadness I sit here and write my thoughts on the passing of my friend, Connor Mallon.  We had to go as far as America to meet up and have the craic, but spoke on the phone regularly and took the mick out of each other on facebook the rest of the time.  I bet Connor had a lot of friends. Every one with a story.connor

We spoke on the phone just two weeks ago about doing  a series of pro tips on how to play links courses.  Connor could play links courses. He could play any course. “Be great for the yanks!”, he said.

We were to film at his course Narin and Portnoo in April but on Connor’s insistence we were going to hop in the car and travel to Ballyliffin and then to Rossapenna and then a few others “just to give everyone in the NorthWest a bit of coverage”.  Make a trip out of it, meet everyone, do it right.  That’s the kind man he was.

connor1 Everyone will have their stories about Connor.  He was the friendliest, most animated character you could ever meet.  People gravitated towards him.  I’ve played in big sporting events in my life and met famous people yet cant remember the details of any of them.  I can remember every minute I spent in Connor Mallon’s company.

Pic: Trying on “the wearable condom” on the Cross clothing stand for a laugh!

The last time we met up was in Orlando for the PGA Show in January.  A bunch of us went downtown to see the Orlando Magic play the visiting Boston Celtics in an NBA game.  Mick Walsh and myself had tickets up in the rafters and one for Connor. He gave his ticket to someone who was stuck.  Typical!  “I’ll follow yez in lads!”  Ten minutes into the game, he makes his way up to the seats, takes one look at how bloody high up they are and says “who wants food?”

We didn’t see Connor again until after the game in a pub across the road.  He arrived in with Justin Farrell and a big smile on his face brandishing a picture on his phone.  “Where the f*ck were you boss?” we said.

“Take a look at this boys” he boomed swinging his phone so we could see the image. The picture showed Connor, on the court at The Amway arena, his arm around a Boston Celtics player like he knew him all his life! Now I know what you’re thinking; how did he manage to get past mega security, sit in $2000 courtside seats and walk onto the court of an NBA game and convince Kevin Garnett to pose for a picture?

connor2 The answer is because Connor Mallon was a Character.

That night we sung songs.  Mick and Doc from Mayo, Johnny Farren and Connor from Donegal.  Sang them in the pub, sang them on the street, sang them in the club, even sang them in the taxi.  Connor and his three backing vocalists in the back drove that Indian taxi lad mad with Whiskey and Rye, but by Jesus he paid him well for his trouble.

Pic: Two boys with the gift of the gab!

Connor Mallon.  A father, a husband, a golfer, a friend…….and a Character.  I bet Connor had a lot of friends. Every one with a story. RIP.

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It’s all right folks.  Just days after Tiger’s OJ Simpsonesque slow car chase out of Doral, the Wooden One has resurfaced on American TV.  There may be have been weeping and gnashing of teeth among the Tiger fans last week but as it turns out Woods Achilles Heel isn’t actually his Achilles Heel.

On Good Morning America he told the presenter Robin Roberts "I'll be there. Don't worry about it.  I took a few days off. I'll start hitting balls tomorrow. The stiffness is gone. Hopefully, I'll be ready next week."

They then played a hole on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13.  After Woods took four on a par—3, Roberts was left a tap in for par saying “All I need is to make this to once again beat Tiger Woods”.  And she did!  Here’s the video.








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After tipping Charl Schwartzel into a place at 34/1, I chat with Dave and Joe about our tips for the 2012 Transitions and a long odds shot for Andalucia as we share a jacuzzi filled with 50 euro notes.

Tips start at 30 mins 30 seconds.

 

shotlink Here’s a few key stats to help you pick the winners this week at The Transitions and Andalucia Open.

The Transitions

  • Copperhead is a par 71 (36,35) with four par 5’s and five par 3’s. Measures 7,340 yards.
  • The par 4 16th is the most difficult hole on the course statistically.
  • Holes 16-18 are known as the “snake pit” and rank collectively as the seventh toughest stretch on the Tour roster.
  • Putting is the key stat.  Last years winner Gary Woodland ranked third for the week at 2.009.
  • Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort is suited to short hitter. The average driving distance on shotlink in 2011 was 277.6 yards, making it one of the five most suited courses for shorter hitters on the PGA Tour.
  • In the last three stagings, The Transitions average winning score was 12 under par.
  • 15 Under par won last year.  Scoring is expected to be even better this year.  The forecast is for perfect weather, very little wind and the rough is cut shorter than 2011.

Andalucia

  • After stagings in Malaga and Seville, the event moves back to the Aloha Club this year.
  • Aloha last staged the event in 2007 and 2008.
  • The course is a par 72 measuring 6881 yards for members.
  • Dry weather in the region has meant the rough is not at all punishing.
  • In 2007 the winning score was 20 under, it was 16 under in 2008.
  • Accuracy off the tee is the key to the course statistically with the last two winners at Aloha (Westwood, Levet) featuring in the top five statistically.

rory mcilroy funny[5][4]Rory McIlroy might not be swinging a club in competition again until The Masters but he’s busy busy busy ironing his tuxedo before a trip to the White House for a meeting with Barack Obama.  I know what you are thinking.  St Patrick’s Day is coming and Rory has been drafted in for the annual back slapping fest complete with over-the-top bowl of shamrock.

But no!  Rors is actually heading there tonight as part of a blacktie event to honour British PM David Cameron. McIlroy will be joined by other famous British figures, sportsmen and actors for the formal State dinner.

In a statement released by Irish Premier Enda Kenny last night he said “Damn, I should have thought of that. When is St. Patrick’s Day again?”

After tonight's dinner McIlroy heads back to his home in Jupiter Florida where he will practice at The Bear’s Club in the lead up to the Masters.  I have it on good authority though that Rors will raise a pint to St. Patrick on Saturday night.