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31 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News | World Of Random

"I didn't start swinging a club until I was 11 months so she's got seven months until that happens."

Tiger Woods tries to resist the temptation to get Sam Alexis on the range.

'That'll teach those idiots to lose my baggage'
Annika Sorenstam tees off a runway at Incheon international airport, South Korea.

*Don't tell anyone, but he said the whole operation would collapse without him

'Did I really say screwed-up?'

Wish you were there?: With the clocks going back, the winter nights drawing in and a bunch of pesky kids banging on the front door demanding Haribo with menaces? ‘Course not…
What’s so special about the Volvo Masters?: Everything.
Care to elaborate?: Although there’s something odd about this neck of Andalucia where any sense of tradition or history has been replaced by millions of acres of beautifully-manicured golf courses, it is the perfect setting for an end-of-season hurrah.
When did you last go there?: 2005. Paul McGinley won, we snuck on to the par-3 course during regular play and Michael Campbell bought us dinner. It was great.
La-di-bloody-da…: You’re just jealous because you never leave the house you saddo…
What’s the score this time round?: Well, it’s all set up for a cracking Order Of Merit finale.
Hang on, aren’t all the likely lads playing in different tournaments?: Er, yeah, they are as it happens. Ernie Els, who currently leads, is half way through a three-year contract to play The Asian Masters in Singapore.
And how has the European Tour taken this?: Monty’s had a pop and tour honcho George O’Grady will be venting his spleen in a press conference on Thursday.
What’s your take on it?: Ernie’s hardly covered himself in glory, accusing the European tour of screwing up the dates. But then he’s also been a staunch supporter of the tour over the years, which mustn’t be forgotten.
Still, it’s a bit of a damp squib though…: Well, you say that… Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose and Niclas Fasth are all itching for the big prize.
That's what I meant - a golfing weekend never to forget: That's more like it...

Winning at Disney's Orlando complex was no Mickey Mouse deal to Bob Burns in 2002 ... He beat Chris DiMarco and Tiger Woods - and saved his Tour card in the process.

Who the hell are you!!? You just scared the bejeezus out of me...:  Why, I'm Mickey, I'm your new sidekick for the week !!! Nice to meet you !!!
Why don't you go away? What happened to my last sidekick?...:  The nice fellow who was with you at the Ginn sur Mer? Well, he has gone off with another nice fellow, a big man called John ... Daly, or something. They were playing a fun game, trying to kick cans of beer over the goalposts at a football field near the Florida Turnpike.
Oh. So they've sent you instead? ... Welcome aboard ... what was your name again?...:   I'm Mickey! ... I'm here to make you happy !!!
Swell. So what's your first report, er, Mickey?: 
Well, it's like a Disney thrill ride, Sir! Every player ranked from No. 110 to 170 is here, except for seven injured ones.
Wow. Sounds like a real game of cat and ... er, Mouse:  Some of our "guests" are really going to have a goooood time this week, especially Mr Curtis in Room 122, Mr Hayes (123), Mr Gronberg (124), Mr Purdy (125), Mr Holmes (126), Mr Stadler (127), Mr Quigley (128) and Mr Kanada (129).
You've assigned rooms according to money list position? Wow, you guys think of everything at Disney. Do the players have to wear little name tags with mouse ears?...:  Hee hee hee! No, Sir!
Who else is here?...:  Well there's a really nice young kid called Tadd Fujikawa. He's just a little guy, no bigger than me - but he can hit that golf ball even farther than I do in the cartoons!
And please stop calling me 'Sir' .... Nice job on the little golf update, though. You're better than the last guy we had...:  Thank you Sir !!!
Hey, Mickey, seems like you have a bit of 'pull' around this place ...:  Yes ...
Do you suppose you could round up a couple of Budweisers please? And a tub of ice. ... And ... aw, forget it. Thanks, nice to meet you, Mickey...:  You too, Sir!!! (door closes)
(Beat it you damn rodent. I can see why Shigeki Maruyama said 'bye bye Disney' now ...)

Padraig: 'Now watch this follow-through...'

The 20th running of the Volvo Masters is the final event on the 2007 European Tour International Schedule. With five players still in with a chance of ending the season as European number one the race for the Harry Vardon Trophy is set for a thrilling climax. Not surprisingly two of the potential champions feature in my selections…

Padraig Harrington @ 10/1 with Coral:
Harrington can successfully defend his Order of Merit title. Last year he secured first place after finishing tied for second in this event and he knows second place this time around will be good enough, so long as the injured Justin Rose doesn’t claim an unlikely victory. He will be taking winning form into the tournament after securing the Hassan Trophy in Morocco on Sunday.

Niclas Fasth @ 18/1 with Coral: Fasth knows that only a win in this event will be enough to give him a chance of finishing top of the Order of Merit. His price represents obvious value given his track record at Valderrama, he finished seventh in 2005 and fifth in 2006. Spain holds plenty of happy memories after success in last years Spanish Open and Mallorca Classic and only an inexplicable third round of 79 scuppered his attempt to defend that title last week.

Peter Hanson @ 33/1 with Coral: Hanson has maintained his good form this year and is ending the season strongly, he finished third in the Portugal Masters last time out following a top-ten finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He performed very well when under pressure in the Seve Trophy and his fourth place on debut at Valderrama in 2004 is proof he can cope with the tricky course.

'Bonus - just found this in the rough...'

The PGA Tour remains in the Sunshine State as we reach the final event of the Tour schedule and the culmination of the seven-tournament Fall Series. The Children’s Miracle Network Classic represents the last opportunity to secure full playing rights for the 2008 Tour and it’s a few of the players fighting for their place in the top 125 that I’m backing to perform this week as well as an in-form Swede …

Fredrik Jacobsen @ 25/1 with Coral: Jacobsen has been a streaky player who has performed well in spurts throughout his career and has regularly finished the season in good-form. After achieving his best result in 96 starts on the PGA Tour when he finished tied for second at last weeks Ginn Sur Mer Classic I’m expecting him to follow-up with a good showing this week.

Frank Lickliter @ 80/1 with Coral: Lickliter is currently ranked 138th on the Money List but can save his card with a good performance here. A repeat of last years effort will do nicely when a round of 62 helped him finish in a tie for second. His recent form is encouraging, he finished tied for 26th at last weeks Ginn Classic and that followed an impressive opening round of 65 at the Fry’s Electronics Open in Scottsdale.

Ryan Palmer @ 100/1 with Coral: If course-form is anything to go by then we should look no further than Palmer, his three appearances in this event have produced a win and a third place. He is currently ranked 142nd on the Money List, just outside the automatic Tour Card places, so he will be highly motivated to do well in this event. He is at his best on resort courses where finding the fairway is easy and has been a proven late season performer.

The Smiths:  "You say long done do, does did ..."
Tiger: "OK ... looks long enough for me ..."

On this day in 1999, Tiger Woods was hitting all the right notes and right shots at all the right times, winning the Tour Championship trophy in Houston on a rhythmic pace of 15-under par, at the four-shot expense of Davis Love III. Tiger's smooth victory had another effect as well - it soothed the nerves when golf's nerves were jangled. A new star was surely on the rise, only a few days after the much-loved three-time major winner Payne Stewart had fallen so tragically in a plane crash in South Dakota.
     Did we know how brilliant he was then? We sure do now. At the time, it was Tiger's third straight PGA Tour victory, right on the heels of his PGA Championship title. He finished the season with eight wins, a feat which hadn't been done in the 25 years previous. Woods was only 23 years old then, and the Tiger Slam and the current total of 61 career PGA Tour wins were all still in the future.
     Greatness was a mantle that Tiger was only just beginning to wear.
     On this day in 1997, a jury in Boston found the Cheshire nanny Louise Woodward, aged 19, guilty of murder for killing an 8-month-old baby in her care and Louise was sentenced to life in prison. It all worked out okay for her in the long run though, since she had the verdict overturned on appeal and she was freed back to England after 279 days in the nick - and Louise is recently rumoured to be a latin and ballroom dancing teacher these days.
     October 31st, however, has been a great day to be born as a musician of sorts, so it's La-breithe mhaith agat! as they say in Irish Gaelic, to superstar Dublin drum-basher Larry Mullen Jr of U2 (46); and white rappas Adam "Adrock" Horovitz of the Beastie Boys (41) and the more controversial Vanilla "Ice Ice Baby" Ice (39).
     Today, however, is an especially happy 44th to god-like guitarist Johnny Marr, whose delightful arpeggios formed the cheery backdrop to all the great gloomy songs of the Smiths. Coincidentally, it was the 23-year-old Marr's chiming Rickenbacker that was chirping merrily away in the background of the Smiths' hit "Cemetry Gates", in which Morrissey mumbled the lines "Keats and Yeats are on our side" ...
     Literary god John Keats, who shares the same birthday at Marr (albeit in 1795) would probably agree, had he not died poetically young at the age of 25, by which time Tiger would have won a few more majors or penned a sonnet or two. Oh, such is the genius of youth ...

Fred Couples ... he's got the gut, got the gray, got the game ... and he's got two more years to wait for the Champions Tour fray.

1) The US seniors have turned out the lights on their porches, so to speak ... they've put on their slippers, and it's pipes, cigars and a nice port for a much-needed winter break (they're old, you know). With Jim Thorpe winning the weekend's Charles Schwab Championship Cup in Sonoma, Calif., the Champions Tour finished at the weekend with Jay Haas atop the money list ($2,581,001), and Loren "Boss of the Moss" Roberts winning the Schwab overall points series title.
     The over-50s won't move from rocking chair to garage (to grab their clubs) until the Three-Tour Challenge and the Father-Son Challenge over the winter Silly Season. But that doesn't mean these old fellers are resting easy. Not yet, oh, no.
     Bernhard Langer, Mark O'Meara, Nick Price and John Cook made brief debuts in on the Champions Tour this year. In the next two seasons, guys by the names of Tom Lehman, Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Hal Sutton and Joey Sindelar hit the senior ranks. Hale Irwin and Tom Watson (and Denis, for that matter) can still kick butt. Nick Faldo and Greg Norman are eligible but much too busy - but if they jumped into the heat of battle, the Champions Tour would be the most competitive of all three US top-flight pro circuits.
     Roberts, 52, is far too steady on the greens still to sound like he's quaking in his spikes, but he said it all when he said: "With a lot of the new guys that are coming on, I'm glad to be able to get one now instead of having to wait a few more years."
2) The focus will be on the PGA Tour's dim lights at Disney as Nos. 110-150 fight it out for tour cards, but the best competition of the weekend - bar the Volvo Masters in Spain, of course, will be on the Nationwide Tour. The Top 60 on the junior circuit are squaring off in the Nationwide Tour Championship at Barona, and the top 25 on the tour's money list move on to the 2008 PGA Tour. The competition - like the California wildfires that almost forced cancellation or movement of the event - will be fierce.
3) It takes luck to win a major championship, as they say. Well, major winners Phil Mickelson and Scott Simpson were lucky last week when their houses were spared by the wildfires in California. Both were evacuated however (Simpson twice), and can count their lucky stars.
4) The Turnesa family -- once described as "to golf what the Kennedys are to politics" are back with a vengeance. Marc Turnesa, winner on the Nationwide Tour in Miami at the weekend, is a scion of one of the most famous family names in golf. His grandfather, Mike Turnesa, was second to Ben Hogan in the '48 PGA Championship and won six PGA Tour titles. And despite careers interrupted by the Second World War, Mike Turnesa's six brothers did themselves proud - Jim (won the '52 PGA Championship), Joe (15 PGA Tour titles from 1940-50) and Willie ('38 and '48 US Amateurs, '47 British Amateur). Sadly, none of the immortal clan of Turnesa brothers lived to see their grandson win - Willie was the last of seven golfing Turnesa brothers to pass away, in 2001.
5) Keeping it in the family, you were not seeing double at the Ginn sur Mer this past week. Those were identical twins, Derek and Daryl Fathauer, seniors at the University of Louisville and local boys, playing in the first two rounds, and both missing the cut (Derek was 1-over and Derek was 5-over). Strangely enough, the Fathauer twins are not the first pair of identical twins to play in the same PGA Tour event ... the Strange brothers, Curtis and Alan, both teed it up in the Texas Open in 1981.
6) You can feel sorry for Laura Davies, an unlucky also-ran to the red-hot Suzann Pettersen by a stroke in the LPGA's Honda Thailand event, because she remains stuck on the two regular-tour wins (or one major) she needs to qualify for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame automatically on "points". But don't worry too much ... even if Liverpool-loving Laura never notches those wins, she's a shoe-in in to be voted in to the LPGA Hall via Veteran's Category status. Judy Rankin, Donna Caponi and Marlene Hagge are three others who reached the milestone as "veterans" without the requisite victory milestones.
7) Qualifying School tournaments are a crapshoot - but then we already knew that. How else to describe the fact that Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey" - a former Big Break IV contestant and whose swing would make your eyes bleed, cruised through the First Stage of PGA Tour Q-School in Florence, South Carolina with four rounds in the 60s. In the same qualifier, Wales' Rhys Davies, whose Hoganesque swing promises Ryder Cups and many future titles, missed the cut by a stroke in the same event - thanks to a first-round 74, leaving the marvellously gifted Davies to fight it out in European Tour Q-School to find a place to play in 2008.
8) You've got to admire Dicky Pride's work ethic. At the weather-delayed Ginn sur Mer Classic, Pride was sitting in the clubhouse on 16-under on Sunday night, with six players left on the course. But he stayed overnight just in case there was a playoff. "I didn't want my wife to drive home alone, but I had to stay." ... It didn't matter, as Daniel "Exploding Divots" Chopra made quick work of the victory on Monday morning, but at least Pride stuck around to pick up his $216,000 paycheck. Which is a heck of a lot more than you can say for John Daly.
9) The British elite who once snapped up massive estates and old castles in Scotland for hunting grouse and have now turned to golf for their Highland holiday homes. Shooting birdies, as it were, has turned to shooting birdies of a different kind, as the price tags ranging from £800,000 and £1.3m (that's pounds, folks, not dollars) for new developments around Gleneagles in central Scotland prove. These pads come equipped with fairway views and underground swimming pools. And we want one.
10) Tim Finchem and his PGA Tour Machine may not win every battle. All around the US, in airports and posh shopping malls, you can find PGA Tour superstores, selling all manner of golf tat at exhorbitant prices. And they're easy to spot - most of them have giant American flags flying outside. However, the developer in PGA Tour-friendly Scottsdale, Arizona, has run into unexpected trouble, because the local authority won't allow a flagpole higher than 65 feet. And they don't call it Snotsdale for no reason ...

ince its conception in 2003 this event has been dominated by Spaniards, unfortunately this trend didn’t continue and I was wrong to advise you to back:

"but seriously, can i have my money now..."


Since its conception in 2003 this event has been dominated by Spaniards, unfortunately this trend didn’t continue and I was wrong to advise you to back:

Sergio Garcia @ 9/2: his putting was poor and a disappointing final round of 73 meant he finished in 16th place on -3.

Niclas Fasth @ 10/1: the defending champion started well but a calamitous third round of 79 saw him finish tied for 27th.

Jose Manuel Lara @ 40/1: was third last year and finished strongly this time around to finish tied for 7th on -5.

I should have told you to get on:

Gregory Bourdy @ 66/1: the Frenchmen shot four rounds in the 60’s, including a third round of 64, to become only the second non-Spaniard to win this event, and at a massive starting price.

Sam Little @ 125/1: also shot four rounds in the 60’s to finish second and earn his each-way supporters a massive return.

Robert-Jan Derksen @28/1: started very strongly but two rounds of 70 meant the Dutchman finished in third place.

Alastair Forsyth @ 80/1: a fourth round 66 secured a fourth place finish and a healthy profit for his each-way supporters.

daniel chopra

"and one from the top please carol..."


As the tour moved on to the Sunshine State I incorrectly advised you to back two Florida-based veterans as well as an in-form youngster:


Sean O’Hair @ 18/1: was in contention before a disastrous final round of 74 saw him finish in a tie for 5th place on -13.

 Mark Calcavecchia @ 33/1: never got going and withdrew after a disappointing 78 in the first round.

 Jasper Parnevik @ 40/1: didn’t play well and a poor final round of 79 meant he finished tied for 68th place.


I should have told you to get on:


Daniel Chopra @ 50/1: the big-hitting Swede claimed his first US Tour win in his 133rd career start. He saw a four-shot lead evaporate as darkness fell on Sunday-night then returned on Monday morning to secure victory.

 Fredrik Jacobson @ 33/1: achieved his best result in 96 starts on the PGA Tour, finishing tied for second on -18.

 Shigeki Maruyama @ 66/1: his tie for second earned him $396,000 and all-but secured his playing privileges for next season.


Dicky Pride @ 300/1: a spectacular final round of 64 was rewarded with a fourth place finish and his each-way supporters would have been rewarded with a massive profit.

"Mein uppercut might look kleine wimpy, but it isss very effective ..."

On this day in 1994, Bernhard Langer came out punching at the final bell, holding on to beat fellow giants Seve Ballesteros and Vijay Singh to win the Volvo Masters at 8-under 276 and the winner's cheque of £125,000.
    Langer did most of his damage in the second round, however, when he fired a 9-under 62. That Langer and the rest of field back-tracked showed how tough a battle the tournament became, but Langer was still standing at the end, becoming the first German (later followed by Alex Cejka) to win Europe's showcase season-ending event.
    October 30th has always been a good day for America's Mark McCumber, who won two of his 10 PGA Tour events on this day. In 1983, McCumber went 18-under at the Pensacola Open to beat Lon Hinkle and Mark Lye by four. Then, exactly 11 years later, McCumber captured a much bigger title by taking down Fuzzy Zoeller to win the Tour Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco for his final title.
    Also on this day in 1966, local boy Ted Makalena on Honolulu took the Hawaiian Open title over veterans Billy Casper and Gay Brewer. It was the only win in an official PGA Tour event for Makalena, one of the legends of Hawaiian golf, because he died two years later after a swimming accident at Waikiki.
    On this day in 1974, it was a punch-up for the ages as the great Muhammad Ali knocked out big George Foreman in the eighth round of a scheduled 15-round fight in Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali's clinical destruction of a tiring Foreman regained his world heavyweight title, and when the battering was over the fight to this day is remembered as "The Rumble in the Jungle."
    On this day in 1925, super-brainy Scotsman John Logie Baird created Britain's first working television transmitter, although it was not, like most tellys in Britain today, capable of receiving HDTV. Some things even Baird couldn't think of.
    And it's Eyyyyyy, happy birthday as the Fonz would say on Happy Days to Henry Winkler (62); trippy former Jefferson Airplane and Starship warbler Grace Slick (68); wicket-happy West Indian pace bowler Courtney Walsh (45); and to post-grungy lead singer Gavin Rossdale (40) of Bush.

Dana Lacey on the set of Big Break V: Hawaii: "I see big things for myself, even if everyone else thinks I'm just a hot Aussie buncake ..."

The Ladies' European Tour has a glamourous new starlet - and a telly star at that - as Australian lass Dana Lacey shot 69-67-72-67 for an 13-under 275 at Le Fonti Golf Club in Italy, taking medallist honours in the Final Stage of LET Qualifying School, hitting all 18 greens in her final round for a one-stroke win over amateur Lydia Hall of Wales.
    Keen watchers of the Golf Channel might remember Lacey as the perky 5-foot-8 blonde who was a contestant in 2005 on that channel's "reality show" Big Break - in which survivors of a series of golf tests win sponsors' exemptions into pro tournaments, equipment deals and other prizes. Keener-eyed watchers probably also remember her appearance in a saucy pic in the 2007 Australian LPGA Tour's calendar, which you can still buy on the internet. But don't get too excited fellas - Dana has an American boyfriend.
    On the series Big Break V: Hawaii, Lacey was a hard-luck loser, as Ashley Prange emerged the final survivor from a dozen sexy struggling ladies pros. But Dana has paid her dues since, grinding it out this season for the most part on the American Futures Tour with mixed results, making just 10 cuts in 18 starts in 2007. The LET Qualifying School win is Dana's first professional victory.
    She was refreshingly honest about her aspirations for the 2008 LET season: "Hopefully start making some money. And have some fun."
    Nice one, Sheila. And, bravo too to the other in the Top 30 at the final stage at Le Fonti, which included 10 former amateurs getting full LET memberships.
Around the tours:
US Champions Tour:
They've played the last "official" event on the over-50 set in the States and they're handing out the silverware. For some reason, big Jim Thorpe's funky samurai-like swing suits the Sonoma course at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, which Thorpe won for the second straight year, and third time in five years. He finished with four straight birdies to beat Denis Watson and Fred Funk by three.
LPGA Tour: Suzann Pettersen of Norway remains the hottest ticket in ladies' golf, winning her second tournament in a row and fifth of the year at the Honda LPGA Thailand. Pettersen's amazing eagle on the last hole made an unlucky 1-shot loser of Laura Davies.
US Nationwide Tour: A member of a great golfing family, Marc Turnesa held off charges from Jon Mills and David Mathis to win by a shot at the Miccosukee Championship in Miami, the final full-field event of the Nationwide season. With the win, Turnesa jumped to 13th on the money list and guaranteeing him graduation onto the 2008 PGA Tour.
European Challenge Tour: Frenchman Michael Lorenzo-Vera rallied hard with a closing 5-under 66 to beat Wales' Jamie Donaldson and Stuart Manley, Joost Luiten (Netherlands) and Scotland's Eric Ramsay. The surprising win at the San Domenico Golf Club in Puglia, Italy pushed Lorenzo-Vera from seventh to the top of the tour's money list, giving him a spot on next year's European Tour.
Asian Tour: The tearful Filipino pro Juvic Pagunsan notched his first pro victory at the Pertamina Indonesia President Invitational at the Damai Indah Golf-BSD Course on Sunday, firing a 19-under 269 to beat "holidaying" Ryder Cupper Lee Westwood by three shots.

Daniel Chopra: "Four years on the Tour, 133 tournaments played, five days in Port St Lucie ... and one lousy stinking putt left ..."

So it's finally over ...:  At last. The three-man playoff-style finish to end this stop-start affair had big Daniel "Exploding Divots" Chopra, the Indian-Swede with the funky hairdo from Stockholm, taking the trophy on 19-under.
Is it just me or did this thing take forever to finish ?....: Well it did, but not as long as Chopra waited for his first tour win. He made 133 starts on the Tour before getting a chance to hoist silverware. He birdied the first hole of his resumed fourth-round Monday, the par-5 16th, and after that it was bye-bye drama. Shigeki Maruyama and Fredrik Jacobsen finished a joint second a shot back.
So everyone's happy then? ...:  Not really. The guys who still have Tour cards to play for aren't ... but Maruyama sure is. The veteran from Chiba, Japan has won three times in seven PGA Tour campaigns, but his second place here wrapped up his card for next season, taking him from 137th to 103 on the money list.
What did he have to say about that?:  He said "bye bye Disney."
So he's not going to Orlando to play the next tournament now? Go figure, a Japanese tourist skipping a trip to Disney World. ...:  You said it, not me ... But we're going to Disney World, 125 miles straight up the Florida Turnpike. Along with a load of grinders who still have one more shot at a PGA Tour card for 2008.
See them in Orlando then ...: Yeah, but you're doing most of the work this time, okay?
I thought you said the players were doing the grinding. Slave-driver ...: Get packed.

Gates: "No, Greg, I'm not going to buy you a private island in the Caribbean. ... You've got to learn the value of money somehow, son ..."

Bill Gates and Nick Faldo. Not much in common, you would think, really ... But oh wait, think again. They both make Greg Norman look positively ordinary in both of the Great White Shark's two favourite pursuits: golf, and making loads of money.
    Now, we've got nothing against Greg Norman at IGWT Towers. If you were prone to negativity, you could resent him for being good looking, a great golfer, sleeping with Chrissy Evert, flying planes, and driving boats bigger than most people's homes, including ours. And he's worth about $500 million, give or take a few bucks. But we're not jealous a bit, no no no. We don't begrudge the Shark any of those things one iota, really. After all, he bought us a couple rounds of beers at La Costa once. Nice one, Greg.
    But Norman v Faldo in golf is no contest. Forget who wins the personality stakes - Norman has two majors, Faldo six, including the 1996 Masters, in which Norman's collapse and Faldo's victory was like watching a burning-at-the-stake. And as for birthday-boy Bill Gates - well the Microsoft magnate's pile of cash has recently been estimated at $56 billion. Greg Norman is fabulously rich and successful, but his estimated $500 mil just doesn't quite cut it in Gates' league.
    If Greg Norman's fortune were a single golf hole, then Bill Gates' fortune is a 54-hole luxury golf resort with a hotel, spa and casino attached. Just for the fun of it (enjoy it, Nick Faldo) here's what Bill Gates can buy that Greg Norman can't:
Boeing Business Jets ($32 million apiece), one of which Norman owns.
Composite-fibre 228-foot custom-built yachts, like Aussie Rules, the one Norman bought for $70 million.
Private islands.There's a 2000-acre beauty, Ile de Caille, currently on the market off the coast of Grenada for $100 million. Norman would struggle to afford it, but Gates could say: "I'll have 10 of those please", and still have $4.5 billion left.
Greg Norman-designed golf courses, at the Shark's oh-so-reasonable fee of $1.5 million per.
10 pints a day ...
For each member of the IGWT team, for the next 100 years. Which would set Gates back another $18.25 million or so, and he'd still have lots of spare change. And jeez, we're responsible adults here at IGWT. We're not 20 years old anymore, how could we possibly drink that much beer ... ?

Shigeki Maruyama and his caddie march forward into the darkness ... toward a possible victory.

I told you so. ...:  What did you tell me?
That this tournament wasn't going to end until some time next week. ...:  No, you said Tuesday, and you're wrong. They'll wrap it up some time on Monday, just in time for that stellar InGolfWeTrust newsletter!
This is what slow play does to you. ...:  Yep. With all the guys grinding it out for their Tour cards, pace on the course ground to a halt basically. That, and all the rain delays, and the lift-clean-and-place. ... so they stopped play Sunday because of darkness with six guys left on the course.
I just want to go home. ...:  Well everybody's gone now except for a handful of guys. Couldn't you hitch a ride earlier?
I asked John Daly but he threw an F-bomb at me and he peeled rubber out of the car park. ...:  Guess he didn't like signing for that third-round 79. So it's another WD for JD.
Yawn. Who's left then?: ... Well, it's essentially a three-horse race now, with the leading trio all on minus-18. Shigeki Maruyama and Fredrik Jacobson have finished 70 holes, and Daniel Chopra in the group behind has three holes to play this morning. Basically, it's a playoff, unless we get a ... playoff. In which case we may never get out of here.
Is this Fall Series ever going to end? ...:  We can only hope.

"Hurrah luv, all the boys are coming home from the war !!! ..."
"Yeah luv, but they're all still going to be golfing every weekend ..."

On this day in 1945, a grateful Britain, still partying at the end of the Second World War like it was an extended hen-night, heard the crackly news announced from Royal and Ancient HQ in St Andrews that "normal golf service shall resume". This meant that the Open Championships, cancelled from 1940-45 due to the war, would be played at St Andrews again the next summer (won by Sam Snead), and where it had last been played in 1939, won by Richard Burton (not the actor).
    Touchingly, in the spring of 1946, Burton wrote to the R&A: "Dear Sirs, Please find enclosed my fee of five guineas for this year's Open. I will bring the trophy back when I come."
    Golf did not completely vanish from the landscape of wartime Britain however. Never-say-die British golfers carried on when they could, as this remarkable set of temporary rules issued by the Richmond Golf Club near London in 1941, bears out:
    "1. Players are asked to collect the bomb and shrapnel splinters to save these causing damage to the mowing machines.
    2. In competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take shelter without penalty or ceasing play.
    3. The position of known delayed-action bombs are marked with red flags at a reasonable, but not guaranteed, safe distance therefrom.
    4. Shrapnel and/or bomb splinters on the fairways, or in bunkers, within a club's length of the ball, may be moved without penalty, and no penalty shall be incurred if a ball is thereby caused to move accidentally.
    5. A ball moved by enemy action may be replaced, or if lost or destroyed, a ball may be dropped not nearer the hole without penalty.
    6. A ball lying in a crater may be lifted and dropped not nearer the hole, preserving the line to the hole, without penalty.
    7. A player whose stroke is affected by a simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball. Penalty one stroke." (Courtesy Jack McCallum).

    Also, on this day Jack Nicklaus (1967) and Lanny Wadkins (1972) were winners of the old Sahara Invitational, pre-cursor to the erstwhile Las Vegas Invitational and today's Fry's.com Open.
    It was the end of an era in 1975 today for Spain's Generalissimo Franco, whose dictatorship ended after 36 years with Prince Carlos taking charge. In 1982, Aussie mum Lindy Chamberlain of "the dingo ate my baby" fame went down for the murder of her 9-week-old daughter, giving Meryl Streep another chance perhaps her most truly annoying acting turn. On the lighter-than-gravity side, hero astronaut John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the earth, returned to space at the age of 77, 36 years after his first lift-off.
    And it's Suba Upan dinayak vewa!, as spin-master Muttiah Muralitharan might say (expletives deleted), to English Test cricket captain and Michael Vaughan OBE (33), who skippered England to that memorable Ashes victory in 2005, and who when not whingeing about this-or-that injury remains one of the game's most stylish batsmen. Despite all the injuries that keep him off the wicket, Vaughan has managed to keep his golf handicap at a nice tidy 10. That's the wartime spirit, Vaughney.
    And it's b-day high-fives all around as well to creepy-sexy actress and former Johnny Depp squeeze Winona Ryder (36); hit-and-miss actor Richard Dreyfuss (60); former Charlie's Angel Kate Jackson (59); and supermodel Yasmin Le Bon (43).

Don't worry folks, it's only Spanish cava

So, how ‘bout those Cowboys, huh?: Sorry?
That Tom Landry is a helluva coach. And in my opinion there isn’t a better quarterback in the game than Dan Marino: Unfortunately, the NFL arrived 25 years too late for you, didn’t they.
You’re probably right. Better stick to the other stuff I know squat about. Which brings us nicely to…: The golf. The big news is, the tournament finished on time and Grégory Bourdy won his maiden European Tour title, carding a final round 67 for a 12-under par total of 268 and a two-shot victory over England’s Sam Little. Robert-Jan Derksen came third at 9-under, Alastair Forsyth shot a 66 to go 7-under and a double-bogey from Peter Lawrie on 16 caused him to slip to tied fifth with Johan Edfors at 6-under.
How did Sergio get on?: He looked like he might be in the hunt until he lost four shots in four holes from the 12th to the 16th. He finished in a tie for 16th at 3-under.
Is been a good year for the French, hasn’t it...: If you conveniently ignore their Rugby World Cup woes for the sake of this review, yes it has. We’ve had wins from Raphael Jacquelin and Gregory Havret this year already and unsurprisingly, the tradition of dousing the winner on the 18th green was maintained, with Thomas Levet Jean-Francois Lucquin and Christian Cévaèr doing the honours this time around.
By the way, is Sam the the brother of Stuart, the bloke you used to take the mick out of for having the same name as the cartoon rodent?: No, he isn’t, but his brother Jamie does play on The Challenge Tour. He kept his card by less than 500 Euros in 2005, lost it in 2006 to win it back in Q School in 2006. He’d probably have preferred the two-year exemption of a win this weekend, but at least he’s retained his card.
Who else is breathing a sigh of relief?: Richard Finch finished tied seventh at 5-under, going bogey, birdie, double bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie over the last six holes, just to keep everyone guessing. Jarmo Sandelin, he of the interesting shirts and occasional fur hat, tied for 50th at 4-over, but that was enough for him to finish at 117 in the Order Of Merit, taking the last automatic tour card.
And who missed out?: Read it and weep for Lee Slattery (118), Ian Garbutt (119) and Alessandro Tadini (120), as well as InGolfWeTrust favourite James Heath (152).
Still, there’s always Qualifying School…: A sentence that can be only spoken by a simpleton or a masochist...

'I bet Nick Faldo can't balance the bloody golf ball on his head like I can, mate ...'

On this day in 1990, Greg Norman beat Wayne Levi (well, who couldn’t?) to win the Nabisco Bonus, capping, at the time, one of the finest years in PGA Tour history.
     With the win, the Great White Shark ended the season as the PGA’s leading money winner with $1.1 million. He also grabbed the tour’s most ‘honourable’ honour by nailing down the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average at 69.10.
     But somehow, in a way that only Greg Norman can do, he found a way to turn a win into an ultimate loss. By the end of the season, the Aussie two-time major winner was on the receiving end of yet another kidney-punch from Nick Faldo, who was still named PGA Player of the Year despite Norman’s heroics.
     Norman has more money than most people can imagine – and he’s planning to marry tennis great Chris Evert after messy divorces for both sports legends, proving the Shark can turn defeat into victory as well. More an entrepreneur nowadays than competitive golfer due to his balky back, at the end of the day, the man’s a winner – just ask him.
     Like most days in history, there was trouble brewing somewhere, and on Oct. 28, 1922, the fascists led by Benito Mussolini marched on Rome and took over the Italian government. Like clockwork, exactly 18 years later, the Italian army invaded Greece, only to be driven out by the Desert Rats and some very brave Kiwis.
     There was relief as well on this day in 1962, when USSR honcho Nikita Khrushchev backed down to US pres John F. Kennedy, ordering the dismantling of the Soviet missile sites in Cuba and ending one of the Cold War’s scariest moments – the Cuban Missile Crisis.
     This was a landmark day as well, for the grateful people of the United States, who celebrated a gift from France in the glorious form of the Statue of Liberty – and on this day in 1886 President Grover Cleveland officially dedicated Lady Liberty, whose torch burns over New Your Harbour today.
     Along with Lady Liberty, another American landmark is celebrating a birthday today: “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts, the highest-grossing female movie star of all time, turns 40. And Julia's is not the only big-bucks birthday on the slate – Microsoft magnate Bill Gates can afford whatever kind of party he wants for his 52nd.
     Birthday shots at the bar as well for country fiddler Charlie “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” Daniels (71) and actor Joaquin Phoenix, who did a stellar turn as Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line” (33). On the football front it’s lap-dances at a horrible nightclub all around for Nigerian and Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins (23) and Czech Republic and former Liverpool hitman Milan Baroš.
     No doubt Baroš will celebrate with his countrymen and women, as today is a national holiday in his homeland. On this day in 1918, Czechoslovakia got its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, hence the holiday. Today is also marked as Remembrance Day in Slovakia, so it’s Vsechno nejlepsi k Tvym narozeninam!!, as they say in Prague to Baroš and his buddies on both borders.

Which Maruyama is which? Shigeki (left), is slightly older and shows it with his cool golf ball toss. The younger Daisuke-san (right), respectfully bows in Japanese fashion after making birdie.

Every time I look up on the leaderboard there's some guy called Maruyama on there. Whatever happened to Woods, Mickelson, Els ... guys like that? ...:
  Those guys are all relaxing on their yachts, and the Maruyama boys are ganging up on this course like a pack of Yakuza.
Aren't the yakuza those Japanese gangsters that chop each other's fingers off?:  Yeah. But missing fingers don't help much with golf.
Out of the Top 10 on the leaderboard, two of them are Maruyamas...:  Yep. Shigeki (-14) and Daisuke (-11) Maruyama are both well in the hunt, and it means a lot to both of them. Shigeki is 137th on the money list, and Daisuke (154th) both need a nice pay-day. By the way, they're not brothers. There were identical twins in this tournament, the Fathauer brothers, but they both missed the cut.
OK, so the weather is playing havoc with the results, but who's actually going to win? ...:  Anybody's guess, like the weather on the Florida coast. But Bob Estes and Daniel "Exploding Divots" Chopra are tied for the lead on 16-under.
How about the newest IGWT Hall of Famer John Daly? ...:  Well, as always, Long John is wandering around a bit. He made the cut after a beautiful birdie on his last hole of the second round. But then in Round 3, he four-putted the second hole for a great big fat 9. He was 5-over today after his first two holes Saturday.
He might have a couple beers tonight...:  Maybe 73 beers ... like his score. Don't be surprised if Daly hits the 90s tomorrow.
Since you're talking about numbers, how did my favourite Roman numeral guy, Tommy Armour III, do?...:  Tommy was the IInd round leader but he might like to forget the start of his IIIrd round. He's II over par for the day and is IV strokes behind the leaders, Latin boy.
Sic friatur crustum dulce. Or as you Yanks say it, "that's the way the cookie crumbles."...:  Show-off. Get out of bed or hit the road.
Who's coming with me? ...:  Some battlers missed the cut after the weather-delayed second round finished up. Tripp "On My Way Out The Door" Isenhour (No. 150 on the money list) and Bob "57 Different Flavours" Heintz (No. 132) included. Eric Axley also got the big "MC", but he won that stylin' Chrysler convertible for his hole-in-one on Friday.
Sounds like a nice ride home. Can I go with him? ...:  Please. Oh, please.

'I think you can get rid of those shades now, Marcel'

A good day?:
Average, thanks, just average. How’s the hamstring?
Like you care…: Quite right.
What about the golf?: Like you care…
Just get on with it…: OK. The still haven’t caught up with play after a fairly miserable week weather-wise, but Robert-Jan Derksen holds a one shot lead at 10-under with three holes of his third round to play. Gregory Bourdy is a shot back after a terrific third round 64 alongside Jean-Francois Lucquin, who also has another three holes to go along with Peter Lawrie and Sam Little at 8-under.
Anybody else in the hunt?: Richard Finch is at 7-under, Alexander Noren is at 6-under and a certain Sergio Garcia is hiding in the shadows at 5-under, with one hole to go.
And what about the poor beggars fighting to keep their tour cards?: There were a few notable performances from Mattias Eliasson (160th), Marcel Siem (139th) and Carl Suneson (120th), who are all tied 9th at 4-under. Robert Rock (130th) is a further shot back at 3-under.
So what happens tomorrow?: Dunno, lie in, kids rugby training, Sunday lunch, that sort of thing.
You know I meant the golf…: 18 players will have to start early and then it’s all goes blazing for the finale.
What, they’re using firearms?!: It would make things interesting, but I think they’ll probably stick to golf clubs.

"... up to the mountains where I'm going to ... If I ever get out of here, I'm going to Katmandu ..."

Do you like your par-4s wayyyyy uphill, at 450-yards-plus? Do you like golfing with an oxygen mask? We thought so. Well if you like your golfing holidays mixed with a bit of errr. ... "hillwalking" ... then the Himalayas may be just your ticket.
     A long-time favourite spot for yoga freaks, fitness fanatics and people who simply want to vanish, the Himalayan mountains are becoming a popular golf destination.
     A round at the Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, in Katmandu, Nepal, will only set you back $50. The track was designed by Gleneagles' own David Kidd and claims to have the only bent-grass greens in South Asia (the par-5 11th is pictured above). Golfing at Gokarna also carries the unique panache of being able to say: "I played golf in the Forbidden Valley", home to the Surya Nepal Masters, an event on the Indian-based PGAI Tour, a feeder circuit for Asian Tour hopefuls.
    In addition to the golf, you can see monkeys in the nearby forest, get a lovely back massage and spoil the missus senseless in the "Harmony Spa", and probably have really nice Nepalese curry, too.
    The long-haul airfare is the big problem, and there's that Maoist thing, but hey - that never stopped '80s rock legend Bob Seger from singing: "If ever get out of here, I'm going to K-K-K-K-Katmandu..."
    So what's stopping you ... other than not having a Bob Seger-sized budget? Super-fit IGWT editorial chief Iestyn George likes his golf the hard way, having claimed to have played at least three great golf courses with holes called "Himalayas." Mr George went down with a crocked hamstring in a six-a-side football match yesterday, though, so John Terry he may not be - however, if he is game enough to play the Himalayas, you should be, too.
    Penang-based businessman raves Richard Long raves about golf in Nepal. "You see all these different colors in the morning and evening, the snowy mountain peaks change colour after sunset. The air is thinner and the ball flies further," gushed Long to the Wall Street Journal.
    In addition to Gokarna, there's also the stunning 9-hole Himalayan Golf Club in Pokhara, the Royal Nepal GC in Katmandu, and the Nirvana Country Club in Dharan. Nepalese tour operators Earthbound Expeditions can hook you up with a six-day golf and casino package including Gokarna.
    So off you go, then ...

27 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf Clubs | Golf Equipment

'Call that a golf shoe. More like a ballet pump. In my day, we lived in a cardboard box, ate gravel and wore hobnail boots etc...'

We can't pretend we haven't flirted with other shoes - the odd pair of Eccos, Pumas, even Bally back in the day. But you always come back to FootJoy. The FootJoy DryJoys PODS™ will be launched in January 2008 and look to take the sports-style shoe to new levels.
The new outsole incorporates seven individual Tri-density TPU Stability PODS™ with enhanced OptiFlex™ zones resulting in breakthrough ‘Flextability’ - stability achieved through maximum flexability. Now we know that golf manufacturers have a frightening capacity to mess with the English language and if truth be told, we're not quite sure what they're on about here either. But they look cracking and at £99 a pair that's good enough for us.

Ian Poulter: not a Long Drive competitor, but a bloke standing on the wing of a plane

In most sports you will find the competition within the competition, the fastest bowler, the most skilful striker, the quickest winger. In golf what gets the adrenalin going amongst the competitors and fans alike is the booming drive down the middle of the fairway. At the REMAX World Long Drive Championship, golfers turn up from all over the world - they play their own clubs, but everyone plays Pinnacle balls for an even playing field.

The event has been held annually in Mesquite, Nevada since 1994 and is shown live to an enthralled audience on ESPN. This year the open division championship and a stake to claim the title of ‘golf’s biggest hitter’ was won by America’s Mike Dobbyn. His 385-yard drive in the final was also enough to take the $125,000 first prize award. Jesse Pettersen’s 404-yard monster effort was the biggest seen at the event, while Sheila Kelliher hit 329-yards to conquer the ladies section.

McNulty's caddie questions the silliness of his boss's walk to victory in the Volvo Masters.
Not particularly silly, is it?

On this day in 1996, Mark McNulty strolled to victory in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama, firing an 8-under 276 and chalking up a seven-shot win over Sam Torrance, Lee Westwood, Wayne Westner and Jose Coceres.
    McNulty, now 54, remains one of golf’s most interesting blokes, if for no other reasons than a bizarre nationality complex that would do Owen Hargreaves proud. He was born in a country that no longer exists, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), took up Irish citizenship at the age of 50 far too late to help the European Ryder Cup cause, and has posh digs in Sunningdale, England, where his neighbours include Ernie Els and Nick Faldo.
    For the record, McNulty counts 57 professional victories, including 16 on the European Tour and six on the Champions Tour. He was formerly in the World Top 10, and he’s made heaps of dough from his golf. So if you happen to end up next to him on a barstool at his local in Sunningdale, tell Mark that this is his definitely his round. Take the mickey for the fact that he never won in 112 starts on the US PGA Tour. Then duck.
    Also on this day in 1978, nutjob Barry Williams went ballistic in the Midlands, killing four people and wounding four others in a shooting spree in Nuneaton. Now, if this had happened in some states in America, execution would have been the minimum punishment. But Barry only did 15 years at Broodmoor for his crimes before being released to a residential home in North Wales. Since then, Williams is believed to have changed his name and started a new family, and he’s probably sitting on a bar stool next to Mark McNulty. Or you. Shudder.
    Also, on this day in 1904, the first rapid-transit subway line in NYC, the IRT, opened for business. So remember that when you tuck into your £1.99 sarnie-of-the-day at your local Subway. And it was rapid transit in a big way on the grid-iron in 2002, when Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith broke Walter Payton’s all-time NFL rushing record with 16,726 yards.
    So it’s Veels geluk met jou verjaarsdag!, as they say in Afrikaans, to the Minister of Silly Walks and grumpy guest-house owner John Cleese, who turns a jolly olde 68 today.
    It’s also hoots and hollers for the unfortunately-named American NASCAR driver Dick Trickle (66); four-time LPGA major-winner Patty Sheehan (51); Spurs legend and non-legendary former Wolves manager Glenn Hoddle (50); Duran Duran frontman Simon LeBon (49), who pulled more birds than anyone with that hairdo should ever deserve; snail-paced Czech and Celtic midfielder Jiri Jarošík (30); and Ozzy’s daughter Kelly Osbourne (23).
    It also would have been birthday greetings for the Swansea bard Dylan Thomas, had he not boozed himself to death in 1953, for “intense” American poet Sylvia Plath had she not stuck her head in an oven in ’63, and for mafioso don John Gotti, who went to swim with the fishes in prison in 2002.

Bob Estes:  "Let's see ... the rules are lift, clean ... and jerk? ... oh yeah, replace!"

Is it still raining out there?:  Yep. Wake up, you need to eat something and they're about to start the remainder of the second round.
So how was it out on the golf course?:  Well, they played lift-clean-and-place, otherwise no one would have gone around. As it was, none of the guys with afternoon tee times finished their rounds.
Man, that's nasty...: Yep. Daniel Chopra, who's a shot behind the leaders at 13-under, said "divots were just exploding."
Sounds dangerous. You told me not to worry about hurricanes, now I'm worried about exploding divots...:  It's just a bit of rain, you wimp. It didn't bother our leaders -  Bob Estes, who shot 64 and 68, and Tommy Armour III, who eagled his last to finish tied on top with Estes on 14-under.
How are our IGWT betting picks doing?:  Your man Sean O'Hair "O' The Dog" is ticking along quite nicely. He's carded a pair of 68s and he's four shots back. And my token Japanese pick of the week, Daisuke "Don't Call Me Shigeki" Maruyama, fired a 66 to go 9-under, which is huge for a little fella like him since he's 137th on the money list. Shigeki is on 9-under as well. Mark Calcavecchia, who lives just up the road in West Palm Beach, withdrew after three holes with "vertigo."
You mean getting wet makes him dizzy. What's the forecast for today? ...:  Thunderstorms. "Isolated" ones, and real ones too. Can't you watch the Weather Channel yourself? Or have you been laying in bed watching the non-weather-related channels? Jeez, you're worse than J.B. Holmes ...
Who's he?: He's the guy who got disqualified because he didn't bother turning up for his second round.
Just wake me up when this thing is over. At this rate, the tournament might finish sometime by Tuesday...:  You're right. That's just in time for the In Golf We Trust newsletter, delivered straight to an e-mailbox near you!
You're always thinking about business aren't you...:  Pretty much. But actually right now I'm thinking about a Budweiser...

'I should be so Lucquin - Lucquin, Lucquin, Lucquin...'

A great day, then…: In what respect exactly?
Haven’t you heard the news then?: I’m not sure Vladmir Putin’s warning that we’re heading for another Cold War crisis is anything to celebrate.
Never mind all that, I’m talking about our 4-1 drubbing of GolfPunk magazine in the six-a-side grudge match of the season: I was unaware of that momentous piece of footballing news, sorry. This is a golf website after all.
Fair enough. So what happened then?: It’s still chaos, I’m afraid, with 54 players yet to card their second round scores after Day One’s delay for lightning.
Who’s leading?: Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen and France's Jean-Francois Lucquin share the clubhouse lead after shooting 5-under scores of 65 to lead by three shots from Denmark’s Mads Vibe-Hastrup and Ireland’s Peter Lawrie.
What about pre-tournament fave Sergio Garcia?: He was three under par after nine holes of his second round when play was suspended.
So what happens now?: Sixty players finished their rounds but the remainder of the field return early tomorrow to complete their second rounds. The third round will commence at noon after the cut has been made.
Should be an interesting weekend, then: Presumably you’ll be watching the action nursing a champagne hangover after your footballing exploits.
With a heavily-strapped right hamstring: You’re too old for this game, pal. Time to hang up the boots and start working on lowering that handicap, pal.
Thanks for the advice: You’re very welcome.

'You're toast grandad...'

Two years ago, the golf world was queuing round the block to get a piece of Michelle Wie. In 2007, with a scoring average above 76 and only three cuts made in eight tournaments (two of those events didn’t even have a cut), people are fleeing her side like she’s on fire.
    Her agent Greg Nared resigned on the anniversary of her first manager resigning, she’s had five different caddies . Now, her swing coach, David Leadbetter, is quoted in the Toronto Globe and Mail saying: “Now with Greg Nared leaving, you feel like this is the Titanic”.
    A report on GolfObserver hints that Leadbetter might be preparing to quit before being pushed. It also points out that just as America loves a winner, it also likes to put the boot in when the opportunity arises. Wie is being charged the student rate of $25 for every round she plays on the Stanford Golf Course and are charging her parents a cart fee.

Some of the many faces of Barbie over the years ... coming to a kiddies' golf course near you.

Paula Creamer probably doesn't have anything to worry about - yet. Because Paula, golf's real-life Barbie doll, really can play golf. Michelle Wie, on the other hand ...
    Yes, the American toy giant Mattel is aiming the relentless marketing ball-peen hammer of its Barbie brand straight at the skulls of parents of girls aged 4 to 6 by launching a new line of Barbie golf club sets for little golf starlets to be.
    Manufactured by Cougar Golf and on sale at Target stores in the US from November, the Barbie golf sets are undeniably cute - they feature a pink bag, pink visor, pink balls and three pink-hued clubs - and are priced at just $39.99! (that's 40 bucks in real money, or about 19 quid in the UK).
    And just in case you are worried that this latest venture is purely about making money (cough cough cough cough), The First Tee charity in the US, which aims to bring youngsters into golf as a life-building exercise, is squarely behind Mattel's broad corporate back.
    Barbie has been done up as a sporty chick before - hell, she's been an astronaut! - and this is not the first time Mattel have done a golfing Barbie. In 1992, the company issued a Golf Date Barbie doll, who was presumably meant to be hooking up with Golf Date Tiger Woods (sorry, Ken). Instead, Golf Date Tiger Woods ended up with Golf Date Elin Nordegren.
    Mattel PR honcho Juan Gutierrez says: "We know from our research that a big part of a little girl's life is about being active, about playing outdoors. We believe that offering a golf club set offers a girl another option to play another sport."
    To which Paula Creamer's father, Paul, an American Airlines captain, might say: "No s---, Sherlock." But there you go, daddies. Don't let anyone tell you IGWT isn't helping you out with your Christmas shopping lists ...

Bill Glasson: "I'm better looking than Billy Mayfair and I can fly my own plane ... pity about my elbow, sinus, knee, lip, forearm and lower back ..."

On this day in 1997, injury-prone battler Bill Glasson (19 surgeries for 7 PGA Tour wins) won the Las Vegas Invitational, knocking off Billy Mayfair by one shot, the year after Tiger Woods notched his first pro win in the same event.
    Glasson was one of the first modern pros to pilot his own plane in between Tour stops. He is also a player whose golfing CV never really matched his golden-haired born-for-stardom good looks, and whose injuries (elbow, sinus, knee, lip, forearm and lower back, amongst others) have severely curtailed his playing time in recent years.
    Here’s to better luck for Blond Billy on the Champions Tour when he becomes eligible for the seniors in 2010.
    In 1975, Mary Bea Porter whipped Donna Caponi by three shots in the Golf Inns of America Classic, and in ’86 Ben Crenshaw edged the late Payne Stewart by a shot to capture the Texas Open.
    Fittingly, this day was a big one in 1881 for shots fired in the American Old West, as Wyatt Earp, his brothers Morgan and Virgil, and buddy Doc Holliday gunned down three members of the Clanton-McLaury gang in Tombstone, Arizona in the Battle of the O.K. Corral.
    Also on this day, in 1905, Norway became independent from Sweden, leading to a debate which still rages about which Scandinavians have the hotter chicks. And in 1972, US national security chief Henry Kissinger declared that “peace is at hand” in Vietnam, giving George W. Bush carte blanche to claim “mission accomplished!” in Iraq by landing on an aircraft carrier in May of 2003.
    So, as they say in the Bronx, “Yo happy birt-day Hillary, ya don’ look so bad for an old broad,” to the New York senator, cheated-on First Lady and US presidential hopeful Hillary Rodman Clinton, who turns the big 60 today. And rousing choruses in the bar for Cockney hardman geezer Bob Hoskins (65); songstress Natalie Merchant, the first of 10,000 Maniacs (44); and chart-topper Keith Urban (40), who is a Kiwi-Australian-American-country-western superstar (go figure).
    The brilliant Ukrainian Igor Sikorsky, inventor of the helicopter, also punched his ticket for the great whirly-bird ride into the heavens on this day in 1972.

By the time we get over this bridge to the 18th hole, the Ryuji Imada Bullet Train Express will already be in the station ... err, clubhouse.

Looking at the scoreboard, it seems like this course is as easy as pie...:  Well Arnold Palmer designed the course, and the King doesn't like to make things easy. For example, the golfers have to walk miles across a bridge between the 17th and 18th holes. But yeah ... Bob Estes got in at 9-under 64, which ties him for the first round lead with Tommy Armour III.
You mean Tommy III shot an LXIV ...:  That's right, Centurion. Go back to Latin class.
So is this course as easy as it looks?:  Not if you ask Kevin Stadler. He was in the real squirmy seat of No. 125 on the money list and staggered around with an 83.
Was that after 83 beers?:  You'll have to ask him. The Son of the Walrus might have a few Sunshine State barley pops tonight though. Probably alongside John Daly, who shot 75.
Who's your money on then now?:  Well Ryuji Imada shot 5-under, so I'm making him my token Japanese dude pick of the week. But you saw what that did for Daisuke Maruyama last week.
Anybody else do anything worth noting?:  Yeah. Eric Axley "fired" a 77 but was still the big winner of the day, because he nailed a 4-iron for a hole in one on the 218-yard 17th.
77 doesn't sound like a winning score to me ...:  You're right, but it was the 17th ace of Axley's career, and it's the first time he's ever won anything for a "1" except for having to buy rounds in the clubhouse. They gave him a Chrysler Sebring convertible this time.
You've seen what I drive, dude ...:  Yeah, and Axley's 4-iron and his Chrysler are both a hell of a lot better than anything you drive.

Brett Rumford: 'No, really, I meant to hit it here...'

There’s something funny going on…: Why’s that?
I tuned in to watch the golf and there was Tim Henman, fist-pumping his way to a rare win against someone better than him: An eight year-old child, perhaps?
No, it was Roger Federer before he became the invincible Johan Edfors lookalike he is now: It was one of those strange days all-round. Lightning halted play by midday with Andrew McLardy and Gary Murphy back in the clubhouse having carded a pair of tournament-leading 66s, which is why Sky ended up dredging the highlights barrel.
Never mind it could have been Rhona Martin’s curling team in the 2002 Winter Olympics: Or the England football team’s abject performance last week against Russia. What’s worse is that our local sandwich shop had a totally-unrelated power cut, which meant that its entire stock was binned.
Shame. What did you do for lunch?: Found a packet of wine gums in the kitchen cupboard.
How did Sergio fare by the way?: He’s tied 11th with 68, behind Joakim Backstrom, James Hepworth and Graeme Storm, who all carded 67s.
And how about the guys down at the deep end?: You mean the poor sods fighting for their tour cards? Far too early to say with only half a day’s play gone. We’re got our fingers firmly crossed for James Heath (148), David Park (166) and Robert Rock (130), but they hardly got going before play ended.
So what’s the forecast for tomorrow?: Er, sunny…?
You’ve no idea have you…: No, I haven’t.

Payne Stewart still had a parking space reserved for him at PGA Tour events for months after his tragic death at age 42 in a plane crash in 1999.

It’s our sad duty to remember that on this day in 1999 a Lear jet carrying three-time major champion Payne Stewart and five others, headed for Dallas, drifted off out of control over the US Midwest and crashed, killing everyone on board.
    The tragedy surrounding the lives lost was eased only by the fact that an investigation determined that cabin-pressure loss caused everyone in the plane, including the pilots, to painlessly expire due to lack of oxygen long before the craft, out of fuel, hit the ground in a remote field near Aberdeen, South Dakota.

    Payne Stewart was only 42 when he died, and no one can say how many more tournaments or majors he would have won. He would be making his debut season on the Champions Tour this year were he still with us.
    Stewart left a void in the PGA Tour that was larger than life. He lives on in many ways
    The general public will remember Stewart’s three majors of course – especially his second US Open title at Pinehurst just months before his death, as well as his 11 PGA Tour wins. And his five Ryder Cups – and how much he loved playing in them. And especially they will remember his style – his “uniform”, always plus fours and flat caps, usually matched to the colours of the NFL or baseball teams in which ever city Payne was playing in at the time.
    Your humble IGWT correspondent likes to remember happier things about Payne Stewart – not just his guts and unbeatable winning spirit, but his practical jokes, his somewhat annoying habit of bumming sly cigarettes behind the press tent, his honesty and his unfailing kindness. And he always remembered everyone by their first name.
    So, October 25 has been a bit of a heavy day, as they say, all round, especially in history. On this day in 1854, 600 gallant English cavalrymen rode to death and immortality in the Battle of Balaklava in the Crimea, gaining immortality in the “Charge of the Light Brigage”. There was more sombre news in 2005, when US military deaths in Iraq hit the mark of 2,000.
    But we must soldier on, so it’s
Co` latha breith sona dhuibh! as they say in Scots Gaelic, to Glasgow’s own Bobby Thomson (84), who remains the only British-born baseball player to hit a home run in the MLB playoffs; Jon Anderson (63), lead singer of the prog-rock (ie crap) ‘80s band Yes; Canadian strummer Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies (37); and pint-sized, thrill-a-minute Chelsea and England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips (26).
    It also would have been the birthday for Pablo Picasso, had he not painted the final brushstroke on his way to a cubist heaven in 1973.

Tiger Tantrum: Not his first, and it certainly won't be his last...

C'mon, admit it... we've all done it once ... or twice. Maybe you haven't had a Happy Gilmore moment on the course yet, but there have been more memorable meltdowns in the world of pro golf than we would like to count. That said, here's our Duffer's Guide to Club Chuckers and Tantrum Throwers:


The All-Time Meltdown Master:

Tommy Bolt:  He earned his stripes as the 1958 US Open champion but "Thunder" Bolt is still better known as golf's all-time hothead.


This World War II veteran started his career on tour late but is still considered one of the best pure ball-strikers of all-time. But long before Bolt joined the World Golf Hall of Fame, gamesmanship and all-round snarly behaviour were hallmarks of his trade -- even when in later years Bolt admitted that hurling his sticks was a bit of showmanship on his part. Still, he had the nerve to criticise fellow competitors for not throwing their clubs properly.


Bolt once told Lee Trevino that if Trevino said "nice shot" to him again during a round, the next club was going up the Merry Mex's behind. And that was after only six holes. Try that in your next foursome.


Still living, Bolt's words of wisdom to fellow thunderbolts on the course are: "Always throw clubs ahead of you, this way you don't waste any energy going back to pick them up" ... and "Never break your driver and putter in the same round."


Very sound. But Tommy "Thunder" Bolt has some competition coming from this lot:


Up-and-coming Contenders:

Tiger Woods:  The world's greatest player doesn't get a lot of TV time for his outbursts of F-bombs or club tosses, because that's bad for ratings. Programmers choose to focus on Tiger's pearly-white smile and overall brilliance on the box instead. However, Tiger has been known to undertake on-the-spot "course maintenance" (ie, larger-than-your-average divots, otherwise known as "weeding") after bad shots, and in this year's Masters, he snapped the shaft of his club against a tree trunk on No. 11 (Zach Johnson won, by the way). Tantrum ability is the only category in which Tiger is massively underrated.


Pat Perez:  Massively talented player who rose from humble Arizona beginnings to forge a solid career (he's on a chilled-out 49th on the money list this year with more than $1.5 million). But nobody who saw his meltdown at Pebble Beach in 2002 will ever forget it, Perez slamming his 3-wood so viciously into the turf that the San Andreas fault might have erupted, and busting his putter over his knee (BTW he finished second). Golf Digest's John Hawkins said it best: Perez "wears his public-course pedigree like a dragon tattoo."


Sergio Garcia:  Say what you want for Spaniards being cheating, diving, snotty little punk footballers. But Sergio's raging golf CV includes getting a reprimand for kicking off his shoe at a referee at the '99 World Match Play, breaking his sand wedge on a golf buggy and a tree in Sydney in 2001 (then whining after being penalised), and in 2005 drop-kicking some advertisement hoardings in Switzerland. He seems calmer now, but give Sergio time -- those tight trousers and white belts can't help his composure.


Veterans of the Trade:

Craig Stadler:  The Walrus always wore his emotions on his sleeve and heaving clubs to him was like polishing his tusks. Asked once why he had switched to a new brand of putter, the Walrus' response was: "The other one didn't float too well."


Woody Austin:  Earned new fame and the "Aquaman" nickname in this year's President's Cup when he took a plunge into a lake a Royal Montreal, but Woody was already a YouTube hero after trying to perform emergency brain surgery on himself after missing a putt in the 1997 Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head. An all-time clicking classic.


John Daly:  Well known for chucking a lot of things, including fag ends, empty beer tins, ashtrays, bottles, wives and ex-wives around hotel rooms. Chucking golf clubs, however, is not what has gotten Long John into the IGWT Hall of Fame. You're going to just have to read up on that yourself.


The Unexpected Ones:

Cameron Diaz:  Pixie of the movie screen she may be, but lovely Cameron doesn't like to lose at golf and she showed it in 2006 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic celebrity pro-am, when she played with 6-handicap fiance Justin Timberlake. She couldn't hit the ball very far, but the paparazzi made sure that Cameron was snapped throwing her clubs even further than the ball went.


Tom Lehman:  This devout Christian and solemn leader of the losing 2006 US Ryder Cup team had a very un-JC-like moment during the World Matchplay championship in San Diego earlier that year. After a bad shot, Tom should have turned the other cheek. But instead Tom turned his rage on his golf bag in a club-thumping frenzy. Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned.


Bobby Jones:  On his way to the most decorated amateur career of any golfer in history, perfectionist Robert Tyre Jones Jr. battled demons every time his buttery swing did not produce the shot he desired. In the 1921 British Open, after chopping up the front nine at St Andrews in the third round, Jones simply tore up his scorecard and stormed off. Yes, long before Jones became the esteemed gentleman who founded the Masters, let's just say he lobbed a hell of a lot of hickory.


Arnold Palmer:  The King, as a promising junior in Pennsylvania, once hurled a club in a fit in the presence of his father, superintendent of Latrobe CC, during a tournament. On a quiet car ride home, Deke Palmer said: "If you ever throw a club again, I’ll take them away from you. This game is for gentlemen, and gentlemen learn to control themselves.”  You never threw another club again did you, Arnie, you legendary, legendary man.


The Final Toss:

Well, we shouldn't throw clubs, should we. Really? But here are two fellows who think that club-chucking is good for you:


Tom (not Drew) Carey:  'Humorist' author who has written a Christmas stocking stuffer book called How To Throw a Golf Club (for distance and accuracy), available on Amazon for about 8 bucks.


Perry Andrisen:  The PGA teaching pro at Bridges Golf Club in San Ramon, California, reckons that if you throw clubs for practice, it will help you develop a more natural rhythm. Sounds great, as long as no one is standing in the way ...


"Tree is the magic number" ... England's Steve Webster on the prowl for a victory in Portugal.

24 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News | World Of Random

"No time to enjoy the scenery...must... get... to... next... hole..."

After the success of Twenty20 cricket, everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon of sport-shortening. In golf we've already had PowerPlay and now we've just been introduced to 6teesix. Lending more from Twenty20 than just the blatant name style thievery, the new concept takes normal golf dynamics and condenses it into six holes.
    Played in a team format, matches are designed to take roughly 60 minutes (that's ten minutes being devoted to each hole for all you non-mathematicians out there.) The hope is that golfers who would otherwise play but are bound by time constraints will be rushing to the courses before presumably enjoying a microwave ready-meal in the clubhouse afterwards.
    Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood took charge of the inaugural event, with Clarkey's rest of the World team beating Lee's England team 11-7. The two teams of you guessed it...six players apiece, took part in a modified matchplay format in a unique 'pairs scramble' designed to encourage faster play.
    Both Clarke and Westwood spoke favourably about the experience which was held at Oceânico Group's Vilamoura Millennium course. To save you time I've condensed Darren's interview to “enjoyed playing...” and Westwood's to “a lot of fun...” To read more about it or to get into 6teesix yourself, click as quickly as you can on Oceanico Group or 6teesix.com

24 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Your Call


John Barnes To Win Strictly Come Dancing
Ernie Els To Win Next Year's Masters

Will the rotund Barnsey twinkle-toes his way to television glory or will the Big Easy add to his three majors.
Odds courtesy of Paddy Power

Mark Calcavecchia casts his pirate eye over the host of riches available on Florida's Treasure Coast ... Arggggh.

So tell, me ... if this is an inaugural tournament, what’s so “Classic” about it?:  Don’t be smart, Cabin Boy, or I’ll make you walk the plank.
OK. So anyway, what does 'Tesoro' mean?:  Well, nobody knows much about the course, except it’s an opulent place. And tesoro is the Spanish word for “treasure” and this part of Florida is known as the Treasure Coast.
Why’s that?:  Because of hurricanes and the like, whole fleets of Spanish galleons were shipwrecked off these shores back in the 17th and 18th centuries, there were pirates about, and so folks reckon there’s still a lot of gold doubloons and pieces of eight buried offshore. Divers are still searching for the buried treasure to this day.
Speaking of doubloons …:  Exactly. This tournament is all about money, money, money … it’s the second-to-last event on the Fall Series, and the players need to make some serious bucks to earn or keep their Tour cards.
That's for them to worry about. Do we need to worry about the hurricanes?:  Not at this time of year, although the area has been hammered by Hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma in recent years.
That’s reassuring. Well thank goodness it’s not an LPGA event, because those are all girls’ names...:  I’d be worried about Hurricane Calcavecchia if I were you. He’s a local boy, from Palm Beach Gardens, and here he comes right now …
Shiver me timbers! Batten down the hatches!...:  I've got one word for you .... Arrrrrrgh!

"Man, I'm so hot today that all those people behind me are like ... evaporating or something ..."

On this day, in 1993, Davis Love III was as hot as a golfer could possibly be – first of all, he was playing in bloody Las Vegas, and second, he was on fire with the clubs.

    Davis III was so hot that he roasted Craig Stadler by an eight-shot margin to win the Las Vegas Invitational, a five-round event, with a 29-under-par score of 331. And to every 29-handicap golfer out there, do not ever – ever! – mock the PGA Tour’s slogan of “These Guys Are Good”, because they’re a hell of a lot better than you. That’s 29 under, not 29 over. Hackers.

    It was a closer shave for Tiger Woods in 1999, who was his usual clean-shaven and smiling self when he squeezed past Big Ernie Els to win at Disney World in Florida for his sixth win of the year.

    On this day in 1940, the US government instituted the 40-hour work week, giving rise to the slogan “stop bustin’ my balls, boss.” … and on this day in 2007 (today actually), In Golf We Trust staffers were midway through a 100-hour work week without once complaining, proving that those American softies just didn’t “have it all that tough in the good old days.”

    And for what it’s worth, today is also birthday No. 62 for the United Nations Organization – formed in ’45 in Washington DC – so silly hats and blue helmets all round.

    And it’s ‘ave a great birfdy (and don’t nick anything mate), as they say in Liverpool, to bulldozing Scouse striker Wayne Rooney of Man U and England (22); creepily wealthy Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (42); former Stones bass player Bill Wyman (71); and actor Kevin Kline (60), who memorably said in A Fish Called Wanda: “Don’t call me stupid. Don’t ever call me stupid.”

"We're still mates, right Nick ... Nick? ... By the way, I want THAT ..."

Paul Azinger can still do gamesmanship with the best of them. The Zinger got the better of Nick Faldo when the 2008 Ryder Cup captains got together at Valhalla in Kentucky on Monday for a 'friendly' kickoff to a year's worth of hype leading to next year's matches.
    The two skippers squared off with 'good-natured' jibes at each other and gripped and grinned - but there was a more than a little "Ouch" when Azinger asked Nick: "So the Ryder Cup is bigger than Nick Faldo Enterprises? That's huge ..."
    Faldo is a witty, funny fellow. But during the press conference, for the most part Faldo - Azinger's comrade in arms for the past few years on ABC's golf telecasts - played the straightlaced Graham Chapman role to Azinger's smart-arse Adam Sandler. Azinger teased, prodded, and even jokingly refused to ride in a golf buggy with Faldo, saying he'd prefer to ram Nick's cart with a different buggy. Wow.
    The two rivals' television relationship has changed things, claimed Azinger. "I never heard the guy complete a sentence in the 20 years that I knew the guy. And now his voice-activation system has switched on ... and we can't turn it off."
    You wouldn't have known it on Monday. There were questions about the snub-and-be-snubbed drama over Faldo's unfortunate early appointment of Irishman Paul McGinley as an assistant captain. One journo postulated that Faldo was particularly needy of an assistant, in case he were to make a mistake as captain.
    Azinger's response: "He thought he made a mistake once, but he was mistaken."
    Double ouch. For his part, Faldo, a man who once boldly thanked the press from the "heart of his bottom", bravely called himself a "how, what and why man" and suavely brushed aside questions of fallout between himself and Colin Montgomerie.
    This was rapier vs. sabre stuff, and Azinger had the bigger sword on the day. The Ryder Cup is a year away yet ... but in the Captains' Questions round, the score is United States 3½, Europe ½. But Faldo can still show his old nasty edge, and Azinger and the US will be lucky to avoid getting cut by bigger swords the next time.

Garcias Snr and Jr: 'Can we get some crisps on the way home, Dad?'

Many of the European Tour big guns have chosen to skip the Mallorca Classic, choosing instead to focus on the season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama, thus increasing the chances that a strong Spanish contingent will continue to dominate the event. A Spanaird has been victorious in this tournament on three out of four occasions and in all four years there has been at least two in the top three. It’s not surprising then that a couple of Spaniards feature in my tips then…

SERGIO GARCIA @ 9/2 WITH CORAL: Garcia is a very short price for a player who has not played competitive golf for over a month and hasn’t won an event since the Omega European Masters in 2005. However, his form at the tricky Pula course is second to none. El Nino won by four shots on his tournament debut in 2004 and has been runner-up in the last two years. Expect him to feature prominently again.

NICLAS FASTH @ 10/1 WITH CORAL: The defending champion is the only non-Spanish player to win this event. He will fancy his chances of winning a second title in 2007 following success in the BMW International Open in June and has a good opportunity to move further up the top-ten in the European Order of Merit.

Lara was third in this event last year but he is available at a big price because he has missed the cut in his last three starts. On the plus side he does play consistently well on home soil, he came 18th in the Open de Madrid two weeks ago and has achieved three top-three finishes and two top-tens in his last eight events in Spain.

Carrott: 'Don't ask me, they just make this stuff up'

So here we are again then...:
And where exactly is here?: Mallorca – home to Rafael Nadal and sunny retreat of Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Schumacher and venerable Brummie comedian Jasper Carrott.
It’s been a long season…: No longer than usual, but then you’re not getting any younger.
Neither is Sergio Garcia, strangely enough: You’ll find that time has that effect on people. He’s all of 27 years old now and seems to making an appearance on tour for the first time in months. But then he won the event in 2004 and has come second the past two years.
Any side issues at stake this week?: Plenty. There’s the rush to qualify for next week’s Volvo Masters (no cut, guaranteed earnings for the week), which features the top 60 golfers on tour. Then, of course, there are those battling for their livelihoods, trying to finish higher than 117th or 118th to avoid the indignity of going back to final qualifying.
Bet that’s a right laugh: No doubt.
How did you know that Jasper Carrott lived in Majorca, by the way?: I saw him at the fantastic Bendinat Golf Club not so long ago. He bought a place there with some of the proceeds from the tidy £10 million he got for his share of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
You live the life, don't you. Was he with Bob Carolgees and Dave Allen by any chance?: No he wasn’t, you sad old man.

The great Sewsunker "Papwa" Sewgolum flashes his amazing cross-handed grip-and-rip in the days of apartheid South Africa.

As golf journalists, we often have three choices (besides reporting, that is): paraphrase, plagiarise (let's hope not!) or pass on useful info. But when one of our colleagues does as brilliant a job as scribe John Barton did in his piece for the November Golf Digest, it's time for the third option.
    Barton has penned an utterly fascinating piece about the state of South African golf - and how that long-troubled nation is coming to grips with the shameful effects of apartheid on its golf history.
    The main thrust is a tribute to a cross-handed golfing genius named Sewsunker "Papwa" Sewgolum, who remains little-known because he was the wrong colour in his country after a thrilling win in the 1963 Natal Open ... as well as astonishing revelations about how the legendary Gary Player's efforts to right his country's wrongs have often been misinterpreted. The future of South African golf is here as well, in the form of Ernie Els and the ambitions of Els' foundation to "find South Africa's Tiger Woods."
    In the wake of South Africa's rugby world championship and colour quotas in the Boks' political set-up, it's a timely piece as well. Barton's article is well worth printing off for a thoughtful read down the pub - and the GD website has some priceless video clips of the legendary Papwa in action as well.
    Best yet, nip over to the newsagent's and buy the mag.

O'Hair: a genuine contender, as long as he stays out of this stuff...

Yet another week of high temperatures and low scoring as the tour moves on to the Sunshine State for the inaugural Ginn Sur Mer Classic, the penultimate event on the tour schedule. The Fall Series has seen the established old guard step to the fore, Justin Leonard, Mike Weir (both tipped by yours truly!) and Steve Flesch have all secured wins and I’m backing two veterans as well as a youngster this week . . .

SEAN O’HAIR @ 18/1 WITH BETFRED: In good form after finishing tied for fourth place at the Fry’s Electronic Open. O’Hair was within a shot of the lead and challenging for the title before a double bogey at the 17th ended his hopes. This could be his week.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA @ 33/1 WITH BETFRED: Calcavecchia’s a two-time Honda Classic winner in Florida and he should always be seen as a threat in his home state. He posted his most recent win in Florida when he triumphed over a top class field to win the PODS Championship at Copperhead earlier this year. His starting price represents obvious value for a player currently in good form.

JASPER PARNEVIK @ 40/1 WITH BETFRED: The Florida-based Swede almost ended his six-year wait for a tournament win when he was unlucky to lose out on a third hole play-off at the Valero Texas Open earlier this month. He followed up with a solid tie for 14th place in Las Vegas and should be raring to go after having a week off. Another player whose starting price offers definite value.

23 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf Video

With sincere apologies to the dear, departed Harvey Penick...

23 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News

Course it'll take six shots off your round...

They don’t sigh on your backswing or wear Eau De Greenskeeper’s Shed - that just two reasons why you should stick SkyCaddie’s new SG5 Pro Series GPS range finder on your list for Santa. It’s got 1800 European courses mapped and more than 16,000 worldwide, which can be downloaded from here. And the IntelliGreen function also helps golfers measure the depth and shape of the green from all angles of approach. For £299 you have to confront the reality that owning a SkyCaddie’s not actually going to make you play better, but anything that helps combat the dreaded six hour round of golf has to be a good thing.
For more information golfers can call SkyCaddie on 0870 112 0513 or visit: www.skycaddiegps.co.uk.

Ben Crenshaw, overcome by emotion after winning the 1995 Masters just days after the death of his longtime mentor, Harvey Penick.

On this day, in 1904, on a farm in Texas, Harvey Morrison Penick – the first modern “golf guru” and our game’s best-selling author – was born.
    You’ve got to imagine that even Old and Young Tom Morris handed out a few golf tips in their day, but Harvey Penick was the coach everybody wanted long before the days of David Leadbetter, Dave Pelz, Butch Harmon and Rick Smith.
    Penick started caddying at Austin Country Club at age 8 and was named the club’s head pro in 1923 – a post he held for the next 50 years. He was also the golf coach at the University of Texas from 1931-63, and counted among his illustrious pupils Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Betsy Rawls, Mickey Wright and Kathy Whitworth.
    Penick’s pearls of wisdom were simple ideas straight from the farm. Over 60 years of coaching, he had a habit of scribbling his thoughts on golf and life into a diary, tips he had given his students, such as “Sit next to good golfers at dinner time – their confidence will help make you a better putter.”, and, simplest of all, regarding alignment: “Take dead aim.”
    In 1992, a former Sports Illustrated hack named Bud Shrake convinced Penick to put all of his diary scribbles into a book for publication. The result, Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, a wee collection of tips, wit, and musings on life, became – and remains – the best-selling golf book ever at more than 1.3 million copies, reaching Christmas stockings everywhere. The author was a ripe young 87 when his book reached that milestone.
    Ben Crenshaw visited Penick on his deathbed in 1995 and was surprised to be still given a putting tip. The man everyone called “Mr Penick” passed on April 2 that year, and Crenshaw and Kite were pallbearers at the funeral.
    The day after the funeral, Crenshaw teed off in his 24th Masters. He won his second green jacket – and Crenshaw’s tearful reaction was one of those rare moments in sport where unconcealed emotion was perfectly real. Crenshaw later famously said he “had a 15th club” in his bag – his lifetime of memories of Mr Penick.
    Also, on this day in 1707, the first Parliament of Great Britain – formed by the Acts of Union between England and Scotland – held its first meeting at Westminster, and the Whigs, Courts, Tories and Squadrones did a lot of bickering. And 1951, Tory leader Winston Churchill wrapped up his election campaign by denying that he was a “warmonger” – blaming George W. Bush instead.
    And it’s feliz feliz aniversario, as they say in Três Corações, to Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé and the world’s greatest footballer ever, who is 67 today. Also having to buy the cakes in the office today are Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton (65); glamour gal Cat Deeley (31); and fast-bowling England cricket head-case Steve "Harmy" Harmison (29).

When Paula Creamer turns up on the tee, the spectators do too ... even in Miha, Japan.

1) A guesstimated 10-15 percent of people in the world are left-handed, but the figures of golfers who play left-handed are much lower. But don't let that put you off letting your lefty kids play with left-handed sticks. Phil Mickelson was fancied in Scottsdale this weekend, but Mike Weir won instead, meaning six PGA tournaments were won in 2007 by southpaws - more than any year in history. Weir joined fellow lefties Phil Mickelson (3) and Steve 'Pound Of' Flesch (2) in the victory circle.

2) Mickelson does not play well when he is not motivated, which is basically any time between the middle of September and the final choruses of "Auld Lang Syne", as Lefty proved by missing the cut on his home course of Grayhawk.

3) Caddying isn't easy, as ESPN golf hack Jason Sobel learned. In an exercise in reality, Sobel spent last week looping for Roland Thatcher, the top player on the Nationwide Tour and a sure-fire future PGA Tour winner. With Sobel on his bag, Thatcher missed the cut - and a malingering, free-loading golf scribe had to work really hard for once. Sobel's account of his 'lost weekend' with Thatcher is a worthwhile read.

4) California's Paula Creamer, the "The Pink Panther" of the LPGA Tour, celebrated her 21st birthday in Japan and proved she can pack the fans in during the Ladies' Masters tournament in Miha, Japan. ... Hmmmn. Wonder why?

5) Argentinians, known for their footballing, are good at sport - full stop. With the oval ball the semi-finalist Pumas went sky high in the just-finished Rugby World Cup. And on the golf front, a whole new breed is emerging to replace Argentina's faded (Roberto DiVicenzo) and fading legends (Eduardo Romero, Jose Coceres). Chain-smoking Angel "El Pato (The Duck)" Cabrera won the US Open, lost the final of the World Match Play to Ernie Els and won the unofficial PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Andres Romero is an up-and-coming galloping gaucho from the Pampas, opening eyes with a 10-birdie charge in the final round of the Open at Carnoustie, then winning the Deutsche Bank Players Championship of Europe the next week. Now there's Daniel Vanscik to worry about, after he took leads into the final rounds of the last two European events.

6) Steve Webster came to England's side when England needed him by winning in Portugal. Barring Webster, it was a week to stash away the St George Cross flags - as Steve McLaren's chance of keeping his England football manager job became virtually nil in Russia, the Sweet Chariot of English rugby crashed and burned in the final in Paris, and young hero Lewis Hamilton took a wrong turn on his way to the F1 driver's title. Alas. Wither art thou, Justin Rose? ...

7) Carl Mason, the 54-year-old Oxfordshireman who used to be a European Tour tournament referee, is about as sure a bet as there is in golf. He won his fifth European Seniors title this weekend in Spain. And that's 19 wins in five years on the senior set for Mason, a pro since 1973 who only won twice as a flat-bellied player.

8) The cards (Tour cards that is) are falling where they may. North Carolina's Ron Whittaker and Sweden's Mikael Lundberg won on the Nationwide and Challenge Tours, meaning they'll graduate to the big tours next year. Germany's Alex "Bounced" Cejka and Aussie Mark Hensby did enough likewise in Arizona to hold their PGA Tour cards for '08.

9) Ryan Moore is certainly too good to not win on the PGA Tour, isn't he? ... Not really an answer except that you never know. Moore had the best amateur record in the US in '04 since Tiger Woods, but that pales when Ryan came up blank again after a promising start in Scottsdale. But another hot starter at Grayhawk was Michael Allen, who has made 293 PGA Tour starts now for exactly 0 victories.

10) It promises to be a long week on the practice tee and greens (and possibly at the bar) for Kevin "Son of the Walrus" Stadler, who goes into the Ginn sur Mer Classic in Florida on a very lonely barstool, with the priceless No. 125 spot on the PGA money list with $737,276.

Nice mirror-ball Stevie

It's not all champagne and triple-chocolate puddings, as I was off the mark with my selections for the Portugal Masters:

Justin Rose @ 9/1: Rose had a lot to play for, a top-two finish would have put in pole position in the European Order of Merit race. Sadly for Justin he finished in a tie for 21st.
Bradley Dredge @ 25/1: Dredge played well but finished in a tie for twelve place, 10 shots if the lead and four short of a moneymaking finish for his each-way backers.
Rory Mcllory @ 28/1: Failed to sustain his impressive start to his professional career, only managing to finish in a tie for 56th place.

We should have told you to get on:

Steve Webster @ 66/1: an emotional Webster secured his first tour victory in over two years, shooting a final round of 64 for a 25 under par total of 265.
Robert Karlsson @ 40/1: Karlsson played well but saw his challenge consistently thwarted by Webster.
Daniel Vancsik @ 150/1: The Argentine led going into the final round of a European Tour event for the second week in a row but again came up short. Still, he would of made a huge profit for his each way backers.
Lee Westwood @ 14/1: The Englishman continued his good recent form finishing in a tie for third place.
Fredrick Andersson Hed @ 40/1 and Peter Hanson @ 28/1: the two Swedes who also finished in a tie for third place and they would have made a fair profit is backed each-way.

22 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf Video

As if you need any help finding the rough...

'Get in there, Bet Detective!'

Three winners in the last three weeks!

I encouraged you to back a player whose form was back on the up and god bless him, Mike Weir came up trumps at a very healthy 25/1. So what if my other two tips didn’t produce their best form in Arizona? Phil Mickelson (11/2) never looked like adding to his seven desert titles and missed the cut by one stroke, while Scottsdale resident Aaron Baddeley (16/1) also took the weekend off.

If I was a bleedin' mind-reader I could also have told you to back:

Mark Hensby @ 150/1
: The Australian was never more than one stroke behind Weir during the final round and eventually lost out by only one stroke. Still, he would have made a massive profit if supported each-way.
Billy Mayfair @ 100/1: Another player with a massive starting price whose third place finish would have returned a big profit for an each-way flutter.
Carl Petterson @50/1: Held a one shot lead after three days but a final round of 74 meant he finished tied for fourth with…
Sean O’Hair @ 50/1: Briefly shared the lead on the final day but fell out of contention after dropping shots on the last two holes.

With 33/1, 7/2 and 25/1 winners in consecutive weeks, you could do worse than check out for my tips later this week. Or maybe you've already got enough money...

"They tell me the main responsibility of a Korean princess is to show dignity and grace at all times ..."

Suzann Pettersen's season got better is regal fashion this weekend, when she won the LPGA's Hana Bank KOLON Championship at 3-under par on the tour's stop in Gyeongju, South Korea.
    The final round caused a bit of controversy - officials axed the final round because of freezing cold and high wind, and the greens at Mauna Ocean resort were unplayable after a long September of monsoon rain. Not to mention the fact that Pettersen became the first non-Korean to win the event in its six-year history.
    But that didn't stop our willowy Norwegian from being a truly good sport -- dutifully donning traditional Korean attire, including crown for the trophy presentation.
    We love it that winners of the PGA's Tucson event get a big gold conquistador's helmet, but Pettersen's victory garb takes the cake. It could start a great goofy new trend in tournament golf -- for example, if Tiger Woods wins the Sony in Hawaii, he should have to pick up his victory cheque wearing a grass skirt and garland of leis. (Or maybe not, we don't need Tiger skipping any more events, do we?)
    Jokes aside, the win cements Pettersen as the season's clear No. 2 in ladies' golf. After recovering from severe elbow and back injuries, with four LPGA titles (including her first major) Pettersen now has earned more than $1.5 million, trailing only to Lorena Ochoa's $3.3 million-plus.
Around the tours:
US Champions Tour:  John Cook is making quick work of his new career with the Seniors lot, firing a 65 Sunday in only his second event on tour, beating Mark O'Meara by two shots for the AT&T Championship in San Antonio, Texas.
European Seniors Tour:  Red-hot Englishman Carl Mason remained the winningest European golfer on all levels in 2007, nabbing his fifth victory amongst the over-50 set at the OKI Castellón Open de Espana Senior in Spain. The 17-under, four-shot triumph is Mason's 19th win in less than five years as a senior player.
US Nationwide Tour:  Ron Whittaker carried on a run of great form at the Chattanooga Classic in Tennessee, beating David Mackenzie by a shot. And it got Whittaker where he wants to be - virtually securing his PGA Tour card for 2008.
European Challenge Tour:  Tough conditions were the rule in the Toscana Open Italian Federation Cup in Prato, Italy, where the Swede Mikael Lundberg carved out a five-stroke win with a grinding 2-over 73. The finish is good enough to lift Lundberg to eighth on the Challenge Tour rankings with one event left, thus guaranteeing him a return to the ranks of the big boys next season.
Ladies European Tour:  The LET are in the midst of their Q-School period and amateurs Emma Cabrera-Bella (Spain) and Camille Fallay (France) led a group of 28 players advancing to next week's 94-player final stage with 54-hole scores of 204 at Le Fonti, Italy.
Japan LPGA Tour:  This tour got a rare mention in the Western press this week because of the pleasant sight of Paula Creamer - the blonde US LPGA starlet - at the Masters GC Ladies tournament, greatly pleasing the male gentry of Miki, Japan. Creamer finished second though, four shots behind Japan's own Miho Koga. So everyone was a winner.

Pamela Anderson: "Dolly, I bet you're good a lot of things other than poker ..."
Doyle Brunson: "Baby, you ain't seen what I can do with the sticks ..."

There are times to count your blessings that America's ESPN all-sports network - "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" - is not available as a full-time channel in the UK. And this weekend is one of them. The cowboys pulling the strings of the US sports TV giant have come up with some really doozies to fill up years of 24-hour sports programming, among the notable stinkers being mini golf championships, fire-engine pulls, synchronised diving, cheerleading championships, spelling bees - and yes, the World Series of Poker.
    On Sunday, ESPN gave its viewers a reality-show high-stakes gambling golf 'treat' - the first of two High Stakes Golf Tour events in Las Vegas, featuring a field of high-roller poker stars (who also happen to be high-handicap golfers) hacking their way around Bali Hai Golf Club.
    The gimmick? Well, these guys are playing for millions of their own money: Sunday's field featured poker legends like Doyle "Dolly" Brunson, Dewey Tomko, 'Kid Poker' Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, sports gambling icon Billy Walters and crap actor Vince Van Patten battling it out for prize money that is more than all but the highest PGA Tour purses.
    "We do this every day, it's not a big deal for us," said the 74-year-old Brunson, the godfather of Texas Hold'em, who walks with a crutch nowadays but is said to be a mean putter. "It's been a way of life my whole life."
    Janet Jones, the gambling-addled wife of ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, will join the second field next week, along with some other big-wallet boys who you probably have never heard of unless you're addicted to watching late-night poker tournaments.
    "I love golf! I'm addicted!" enthused Negreanu. "Most poker players secretly wanted to be pro athletes on ESPN."
    Well, now they've got their chance, sort of. Day one was a three-team, three-man scramble over nine holes, with each player putting up $1 million of their own money per hole. The idea was something of the brainchild of Sports Illustrated columnist and author Rick Reilly, whose latest best-seller about golf described his amazement at watching Tomko play for a "little $50,000 nassau" in a friendly "back room" match between Vegas high rollers.
    So, if watching a bunch of gambling fools with huge egos and massive pocketbooks chop the hell out of a nice course for stacks of dough, then maybe the High Stakes Golf Tour is your thing. Said Tomko: "People can relate to us more. Tiger does everything perfect. They're going to see when bad golfers have a shot or putt for a million dollars."
    He's got a point. It's one thing to see Woods split fairway after fairway with zen-like grace, but quite another to watch an old rich guy with knobbly knees in short pants cold-top a 7-iron into a lake with a million bucks at stake.
    Sounds ... erm, interesting. But we already have the Skins Game in the Silly Season, don't we? And even though it's not his own cash, at least the Skins Game has Freddie Couples.

Duffy Waldorf convinces the entire gallery that they are on acid.

On this day, in 1995, PGA Tour wildman Duffy Waldorf blitzed the field in the Texas Open, beating Justin Leonard by six shots, wearing golf attire that made the collected gallery’s eyes bleed, and earning a check big enough to stock his extensive wine cellar for – oh, a couple of months or so.
    Noted for his garish collection of Hawaiian-style golf shirts and for writing silly messages on his golf balls, Duffy has carved out three wins on the tour and enough money to rank 61st all-time in tour earnings, nearly $12 million. That will buy you a lot of wine.

    Wine represents Duffy’s serious side – and he reminds us: “With a heavy sauce, try a chardonnay. A sauvignon blanc works well with a lighter sauce, and have a riesling or a pinot grigio with something spicy.” Just in case you need to make a run to Oddbins on your way home.

    And also on the wine front, on this day, in 1989, Billy Casper notched his ninth win on the Senior PGA Tour, capturing the Transamerica event in Napa in the cradle of California’s wine industry.

    Everyone was scared senseless about World War III breaking out on this day in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy locked down Cuba with an air-and-sea blockade, after finding out that Castro had allowed the Soviets to build missile launchers on the island. But they needn’t have worried, because as we now know, JFK was no George W. Bush in the war-starting stakes.

    So it’s feliz cumpleaños, as they say in Guantanamo Bay, to French ice-queen actress Catherine Deneuve (64); Shakespearean stage stalwart Sir Derek Jacobi (69); tall goofy guy actor Jeff Goldblum (55); Japanese zen-master baseball star Ichiro Suzuki (34); and Hastings’ own “gangsta fokie” John Wesley Harding (42).

    It also would have been a really happy 87th for Dr Timothy Leary, the American hippie "high priest" of LSD, had he not taken the ultimate trip back in ’96.

Weir: "I wonder if they've noticed I'm not that Mickelson fella yet ..."

So a left-hander won the title at Grayhawk after all, eh?:  Why are you putting on a Canadian accent?
In honour of Mike Weir, eh!:  Ah, indeed. Well, going into the week everyone expected Phil Mickelson to be the lefty walking away with the trophy on Sunday. But Lefty - Mickelson that is - missed the cut on his home course where he's played more than 300 rounds.
So it's turning out to be a pretty good year for Mike Weir after all ...: Yep. First the Presidents Cup and now this. He's our winner at Grayhawk at 14-under.
We all gave him a bit of stick by saying he was only on the Presidents Cup team just because he was the only Canadian, blah-de-blah...: Indeed we did, and for that I am profoundly sorry. Because Weir was Gary Player's best player in Montreal and handed Tiger Woods his Team USA hat in the singles.
And now he's got a win all for himself this time ...: It must be nice for Weir. He hadn't won on the PGA Tour since 2004, and this was his eighth win overall, boosting him all the way from 84th to 33rd on the money list.
And he did it in typical gutsy Mike Weir fashion, eh? ...:  Why is it every time a Canadian wins something, he's 'gutsy'? But yeah, he finally got into the lead with a birdie on the 15th, then held off Aussie Mark Hensby with an up-and-down par on the last.
Any other big news? ...: Well it was a big week for Hensby anyway, because he jumped all the way from No. 151 to 99 on the money list, saving his Tour card. And the 'bubble boy' of Germany, Alex Cejka, moved from the dreaded No. 125 spot up to 110th by finishing in a tie for sixth.
OK, it too windy out here to talk anymore. It's blowing 30 miles per hour ...:  Yep. That wind is strong enough to carry us all the way to Florida for the Ginn sur Mer Classic by nightfall if we hold our arms out like aeroplane wings.
So let's gooooooooooooo ....

Steve Webster: 'Tree, is the magic number...'

So it’s all gloom and doom for England, then…: Not entirely. It may have been a bridge too far for the rugby team and for Lewis Hamilton, but Steve Webster gave the Anglos a winner this weekend.
It makes you proud doesn't it…: If you’d seen Webster collapse into the arms of his father Terry on the 18th green, you might feel like winding your sarcastic neck in.
Why?: Because it's five months since Webster’s mum died, so his first win since the 2005 Telecom Open had a lot more significance than a mere winner’s cheque.
That's me told; and Webster is one of the good guys: Too true. And you can’t argue with a final round 64, which included a bogey at the last, to card the second-lowest total on The European Tour at 25-under.
And the lowest was by…?: Dunno. Ask me when I’ve had the time to look it up in the record books.
What happened to Daniel Vanscik?: He ended up losing his last round lead for the second week in a row, tied for third place after a last round 71, which included bogeys on 12, 17 and 18.
And what about that Order Of Merit tussle?: Well, Justin Rose didn’t make any waves, after a closing 70 left him joint 21st .
So what happens next?: Ernie’s leading, but he's not playing the Volvo Masters the week after next, so Rose and Padraig Harrington are still in there with a chance, as well as Niclas Fasth and Henrik Stenson.
And your money’s on...?: I haven’t got any, I lost it all on Lee Westwood.

Babe didn't have the same connotations in the 30's as it does today...

On this day, in 1945, Ella ‘Babe’ Didrikson Zaharias won the Texas Women’s Open. 'Babe', named so after legendary baseball player Babe Ruth after she hit five home runs in a single baseball game, was without doubt one of the greatest female athletes ever to live.
    Not only did she claim 41 LPGA Tour victories, including nine majors, she also won two gold and one silver medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics in the 80m hurdles, javelin and high jump respectively, achieved great success in women’s basketball and apparently wasn’t too shabby at baseball either.
    Following her unsurpassed success, Zaharias has had a golf course named after in Tampa, Florida. However it is was Port Arthur, Texas where she grew up and honed her considerable talents, which also included playing the harmonica and sewing. With Zaharias wining the 1931 State Fair of Texas sewing championships and having a number of hit records with Mercury Records, including “I Felt A Little Teardrop”.
    Also on this day, back in 1854, Florence Nightingale was sent to the Crimean War, it was considered to be the first modern conflict. It introduced brutal methods and tactics that are thought to have changed the face of warfare, none of these were thought to have come from ‘the lady with the lamp’ however.
    Meanwhile, in 1978, Keith Moon plays his last public show with The Who, two years before his death. Rumours have long circulated that Pete Townshend once approached Zaharias (and her harmonica) to make a guest appearance on ‘rock opera’ Tommy,  but she was said to have reluctantly turned him down to concentrate on her short game.
    And it's Birger Jarl Torn! As they say in Norrmalm, to; surprisingly unfunny Chelsea goalkeeper Hilario (32), wears-his-heart-on-his-long-sleeves midfielder Paul Ince (40), ultimate nerd-fantasy woman Carrie Fisher (51) and woman and cricket ball beater Geoffrey Boycott (67).
    It would also have been Alfred Nobel's 174th birthday had he not died of a stroke in 1896. Nobel for whom the Nobel Peace Prize was named was also the inventor of dynamite and in 1888 a French newspaper printed a fake obituary of him condemning him as the man “who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.” Oh sweet irony.

21 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News

Arnie: Swashbuckling swing + slick cardigan + awestruck admirers = GQ Style icon

The King has received an official crown of cool, if you believe what you read in the pages of GQ Magazine, which has recently celebrated its 50th anniversary by naming Arnold Palmer one of "The Most Stylish Men of the Past 50 Years (And What You Can Learn From Them)".
    Arnold Palmer had style back when style meant a full-page colour cigarette advert on the back of Esquire magazine - but style went a bit further in those days than it does now. In Palmer's heyday, style icons went by single names like Brazilian footballers today - Elvis, McQueen, Connery, Newman, and of course, Arnie.
    Those aforementioned old-school guys are all in GQ's Top 50 - along with modern rivals like Johnny Depp and George Clooney, and some curious new entries like Pete Doherty and Kurt Cobain. Woody Allen is in the list too, so be prepared to take some grains of salt for every page turn.
    But none of the above gentlemen, however, could quarterly rip a persimmon driver 270 yards, knock an iron shot stiff to a couple of feet, suavely chuck away a half-smoked L&M at the side of the green, sink a birdie putt, and celebrate with a subtle fist-pump of a Popeye forearm and a dimpled grin that would make the girls swoon in their polka-dotted dresses. None like our favourite former farm boy from Latrobe, PA.
    The style boffins at GQ accurately recall that Palmer did all of this while wearing ensembles of creased chinos and polo shirts which were strategically light-coloured to make his tan look even darker. When the weather got a bit nasty, like when he was playing in Britain, Arnie covered it all up with sexy cardigans that made schoolgirls think naughty thoughts.
    In his dotage, the King has admitted in an interview: "There was some talk that maybe my muscles were too big for the shirts."
    With great style comes great humility. That said, in our flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts and boxer shorts at IGWT headquarters, we admittedly could use a style refresher. If you need one too, please re-visit our Career in Pictures of Arnold Palmer, the golfing Brando.

Carl Pettersson: "I'll have me a turnip sandwich ... after I make the turn ..."

"How Swede it is to be loved by you" ...:  Why is it every time a Swedish guy turns up on top of the leaderboard in some tournament in America you burst into song? ABBA is next, I'm sure of it. Don't you know that in America they call a 'swede' a turnip?
Are you calling me a turnip?: Well, yeah, Turnip. But just because your big Swedish fella Carl Pettersson is topping out the leaderboard after the Saturday, not to mention topping out the scales, doesn't mean you have to get all aggro on me.
OK, but Pettersson is a big talent isn't he?:  Well, yeah, he's big. In fact you could probably fit Stenson, Parnevik, Hedblom, Fasth, Grönberg, et al inside his not-so-skinny trousers and still have room for most of his countrywomen's trophies. That stylish J. Lindeberg stuff isn't for our man Carl. He weighs in at 5-foot-11 and a very kind 200 pounds in the PGA Tour media guide.
But he shot a big-time round today didn't he?:  A turnip-style 6-birdie, 0-bogey round. Good enough for a 1-shot margin.
Hmmmn. Well let's see how Carl does after he gets his Sunday lunch down him. ...: Indeed. This is the Raptor Course at Grayhawk. Raptors, and fellas like our leader, like to eat anything within striking range, so those circling for the kill include the likes of Mark Hensby, Mike Weir, Jarrod ("I am 6-under par today") Lyle, and yesterday's poster boy, Ryan Moore.
So anyone can win, including my big Swede?:  That's right. There are 19 players within six shots of Pettersson. You really can't count out a more than a third of the players left in the tournament.
OK, so where's your money then?:  It's on Daisuke Maruyama. He's four back. And he's not a Swede. He's Japanese.
You're only backing this Maruyama guy because you can spell his name and I can't...: That's right, Turnip.
You blankety-blanketing-blank ....

20 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | World Of Random

'You should have seen the one that got away...'

Clearly, the gloves are off between mother nature and golf. Having brought you the story of mussel infestation of a golf course in the US earlier this week, news reaches us that the £100 million redevelopment of the delightful St Mellion golf course in Cornwall by Jack Nicklaus has been put on hold until a colony of rare long-eared bats have been satisfactorily relocated.
A special bats’ dormitory may have to be built to lure them out of the old buildings that need to be redeveloped. The major problem is that the bats have already started hibernating and so cannot be disturbed until they wake up in February or March.  Similarities to certain members of the InGolfWeTrust staff have been noted...

'Justin's not the only one with blisters you know...'

So how’s it going in the land of golf, fortified wine and nice custard?:
Terrific - all set for a great finale with 13 players within five shots of the lead and Daniel Vancsik (pictured) one shot ahead of Charl Schwartzel and England’s Steve Webster, after a third round 68 left gave him an 18-under score of 198.
Haven’t we been here before?: You talking about reinacarnation?
No. Daniel Vancsik was leading this time last week, wasn’t he?: Indeed he was. Last week he had a two shot cushion, this week he’s got a shot with some big names in the hunt, including Rober Karlsson (16-under) and Lee Westwood (15-under), as well as some form players including early leader Martin Kaymer (14-under) and last week’s winner Mads Vibe-Hastrup (12-under).
What about the Order Of Merit sub-plot?: Justin Rose shot a cracking 66 to end up at 11-under, with Retief Goosen just one shot back.
I thought Rose had a knackered back?: He has and he’s also got dodgy plates.
Come again?: Plates of meat – feet. He’s suffering from severe foot blisters and played Friday’s round in trainers.
No doubt he’ll be having a word with his sponsors, Adidas: Who knows. Either way, he  bandaged them up today and stuck his golf shoes back on. "I just looked like a fool," he said.
Not as bad as wearing slippers, though: True enough.
So who’s going to win, then?: Personally,  I think Westwood’s the man to lump the mortgage money on.
With your record, I think I’ll pass this time: Your loss, pal…

"You've been hit by...you've been struck by... a smooooth criminal. Aow!"

On this day, in 1996, Jim Colbert eased his way to victory in the Raley’s Gold Rush Classic, five strokes ahead of second placed Dave Stockton.
    The tournament was a fixture on the PGA Champions Tour until 2001, with Colbert’s 1996 win accounting for one of his twenty Champion's Tour successes, which include a major in the form of The Senior Players Championship.
    Colbert, born in New Jersey in 1941, also experienced a number of wins on the PGA Tour. He claimed eight victories in total, with his most successful year coming in 1983 as he racked up two victories and reached 15th place on the PGA money list.
    The man from the Garden State has his fingers in many pies; with ownership of a golf course management company, a position as an analyst on American TV network ESPN and he also helped to design his own course in Manhattan, the aptly named Colbert Hills.
    Also on this day, in 1973, the world famous Sydney Opera House was declared open by Queen Elizabeth II. One of the most beautiful sights down under has wowed crowds in Australia for the past three decades, as has pop singer Dannii Minogue who celebrates her 36th birthday today.
    And it’s Jomo Kenyatta! As they say in Gatundu, to; the man responsible for putting Scotland on the map - director of Trainspotting, Danny Boyle (51),  the iconic rapper from America’s west coast who always carries an umbrella ‘for drizzle’, Snoop Dogg (36) and moustache sporting Liverpool legend Ian Rush (46).    
    Finally, it would be a happy birthday to Paul Wilson of Snow Patrol, if, that is, his guitar and backing vocals had not been an integral part of one of the most monotonous bands in recent memory.

Ryan Moore: "Man, I'm sick of shooting 76s on Saturday. ... Oh, it's Friday? OK, then, 63."

Hey, there's scruffy little Ryan Moore on top of the leaderboard again...: That's him all right, holding on to a 3-shot lead over Ben Crane, the Aussie Mark Hensby and Daisuke Maruyama after a 63 on Friday and looking for his first pro victory.
Why does he sound so familiar?: That's because he's a former owner of the "next Tiger Woods" tag. In 2004, Ryan had one of the best amateur seasons ever - winning the US Amateur, the Western Amateur, the US Amateur Publinks, and was the NCAA individual champion.
That's some resume. What happened next?: In 2005, using only sponsor's exemptions, Ryan earned his PGA Tour card, becoming the first player since Tiger in '96 to go straight from college to the PGA Tour without having to go to Q-School.
So is it a rags to riches story then?: Not exactly. Moore picked up a niggling hand injury and had to have surgery on his hamate bone, but he's been playing well - just not well enough to win his first title. KJ Choi beat him at the Memorial by one shot. And he was in the hunt last week in Vegas but he blew up with a 76 on Saturday.
So what did he do?: He said "I sat down, had a Coke, and said I'm sick of shooting 76s on Saturday, it's driving me crazy."
Sound strategy. I would have had a Jack Daniels and Coke though...: That's why Ryan Moore is on the PGA Tour at the age of 24, and you're not.
Fair enough. Good luck to him on Saturday, then. So who won't be playing at the weekend?: The biggie is Phil Mickelson. Lefty reckons he's played something like 300 rounds on the Raptor Course at Grayhawk, where he's a member. But he won't want to remember these last two - he finished up 1-over for a big ugly MC. Aaron Baddeley, John Daly and David Duval are also headed home.
At least they won't have far to go. Aren't there a heap of PGA Tour pros who live around here?: Have you seen the size of these houses? In north Scottsdale they sell for around 2 or 3 million bucks.
That must be why they call it 'Snotsdale' ...: You said it, not me.

'Can someone remind me what the hell I do with this thing?'

Did you know that Portugal is the 19th best country in the world?:
19th best at what?
Quality of Life, apparently. Ten places ahead of the UK: Well, Daniel Vancsik (pictured) is not complaining, having shot a second round 66 to his opening 64 for a 14 under par total of 130 and a two shot lead over Sweden’s Martin Erlandsson, Spain’s Alvaro Quiros and the English duo of Ross Fisher and Steve Webster.
I would have thought Vancsik would have spent the week wandering around his house in his underpants weeping uncontrollably…: You must be referring to the quintuple bogey nine he shot during the final round of last week’s Open De Madrid.
How did you guess...?: True, he blew it big style, but the big-hitting Argentinian has already won in Portugal this year (The Madeira Islands Open) and explained that a session on the couch with his sports psychologist sorted him right out.
What profound wisdom did the shrink impart?: He told him to forget about it and play his game.
And he gets paid for this stuff?!: I know, it’s a crime…
Was it a day of low scoring: When the cut is at 3-under you know you’re going to have to go low to compete. Ross Fisher carded the best round of the day with a 64. He also had an eagle two at the 456 yard 7th which went – ‘Driver, 9-iron, where’s the next tee then…’
Tidy. Any other likely candidates in the wings?: Martin Kaymer’s still only three shots off the lead after a 72 today, while Lee Westwood is one shot further off the pace at 10-under.
Where’s Justin Rose?: Either tucked up in bed or down the disco ‘avin it large.
I meant in the field: Oh… He’s tied 37th, nine shots away from the action.
Right, I’m off to face paint the hamster with a St Georges cross before the match tomorrow: I thought he was dead…
That’s no reason to duck out of a day of rampant nationalistic fervour is it…: Suppose not

19 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News | World Of Random

"No time to enjoy the scenery...must... get... to... next... hole..."

After the success of Twenty20 cricket, everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon of sport-shortening. In golf we've already had PowerPlay and now we've just been introduced to 6teesix. Lending more from Twenty20 than just the blatant name style thievery, the new concept takes normal golf dynamics and condenses it into six holes.
    Played in a team format, matches are designed to take roughly 60 minutes (that's ten minutes being devoted to each hole for all you non-mathematicians out there.) The hope is that golfers who would otherwise play but are bound by time constraints will be rushing to the courses before presumably enjoying a microwave ready-meal in the clubhouse afterwards.
    Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood took charge of the inaugural event, with Clarkey's rest of the World team beating Lee's England team 11-7. The two teams of you guessed it...six players apiece, took part in a modified matchplay format in a unique 'pairs scramble' designed to encourage faster play.
    Both Clarke and Westwood spoke favourably about the experience which was held at Oceânico Group's Vilamoura Millennium course. To save you time I've condensed Darren's interview to “enjoyed playing...” and Westwood's to “a lot of fun...” To read more about it or to get into 6teesix yourself, click as quickly as you can on Oceanico Group or 6teesix.com

"When I find the guy that glued my knees together..."

On this day, in 1975, Don January captured the Texas Open, beating Larry Hinson in a playoff after the two had both finished on 275, 13-under-par.
    January, one of the Lone Star state’s most popular exports along with Dallas, the death penalty and wrestling luminary Stone Cold Steve Austin, represented the U.S. Ryder Cup team in both 1965 and 1977. With America winning on both occasions.
    The Texas born and bred January experienced ten PGA Tour wins, most noticeably the 1967 PGA Championship. Later in the year this was accompanied by the Vardon Trophy, awarded to the player with the lowest scoring average.
    However, he has enjoyed more success during his time on the Senior PGA Tour, where he has amassed an impressive 23 victories and topped the Senior PGA Money List on a number of occasions.
    Also on this day, back in 1216, King John of England’s death results in his 9-year-old son Henry III succeeding him as monarch. And like any self-respecting king, or Texan for that matter, Henry had a thirst for blood embarking upon a number of ill-advised wars.
    Meanwhile, in 1985, the first ever Blockbuster video store opens in…that’s right, you’ve guessed it, Texas. The first titles to be stocked included; Debbie Does Dallas, Houston: We’ve Got a Problem and The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (honestly that’s a real film).
    And it’s a very happy birthday, or Droonkher Tashi Delek! If you’re of Tibetan persuasion, to gum-chewing Geordie boss ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce (53), heavyweight boxer and Mike Tyson hors d’oeuvre Evander Holyfield (45) but unfortunately not to Cuba Gooding Jnr. but instead to his somewhat less talented brother Omar (31).
    Today would also have been Peter Tosh's 63rd birthday, had the robbers that broke into his house not taken a 'dread or alive' approach to burglary and brutally murdered him in 1987.

Michael Allen:  "I've been around so long, I practically blend right into the scenery!"

So what's the big difference between the Frys.com Open and the Fry's Electronics Open?: 
Well the Frys.com Open was in Vegas last week and the Fry's Electronics Open is here in Scottsdale, you nitwit.
Yeah, but one doesn't have an apostrophe ...:  That's because web addresses don't have apostrophes, Einstein. Say you want to buy a fancy new laptop or a great big old 46-inch HDTV, well, you can just go to frys.com online and whip out your credit card, and they deliver it to your house.
But what if I want to see what I'm buying first?: Then you get in your car, drive over to the Fry's Electronics superstore, whip out your credit card, and buy the same fancy laptop or TV.
So it's kind of like the difference between chatting with a hot chick online, and actually talking to her in a bar. ...:  Sort of. But you still have the exact same chance of success. Zero. Can we talk about the golf please?
OK. How are the big names on the leaderboard doing?: Not so hot. Phil Mickelson is a Grayhawk member and he knocked three balls into the desert on his way to a 71. John Daly and Mark Calcavecchia are also on 71. Everyone's rooting for David Duval, but he's on 72, eight shots back.
So what's the angle after Round One then?:  Well, it's a feel-good story around these parts. Michael Allen lives in Scottsdale and he fired a 7-under 63, leading Nick Watney, Frank Lickliter II and Rich Beem by two shots.
You mean Michael Allen, the guy who has been around forever but never wins?:  That's the geezer. He's 48 years old, has played in 292 events on the PGA Tour, and he's never won. He's had to go back to Q-School 10 times for his Tour card.
So he's got about as much chance of winning as I have of scoring with that hot blondie in the beer tent. ...:  Umm, better actually. A lot better.

"Thankyou, thankyou, and for my next trick, I predict I'll shoot a 59"

Who's drowning their sorrows in economy sherry and who's celebrating with a fine snifter of port then?: Martin Kaymer will definitely be on the grand reserve port after shooting an amazing 61 to shave two shots off of the course record and equal the low-round of the season.
And the economy sherry?: There weren't really any disasters to be honest, all the focus has been at the top of the table with Kaymer and his 11 birdies. The German rookie has led before this year but has been unable to finish the job and only has a second and a third place finish to his name.
I'm not surprised he hasn't won if he has a night on the port after a good day: Well I'm sure that if he does have some it's hardly a gout inducing quantity. Anyway, he has Argentinian Daniel Vancsik and Sweden's Martin Erlandsson three shots back and Lee Westwood, Retief Goosen and Gregory Bourdy four shots back so there's no room for complacency.
I dunno, if he keeps shooting 61 there is...: Well, yeah, but there's not much chance of that, even though he has shot a 59 before and reckons he can shoot another one on the second day, wind permitting.
That's a bit cocky isn't it?: He closed with a 29, one shot off the Tour record, so he has reason to be a bit cocky...
OK, enough about Martin Kaymer, I assume there were some other golfers out there?: Justin Rose chasing his first European Order Of Merit win shot a respectable three-under-par but he'll have to go some to catch up. Likewise, Rory McIlroy will be pleased with a first round one-under-par but is some way off the lead.
Why doesn't he just plan to shoot a few rounds of 59 like Kaymer then?: Good idea, I'll try and pass on your genius to him...

Hugh Hefner To Father a Child By the End of The Year
Justin Rose to Win Next Year's Masters

Will Hugh's years of casual sex with women young enough to be his daughter finally bring him a daughter? (Or son?) Or will Justin's years of hard work pay off in the shape a major? I know which one I'm rooting for, but which one will you stick your hard earned moolah on?

Odds courtesy of Paddy Power

18 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Pic Of The Week

Captain Hay Wemyss, 'Old' Tom Morris(left) and Allan Robertson with his clubs under his arm. Hats and mutton chops all round

"So what's Goofy REALLY like?"

On this day, in 1992, John Huston won the Walt Disney Classic courtesy of a final round 62, defeating previous winner Mark O’Meara by three strokes. Regarded as on of the tour’s quickest players, Huston, on his way to an unbeaten 262, made his way round the course quicker than Mickey Mouse on speed.
    Born in Mount Vernon, Illinois, in 1961, Huston turned pro in 1983. He proved to be beyond doubt a player capable of great things, with his recording breaking 28-under-par performance at the 1998 Hawaiian Open proof of this.However with only seven PGA Tour victories and a best Major finish of tied third in the 1990 Masters, Huston may view this as an underachievement, especially for a player who has featured in top 20 of the official world golf rankings.
    Also on this day, in 1929, Canada generously changes its laws to formally classify women as 'persons', although they are still required to wear lumberjack shirts, work as mounties and have maple syrup with every meal.
    Meanwhile, this day in 1974 witnessed the birth of Welsh footballer and all round idiot Robbie Savage. Royal Mail has subsequently today decided to meet worker’s pay demands and lay on extra staff, in a belated attempt to cope with the expected deluge of birthday cards from fans, players and well-wishers alike to the Savage household.
    And it’s Penblwydd Hapus i Chi! As it will say on Savage’s array of cards, to ex-TV ‘funny man’ Timmy Mallet (52), actor, kick boxer and all-round hard man Jean Claude Van Damme (47) and hat wearing American RnB singer Ne-Yo (25).
    It would also have been JFK's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald's 68th birthday, had the forces of karma not conspired against him and he wasn't shot and killed by Jack Ruby two days after JFK copped it.

'Did someone mention pudding?'

Been there, done that: And got the t-shirt?
No, but I did have some lovely custard-type pudding: What on earth are you talking about?
The golf club. Played there back in 2005, just before it opened: How was it?
The greens seemed to be a remarkably long way away from the tee boxes: Thanks for that insight, Mr Braid.
You’re welcome. So what’s the scoop this week?: It’s a race for cash and Order Of Merit glory, with Justin Rose (3rd), Andres Romero (7th) and Retief Goosen (9th) hoping to nail a win to propel them past Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington, who currently occupy first and second spot respectively.
Any others in the hunt?: There are 24 European Tour winners in the field and third win from Lee Westwood (pictured) will give him his best season’s tally since he won five times in 2000.
They just keep coming back for more in Portugal don’t they…: It’s the third event of the season to be staged in the country. Clearly, the dessert trolley is a big attraction; that and the fact that this Arnold Palmer-designed course is smack in the middle of the massive golf and property boom that’s taken place over the last decade.
To be honest, I prefer Rodean pitch & putt myself: But how’s the custard?
Fair point well made: Thanks.

17 Oct, 07 | Comments [1] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News | Tiger Woods

'I guess you just crush them up, use a sieve to get the gunk out and then just pour...'

Clearly Tiger Woods is feeling the pinch, what with fatherhood, building himself a new house and never having enough time to play tournament golf. What other reason can there be for the decision to launch his own brand of sports drink? Sharp observers noticed that Woods had recently started supping Gatorade, which is owned by Pepsi, during tournament play. Gatorade Tiger, available in cherry, citrus and grape flavours, will be launched in March. "Gatorade has been part of my game plan for years, whether I'm training or competing, so this is an ideal match,” said our man with the big smile and an even bigger bank balance. All we want to know is how they get those alligators in the bottle without someone getting a nasty bite.

'Cheer up mate, at least Toshack might resign now...'

Wake me up when it’s done: What do you mean?
Well it’s hardly The Volvo Masters is it?: Fair point, the world’s best have been taking it a bit easy of late, but there’s more than a smattering of big guns taking part this week at the stunning Tom Fazio-designed Raptor Course at Grayhawk.
What is this – a Jurassic Park tribute tournament?: Well, it makes a change from the West or the east course. Stuck out in the Sonoran Desert it’s got  loads of elevated greens, crazy undulations and astonishing mountain range views.
And plenty of snakes: Probably.
Any dinosaurs?: Not to my knowledge.
Shame. Who’s playing?: Eight of the top 30 money winners on the PGA Tour, including Phil Mickelson, Aaron Baddeley (pictured), Stewart ‘Kitchen’ Cink, Arron Oberholser and little Tim Clark.
What about this Fall Series malarkey then?: The competition for players to retain their tour cards gets more tense, with just three events to go before the end of the season. George McNeill catapulted from 122nd to 59th in the tour rankings with his win in last week’s Frys.com Open, while Justin Leonard and Michael Allen are now out of bother. It’s Alex Cejka who sits uncomfortably at 125th with $688,814 in winnings
Any other stat-oddities?: If Lefty wins this week it will be a record season for left-handed winners. Mickelson’s three wins and Steve Flesch’s double equals the record in 2000 (Mickelson won four times and Mike Weir won once).
Oh, I dunno. Still can’t excited: What’s your problem?
Bit down after the football, to be honest: Give yourself a break and forget about Steve McLaren’s shower.
I was more concerned about Wales only squeezing past San Marino 2-1…: No wonder you’re depressed…

"Hey Mike, they'd better not use that lame 'crouching tiger' caption"

Yet another week of high temperatures and low scores as the Tour moves on to the sun-kissed golfing paradise of Scottsdale, Arizona. The profile of the tournament will be raised by a rare late-season appearance by Phil Mickelson who unsurprisingly features in our picks this week....   

PHIL MICKELSON @ 11/2 WITH CORAL: The former Scottsdale resident has ties to the Greyhawk venue and is a master of desert golf, having previously won seven desert titles. (Little known fact: he is actually ¼ camel) After missing part of the season through injury he will be eager to add to his three tour wins this year and is in good form following his 5&4 drubbing of Vijay Singh at the Presidents Cup.

AARON BADDELEY @ 16/1 WITH CORAL: The much-improved Baddeley currently calls Scottsdale home and is another desert expert, having won the FBR Open at Scottsdale’s TPC in February. Six top-ten finishes in 2007 denote his consistency and he was second to Tiger Woods in the recent BMW Championship.

MIKE WEIR @ 25/1 WITH CORAL: Weir is in good form after finishing as top overall points scorer and beating Tiger Woods in last month's Presidents Cup. He tied for 10th place last time out in Las Vegas and will be trying to close out the season in style.

Bradley Dredge: You can take the boy out of Tredegar....

This week, a field of 126, including Major winners, Ryder Cup players and many European Tour winners will be making their way to the Arnold Palmer designed course at Vilamoura and competing for the inaugural Portugal Masters and a share of the €3 million prize fund. If the thought of all that loot gets your pulse racing, chuck a few quid on our selections for this week.

JUSTIN ROSE @ 9/1 WITH CORAL: The Englishman will be the most motivated player in the field as he resumes his quest to capture the Harry Vardon Trophy. Rose has been very consistent this season, finishing runner-up on three occasions and he only needs another top two finishes to take the lead in the European Order of Merit race.

Dredge is in good form after finishing as top overall points scorer at last months Seve Trophy. He will be boosted by positive memories of the Algarve where he enjoyed success in the 2005 World Cup.

RORY McLLORY @ 28/1 WITH CORAL: Northern Ireland's teenage sensation was playing amateur golf in the Walker Cup a month ago but has made a very quick transition into the pro-ranks. A third place finish in Scotland and fourth in Madrid in only his second and third professional events point to good things in Portugal.

William Tell XXXV regretted beating dad


Nothing instils the conflicting emotions of admiration and resentment quite as much as when you learn that a small child is already infinitely better than you at something. With Rory McIlroy's current rise and rise we're all starting to feel that begrudging respect coupled with that secret jealousy, wishing that it was us out there. With that in mind, we present to you The Duffer's Guide to golfing prodigies, with five soon-to-be World Beaters and five who have already beaten it...


1860:Men were men, lumberjack shirts were compulsory and first prize was a wrestling belt

On this day, in 1860, the inaugural British Open was contested. Amateurs were not allowed entry until the following year, and so only 8 pro's with big bushy beards swung their wooden clubs around the 12 holes of Prestwick Golf Club three times that day before Willie Park Senior walked off with the Champion's Belt. The red leather belt with a silver buckle lasted for ten years before the Claret Jug was introduced and was Park's only compensation for his two-stroke victory over Old Tom Morris, as no prize money was awarded until the 1863 Open.
    October 17th has also traditionally been a big day for Miller Barber as in 1976 he lost the Texas Open in a playoff to Butch Baird but enjoyed a 1982 win in the Suntree Senior Classic.
    Also on this day, in 1931, Al Capone was finally sent down; successfully avoiding prosecution for his murdering, booze and gun running and general gangstery activities and instead being convicted for income tax evasion. Ultimately, he only served six of his 11 year sentence, ironically being released for good behaviour.
    Meanwhile in 1933, Albert Einstein flees Nazi Germany to escape persecution and takes up residence in America where his wacky haircuts and confusing theories could be accepted.
    Fast forward to 1968 and the Mexico City Olympics; African Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos finish first and third in the 200m and greet the Star Spangled Banner with the black power salute. Coolest protest ever.
    And it's Jodocus Hondius! As they say in Amsterdam, to; F1 title hopeful Kimi Räikkönen (28), wife-hatin', daughter-lovin' rapper Eminem (35) and the Big Easy and King of Wentworth, Ernie Els (38).
    It would also have been Marilyn Monroe marrying playwright Arthur Miller's 82nd birthday today had his typewriter not finally stopped clacking in 2005 after congestive heart failure.

16 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News | World Of Random

The nineteenth hole

Tabloid papers are up in arms today as drug addicts in Hartlepool are being offered free use of a nine-hole golf course, free sportswear and free golf-clubs in an attempt to help them get on with their lives.

Hartlepool Borough Council are insistent that the scheme is of value, with Alison Mawley head of community safety singing the praises of the health aspects of golf and also of getting the addicts out and about and away from temptation. If the initiative proves successful and is adopted in Brighton, expect to see the InGolfWeTrust team members with red-biro tramlines on their arms and a vacant stare in their eyes making their way to the nearest methadone clinic for a free round...

The IGWT Junkie Fourball (shouldn't that be eightball?)

Pill Mickelson
Crack Johnson
Blow Weekley
Rory Smackilroy

Pavin to knight 4...check

On this day, in 1988, Corey 'crazy' Pavin won the Texas Open by eight strokes over Robert ' Sir Christopher' Wrenn. Pavin's sublime 21-under par 259 was only two strokes off the PGA Tour 72-hole record....who says history never remembers the nearly men?
    Corey Allen Pavin was born in the hip-hop breeding ground of Oxnard, California in 1959, which is also home to DJ Babu of the Dilated Peoples, super-producer Madlib and his little bro' Oh No. Shunning two turntables and a mic' Pavin instead reached for his five-iron and turned pro in 1982.
     Success came quickly with three international wins in 1983 and his first PGA win coming in 1984. To date he has picked up another 14 victories on Tour including the 1995 US Open, his only major.
    Unfortunately for Corey, his topping of the 1991 PGA money list was the last instance in which the number one money earner scooped less than a million. Despite that slightly unwanted record and narrowly missing out on the 72 hole milestone, his 8-under par 26 during the 2006 US Bank Championship in Milwaukee set the record for fewest strokes for nine holes on Tour.
    Also on this day, in 1793, Marie Antionette was guillotined in front of a baying crowd. Tickets for the event were red-hot and early versions of eBay were flooded with fakes. Those in the know however knew that authentic tickets bore the legend: “Warning. first three rows may get wet.”    
    Meanwhile, in 1972, in a landmark day for people with the intelligence of a five year old, both Rainbow and Emmerdale made their TV debuts.
    And it's Naga Niwahide! As the samurai of the Sengoku era had on their birthday cakes, to; Napoleon Dynamite star John 'frickin' Heder (30), Springbok swinger and slugger, Jacques Kallis (32) and ubiquitous TV bint, Davina McCall (40).
    It would also have been happy 69th birthday to uber-coolische German model, singer and Velvet Underground muse Nico had The Black Angel's Death Song not played for her in 1988.

"that's torn it"...


Sadly, the bookie's pints were on us this weekend after all of our suggestions for the Frys.Com Open missed:


We incorrectly advised you to back:

SCOTT VERPLANK @ 16/1 WITH BETFRED: Has had a consistent season but came up short here, missing the cut by one stroke.


MIKE WEIR @ 20/1 WITH BETFRED: A fair effort from Weir, he tied for tenth place and was only two strokes from a profit-making finish for his each-way backers.


DANIEL CHOPRA @ 25/1 WITH BETFRED: Finished tied for 44th place, disappointing after an encouraging first round.


We should have told you to back:

GEORGE McNEILL @ 150/1 WITH BETFRED: The 32 year-old rookie won his first career PGA Tour title in commanding style, shooting a 23-under total of 264. Even more pleasing for his supporters was his huge starting price of 150/1.


D.J. TRAHAN @ 80/1 WITH BETFRED: A poor third round deflated his chances of winning, but anybody who backed him each-way would still have seen a tidy profit.


ROBERT GARRIQUS @ 125/1 AND CAMERON BECKMAN @ 66/1 WITH BETFRED: Two players with big starting prices tied for third place. Robert Garriqus achieved the best result of his career to date and Cameron Beckman registered his second top-ten finish of the year.


BOB MAY @ 250/1 AND BO VAN PELT 25/1 WITH BETFRED: May started the event at a massive 250/1 and his supporters would have been thrilled when he finished the first day at the top of the leader board. He ended up tying for fifth place but would still have made a massive profit if backed each-way. Bo Van Pelt would have been less profitable, just a tenth of May’s returns, but all winnings are good.

"7up never tasted so good"...


Success! Again we tipped you the winner! Fair enough, our selection was the favourite in this event but the favourite doesn’t always win, especially when he’s battling an elite 16-man field for a £1 million prize.


We correctly advised you to back:


ERNIE ELS @ 4/1 WITH BETFRED: It was the logical selection to back a player who has performed consistently well in this tournament. Wentworth specialist Ernie Els beat Angel Cabrera 6 & 4 to win his seventh World Matchplay title and move top of the European Order of Merit.


We incorrectly advised you to back:


JUSTIN ROSE @ 13/2 WITH BETFRED: Rose had been in fine form leading up to the tournament and we fancied that he would continue his good work at Wentworth. Unfortunately, he didn’t, losing in the first round to Hunter Mahan.


We hope that you backed Ernie Els!


15 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News | World Of Random

'We're not playing unless we can wear our helmets'

For years, nobody bothered with the demilitarised zone dividing South Korea from North Korea. Infested with landmines, it took the government to send 150 South Korean war veterans to clear the mines, giving them plots of land for free in return. At one point, they were burying two people a day.
    But with improved relations between the two countries having resulted in train services being resumed, families being reunited and meetings between the respective heads of state, don't think that the golf developers are going to miss out on the party...

For the full story click here.

15 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News | World Of Random

One day this could be St Andrews...

What we don’t know about plagues of gnats, frogs, flies and locusts you could write on the back of a stamp. Zebra Mussels, however, are new to us.  Apparently, they’ve caused billions of dollars worth of damage since they arrived in the US in the late 1980s, forming dense colonies on equipment, wharves and boats.
    Four years ago, they arrived at El Dorado Lake in Kansas City and members at Winfield Country Club have been forced to fork out over $10,000 to combat the mussels destroying the golf course’s irrigation system. They’ve tried injecting acid into the water to no avail, now they’re contemplating the use of chemical treatments, mechanical scrapers, special paints, sound waves, electrical current, magnetic fields and ultra-violet light. You'd never guess this was the country that came up with Shock & Awe...
For the full story, click here.

"To be honest, I've already got loads of these...now where's that cheque?"

So was it a magnificent seven for Ernie then?:
It was and he got the payday the original seven were looking for. He only had one guy to shoot past though, with Cabrera in the Calvera role. I don't think he'd appreciate being called a bandit though, even though he did get a bit of a drubbing, 6&4.
South Africa drubbing Argentina, where have I heard that before?: Hey, I thought we were going to cut down on the rugby chat?
OK, just give some more cliches then...: Now that I can do. Ernie was in the driving seat from start to finish, quickly racking up a four hole advantage and Cabrera never closed the gap fully.
That's better, any more 'seven' puns?: Sure, Els will be over the moon and in seventh heaven today as with his record breaking win, his cheque for £1m will also take him to the top of the European Order of Merit.
Nice, so he's gonna win that too?: Not necessarily, Harrington and Rose in second and third place still have tournaments to play, Els doesn't. Maybe if he had a digger, a building crew and several hundred helicopters...
You what?: Sipping from a victory can of Seven-Up (probably) Els said “ I wish I could move Wentworth around the World with me.” If he could do that, he'd win more than Tiger.
If he could do that, he could do anything. Moving an entire golf course on a weekly basis is impractical if not impossible: You really know how to kill a joke don't you?

Horton Smith, second right: "Wayne Rooney? Never heard of him or his granny, what are you implying?"

On this day in 1963, Horton Smith, the first man to win the Masters, died of Hodgkins Disease in Detroit, Michigan.
    Born in Springfield (no not that one) Missouri, in 1908, Horton turned pro in 1926 and won his first  tournament, the Oklahoma City Open, in 1928. He won a total of 32 times on the PGA Tour, which was founded in 1934 and was one of its early stars, coming top of the money list in 1936.
    Horton is best remembered for his win in the inaugural Masters of 1934 and he won it again in 1936, the second of his two majors. Horton played in five US Ryder Cup teams and was posthumously inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.
    Meanwhile, in 1917, in other death-related news, archetypal femme-fetale, Mata Hari was executed by firing squad for spying against the allies. Rumour has it that she flung open her clothes to her executors in an attempt to distract them, uttering the words, “Harlot yes, but traitor, never.” It didn't work.
    Also on this day, despite Michael Fish's best efforts, the Great Storm of 1987 ravaged the country, particularly the South East of England, causing roughly £1billion of damage.
    And it's Moshe Sharett! As they say in Jerusalem, to; prolific French striker, David Trezeguet (30), prolific ex-England striker Andy 'Andrew' Cole (36), star of The Wire Dominic 'McNulty' West (38), least popular of the three Fergies, Sarah Ferguson (48) and surprise father of Miss World 2003, Chris De Burgh (59).
    It would also have been Mario Puzo's 87th birthday, had he not been sent to sleep with the fishes by heart failure in 1999.

'Hang on, this isn't Vegas, it's Shoreham...'

who won all the Turkish delight, then?: Eh?
Frys did Turkish Delight didn’t they? And Chocolate Cream: Sorry to disappoint, but Frys.com sells electronics and health & beauty products.
Dammit. Who won all the Maxtor 320GB USB 2.0 hard drives then?: George McNeill shot a final round 67 to finish with a 23-under score of 264 to win by four shots from DJ Trahan, with Cameron Beckman and Robert Garrigus a further shot back at 15-under.
Not bad for a lad who was selling Snickers in a pro-shop at the start of the year…: Hardly a lad, either, at 32-years old. He now finds himself sharing a small piece of history with Tiger Woods.
Hang on, how does that work?: What…
Sharing a piece of history…: Don’t ask me. All I know is that this was the scene of Tiger’s first tournament win in 1996.
Are you trying to say that George McNeill is the new Tiger?: No, he’s one of those players you’ve never heard of who’s now set up for life with winnings of £720,000 in his back pocket and a two year excemption, having had a trophy delivered from 5,000 feet by two hang gliders. And we’re delighted for him…
And a bit jealous?: Just a little, yes.
What was his reaction?:  He was relatively phlegmatic: “That saying about what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… Well, I hope my game travels.” His friend, Chuck Koehler, backed him up: "I think this is going to catapult him into the upper echelon of golfers,” he said.
What good is catapulting him going to do?: His words, not mine.

Cabrera needn't have bothered writing his name on his ball

So, who’s in the final then?:
I can’t believe that you haven’t seen or heard the hordes of drunken England fans in the street revelling in the garlicky tears of French defeat.
Who’s in the final of the match play, I want to know about the golf, not the egg-chasing: Of course, this is a golf website after all.
Quite, now fill me in before I fill you in: OK, OK, unsurprisingly Els is in the final two, but it wasn’t quite as simple as he might have planned. He trailed Stenson by a hole after the morning’s play, but five birdies in his afternoon round saw him through 3&2.
And who stands in the way between him and the trophy?:  Angel Cabrera, although he won’t be doing much standing, well obviously he will be standing but there’ll be some club swinging and walking around and that, too.
OK, and gibberish aside, how did he get to the final?: He led Hunter Mahan by three holes after the morning following a 66 and then narrowly finished the job off with a 2&1 win, despite being six strokes ahead at one point.
So an Argentina vs South Africa final then…: Yep. Interestingly it’ll be played on the same day as the two countries meet in the rugby semi-final and probably with the same result.
I told you, no more rugby: You’re not the boss of me, rugbyrugbyrugbyrugby.
Stop that…

George McNeill: 'No I've never heard of me either'

Altogether now, Swing Low, Sweet…:
Can I stop you there?
Why?: Because it's a very stupid song for a bunch of England rugby fans to be singing, that’s why. And I’m in charge.
That’s what you think…: What do you mean by that?
I hear Billy Android’s the power behind the Golf Central throne: Well, you tell that plastic robot he can come round my house and write round reports under a cloudless blue autumn sky whenever he wants.
OK, I will: You do that.
The golf?: Of course. Rookie George McNeill is finding himself in the enviable position of being five shots clear of the field going into the final round after shooting 67 (the best round of the day) for an 18-under total of 197.
To be honest, I’ve never heard of the fella: Same here – the 32-year old started the year as an assistant pro in Florida and has been to Q-School an impressive nine times before making the grade.
Who’s on his tail?: No-one, but Robert Garrigus and DJ Trahan are at 13-under, with Kent Jones, Bo Van Pelt and John Huston at 12-under.
What happened to yesterday’s new best friend Garrett Willis?: He shot 732…
Crikey, that’s some score: Sorry, typing error – he shot 72 to finish the day tied fourth with that lot you just mentioned.
Any other performances worth mentioning?: The performance of Cal State golfer Katie Walker has earned the most media attention. The 18-year old playing in the Pro Am has overcome an astonishing array of physical problems to play the game including a heart murmur, one kidney, an improperly formed gastrointestinal tract and a missing tibia in her left leg that eventually led to it being amputated. She plays with a prosthetic limb.
For once, I may be humbled into a sarcasm-free silence: Hallelujah!

Barnes (front row, second from right): 'Actually, I snuck my entire family through immigration in this coat...'

Cornish-born Jim Barnes, who took US citizenship after moving to The States in 1906, beat Jock Hutchinson on the final hole of their 36 hole matchplay final to win the first PGA Championship in 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York. Barnes won four Majors in total, including back-to-back PGA titles - unusually due to World War I, he would have to wait until 1919 to retain the title. He won the 1921 US Open by nine strokes, a record which stood firm until Tiger Woods won the 2000 US Open by 15 shots, the big show-off. 
    Meanwhile, on this day in 1994 Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres won the year’s Nobel peace prize, while the Conservative government’s Trade & Industry Secretary Cecil Parkinson resigned after an affair with his secretary Sara Keays became public knowledge.
    Poignantly perhaps, it’s also the day that The Normans, under the leadership of William the Conqueror, gave the English a hiding at The Battle of Hastings. If Bernard Laporte had been in charge, of course, The Normans would have kept their best players on the bench until the 51st minute, by which time the English would have convinced themselves it was their battle to lose.
    Meanwhile, it’s mnohiya lita as they say in The Ukraine to future Solheim Cup captain Beth Daniel (51), Grammy-winning, hairnet-sporting r&b lover boy Usher (29), fashion label honcho and classic car-collector Ralph Lifschitz aka Ralph Lauren (68), eyebrow-raising Bond star Roger Moore (80) and Dwight D Eisenhower, 34th President of the USA and Supreme Commander of Allied forces in World War II (saying that’s got to feel good, hasn’t it…). Rest assured, Dwight would have been giving it the full treatment today had he not left this mortal coil in 1969.

'Gotta get myself a shorter cigarette holder...'

So is it fear and loathing in Las Vegas?:
No, to the best of my knowledge the use of mind-altering hallucinogens has been kept to a minimum? 
Shame. Who’s making the moves then?:
Garrett Willis shot a 10-under 62 on the TPC Summerlin course Friday for a share of the second-round lead, with DJ Trahan and George McNeill.
So what are you talkin’ about Willis?: Very nice use of the Different Strokes catchphrase there - and utterly meaningless to anyone under 30.
Thanks. Now answer the question: It’s a strange story. Having been brought up by a pack of wolves in the Appalachian mountains, he won his very first PGA Tour event, the 2001 Touchstone Energy Tucson Open. Since then he’s failed to finish a season in the top 125, which means he’s switched between The PGA and Nationwide tours over the past five years.
Remarkable. Particularly the bit about the wolves: Yeah, I made that up. The rest is true, though.
How did the 'big' names in the field do?: You must be talking about those poster-boys Scott Verplank and Charles Howell III. They missed the cut.
Oh. Didn’t you have money on Verplank?: Yes as well as Mike Weir and Daniel Chopra - both tied 32nd.
What about the biggest of the lot?: You must mean John Daly. He shot 63, his best round on tour since he went one better here in 2001.
Nice one: Particularly considering he started the tournament with a triple bogey and followed it with a double.
What do you think Hunter S Thompson would have made of it all?: As the inventor of Shotgun Golf, he might have been just a little bored by it all...

Sumo wrestling between holes kept the fans amused.(Romero in giant nappy just out of shot)

With England in the football, the rugby, the cricket and the golf, is it possible that we could see a whitewash in the sporting world this weekend?:
Why’s that?: Paul Casey’s out of the World Match Play for a start. Secondly, have you seen that caveman geezer who plays for France?
Yeah, scary. So anyway, what happened to Casey?: Angel Cabrera dumped him out 4&3 after shooting five birdies in the afternoon round.
Dammit. So what else happened?: In the battle of the Scandi’s, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson froze out Denmark’s Anders Hansen 7&6, despite Hansen’s 28th hole, hole in one. Hunter Mahan toppled Ander's namesake Soren Hansen 6&4 while Els made short work of Andres Romero, 6&5.
Would you say that he’s on an inexorable march to his seventh win here?: Umm nah.
Why not?: Because I don’t know what that means.
I see, would you go as far to say that he’s in imperious form then?: Errrrrr…..
How about his victoriety is as assured as his excellendary putting?: OK. Stop it now…

Mike Fetchick: "Talkin' bout my, my, my, my, my generation ...!"

Mike Fetchick of Yonkers, NY may not be well-known, but he’s in a very exclusive club amongst professional golfers – a club with only one member. Why? Well, because on this day in 1985 – which also happened to be Fetchick’s 63rd birthday – Fetchick drained a 15-footer for birdie on the 18th to win the $200,000 Hilton Head Seniors Invitational.

    With that win, Fetchick became – and remains – the oldest player ever to win on the Champions Tour. He also owns another amazing golfing record: The longest gap between his last victory on the regular PGA Tour and his first win on the Champions Tour, a remarkable span of 28 years, 9 months and 27 days.

    A late bloomer as a golf pro (fellas born in 1922 didn’t mess much with fun and games until they were done beating Hitler and Hirohito), Fetchick only won three times on the PGA Tour – the ‘56 St. Petersburg Open, Western Open and Sanford Open. But he nearly put the senior “oldest winner” mark well out of reach in 1990, at the age of 67, when he lost out in a five-hole playoff to Lee Trevino at the Nynex/Golf Digest Commemorative.

    Sadly, Fetchick’s mark as the oldest senior winner may be erased from the books soon-ish, if Champions Tour juggernaut Hale Irwin, who will be 63 next summer, adds to his tally of 45 senior titles.

    Also, on this day in 1961, the US Ryder Cup team, captained by Jerry Barber, held off a spirited charge in the singles from Great Britain and Ireland to win 14½-9½ at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

    On the historic side of ledger, on this day in 1775 the American Continental Congress ordered the construction of a naval fleet to take on the British Navy. There is no record of whether the US founding fathers’ plans included aircraft carriers the size of small cities and shock-and-awe campaigns in Iraq, however.

    Also on the military front, on this day in 1943 Italy's leaders declared war on their former Axis buddies, the Nazis. The fact that thousands of British and American troops had been in Italy for a month, doggedly battling to oust the Germans from the country, may – (do ya think?) – have been a key factor in the Italians’ diplomatic decision to jump on the winning bandwagon.

    So it’s Bun Cumpleani!, as they say in the Piedmont, to The Rt Hon. the Baroness and Iron Lady Maggie Thatcher (82); wimpy American songwriter Paul Simon (66); ballsy hard-rocker Sammy Hagar (60); Donnie’s sister Marie Osmond (48); figure skater and victim of Tonya Harding’s goons Nancy Kerrigan (38); and squealy R&B “singer” Ashanti (27).

    It also would have been 63 candles to hard-livin’ five-time PGA Tour winner and Vietnam War hero Buddy Allin, who passed away from cancer in March this year.

11 Oct, 07 | Comments [1] | Tags: Golf Betting | The Ryder Cup | Your Call

Rory McIlroy to top the points scoring charts at 2008 Ryder Cup
Beyonce to top the charts with the Christmas number one

Odds courtesy of Paddy Power

Our Rory prancing about at the Real Sociedad Hipica Espanola Clib de Campo, Madrid, Spain

"Nobody understands me ... but then again I can hit this 4-iron out of the jungle to within a couple inches of the hole. Anyone wanna be my ghost writer?"

On this day in 1998, David Duval quite coolly won the Michelob Championship at Kingmill in Virginia on a 16-under 268, easily beating Kiwi also-ran Phil Tataurangi on his way to winning the Vardon Trophy for scoring average.

In a four-year span ending in 2001, it was just one of 13 PGA Tour events Duval won, when he was truly the only yin to the ascendent Tiger Woods’ yang (apologies to Phil Mickelson). A real rivalry was on the cards.

In the ’99 Hope Chrysler Classic at PGA West in La Quinta, Duval shot one of what must still be considered one of the greatest rounds in golf history, firing a 59 in the final round and going for broke on the last hole, a par-5, and carding one of the ballsiest eagles ever. The 2001 Open championship title at Royal Lytham & St Annes was just icing on the cake - a true jumping off point for a career that was sure to be etched in legend.

The mysteries of The Da Vinci Code are easier to grasp than what has happened to Duval since – and nearly every commuter on the London Underground can grasp Dan Brown’s gibberish better than they can how to get from Liverpool Street to Putney Bridge at rush hour. So forget about understanding Duval.

There has been pain in Duval’s shoulder, back and wrist, a battle with vertigo, and an obsession with white powder – snowboarding, that is. As recently as last year, Duval tied for 16th at the US Open at Winged Foot. He is currently serving out a special PGA Tour exemption to help his wife through a difficult pregnancy. Does David Duval care? Can he win again?Our answer remains an emphatic “hell yeah” to both questions, because Duval was that good and we are bloody hopeless optimists in the In Golf We Trust house. Duval is still shy of his 36th birthday and might have another handful of titles, maybe majors, left in him. But this is a fact – few golfers have ever been so good and seemed to care so little about it, or about what others think. Only Duval knows the answer, and that remains hidden behind those trademark wraparound shades of his.

In the non-head case category of golf lore, on this day in 1992 “ordinary Joe” John Cook did what everyone does at the Las Vegas Invitational, shooting low (26-under) to beat David Frost.

Also, on this day in 1975, “Saturday Night Live” debuted on the NBC in the US, giving rise to a love-hate affair to this day, giving us the immense talents of Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Larry David, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy and Dennis Miller. And also giving us Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell.

In 1982, the flagship of King Henry VIII, the Mary Rose, was lifted from the bottom of the Solent after 437 years in the deep. So perhaps the Beeb’s new shagadelic series “The Tudors” is right after all – King Hen-ery could rise and rise, and rise again.

So it’s Slamet Ulang Taunmoe!, as they say in Java and at free-trade Starbucks, to Man U and England World Cup legend Sir Bobby Charlton (70); gritty crime novelist Elmore Leonard (81); NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young (45); and cool-tough-sensitive guy actor John Cusack’s hot older sister, actress Joan (44) – sorry John, please don’t kick our butts.

And had she not passed away in 1962, it would be the birthday of former US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who could teach presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton a thing or two about how to run a country.

Sleep-walking on course didn't help


After a catastrophic year in which she shot only one round under par, had a well publicised tiff with Annika Sorenstam and has been dogged by wrist injuries; Michelle Wie has pinpointed her main mistake this season. “The only thing that I would do differently is I wouldn't have played this year. It's as simple as that.”


It's a sound theory. I haven't played on the women's Tour at all and my wrists are fine and I haven't any arguments with Annika. Still, on a more serious note, Wie has had so many troubles this year that they wouldn't look out of place if they befell an Eastenders character. Click here to read more about her Annus Horribilis: http://www.golftoday.co.uk/news/yeartodate/news_07/michelle_wie_14.html

10 Oct, 07 | Comments [5] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News | World Of Random

"Wait, what did you just call me?"


Halfway through a round in 35 degree heat and wearing a pair of uncomfortable trousers and a collared shirt have you ever wanted to push back at the golfing establishment and question some of the more antiquated rules and traditions? Well Dom Joly did just that, and he achieved it without a chicken suit or enormous novelty mobile-phone in sight. This time, in keeping with the subject matter, he resorted to that most old-fashioned and dignified mode of communication. The humble letter. Read the results here http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article3045046.ece. Well, not so much the results, more a hint at the results and an attempt to get you to buy his book, which you probably should, it seems pretty funny. Anyway, just click the link.

10 Oct, 07 | Comments [1] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News | World Of Random

Melissa, right: "A canny bit of crumpet? They can't say that can they?"


Clive Woodward's reputation had slipped somewhat after he guided England to the 2003 rugby World Cup.  A dismal spell at Southampton FC followed, during which he oversaw their relegation from the top flight for the first time in 27 years. After that, he took his current position as director of elite performance at the British Olympic Association and was widely seen as a failure...until now. Melissa Reid, the 20 year old top amateur at this year's Women's British Open has spoken out about the excellent level of support she has received from Sir Clive, a man who had been almost universally condemned as useless in his new position. Nothing to do with her being, “A canny bit of crumpet” as the Geordie in our office described her, is it Clive?

Click here to read more: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/golf/7036995.stm

"And you're sure this is how all the cool golfers say hello, Vijay?"


Come on then, PGA Tour report time, what's going on this week?: I've had enough of you demanding all these updates, give us a couple of quid and I'll tell you.
A couple of quid?: Yeah, two-thousand or so should do it. I got a bit carried away on the roulette wheel and now I owe some naughty looking blokes a whole load of money.
What were you thinking?: All the pre-tournament talk has been about players having to gamble so I got in on the action. Turns out that they were all talking about gambling on the course, taking on risk/reward shots at tricky holes and the like. Pars are no good here apparently as it's always so low-scoring.
And now you're two grand in the hole. Maybe you should bet on the winner to get yourself out. Who's going to be challenging?: Scott Verplank is the favourite, coming in to the tournament in great form and having finished in the top seven three times here. Mike Weir is also hotly tipped, having gone unbeaten in The President's Cup. At 20/1 for Weir, I'd have to put a hundred on though, could you lend me that?
Uuuuuh. No. Maybe you could go for an outside shot?: Well, Charley Hoffman is also fancied. It's his homecoming of sorts as he went to the University of Las Vegas. I'd still need to chuck a lot on at 25/1 though.
Hmmm. How about the outsiders then?: Well Troy Matteson came out of nowhere to win last year so I guess it's not out of the question. OK just give me four quid to stick on Paul Trittler at 500/1.
I'd still rather not to be honest: Aww come on, they said they'd break my legs.
......:  Hello? Hello?

"It's not going to be so chummy on Thursday, Paul, me old china ..."

Sixteen of the world’s best are teeing it up on Thursday in the HSBC World Match Play Championships at Wentworth, with Paul Casey trying to become the first chap from Jolly Olde England to defend his title.


This 43-year-old stalwart of the autumn season is still one of our all-time favourite events. However, the World Match Play always seems to have a bit of ambivalence about it – it’s a tournament that somehow just can’t seem to get it all right. Here’s a breakdown of what’s hot and what’s not so hot about what’s going on at Wentworth:

What’s hot

1) A £1million first prize – which is still the richest individual payday in golf. And a usually tip-top field really grind it out, despite some of the most disgraceful pampering for the pros this side of Dubai.

2) A rarity in golf, this event almost always produces a worthy champ. You’re not going to get Tripp Isenhour winning this thing. The last man standing will have to play eight great rounds, and early-round upsets are less likely because they have to play 36-hole matches.

3) The European players really go for it because it has a big influence on the Order of Merit chase. The Order of Merit money at this event is capped at £406,000, but people like Casey, Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose and Ernie Els will all be dead keen on that cash.

4) Wentworth is a great track, the home course of the European Tour, and some quite attractive matches are on tap for the first round. The marquee battle is between Els and Colin Montgomerie, but the red-hot Rose v. Hunter Mahan will be a mouth-watering preview of Ryder Cups to come. Angel Cabrera and Retief Goosen take each other on in a battle of US Open champs. Argentina’s Andres Romero is a dark horse.

5) Conceived in 1964 by IMG founder Mark McCormack – who has had a lot of bright ideas in his day – the event has a rich history and just about anyone who is anybody has won it since the first one (Arnold Palmer). Els has won it 6 times, Seve Ballesteros and Gary Player (5 each), Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam (3 each), and Nick Faldo, Hale Irwin and Palmer (twice each).

What’s not so hot

1) Tiger Woods isn’t playing. He skipped his invitation again this year, has only played it twice, and last year, he bombed out in the first round to Shaun Micheel. The world No. 2, Jim Furyk, also lost the first day.

2) Getting the Americans to cross the Pond for a bit of golf and a few pints down the local is like pulling teeth. Not a single Yank could be bothered in 2005. And this year, Woods, Furyk, Zach Johnson, Scott Verplank and David Toms all said “thanks, but no thanks” to their invites.

3) The event lost a bit of lustre in 1999 when the WGC-Accenture World Match Play Championship was created, with its 64-man fields based on world rankings. Despite the fluky aspects of that tournament – which just about any schmoe can win – a lot of people can’t quite figure out what the World Match Play at Wentworth is all about.

4) In the old days, the World Match Play was a glorified invitational with an “exhibitional” feel. Nowadays, qualifying is based mostly on performance in majors – and even then too many players who qualify skip it. There is some sentiment to making the event a true invitational again – and with it such massive prize money that no one it their right minds would dare go fishing instead.

5) HSBC flooded the tournament’s coffers in 2003 when it took over the sponsorship. But in January, the banking giant showed how reliable banking giants can be when it wielded a break clause, ending its involvement after this year’s event, with this line of corporate BS: “A business decision has been made to concentrate on supporting the game in the UK at grassroots level to target specific HSBC customers.” (Translation: Old farts).


The tournament organisers, IMG, have a reputation for not screwing things up, lining up previous sponsors Piccadilly, Suntory, Toyota and Cisco. So the gut feeling here is that the World Match Play will find a suitably big-name title sponsor to carry the thing onward and upward.


Next year, you might be tuning in to the 2008 In Golf We Trust World Match Play Championships – because as everyone knows, we’re flush with dough around here. Rumours at IGWT Towers in Brighton are that our big cheeses are having serious talks with IMG about it as we speak, right Boss? … Uh, Boss? … Boss?

"One miiiiiillion dollars...errr pounds"


Will there be a BBQ and a bouncy castle for the kids?: You what?
I heard that this week's competition is being held in Ernie's back garden...: Not quite, it's the HSBC World Matchplay Championship. So, almost in his back garden.
Does his house back onto an HSBC then?: Wentworth you div. Els is the club's world-wide-touring pro and his house backs on to the course.
I see, so this should be an easy Els win right?: Well he has won this tournament a record six times, but 1999 winner Monty stands in his way as first obstacle to the million quid first prize.
You what? A million?: Yep. The richest first prize on Tour.
So who else wants to be a millionaire?:  Last year's winner Paul Casey, the in-form Justin rose, US Open champion Angel Cabrera, Open champ Harrington and BMW PGA Championship winner Soren Hansen are all looking for a seven-figure boost to their bank accounts. I expect that they're all millionaires anyway though ...

So what would they do with the extra cash then?: Dunno. Sports cars, houses, solid-gold toilet, diamond teeth?
Show-offs. You know what I'd do with that money?: Go on...
I'd change it all into pound coins and swim through it a la Scrooge McDuck: I'm not sure that's a better use for it than a solid-gold toilet
Hey, at least I'd get some exercise...

"They'd better not use that 'sing if you're notably gay' caption again


On this day in 1999, Notah Begay III clinched the second title of his rookie season by claiming the scalp of Tom Byrum in a playoff to win the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill. He closed out his round with two birdies before a par at the second extra hole gave him the victory.

The only full-blooded American Indian ever to play on Tour, Notah is of Navajo/Pueblo descent and was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He turned pro in 1995 and has four PGA wins to his name with two victories in each of his first two seasons before an unfortunate back injury slowed him down.


Begay has been arrested twice for driving under the influence of firewater, with the second incident involving a crash into a parked car outside a strip club which lead to a week in jail and a year's suspended sentence. Luckily for III, America doesn't put its celebrities in jail and he spent his week at his President's Pleasure playing golf. In happier memories, Notah is one of only very few pro's to have shot a 59 in a tournament.

Also on this day, in 1582, nothing at all happened in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain as due to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, this day didn't exist. For 24 scary hours, the residents of those countries were flung into a fourth dimension of flying clocks, sundials and calendars much like the time portal in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

In only slightly more existential news, Namco released Pacman into arcades on this day in 1979. The yellow fellow's pill-munching antics won him global acclaim and millions of dollars which he then squandered on drugs, women and plastic surgery. He now lives in Missouri and cuts hair for a living, boring customers to tears with his tall tales of ghosts and cherries.

And it's Sri Ramendra Chandra Deva Sharma Bhattacharya! As they say in Bengal, to; midas-like rower Sir Matthew Pinsent (37), offside-trap and alcohol fan Tony Adams (41) and philanthopic second-fiddle Midge Ure (54). It would also have been grannie's favourite, Giant Haystack's 60th birthday today had he not shuffled off this mortal coil in 1998 after a long battle with cancer.

"You know I'm bad, I'm baaaad, you know it, I'm baaaaaad"


Paul Casey will attempt to become the first Englishman to make a successful defence of the title as an elite 16-man field descend upon the Wentworth club to do battle for the richest prize in golf. The HSBC World Matchplay event rewards its victor with not only the Mark McCormack trophy but also a cheque for £1 million. Here’s who we're backing to take away the loot.

ERNIE ELS @ 4/1 WITH BETFRED: Els is the highest ranked player in the field but hasn't won a tournament all year. He's a proven Wentworth specialist what with living on the course and all that and has previously dominated this event. Unbelievably Ernie has achieved two hat tricks of conscutive wins, between 1994-1996 on his first three attempts and then from 2004-2006.

JUSTIN ROSE @ 13/2 WITH BETFRED: Rose is in form and victory in this event would be a big boost to his hopes of securing a first European Order of Merit title. His great season continued last week with second place in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and he too loves playing at Wentworth, performing well there at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

The greenkeepers were unimpressed with Scott's new buggy


This week the tour moves on to Las Vegas where the temperature will be high and the scoring will be low. Last year Troy Matteson became the seventh winner in a row to shoot four rounds in the 60's. Four of the 85 players who made the cut failed to break par for 72 holes and averaging 68 a day didn’t even get you in the top 10. Here are our picks to post a low total.  


SCOTT VERPLANK @ 16/1 WITH BETFRED: This year will be the Texan's 11th consecutive appearance in this event during which time he’s posted three finishes of seventh or better. He only has one win on the Tour so far this year but with a host of top tens under his belt and a fifth placed finish at his last outing at The Tour Championship he will be looking to add to his trophy cabinet here.


MIKE WEIR @ 20/1 WITH BETFRED: The wine-loving Canadian can build on his two top-ten finishes so far this year and is in fine form following his undefeated run in the Presidents Cup. 


DANIEL CHOPRA @ 25/1 WITH BETFRED: Another player in good form after tying for third place at last week's Valero Texas Open. The big Swede performed well in this event in 2006 when he finished tied for second, just one stroke off the lead.

'Pssst...Gary Player loves Burma. Pass it on'


Gary Player was today seething after being dropped by the Nelson Mandela Children Fund. Not dropped out of a window or anything but dropped from hosting the Nelson Mandela Invitational fund-raising tournament after questions over his dealings in Burma. Unfortunately they weren't anything like Rambo's Burmese exploits; he didn't fight a one-man-army war against the despotic, controlling military junta, instead he was cut loose from the charity organisation for his business dealings in the country officially known as Myanmar.

The order for the chop came from none other than Desmond Tutu who urged the Player boycott after hearing about his property development dealings in the country. For the last 18 years, Aung San Suu Kyi has been denied his rightful power by the army after being elected in a landslide victory and Player's alleged business ventures are seen as a tacit acceptance of the regime.

In response, Player has denied that he made any profit from his work in Myanmar, explaining that the Gary Player Design company were only paid expenses and that the project was used to encourage the developers out there to create jobs. "I am very disappointed that my integrity and support for human rights has been brought into question," Player said in a statement. "The company's involvement in the design of a golf course has been taken entirely out of context.”

Either way, it's all a bit odd, especially in light of Gary's countless other charitable works."Let me make it abundantly clear that I decry in the strongest possible terms events in Burma (Myanmar) and wholeheartedly support Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in his efforts to bring peace and transition to that country," Player added in a desperate attempt to save face.

Don't worry, by the time you get your hands on it, it'll all be joined up


Cobra have proudly announced that their new L4V driver “pushes the four R&A defined performance variables to the edge” hence the name, which stands for limit 4 variables. If you understood any of that, you probably work for the Cobra press office or you made the club. If like the other 99.9%  of us you have no idea however, then read on.


The four variables laid out by the R&A govern the way that clubs are made to prevent any laser-guided Caddyshack-esque putters or drivers with heads like satellite dishes. Cobra claim to have pushed MOI, dimensions, COR and volume to their limits to provide a driver which will give the maximum in distance and accuracy through the largest of sweetspots and the maximum of forgiveness.


MOI stands for moment of inertia, of which the L4V generates a figure of 5900. (Whatever that means.) Anyway, it's the maximum allowed and put simply means that at the moment of impact, clubhead twisting is reduced, leading to straighter and sweeter strikes.


Dimensions. Pretty obvious this one, the clubhead is as big as it can get within the strict guidelines and with the weight positioned low and back leads to more height and distance on your drives.


COR stands for coefficient of restitution which is a concept that you really shouldn't have to think about unless you're writing a thesis on velocity. All you need to know is that the Cobra provides the largest face area in golf to simultaneously make a mockery of the USGA's COR variable and give you greater ball speed.


With a volume of 490cc the L4V clubhead fits just inside the max variable, just inside your golf bag and offers supreme power and forgiveness


Not available for sale until Spring 2008, the Cobra L4V will be in limited stockists before then and on our want-lists in the meantime.

Integrity 101


A recent study into the positive qualities that sport instils into children has concluded that golf promotes both integrity and decision-making. (Obviously they've never seen me elect to play a risky three-wood to the green only to see my ball sail into the water and be accompanied soon after by my clubs and a barrage of expletives.) Nevertheless, the report also announces the less-than earth-shattering news that sport in general “helps create character, develop courage, honesty and leadership” something that is evident in Tiger Woods who came fourth in their poll of the best sporting role models.

The study, commissioned by HSBC through Henley Centre Headlightvision was backed up by Paul Casey who has recently launched a foundation which aims to introduce children to the benefits of sport. “I played a lot of sports like tennis, cricket and golf, which, given the results of this study, could explain why I’ve had the confidence to win big events like last year’s HSBC World Match Play.” He boasted. Probably all that golf practice as a youngster helped too Paul, but we get your point.

Southport's finest form up the welcome wagon for the '65 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale in their Mini Mokes: "Hey sailor, wanna score ???"

On this day, in 1965, an "over-sexed and over-here" United States team laid down an old-school Ryder Cup stomping on Great Britain-Ireland, 19½-12½ at Royal Birkdale. The American team, captained by Byron Nelson, smoked GBI in the final-day singles – and in those days, the teams contested a series of 16 singles matches, eight in the morning and eight in the afternoon.

    Those who emerged with credit when the smoke cleared from the singles were Arnold Palmer, Julius Boros, Champagne Tony Lema and Dave Marr of the US, and dulcet-toned future golf commentator Peter Alliss of GBI – all of whom managed to win two singles matches apiece.

It was a tough day in 1967, however, for global cultural icon and Latino guerrilla capitan Che Guevara, who was captured and executed by special forces whilst trying to fire up a revolution in Bolivia .

Lest we forget, long before Che became a tough-guy revolutionary and his rugged and raggedy image was silk-screened on thousands of stoner’s T-shirts worldwide, he was a damned fine rugby player. The young Che starred at inside centre for several Argentine rugby union clubs in the early ‘50s, and – had he been born 50 years later, he might be lining up alongside los hermanos Contepomi in the Pumas’ midfield when they take on South Africa in the World Cup semi-finals this weekend.

And it’s Torson odriin mend hurgee!, as they say in Ulan Bator, to Swedish golf starlet Annika Sorenstam (37), who deserves a birthday page of her own; TV “personality” Sharon Osbourne (55) who was lucky (?) enough to marry Ozzy; beefy actor Brian Blessed (71); Tory head boy David Cameron (41); gold-medal distance runner Steve Ovett (52); and of course, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent (72).
    And had it not been for the day the music died in 1980, it would have been the 67th birthday of our man – John Lennon.

"At least no one can see my face"


Beth Daniel has been named captain of the US Solheim Cup Team for the 2009 event at Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove, Illinois, on Aug. 17-23.


After nearly 30 years on tour, Daniel has won 33 titles, has amassed more than $8.7 million in career earnings and has played on eight Solheim Cup teams. She became the oldest winner of an LPGA Tour event at 46 with victory in the 2003 BMO Financial Group Canadian Women's Open and nailed her only Major at the 1990 LPGA Championship. Despite all this she will still be expected to dress like a colour-blind baby when she takes charge.


The US team will be looking for a hat-trick of Solheim Cup wins; they’ve never lost when The Solheim Cup has been played in the United States.

Balls: round


Pinnacle have just announced that they're are all set to release their latest microbrand, the Pinnacle Platinum range of balls. “What's a microbrand and why should I care?” I hear you cry. First off, dunno what a microbrand is and secondly you should care because this latest offering is promised to be the ball of choice for distance and performance for the value-conscious golfer (aka cheapskates). And if you're anything like us, any product that claims to make us play like our heroes gets our attention. (Also we're cheapskates.)


Without blinding you all with science, because a) I don't understand it and b) do you really care anyway? - the new balls make some pretty bold claims about what they can do for your game. The Platinum Feel is aimed at the 'better' player category of golfer and provides greater control and accuracy through some sort of complex dimple system and core construction. The Platinum Distance uses a lot of big words to give “long, straight distance on all shots without sacrificing feel.” So there you go then. Out soon, they'll both cost £4 for a sleeve of three balls.

TWO hands Lee, TWO! No wonder he lost us money...


Unfortunately we were pretty far off the mark with our selections for the Dunhill after we incorrectly told you to back:


Lee Westwood @ 12/1 Big Lee had been in cracking form and has a great record at this event so we didn’t expect him to miss the cut. He did though...

Padraig Harrington @ 14/1 A two-time winner of the tournament but failed to challenge for a third success. He was in contention going into the final round but his 73 dropped him into a tie for eighth place.

Bradley Dredge @ 33/1 Unfortunately Bradley didn’t reproduce the form that made him top overall points scorer in the Seve Trophy and joined Lee Westwood in the TV room for the last two days.


We should have told you to get on:


Nick Dougherty @ 50/1 The Liverpudlian suffered some wobbles in the final round but regained his composure to win at a big price.

Justin Rose @ 16/1 A consistent performance that rewarded anyone who backed him each-way.

Rory Mcllroy @ 150 The teenager finished third in only his second event as a professional and rewarded anyone who supported his potential at a huge price.

Paul Lawrie (80/1) and Barry Lane (250/1) Finished joint fourth and both would have given you a good night in the pub had you stuck a couple of quid on them.

"Daddy, is it true that IGWT tipped you at 33/1?"


Listen to us and we will make you rich! We encouraged you to back a player who has  performed consistently well in this tournament and he came up trumps. After three play-off holes, Texan Justin Leonard finally edged out overnight leader Jasper Parnevik to win The Valero Texas Open for the third time.


Our other two tips didn’t produce their best golf in San Antonio. Steve Flesch (16/1) was the form player on the card and we suggested he’d better his 12th place from last year, unfortunately he selfishly missed the cut. Stephen Ames was the highest ranked player in the field and we thought his starting price of 35/1 represented value, sadly he failed to mount a challenge and finished in a tie for 44th.


Just to remind you WE TIPPED JUSTIN LEONARD AT 33/1!!!!! We should also have told you to back:

Jasper Parnevik @ 66/1 The dapper Swede was very unlucky to finish runner-up but would still have made his backers a good profit for some each-way wedge.

Daniel Chopra @ 100/1 The big Swedish-meatball would have returned an even bigger profit for an each-way flutter after his third place finish.

Mathias Gronberg @ 200/1 Another Swede whose excellent fourth place would have meant saunas all round for any supporters who had a couple of krona at long odds.

For a finale, Dougherty wing-walked with the trophy


So did Dougherty let it slip?: Let what slip? Has he got some terrible secret we don't know about? A club fetish maybe or perhaps he wears plus-fours around the house...
Don't think so, I meant did he let the lead slip again?: Yes and no.
Talk sense man: Well he did let it slip but then brought it back to win. He bogeyed the first two to shave his lead to one shot but a run of three birdies starting at the fifth brought him back.
So he finally put one to bed then: Put what to bed? Are you alluding to some secret fetish again?
No, and I think you should probably drop it, a £392,368 first prize can probably buy you a pretty good lawyer: True, and the way he hung on to win it showed a determination I wouldn't fancy coming up against in court. Although he was helped a bit by Els blowing up at the 16th when he was only a shot behind.
Sounds messy: Not in the way that you mean, but putting into a bunker from the edge of the green isn't exactly tidy. Especially when it involves a three-putt  for triple-bogey.
Ouch: Yep. Ouch.
So who else went close to nicking Dougherty?: Rose and McIlroy finished two and three shots back at 16 and 15-under respectively.
Rose and McIlroy sounds like a good name for an 80's soft rock duo to me: Well, following the gushing praise that Rory McIlroy finds himself covered in, it wouldn't surprise me if belting out smooth love songs was another of his many talents.
How do you mean?:  Well, the precocious little scamp has been described as “a lovely young man and a heck of a player” by Paul Lawrie, was told by Lee Westwood before the tournament that he could win and is in line to be the next James Bond.
That last one's a lie isn't it?: Yeah but he has got a license to thrill, by which I mean he's the youngest ever player to clinch his tour card.
Jealous much?: Nah, paying to hack my way round municipal golf courses at plus 100 scores is much more fun. Honest.

It was an up-and-down week for golf headwear:  Bill Murray's baseball cap did nada for his beloved Chicago Cubs, but Jesper Parnevik's Rat Pack look had him smokin' in Texas.

1) Wearing a Chicago Cubs cap at the Dunhill did sod all for golf buggy drink-driver Bill Murray, nor did it help his Cubbies, who were swept 0-3 by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the baseball playoffs.

2) The days of the flipped-up brim are long gone for Jesper Parnevik, who set new standards for cool with a stylin' fedora in San Antonio, which seems to have some birdies under its brim.

3) Nick Dougherty is still mighty cool as well, lid or not, and the English lad has another great big jug to prove it after winning his second European Tour win at the Dunhill over the Old Course.

4) Rory McIlroy is here to stay. The wee Irish fella secured his place on the European Tour in only his second event - it took Tiger Woods five cracks on the PGA Tour to do the same 11 years ago.

5) Ernie Els still knows how to lose in calamitous fashion ... and with the utmost grace.

6) Justin Leonard can actually win a playoff. He was 0-4 before his victory in San Antonio, despite his reputation as a clutch man in the Ryder Cup. And maybe now he can update his official web site, which hasn't seen a turnover since 2005.

7) Colin Montgomerie is making noises that he might be capable of playing second fiddle at the Ryder Cup as vice-captain ... to Nick Faldo. Oh heavens above.

8) Suzann Pettersen outlasted Mexican superstarlet Lorena Ochoa in the LPGA's Longs Drugs Challenge, winning one for the sauna-loving Scandinavians after Jesper heated it up all weekend in Texas only to come second fiddle.

9) The cream rose to the top in the gut-check section of the all-important PGA Tour money list. Parnevik has secured his card, rising from 138th to 94th over the weekend. Others making moves in the right direction were fellow Swede Daniel Chopra (124th to 97th), Ryan Armour (126th to 112th) and Shigeki Maruyama (145th to 135th).

10) Our IGWT fivesome of players-to-watch in the Fall Series - Bob Tway, Michael Putnam, Tripp Isenhour, Bob Heintz and Andrew Buckle, didn't do enough to improve their lots on the money list much in San Antonio. All but Buckle slipped a place or two, and are all still looking for that one big week.

Leonard: "Ya don't mess with Texas, Swedish boys ..."

So was the Valero Texas Open really the Battle of the Alamo all over again?:  Sorry, it's hard to talk with all these shotguns going off.
Well from what we're hearing around here, the native Texan Justin Leonard bravely defended his glorious State's rights, etc., by winning for a third time here...:  Yup, over three playoff holes he outlasted the dapper Swede Jesper Parnevik, who played superbly and managed to keep his Tour card in the process.
So how did the Texans cope with the Swedish invasion? Did Jesper's choice of headwear go down well around here? ...:  Look mate, see that guy with the big belt buckle over there in the jacked-up four-by-four with the triple gun racks? Why don't you ask him.
So. You've soaked up quite a bit about the local culture. What did you learn about the 'real' Battle of the Alamo?: The fight was between Davey Crockett and a few mates against 10,000 bloodthirsty Mexicans who wanted their land back in 1836.
So a Swedish invasion wasn't on the cards? ...:  Like I said, mate, it was between the Mexicans and the Texans. Nothing to do with us. The Mexicans won but the Texans got to keep all the land. Kind of like when the Texas governor lost the US presidential election but got to run the country anyway.
You seemed to be rooting for Jesper Parnevik quite a bit in the press tent...:  Anyhoooooo ... I'm on my way to Vegas for the next Tour stop. As they say in Tejas, I gotta skee-daddle.
Me too, pardner. See ya there...

On This Day In History - Tommy Armour's grandson (III) is born
Mustard-gassed war hero Tommy Armour blasts out of a bunker at Carnoustie in 1931. Inset, his grandson Tommy III shows how much easier it is in the privileged new era.

On this day, in 1959, Tommy Armour III came into this world in Denver, Colorado, kick-starting a proud tradition of lucky little nippers with Roman numerals after their names who have turned up to be quite handy professional golfers. It’s sort of like the British monarchy – only they use golf clubs instead of sceptres.
    Tommy III is the grand-tyke of the legendary Silver Scot Tommy Armour (First World War hero and three-major title winner in the ‘20s and ‘30s) and heir to a modern line of slightly dodgy golf equipment. Tommy III won the 1990 Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour and poetic justice and literary licence suggests it should have been a III-shot victory. His success on tour has since been followed by Davis III (Love), Notah III (Begay) and Charles III (Howell).
    So, proud papas-to-be, multiply! And remember, when you sign that birth certificate your chances of a nice new holiday home in a sunny tropical locale are much better if you multiply them by III !
    Also, on this day in 1989, Donnie Hammond gave a seven-stroke pasting to Paul Azinger in the Texas Open, proving that Ryder Cup captains don’t know everything. And on Oct. 8, 1956, in baseball history, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitched the only “perfect game” in World Series history. If you don’t know what a perfect game or the World Series are, please, by all means, look it up to see just how cool that was.
    And cool reached a Terminator levels in 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was (or is it vass?) elected Governor of the great state of California.
    So, it’s Ois guade winsch i dia zum Gbuadsdog!, as they say in Vienna, to silly-fella actor Chevy Chase, whose greatest contribution to golf was to remind us all to “Just be the ball, be the ball, be the ball” in Caddyshack. It’s also silly hats all round to Paul 'Croc Dundee' Hogan (68); Alien babe Sigourney Weaver (58); Pvt. Ryan from Saving Private Ryan Matt Damon (37); and the snarky kid actor from Two and a Half Men, Angus T. Jones (14). And don’t cry for Argentinian former president Juan Peron, who would have been 79 today had he not kicked it in ’74.

Fredrik Jacobsen: "How many fat Texans does it take to screw in a light-bulb?"
Jesper Parnevik: "Careful, the golf hack from Sportbladet can understand us. ... OK, how many?"

Are you recovered from yesterday yet?: I think so. Want some help with your PGA Tour report?
That would be nice. And no more Country singing. Or Western!:  OK I promise ... Well, it was another big day for Jesper Parnevik, that's for sure. He's gone round in 61-65-66, minus-18. He's carded a ton of birdies this week, 22 of them in fact.
So he's getting close to that 'big win' to keep his Tour card then ...:  Well, he has to hold off his fellow Swede Mathias Gronberg, who is three back. Justin Leonard is four behind, and as they say in Texas, you can't count out Justin Leonard.
Is that really what they say?:  As near as I can tell. I can't understand them either.
Isn't Gronberg the guy who once caddied for Jesper in the Swedish Match Play in '85?:  Yup. Gronberg was only 15 then. But he's probably not telling Jesper what to hit now.
Why are the Swedes doing so well in Texas, of all places?:  Well, believe it or not, the Swedes in this tournament can get some home cooking in San Antonio. There's a Swedish-Thai restaurant on McCarty Road. It's called "Las Experience".
Sounds like a Mexican joint to me. Or a massage parlour...:  Either that or a London gastropub gone terribly wrong ...
I'll have whatever Jesper's having ...:  It'll be Swedish meatball tom-yum for me ...

Shoooot looooow sweeet Doooougheerty


You were wrong then...: Eh?
Yesterday you predicted that England would crash out of the rugby: You know, for once, I don't mind being wrong.
And what happened in the world of the proper-shaped ball?: More of the same as England's Nick Dougherty opened up a three stroke lead over Australia's Peter O'Malley.
Bonzer! How did he manage that:? A bogey-less round of 66 at the Old Course including an excellent birdie at the Road Hole that dropped him to 17-under.
Blimey cobber, who else is in the hunt?: Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose and Steve Webster are all stalking the leaders like Mick Dundee tracking a croc; lying await in the shadows at 13-under, one stroke back. Paul Lawrie is also minus-13 after saying 'that's not a round of golf, THIS is a round of golf' and shooting a course-record equalling 64 at Carnoustie.
Strewth, sounds fair dinkum, think I'll sit back with a few tinnies and catch it on the idiot box, if the sheila lets me of course: Umm, OK. You do that.

On This Day In History - A Double for Jack Nicklaus
"One day they might count his as one of my official PGA Tour wins … What?  They won’t? … Darn that Tiger!"

On this day, in 1962, a 22-year-old called “Fat Jack” – with a squeaky Midwestern accent and a blonde crew cut – used a massive power fade and red-hot putter to win the World Series of Golf at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
    Jack Nicklaus went on to win the Firestone event four more times, but only once after it became an official PGA Tour event in 1976. Now one of the marquee events on the Tour and known as the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, it has been won six times by Tiger Woods (including the last three) as Tiger continues his relentless hunt for all of the Golden Bear’s records.
    It was a definite tick mark on Jack’s PGA Tour CV on this day in 1973, when Nicklaus fired a third-round 62 to beat Lee Trevino by six shots in the Ohio Kings Island Open.
    In the non-Jack Nicklaus victory department, on this day in 1990, Sam Torrance captured the Linde German Masters in a 3-shot triumph over Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam.
    Also on this day in 2001, baseball’s steroid (er, home run) king Barry Bonds smashed his 73rd home run of the season with a syringe in his back pocket, setting a mark that still stands as America’s most hallowed single-season sporting record: With a great big, dope-inflated asterisk.
    There was big-time drama as well on this day in 1985 when Palestinian nutjobs hijacked the cruiser liner Achille Lauro and her 400 passengers in the Med. Likewise, in 1959, 300 people couldn’t get off the pleasure pier at Southend because it was on fire, and were rescued from the end in a mini Dunkirk evacuation.
    It was happier times today in 1977, when 90 sets of Swedish identical twins suddenly turned up in the Suffolk port of Felixstowe for a shopping trip. Go on, let your filthy imaginations run wild …
    So it’s Grattis pŒ fšdelsedagen, as they say in Stockholm, to Danish Euro tour player Steen Tinning (45) and 1993 Ryder Cup star, England’s Peter Baker (40). We also remember the birth date of the late Herman “The Missouri Mortician” Keiser, who beat Ben Hogan to win the 1946 Masters – despite having spent 31 of the previous 43 months in the US Navy fighting in the Pacific in WWII.
    Cheers as well to Nobel winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu (76); Aussie essayist and former telly critic Clive James (68); Franco-Chinese cellist Yo-Yo Ma (52); gold-medal ice dancing goddess Jayne Torvill (50); annoyingly talentless and omnipresent TV superstar Simon Cowell (48); and Radiohead warbler Thom Yorke (39).

Jesper Parnevik finds enchantment strange as the blue up above in old San Antone ...

"Deep within my heart lies a mel-o-dy ... a song of old San Antone ...": Why are you singing loudly over my PGA Tour report?
"Where in dreams I live with a mem-o-ry ... beneath the stars all alone ...": Ermm, I guess I'll have to do this one on my own ... Jesper Parnevik has needed a big week to stay on the PGA Tour, and our man is definitely having one.
"It was there I found ... beside the Alamo ... enchantment strange as the blue up above ...": So .... Jesper followed up a 61 with a 65 on Friday to put him on 126. That's 14 under, and the lowest score after 36 holes on the Tour in 2007.
"A moonlit path that only she would know ... still hears my broken song of looooooove!!! ...": And, erm, .... it's a good week to be a Swede in "old San Antone", as Mathias Gronberg is 10 under and Fredrik Jacobson and Richard S. Johnson on 9 under are Jesper's closest pursuers.
"Moon in all all your splendour, hear only my heart! Call back my Rose, Rose of San Antone ...": Call a taxi, will you? ... Bob Heintz, Robert Gamez, Bob Tway and Tripp Isenhour also need paydays this week to help keep their Tour cards, and so far, so good - they all made the cut. But Long John Daly has gone home, slamming his trunk after a second straight 72.
"Lips so sweet and tender like petals fallin' apart ...": We've got to get you out of here, mate. Is it the heat? The chimichangas? Too many Lone Star beers? Let's go to that other joint across the street, then ...
"Yee-haw! ...": Better yet, let's not.

"Look Pete, only one hand...you're not waaaaatchiiing"


Give me the scoop, the whole scoop and nothing but the scoop: You what?
Just tell me who's leading OK?:  InGolfWeTrust favourite and  Tommy Hilfiger clothes-horse Nick Dougherty shares an 11-under lead with German sounding South African, Hennie Otto and forgetful Australian Peter O'Malley.
Forgetful?: Yeah, you know those things that you need to play golf with?
Clubs?: Yeah them, he left them at home...
How did he play?: Excellently.11-under-par remember? He equalled Carnoustie's course record with a sublime 64.
No, how did he play with no clubs?: Oh, well he got the owner of the guest-house he's staying in to bring them out for him after he realised that he hadn't put them in the boot.
Wow, now that's service. Who else is challenging?: Well there's a cracking little B&B down near Carnoustie which attracts quite a bit of business, even without a club delivery service.
Very funny: Thanks. Anyway, Els is in third at minus 10, a score he shares with Spain's Gonzalo Fernando-Castano, Britain's Kenneth 'Roll-on Roll-off' Ferrie and South Africa's Anton 'Field Marshall' Haig. Haig's low score also means that he and his partner Schalk Burger share the team lead with Scott 'Steve' Strange and Robert 'Sebastian' Coe.
Schalk Burger? Sounds like a German fast-food joint: He's actually a South-African rugby legend and his son is playing in the Rugby World Cup quarter final tomorrow.
Rugby again?: Sorry, don't worry though, I probably won't mention it again as England are playing Australia today and that'll be that I expect.
Let's hope they all remember their boots...

"Wow, chicks really do dig a winner! ... I could get used to this ..."

On this day, in 1996, 20-year-old Tiger Woods, making only his fifth pro start won the Las Vegas Invitational – his first win on the PGA Tour.

    Jack Nicklaus, the man Tiger is still chasing, said it best that day: “Now that he’s gotten rid of that burden of the first win, there could be no stopping him.”

    Only weeks before, Tiger had announced he was turning pro in
Milwaukee to a $40m flurry of endorsement packages, saying “Hello, world” to the assembled press and flashing that now-so famous Tiger grin. But there was no guarantee that Woods would do well enough on the Tour to earn his card, or avoid a trip to PGA Tour Qualifying School. For a majority of golf’s pundits, it all smacked of too much, too soon.
    Las Vegas
fixed all of that. Storming back with a 64 in the final round, Tiger showed for the first time his unique ability to scare the bejeezus out of older, wiser heads – and when Davis Love III, then one of the top players in the world, faltered in the stretch, Tiger was there to bounce and beat Love on the first playoff hole.
    Eleven years later, here’s Tiger’s tally today: 61 wins on the PGA Tour, 13 majors, and still clawing at Jack’s back.

    Also, on this day in
1928, Leo Diegel, a Michigan boy who had taken up a dodgy residence in Tijuana, Mexico, knocked off Al Espinosa 6 & 5 to capture the PGA Championship in Baltimore, Md. – stopping Walt Hagen’s run of titles in the event at four.
    On this day in 1927 the first “talkie” movie burst onto the scene when Al Jolson’s “The Jazz Singer” opened in Warner’s Theatre in
New York City, prompting the last 80 years of people shushing others in cinemas worldwide.
It wasn’t such a great day in 1981 for Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who was gunned down with a host of other diplomats and dignitaries by machine gun-toting assassins, sparking
US pres Ronnie Reagan to claim that mankind had “lost a champion of peace.” Nor was it such a hot day for hippies, for on this day in 1966 the US government made LSD an illegal drug. The trippy thing is a lot of people still ignore this law.
So it’s
Joyeux Anniversaire!, as they say in Gay Paree, to Hawaiian LPGA-er Pam Kometani (43) and PGA Tour grinder Bob May (39), who lost the 2000 PGA Championship in a playoff to – you guessed it – Tiger Woods. And it’s balloons and cake for dishy Swedish Bond girl Britt Ekland (65); West Indies-baiting South Africa-born former England cricket skipper Tony Greig (61); Middlesbrough’s Aussie ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer (35); hunky period-role Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd (34); and former Fulham football fave Sylvain “Monica” Legwinski, also 34, at Ipswich Town.
It also would have been the 30th birthday of dashing Frenchy fighter pilot Roland Garros, had he not been shot down in flames over Vouziers, Ardennes the day before 1918, quite literally going down in a blaze of glory. But he still had a nice stadium and a major tennis championship named after him, so it’s not all bad after all. Repos dans la paix.

5 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf News | World Of Random

Ten Broek prepares the old 'distract with the flag before wedge to the head' trick 


Many caddies are frustrated golfers themselves, yearning to be the one taking the shots, rather than just calling them. Lance Ten Broeck has more reason than most to be frustrated as he has the skills to pay the bills but no card with which to pay them.

Ten Broek made 162 cuts out of 352 career starts in his 20 years on the PGA Tour before spending the last decade as a caddy. As he has made more than 150 cuts he retains some privileges and so commits to play every event for which he is eligible and occasionally brings his own clubs with him. If there are no other alternates or a last second withdrawal, 51 year old Lance will get his chance to become the first man to be both caddy and player in the same week on Tour.

Two weeks ago he came close to playing in The Turning Stone Resort Championship but hit a snag when it emerged that he would be playing at the same as Jesper Parnevik for whom he has spent the majority of his caddying career serving. Ironically, when he came close to featuring in the Byron Nelson Classic after Tommy Armour III pulled out, he would have been paired with Lee Janzen and Parnevik. Jesper even offered to caddy for Ten Broek himself when John Cook's sore shoulder nearly ruled him out of the Buick Open. Unfortunately Cook played through the pain and we were denied the sight of Parnevik's bespoke, diamante-studded caddy uniform (probably).

With field sizes cut due to less daylight hours, it's pretty unlikely that Ten Broek will get his chance to play this year, but when it does come, he promises not to disgrace himself, even if his supporters do - he predicts that the gallery will be full of drunken, cheering caddies; a sight we're all looking forward to here, especially if it coincides with Parnevik with bag in hand.

5 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf News | World Of Random

"OK Brucie, I'll lead...I'll retire first, then you."


Lee 'Supermex' Trevino has had a change of heart over his retirement. Originally he had planned to make this month's AT&T Championship at Oak Hills his last professional appearance but a Champion's Tour official has confirmed that Trevino has decided to extend his career into next season. Although he has 29 Champions Tour victories to his name, he hasn't tasted success since 2000 so maybe it wouldn't be the worst idea if  The Merry Mex did put his clubs to the back of the garage behind his old tins of paint, lawnmower and rubber snakes.

Jesper's swing thoughts:
"Okay ...  Cool hat.  Keep head down.  Cool hat, keep head down.  Cool hat ...  Okay, 61."

So today was a big day in Texas for the Fall Series ... how did the big boys do?:  Do you mean John Daly? He says he has the flu or strep throat, or something, and he shot a 72.
No, I mean the other big guys. The big-name fellas who can make or break their chances for a Tour card for next year...:  Well, Jesper Parnevik is leading by four after firing a 61, which is the best of his career.
You mean Jesper the fancy-pants Swedish meatball who eats volcano dirt and hasn't won since 2001 on the PGA Tour?:  That's him. He stopped fiddling about in his missus' wardrobe rack, got himself a cool chapeau at a vintage shop, and started sorting through a bin of putters instead.
Jesper ditched his belly putter?:  It didn't go with the new Michael Stipe rig. He got himself a no-name-brand putter for a couple of bucks and made 8 birdies in his first 12 holes today.
That is one darn cool hat. What about the other players doing the tour-card limbo?:  Ex-PGA champ Bob Tway birdied the last four and is in a pack of 10 on 65. One of those is Robert Gamez, who has to do a Mexican jumping-bean trick all the way from No. 171 on the money list into the Top 125.
That Gamez guy is a human rubber band. Why is he back on the up-swing this time then?:  He says it's because of his short-game guru Stan Utley. And apparently they have good Mexican food around here. Carnitas, gorditas, cochinitas pibil ...
My 20 bucks are on Gamez to blow away the field...:  You said it, not me.

On This Day In History - Laura Davies, Liverpool-Loving Champ, Is Born
"Have I ever said that red really suits you, Natalie ... really ..."

Laura Davies CBE, born on this day in 1963 in Coventry, admits she is not a Liverpool FC supporter by birth – though that never stopped Laura, England’s best female golfer of modern times, from Kop-ping a lifelong obsession to all things Anfield.
     She once explained: “In ’71 Liverpool lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup final. I was six and I felt sorry for them. I was six … what are you going to do? … And they wore red. I’ve always liked red.”
     OK, perhaps no one has still had the heart to remind Laura that she wasn't 6 in 1971, or that Arsenal also wear red. And so does Tiger Woods, particularly on Sundays. But that said, on proud display at Laura’s stately manor in Surrey are smelly old red Liverpool shirts once worn by Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler, and she may be stalking Fernando Torres as we speak.
     On the golf side of her credit Laura owns four major titles, 67 professional victories (20 on the LPGA) and 7 LET Order of Merit titles in her esteemed career. With another win in a major or two more on the LPGA, long Laura gets her rightful place in the LPGA Hall of Fame.
     So happy 44th to Laura, who still loves her fast cars, slow race-horses and other fun stuff like quickie runs to the casino. Have a blinder!
     Also, on this day, in 1947, Harry Truman made the very first TV address by a US President – urging Americans, amongst other things, to avoid eating meat on Tuesdays and poultry products on Thursdays. Sitting by his grainy set in Chicago, we presume, was Ray A. Kroc, future founder of the McDonald’s fast food empire, who was trying to peacefully celebrate his 45th birthday at the time by “having a decent freaking meal, dammit! And why isn’t it on my table by 6pm! … Or sooner!”
     Hopefully Kroc (rest his saturated-fat sodden soul) was in a better mood on his b-day in ‘62, when the Beatles released the vinyl of “Love Me Do,” still played to this day on muzak in a Mickey D’s near you, or in ’69, when Monty Python first hit the Beeb’s TV screens.
     So it’s Quchjaj qoSlIj!, as they say in they say under the Golden Crotches in the Klingon Empire, to gorgeous Berkshire babe Kate Winslet (32, and we all know about her birthday suit!); and musical salutes to rocker Steve “I’m A Joker” Miller (64); annoying Irish activiste Bob “I’m Not Bono” Geldof (53); and Brian “I’m Not Bon Scott” Johnson, lead screecher of AC/DC.

Ferrie: 'For the last time, I am not Chris Moyles, OK?'

Let’s get through the formalities first:
It’s not that I’m not flattered, but I really don’t think the time’s right for me to be settling down and that…
I meant the golf: Oh… Right...
Who’s leading?: Steve Webster shot 65 with a bad back, while Soren Hansen (tennis elbow), Paul Lawrie (cystitis), Hennie Otto (sunstroke) and Scott Strange (gout) lie a further stroke back.
Why are they lying down? Surely they would be better off standing up to play golf?: Because they’re hungry leopards waiting to pounce on an innocent gazelle.
Stop being ridiculous: Sorry.
What I really want to know, of course, is how badly the amateur players did. Anyone card a ton or more?: Well, the European Tour nobly records the team scores only.
Really?: Yup, which means it goes down in history that Dennis Hopper, Huey Lewis, Bill Murray and Tico Torres out of Bon Jovi all carded level par 72s around Carnoustie.
Off the back tees?: Not sure.
Can you find out?: Maybe…
That means no, doesn’t it: Probably…
Anything else exciting happen?: Well, our mate Paul came up with a cracking new content management system for the front page of the site…
I meant in the golf: Well, You know how you were going on about that new Mizuno driver earlier this week, wondering whether Luke Donald would use it?
Yes: Well he did. And he shot a 5-under 67.
That's nice: Yes, it is isn’t it…

Michael Jackson to present Channel 4s alternative Christmas speech.


Colin Montgomerie to win The Open in 2008

Odds courtes of Paddy Power

On This Day In History - Billy Casper Wins In Portland
Billy Casper: Under-rate this!

On this day, in 1959, Billy Casper won the Portland Open, but this smooth golfer, a legend from San Diego before Phil Mickelson, was only getting started.

    The Portland title was only one 51 Casper would amass on his way to becoming probably one of the most criminally under-rated golf figures of his day. When people think of golf in the ‘60s they inevitably say Palmer, Nicklaus and Player, but from 1965-70, when that trio combined for 35, Casper was winning 23 tournaments all by himself.

    More recently, though, Casper DQ-ed himself from the 2005 Masters instead of signing a scorecard that would have had 106 big numbers on it.

    Also on this day, in 1895, the very first US Open Championship was held, on a nine-hole layout in Newport, RI. It was won by the Isle of Wight’s very own Horace Rawlins, aged 21, over 36 holes on the same day. Rawlins scooped $150 (that’s $3370.74 in today’s bucks!) from a purse of $335, and a shiny gold medal. In addition to being a bit of a golf trend-setter, Rawlins sported a mightily handsome moustache, which was de rigeur in his day.

    And in 1998, Aussie ace Steve Elkington shrugged off both his allergies to grass and Fred 'I Got Da' Funk to win the Buick Challenge in a playoff.

    In history, Continental Army General George Washington set the tone for future American Ryder Cup captains by launching an all-out attack on British forces in Germantown, Pa., suffering massive casualties in the process.

    And to prove that gunshots and golf balls are not the only things in the air on October 4, this was also the day 1957 when the USSR launched the sputnik, the first man-made object into space. A year later to the day, with humbler goals in mind, British Overseas Airways began the first trans-Atlantic passenger jet service, flying between the Big Smoke and the Big Apple. Rock heroine Janis Joplin was also out of her head on this day in 1970 when she fatally OD’d on smack at the age of 27.

    And it’s Vill Gleck fir daei Geburtsdaag!, as they say in Luxembourgeois, to 1988 LPGA Championship winner Sherri Turner (51); Oscar-winning yummy mummy Susan Sarandon (61); gun-loving actor Charlton Heston (83); Pet Shop Boys synthpop guy Chris Lowe (48); and Clueless actress Alicia Silverstone (31). It also would have been a birthday for 19th US president Rutherford B. Hayes, who pre-dated George W. Bush in the corruption and ineptitude stakes by 123 years.

'Straight down the middle, with just a touch of draw...'

Here’s a Sergio Garcia classic from this week in 1999, at the World Match Play Championship in Wentworth. For those partial to a bit of shoe golf, check out the soon-to-be-launched www.shoegolf.com

*He's not dead or anything, we're just trying to butter him up

'Don't worry Clark dear, I'm sure Tripp Isenhour will keep his tour card'

Here we are again:
You know, the Fall Series just gets more thrilling with every hour that passes: So you like the thought of a hundred or more people fighting tooth and nail for their very livelihoods in front of a live TV audience, then?
Love it. Absolutely love it: You never know, it could catch on. Particularly if the field starts burning up the La Cantera Resort Course, like Bart Bryant did in 2004 when he shot a course record 60.
Any big names in the field?: they don’t get much bigger than John Daly, who makes an appearance on a sponsor’s invitation. He’s never finished higher than 55th here and was disqualified in 2003 so don’t go expecting too much from him.
And the rest?: Stephen Ames is the highest ranked player at 42nd in the world.
And you know just how far I’d travel for one of his toothy smiles…: He’s better than you at golf, though, isn’t he…
Tell me something I didn’t know: How about the fact that the area known as San Antonio was originally named Yanaguana by Native Americans, which translates as ‘refreshing waters.’
Bo-ring...: OK, did you know Hollywood icon Joan Crawford was born in San Antonio?
Fascinating: You’re just saying that, aren’t you.
Yes I am: Thanks a bunch.

'Don't shoot! Get Sluman instead...'

Actually, it would have been quite good if The Chuckle Brothers had turned up: Sorry?
For the Dunhill Links – it’s a big celebrity do, isn’t it?: That’s right, but to the best of my knowledge, neither The Chuckle Brothers, Lindsay Lohan or Pope Benedict XVI will be teeing it up with the European Tour’s finest this week.
Who is then?: Nobody special, just Dennis Hopper, Samuel L Jackson, Kyle MacLachlan, Bill Murray, Hugh Grant, Dougray Scott, Ronan Keating, Huey Lewis, Sir Ian Botham, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Steve Redgrave (pause for breath…), Johan Cruyff, Ruud Gullit, Matthew Le Tissier, Boris Becker, Michael Vaughan, Steve Waugh and Franz Klammer, among others.
I’ll bring my sniper’s rifle then…: And who, pray tell, will you be taking out?
Mind your own business. All I can say is that Hopper, Murray, Jackson, Botham and Waugh can sleep safely tonight: Better still you’ll have free entry for the first three days, as well as free parking and a shuttle bus service from the car parks!
Result!: Any decent players turning out?: Padraig Harrington for starters, Monty of course, Nick Faldo and Michael Campbell; then there’s Casey, Donald, Fasth, Immelman, Rose and Stenson.
Big money to play for?: Five million dollars total prize money is a Euro or two more than at last weekend’s Seve Trophy.
So how does it work, then?: It’s run as an individual professional tournament and an amateur team event. There are 168 teams of one professional and one amateur contest the first three rounds, with a round being played at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns in rotation. After 54 holes the field reduces to the leading 60 professionals and ties, plus the 20 leading teams, all of whom play the final round over the Old Course at St Andrews.
You wouldn’t happen to know anyone with a flat overlooking the 18th green would you?: No, I wouldn’t. Why?
Oh, never mind…

The Duffer’s Guide To The PGA Tour’s Fall Series
Tway: 'I'd have secured my tour card if it wasn't for these darn trees'

The latest schedule-tweaking offering from The PGA Tour, the Fall Series is a slate of seven season-ending tournaments which are make-or-break for a handful of players on the Tour. It all climaxes with the Children's Miracle Network Classic in Florida on the first Sunday in November. The target: to either reach or stay in the Top 125 in the tour money list and either keep or earn your Tour playing privileges.
    Michael Allen, who has never won in almost 300 events on the PGA Tour, has been back to Qualifying School an amazing 10 times, and saved himself another trip back with a great finish at Turning Stone last week. But here's a look at some others who might be playing on the big tour next season based on the next few weeks, or who might be scuffling on the Nationwide Tour instead.
Bob Tway (No. 146)
Has eight wins, including a major (The 1986 PGA Championship, where he holed out of a bunker to beat Greg Norman) and is in the Top 30 in career PGA Tour earnings. But that might not be enough for the veteran Tway to keep his card, which he used a one-time exemption to keep for this season.
Glen Day (No. 154)
The southerner is slow as molasses, hence the nickname Glen "All" Day. But he would quickly like to add to his list of two professional wins in the upcoming weeks.
Robert Gamez (No. 170)
A streaky player from Las Vegas with a solid resume who won twice and made a charge in the British Open in his rookie season in 1990. Up and down since.
Michael Putnam (No. 149)
Former all-state basketball star is young enough at 24 to set up his career with some strong finishes. He's still looking for his first pro win, and maybe the Fall Series will be his time.
Andrew Buckle (No. 142)
Aussie, 25, won the 2002 Queensland Open on his professional debut and surely he's too talented to not stay on the big tour. Isn't he?
Bob Heintz (No. 127)
Heintz can roll it with the best of them, and he should be a smart player (he majored in economics at Yale). If anyone should know what keeping a Tour card is all about, it should be this beefy New Yorker, but that hasn't stopped him bouncing off the big tour three previous times.
Tripp Isenhour (No. 141)
39-year-old has always had enough game to hang around, but he must be weary of bouncing back and forth between the PGA Tour and the Nationwide.

What's the difference between Lloyd Saltman and Bobby Jones ...? Well, Lloyd gets to play his golf in full colour!

It’s only a matter of time before Scotland’s Lloyd Saltman is a star in pro golf. But to pick up his first professional victory cheque last weekend, the 22-year-old from East Lothian had to go back in time – almost literally.  
    And he did it in style, sporting plus-fours and playing with a set of six pre-1935 hickory-shafted clubs to win the World Hickory Open at his home links of Craigielaw, and the champ's payout of £1700.
    Said Saltman: “It would be fair to say the hickory championship was not what I planned, but it was great fun and using only six clubs really opened up the imagination.”
    Swinging the old-school sticks, Saltman got around the 18 holes in 1-over 72, beating former Scottish PGA champ Fraser Mann by a shot. Needless to say, dithering over club selection is not an issue at this event and tournament supremo Lionel Freedman reports that the entire field finished their rounds in just over three hours despite typically Scottish conditions.
    The World Hickory Open is in its third year, and even former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher OBE has had a crack at the old sticks, shooting a 76 in last year’s event. A Saltman won that one as well – Lloyd’s younger brother Zack, third this year with a 75.
    On the previous day, at the World Hickory Pro-Am, David Laing of Craigielaw, who was making his pro debut, aced the 157-yard 10th hole. His prizes included the hickory club he used, a magnum of champagne and a bottle of Famous Grouse suitably inscribed. Presumably, the champions dinner was bangers and mashie ...

Photograph courtesy of Robert Brown

Camilo Villegas: 'I spy with my little eye ... a win in Japan'

1) Nick Faldo will probably be a pretty good Ryder Cup captain.


2) So would Jack Nicklaus. The word is in the States that Jack’s ability to create a “winning atmosphere” was the key behind the US team’s convincing win in the President’s Cup.


3) No offense, but the names of Paul Azinger, Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton, Curtis Strange and Lanny Wadkins do not ring the same chord as just one: Nicklaus.


4) Woody Austin does not float.


5) Royal Montreal is a cracking site for championship golf, and it’s a pity that Canada only gets to see the world’s best players once a year.


6) Mike Weir is what they call in Canada a “clutch player”. Or in ice-hockey speak, he “came up big” in his President’s Cup singles match against Tiger Woods.


7) Camilo Villegas got the first notch on his professional golf belt by winning the Japan Tour’s Tokai Classic with a 2-under 282. Expect many, many more from the nattily-clad poster boy from Colombia, and not just for a fistful of yen.


8) Lorena Ochoa is not unbeatable, as Maria Hjorth proved on the LPGA Tour in Alabama. It was uno, dos, tres for Mexico’s superstar Ochoa, but no cuatro.


9) The PGA Tour proved for once it actually does have a heart, by allowing David Duval to keep his tour card, despite having to remain at home to help his wife through her difficult pregnancy.


10) Mum told you not to swing golf clubs in the house and she meant it. Did that stop Marc Warren from being a bad boy at the Seve Trophy? Nooooooo.

On This Day In History - Fred Couples, Quote Machine, Is Born
Fred Couples was born, not wearing a golf glove, in Seattle, Washington on this day in 1959. To this day, not many people can swing a club or mangle a quote quite as beautifully as the son of Violet and Tom Coppola.
    The world’s No. 1 golfer for 16 weeks after winning the Masters in 1992, Fred Couples remains the undisputed king of golf’s Silly Season, counting 26 'other' victories among the 43 professional wins on his CV. Freddie made a real charge at winning his second Masters in 2006 at the age of 46 and then gave the press some more wonderfully daft pearls of wisdom, like: “I'm a lot older than I was when I was 30, which is kind of hard to believe.”
    His ex-wife wife, Deborah (pictured above), took her own life in 2001 by jumping from the roof of a chapel. By this time Couples had remarried and had successfully help nurse his second wife Thais through treatment for breast cancer.
    Couples has suffered from back problems for several years, to the extent it has severely curtailed his ability to appear on tour. He remains gloveless and much-loved.
    On this day in 1990 West Germany and East Germany ended 45 years of postwar division, declaring the creation of a new unified country, while in 1995 OJ Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife Nicole and her 'friend' Ronald Goldman.     So it’s Felichan Naskightagon!, as they say in Esperanto, to American writer and establishment wind-up merchant Gore Vidal (82), black civil rights ranter Al Sharpton (53) and Mötley Crüe drum-thumper and former Mr Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee (45). The American maven of etiquette, Emily Post, was also born on this day in 1873, and she would be reminding everyone not to forget people’s birthdays. That’s rude!

3 Oct, 07 | Comments [0] | Tags: Golf Central | Golf News

The Mizuno MP-600 - don't forget your monkey wrench

We might not be the sharpest golf geeks at InGolfWeTrust, but we know what works. A hard day’s graft hitting Mizuno’s new drivers at Bearwood Lakes earlier this week presented us with the traditional golfer’s dilemma – to aspire to single-handicap status by taking the MP-600 out with you so you can try out the Fast Track sliding weight system OR giving the more forgiving MX-560 a go. We opted for the 560, which worked a treat in sending the ball out prodigious distances and scaring nearby wildlife with it’s shotgun-like sound at impact.
The stats boys at Mizuno tell us the MP-600 gives tour players up to 10 yards extra off the tee and that they’re all fighting to get themselves out of their driver contracts to get it in tournament play. Bearing in mind that two of the longest hitters on the European Tour, Alvaro Quiros and Daniel Vancsik, are both Mizuno irons players, The MP-600 could earn a reputation for itself pretty quickly. We’ll just have to wait and see whether Luke Donald can be lured from his favoured Titleist driver and give it a go.

The MX-560 - ideal for grouse and pheasant

Steve Elkington finished at a 16-under-par score of 200 to win The Buick Southern Open by five strokes over Steve Rintoul on this day in 1994. Wagga Wagga’s principal golfing talent has won 10 PGA Tour events and defeated Colin Montgomerie to win the 1995 PGA Championship – the sole Major title to his name.


    On this day in 1968 a woman gave birth to the first recorded sextuplets in Britain. At odds of three thousand million to one, it would have given bookmakers a right headache had Barry and Sheila Thorns not undergone fertility treatment, the tinkers.


    Meanwhile, it’s Maogmang Pagkamundag as they say in The Philippines to celebrity portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz (58), cool ex-teacher turned pompous rock prat Gordon Sumner (better known as Sting, 56) and the infinitely nicer Phil Oakey out of The Human League (52). Should heaven exist beyond the imaginations of the devout, there will be a very odd birthday party tonight to celebrate the lives of Richard III (1452-1485), of Groucho Marx (1890-1977) and Graham Greene (1904-1991).

My Ames is true

The PGA tour returns to singles competition this week following the USA’s success in The Presidents Cup. There aren’t many tournaments with a longer lineage than the Valero Texas Open and The Resort Course at La Cantera is a haven for low scoring. There is a lack of big names in the field but here are the players that we think you should back in this event.

Flesch is a man in form following his victory in September’s Turning Stone Resort Championship. He is a two-time winner on this years tour and should do better than his 12th place finish at La Cantera last year.

The two-time Texas Open winner is always a candidate for a high finish in this event. He has finished in the top-ten in five of nine attempts.

At number 42 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Ames is the highest ranked player in the field. His starting price of 35/1 represents good value.

To back our selections go to www.coral.co.uk

'We'll get tons of ladybirds in this beauty, son...'

It always promises so much, usually rains and occasionally turns up a surprise winner. The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is played on three venues - St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns – and is one of the richest tournaments on the European tour. Here are three players who we think have got the best chance of passing on a bit of that wealth into your wallet.

LEE WESTWOOD @ 12/1 WITH CORAL: Westwood is in terrific form following victory in the Quinn Direct British Masters at the end of last month (as tipped by us!). All facets of his game are in fine fettle and he is available at a fair price. He has a great record in this event, winning in 2003 and registering three top-ten finishes in the last three tournaments. We think he has a good chance of becoming a two-time winner.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON @ 14/1 WITH CORAL: Harrington is a two-time winner, having won last year and in 2002, and is likely to challenge for a third success. He won the British Open at Carnoustie this summer and will be refreshed after missing The Seve Trophy. His price offers good value for a player with a proven track record on links courses.

BRADLEY DREDGE @ 33/1 WITH CORAL: Another player near the top of his game at present, he was the top overall points scorer at The Seve Trophy last weekend. Dredge was the leader after three rounds last year and he will be very aware that a good performance this time around will boost his attempt to make the next Ryder Cup team.


To back our selections go to www.coral.co.uk

The good news is we correctly tipped you the winners of both of the weekend’s team competitions. We selected Great Britain and Ireland to win The Seve Trophy (4/7 with Coral) and the U.S to win The Presidents Cup (8/11 with Coral).


Both teams duly obliged and that meant our bet of the week came in. We advised you to back them in a double, it was an obvious money maker and offered good value as it returned £27.04 for a £10 stake. Happy days.


'One more picture lads and then we can go home'


The bad news is that none of our six selections for top individual points scorer were correct.


In The Seve Trophy we told you to back:

Colin Montgomerie to be top GB&I points scorer @ 9/2.

Thomas Bjorn to be top Continental Europe points scorer @ 6/1.


Justin Rose to be top overall points scorer @ 7/1.


We should have told you to get on:

Bradley Dredge to be top GB&I points scorer @7/1.

The Top Continental Europe points scorer was shared between five players, none of which was our selection. They were Robert Karlson @ 11/2,  Peter Hanson @ 13/2, Raphael Jacquelin @ 13/2, Gregory Harvet @ 12/1, Markus Brier @ 12/1.


Bradley Dredge to be top overall points scorer @ 12/1.


In the Presidents Cup we told you to back:

Steve Stricker to be top USA points scorer @ 10/1.

Rory Sabbatini to be top International points scorer @ 10/1.


Tiger Woods to be top overall points scorer @ 11/2.


We should have told you to get on:

David Toms to be top USA points scorer @ 14/1.

Mike Weir to be top International points scorer @ 9/1.


David Toms to be top overall points scorer @ 20/1.

Woody Austin: "What kind of nickname is Tiger? ... I AM AQUAMAN !!!"

So there wasn’t much high drama in Montreal then?: Golf-wise, not enough to ripple the flags.

Did Woody Austin take another plunge in a pond?: Nope. But Aquaman showed that Americans can have a sense of humour by donning swimming goggles on 14th hole to the fans’ delight.

How do you rate the galleries this weekend then?: Superb. Top marks, especially the pack of local lads who roamed the course for four days dressed as Mike Weir’s caddies.

And which players stood out?: Weir for the Internationals, for sure. He took a lot of stick for being included by captain Gary Player to appease the Canadians, but the lefty from Ontario backed it up with a great performance, including beating Tiger in the marquee match. And Scott Verplank played so well that Jack Nicklaus called him “his rock”.

Thanks for the disturbing visual. This all sounds more ‘rom-com’ than ‘EastEnders’. No villainy at all? …: Well, not unless you count mouthy South African Rory Sabbatini, everyone’s favourite whipping-boy. “Mr Beatable” played like it, getting smacked around by the Yanks to the tune of 0-3-1.

Sounds like the Americans came to play. Should we be scared about the U-S-A in the Ryder Cup then?: Well, where’s there’s a Woody, there’s a way …

Now I’m really scared. I need a pint….: I’ll join you.

Final President’s Cup results: U.S. 19½, Internationals 14½

Sunday singles matches

Scott Verplank (US) def. Rory Sabbatini (Int), 2 & 1

Ernie Els (Int) def. Lucas Glover (US), 2-up

Phil Mickelson (US) def. Vijay Singh (Int), 5 & 4

Mike Weir (Int) def. Tiger Woods (US), 1-up

Angel Cabrera (Int) def. Woody Austin (US), 2 & 1

Adam Scott (Int) def. Zach Johnson (US), 2 & 1

David Toms (US) def. Trevor Immelman (Int), 2-up

Stewart Cink (US) def. Nick O'Hern (Int), 6 & 4

Geoff Ogilvy (Int) def. Steve Stricker (US), 1-up

K.J. Choi (Int) def. Hunter Mahan (US), 3 & 2

Charles Howell III (US) def. Stuart Appleby (Int), 2 & 1

Retief Goosen (Int) def. Jim Furyk (US), 2 & 1

"I Got You, Babe":  Mildred Didrikson with her wrestler hubby George 'Michael' Zaharias

On this day, in 1950, all-round sporty chick of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias won her second US Women’s Open title, at Rolling Hills Country Club in Kansas, firing a record total of 291 to beat poor Betsy Rawls by nine shots.

With the win, Zaharias wrapped up the LPGA money title with $14,800, which works out to $120,959.73 in today’s money. Take that, Michelle Wie!

The “Babe” could beat any other girl and lots of the boys at most sports, winning gold medals in javelin and hurdles at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, and starring at basketball. However, she could not beat cancer unfortunately, dying in 1956 at only 45 years of age.

Also on this day, in 1921, smooth-talkin’, smooth-swingin’ Walter Hagen won his first USPGA Championship, beating Englishman Jim Barnes 3 & 2 in New York for the third of his 11 major titles.

And on this day in 1961, New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris blasted his 61st home run of the season, breaking America’s most hallowed sporting record, held since 1927 by Babe Ruth. The record is no longer so hallowed – having been topped six times since by drugs cheats Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.

Today in 1936, Franco was given the leadership of Spain and in 1939, Sir Winston Churchill referred to the FedEx Cup scoring system as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. Or maybe he actually meant the Soviet Union. Whatever.

That said, it’s Eytyxismena Genethlia!, as they say in Lesbos, to US golf pros George Archer (68) and Willie Wood (47); a big salute to former US prez and peanut farmer Jimmy “Jimmuh” Carter (83); Happy Days actor Tom Bosley (80); English songbird Dame Julie Andrews (72); aforementioned baseballer and steroid gobbler Mark McGwire (44); and former England and Bath rugby captain Phil de Glanville, now a practicing doctor in Somerset. It would also be the b-day of Henry III, who was only 9 when he was crowned in 1216, and whose lack of experience may be why really old people remember him as a bit of a so-so king.




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