Sunday, 16 December 2012

May and June in the review of 2012


The  absence of Donald, Westwood and McIlroy at  Finca Cortesin, Malaga, this weekend adds up to a golden opportunity for hopefuls such as Paul Lawrie, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and defending champion Ian Poulter. 

The Volvo World Matchplay Championship, once a staple of the autumn calendar at Wentworth, boasts just one member of the world’s top ten, Martin Kaymer, so the  race is on to make the automatic qualifiers for Europe’s Ryder Cup team.  Poulter is currently 12th in the points table, McDowell and Garcia stand 8th and 9th – the top ten are guaranteed the trip to Medinah in September.

After Matt Kuchar won the Players Championship at Sawgrass one of his little sons ran onto the 18th green.  Kuchar hugged him, then turned to shake hands with his opponent Kevin Na, apologising for grabbing his son before formally completing the round.  Nice to see the courtesies observed.  It’s embarrassing when the winner bursts into tears leaving his opponent standing there looking like a lemon. 

Perhaps Kevin should have gone to recover at Ian Poulter’s new house at Lake Nona, Orlando; so enormous it is nicknamed “The Hotel.”  It took three years to build and could probably accommodate the entire PGA Tour.  Poulter is now shopping for a Ferrari Enzo to put in the drive.  It’s tough at the top.

Peter Alliss, who has been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame along with “Phil the Thrill” Nickelson, Sandy Lyle and others, is regarded by most of us as a national treasure.  However, The BBC's voice of golf for the past 40 years, and former European Tour winner  tends to make the  Americans nervous with  his humorous commentary, and caused sharp intakes of breath  when he ended his induction speech with a expressive gesture!!!!!! to the former headmistress who said that he would never get anywhere.

It's not like Donald Trump to trumpet (much) but he did promise that his new links course near Aberdeen would be "the World's Greatest Golf Course." Some feel now that Donald might have been a trifle overenthusiastic.  "The dunes are apparently superb, and the views beautiful,” says a review, “but the general feeling is that the Trump International Scotland Course” shows a lack of truly outstanding design, and the numerous small bunkers are often placed without elegance or strategic merit.  More bizarre still is the 200-foot man-made wonder— the “Crystal Falls”—which dumps champagne into a pond behind the 18th green.  Pete Dye would never have thought of that.

“The Quiet Eye” technique was  invented in Canada by Joan Vickers, a professor of kinesiology, and monitors the eye movements of golfers as they putt by using a helmet fitted with an external camera.  It shows that in the seconds before a stroke, the average golfer’s eye tends to dart around, while elite players control their gaze.

 Neural processes associated with the “Quiet Eye” help the brain organize the body to make a good stroke, while overriding  competing processes responsible for distractions and anxiety. Vickers's advice is that when you are ready to putt, gaze steadily at the hole for three counts, bring your eyes back to the ball in one count and fix your eyes on the top of the ball for two counts. Then make the stroke and continue to gaze at the ground, where the ball was, for one more count.  (I’ve lost count.)

Following Bubba Watson's  win at Augusta, PING  announced they will sell 5000  all-pink G20 drivers, (Retail £339 if you want one)  with 5% of the proceeds going to charity.  Watson started using the pink-headed version of the G20  to raise money for good causes - for every drive he makes over 300 yards, PING will give $300 to the "Bubba Long in Pink Driven by PING” campaign.  Well done Blubba (sorry, Bubba.)

In The Bunker With Mick The Grip JUNE 2012

Royal Portrush, County Antrim - The local lads will feel at home when the Irish Open is held at the Dunluce Links Course on 28th June.  Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell are members, and Rory McIlroy went round in 61at the age of 16.   Darren Clarke, recovering from injury, says he will play on a Zimmer if necessary, and  is hoping for rain and 20mph winds  to help toughen up conditions.  The  Harry Colt course is considered  a masterpiece, but with  holes named Calamity Corner (14th) and Purgatory (15th) , it seems likely to prove enough of a test without inclement weather.

When the 1951 British Open was held at Royal Portrush, the only time the tournament has been held in Ireland, the winner was Max Faulkner from Sussex, nicknamed the “Clown Prince of Golf” who delighted the crowds with his trick shots, and once walked from green to tee on his hands claiming he needed to get the blood to his brain.  Faulkner liked to play with a mismatched set of clubs and home-made putters.  A flamboyant character, he favoured plus fours in rainbow colours, which did not go down well with the gentlemen of the clubhouse.

By now the winner of the U.S. Open will be placing the trophy on his mantelpiece.  Whoever it is I can’t help feeling that based on Tour results so far this year, the 2012 American Ryder Cup team is looking a touch formidable.

No one played more holes to win a U.S. Open than Billy Burke in 1931 at Inverness, Ohio. He tied with George Von Elm, leading to a 36-hole playoff. They tied again, and had to play another 36 holes the next morning  before Burke won  by a single shot.  They actually played two Opens, a total of 144 holes.

Royal  Lytham & St. Annes, where Darren Clarke will be looking to defend his Open title next month,  has decided to overturn the 2007 ban on mobile phones.  A spokesman says:  “While we know it will not be easy for marshals, we are allowing mobiles back on the course based on trust. Also, we are hoping there will be peer group pressure if people do use the phone in places where they shouldn't." U.S. players will not be happy, they complained at the Memorial  about ‘cellphone’ distraction.  It is likely  to remain a bone of contention(or dog and bone).

 The Lancashire course is used to making controversial decisions.   In 1926, when the Open was held there for the first time, they introduced regional qualifying, changed the Open from two rounds to three, and  were the first to charge an admission fee.

If you ever fancied winning  an ‘Open’ you could have taken part in the  Democratic People’s Republic Amateur Golf Open in North Korea.   In May, sixteen foreigners and one Korean descended on the country's only course, 20 miles from Pyongyang. The three- round tournament was an unremitting  slog with  incredibly slow greens and  white out-of-bounds stakes bordering  the entire 18 holes, resulting in immense penalties.  The eventual winner was British golfer Simon Jones.  Luckily deceased ruler Kim Jong Il could not compete. According to ‘witnesses’ the only time he played he fired a world record 38 under par, with five holes in one.

Just as golfers are recovering from seeing pink drivers, Cobra Puma  have collaborated with Italian supercar giants Ferrari to launch a driver in the famous Ferrari red.  Technicians worked with Ferrari’s  aerodynamics experts to create a more efficient head shape for less drag and more clubhead speed.  The driver features a grip and  headcover made from the top-quality Italian leather used in Ferrari cars.   Price:  £1250.  Other accessories in the luxury leather range include golf shoes at £400.  Available from Ferrari outlets (wherever they might be) from July 1st.   Shame, just missed my birthday!