Rory McIlroy

The Ryder Cup For Love Not Money

Brendan Mcdaid , , , , , , , , ,

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These next few days just outside Minneapolis a dozen golfers, their caddies, half dozen vice captains’ from two differing teams, a whole host of back room officials and hangers on take part in the 2016 Ryder Cup. These being the 41st matches and a battle which already promises to be a bloated commercial exercise that culminates on Sunday evening after the 12 single matches complete between US and European players.

The event now hostage to an endless series of money spinners and one that has taken the original concept of Samuel Ryder well beyond the imagination of even Mark McCormack – the founder of sports management in the last century. But the untimely loss of Arnold Palmer this week is a reminder however of some more basic sporting values, and another great supporter of the tournament and all that was good about golf.

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Great Scott McIlroy Putts for Dough

Brendan Mcdaid , , , , , , , ,

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Nike recently reported flat to down annual sales last month in its golf business for the last two years at $700 million. A business that has been running since 1984 and introduced the first clubs after bringing in a design team in the year 2000. Its first efforts appeared within a year in the form of the Nike Forged Blades irons and then followed in 2002 with Pro Combo irons, which uniquely combined three different kinds of irons within the same set. Sales in 2013 and 2014 were nearly $800 million a year. The company also had recruited a young Tiger Woods as its clothes peg for shoes and apparel, and ultimately the clubs were to come sometime later. Woods however making that transition to the clubs very gradually – showing a wisdom beyond his years.

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Chance for Lefty to Repair Ryder Cup Legacy

Brendan Mcdaid , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Not sure if it’s just me. But there seems little hype in Ireland about the 41st Ryder Cup matches at Hazeltine National Golf club next month. May be just my imagination as I’m busy with lessons all day. Suppose it was a bit the same with the Olympic golf also, which all of a sudden last week kicked into action and became interesting. Particularly when Seamus Power made a run up the leaderboard on Sunday reaching the turn in 30 strokes. Only to fade from a chance of the Bronze medal in the last few holes. The Waterford native certainly justifying his selection albeit because the bigger names were no shows. Regardless of the Zika driven thinking of the absentees, Power’s form must be reassuring for a good second half the season in the US.

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Johnson and Johnson

Brendan Mcdaid , , ,

Zach+Johnson+Dustin+Johnson+Hyundai+Tournament+P9jB66Vqj9hlPadraig Harrington returns to Scotland once again, the scene of his first major victory in 2007 where he won a play-off at Carnoustie against Sergio Garcia. That victory came in the four-hole play-off – after dropping his one shot lead in regulation on the eighteenth fairway – following a visit to the Barry Burn. A lead which would have secured him the title outright but instead allowed García a putt for the title. Fortunately for Padraig the Spaniard missed.

History now records what happened next and that Harrington won the first of what was to become two Open Championship titles in consecutive years. The trip to Scotland this year has started well with a few good rounds at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open last week and hint that the Rio bound player is moving into form at the right time. So think he might have a bit of a run this week at Royal Troon. But my favourite would be the American Dustin Johnson, now number two in the world, who is also on a bit of a roll.

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The Caddie Chemistry

Brendan Mcdaid , , , , , ,

Caddy-of-Peter-Lawrie-fro-008Some of the more common questions about caddies on the Tour:

Q: What is their work schedule?
A: It lasts for as long as a golfer will have you, and for as many tournaments as he or she plays. But the average is about 30 weeks a year, although some caddies will tote for other golfers to pick up extra work. So, what about the other 22 weeks of the year?

“Whatever comes up,” said Joe Skovron, Rickie Fowler’s caddie since the 22-year-old went pro two years ago. “You take care of things at home that maybe you aren’t able to take care of on the road. Maybe play a little golf.”

Q: What does their typical tournament week entail?
A: Tournaments are usually six- or seven-day weeks. They walk the course on Monday or Tuesday, confirming yardages. Tuesday is typically a full practice day, including a round of usually nine holes. Wednesday is often a professional-amateur round (not at Bridgestone), and the four-day tournament starts on Thursday.

Q: How much do they make?
A: As independent contractors, caddies and their bosses — the players — negotiate their pay. On average, according to Dennis Cone, president and founder of the Professional Caddies Association, caddies make about $1,000 per week while on tour, plus a share of the winnings. Caddies generally earn 5 percent if their player makes the cut, 7 percent for a top-10 finish and 10 percent for a tournament win.

The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational pays the winner $1.4 million, meaning the man lugging the bag potentially pulls in a sweet $140,000. Finish at or near the top consistently and a caddie can find himself in rarefied air. Steve Williams, former caddie for Tiger Woods and now caddying for Adam Scott, is reportedly a million-dollar man.

By the way, last place at Bridgestone paid $30,750 last year. Five percent of that is about $1,500. Not shabby for a week on the golf course, but caddies usually cover their own travel expenses, lodging, meals, insurance and other fees. So, for every Williams there’s a Williams wanna-be.

Q: How much does that bag weigh?
A: “Depends on how they’re playing,” said Damon Green, Zach Johnson’s caddie for eight years and a professional golfer himself. (Green tied for 13th in the U.S. Senior Open last week in Toledo.) “If they’re playing good, [the bag is] light. If they’re playing bad, it’s really heavy.”

A bag weighs anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds, with clubs and gloves, maybe a dozen balls, an umbrella, rain gear for each, drinks and snacks and first-aid items, such as bandages and pain relievers.

Q: What does a caddie do besides carry the bag and towel a golfer’s clubs and ball between shots?
A: It’s more like, what doesn’t a caddie do?

“They could get anybody to carry a bag,” said Dan Weigand, editor of the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology and co-author of “Caddy-Talk: Psychology of Being a Great Golf Caddy.” “What we found is a caddie is very much an on-course psychologist, biochemist, nutritionist, physiologist, counselor, friend. It really depends on the what the player needs from the caddie.”

 

 


Sunny Final Day at Valderrama Office

Brendan Mcdaid , , , , ,

_81024921_peter_lawrie_gettyPeter Lawrie was close to signing for under par round on Sunday until a few stray putts undid some of his good work at the San Roque course. A great recovery after a wayward drive on the 17th hit out of bounds showed a return of confidence that bodes well for the season.

A loss of momentum could result though from a lack of events following Lawrie’s loss of European Tour playing rights which leave him with an unwanted three week break until the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco next month.

However, in the first full four rounds of the year – having missed the cut at the Tshwane Open in February and withdrawn from the Alfred Dunhill Links before Christmas – Peter Lawrie should be satisfied with his weekends’ work. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at the K Club the next biggest event on the horizon.

As a former winner of the Open de España Lawrie was automatically exempt this weekend and his hard work during the close season was rewarded in the toughest and most demanding of conditions at Valderrama. Reuniting for the Spain trip with his swing coach Brendan McDaid, who also was on the bag, clearly delivered some additional impetus at key moments.

The weekend though belonged to Andrew Johnston who won his first European Tour title as he held off the challenge of Joost Luiten to claim the Real Club Valderrama Open de España, Hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.

The Englishman came into the final day alongside Luiten at two over and signed for a one under par 70 to take the title by one shot and become the first man to win a European Tour event with an over par score since Justin Rose won the US Open at Merion in 2013.

It had been 20 years since a regular event had been won over par, Ian Woosnam shooting the same score to win the Scottish Open at Carnoustie in 1996, showing just how difficult a test Valderrama had been over the four days.
“I drove the ball well all week, chipped and putted well all week, I struggled a bit with my irons the first three days but I just kept going and kept digging in and then on the fourth I found something,” he said.

“I came off the course and I just started crying with the emotion of it. It’s just very surreal and I don’t think it will hit me for a few days.

“You see them winning these tournaments, and the history of it and all these names, so to put mine on there feels pretty ridiculous, really. It really does.

“Hopefully I can be one of those guys who has an incredible career like that and people are sitting here in the future going, ‘oh, Beef’s on there’. It’s pretty incredible.”

Tournament host Sergio Garcia made six birdies in his round of 67 to finish at three over, a shot ahead of defending champion James Morrison and Søren Kjeldsen.

The win completes a long journey for 27-year-old Johnston, who first made it onto The European Tour via the Challenge Tour in 2012 before a loss of form and fitness saw him lose his card.

Two wins on the Challenge Tour in 2014 saw him win the Road to Oman and now, after finishing 70th on The Race to Dubai last season, he has his breakthrough.

For Dutchman Luiten, the result is the continuation of a brilliant start to the season and hands him his fifth top ten in eight events so far this term.

Johnston bogeyed the first as those around him jostled for position, with Martin Kaymer opening up a two-shot lead over the field with a birdie on the third.

Luiten and Kaymer continued to battle it out but when Johnston hit a sensational approach to the seventh for birdie and made another gain on the next, a dropped shot from the German on the seventh meant Johnston and Luiten shared the lead at the turn.

Morrison had also turned in 34 and bogeys on the 11th from Luiten and 14th from Johnston meant there was a three-way tie for the lead. That became a four-way tie when Garcia birdied the 16th and 17th to surge into contention.
A bogey on the last saw Garcia set the clubhouse target at three over but Johnston holed a 20-footer on the 16th to move ahead and Luiten could not reel him in as he finished with seven straight pars.

Kjeldsen’s 68 handed the Dane a second straight top ten after his excellent performance at the Masters Tournament last week, while Morrison finished with a 72.  Ross Fisher, Kaymer, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Alex Noren were then at five over, a shot clear of Craig Lee.

Last season Lawrie spoke about the fears of losing his automatic playing rights for 2016:

“I thought it was going to be the end of the world if I didn’t do well and it seriously effected the way I played. This year, I realise it’s not actually the end of the world. There is life somewhere, after losing your tour card.”

“You come out here (on tour) and you feel that you’re not worthy to be out here sometimes. You’re trying as hard as you can to feel that you should be here. I know I should be here. My golf game is good enough,”

At Valderrama Lawrie’s was good enough carding rounds of 77-74-77-73 and receiving a cheque for €7,400 for a share of 53rd place.

*Peter Lawrie is sponsored by NewstalkFM

 


Masters Preview – Rickie Fowler’s Year

Brendan Mcdaid , , , , , ,

Rickie+Fowler+Shell+Houston+Open+Preview+Day+aZJi37bNHQulThis could be Rickie Fowler’s year at Augusta National.

Just fancy his chances even though he has not done anything special so far this year. He can hit it, pitch and putt it. So he has a very good chance this year.

Jason Day obviously can’t be ruled out after being a nearly man for so many events he is now stringing together wins. Last week in Austin at the WGC Dell Match Play and before that at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

So that current form makes him a firm favourite. Although his back seems to be an issue at the moment.

Rory McIlroy is the leading Irish contender no doubt and the Dell Match Play might have sharpened him up somewhat and helped his confidence. A few unexpected cuts this season did not help his momentum and so I wish him a lot of luck this year.

McIlroy just needs to hold it together and tame any tendency to lose control at key times. Or make an unneeded aggressive strokes which get severely punished at the Masters. It’s a time to remain patient throughout.

Shane Lowry hasn’t done enough to suggest this could be his year. But he will have tremendous confidence after the WGC Bridgestone title win from last year. He has the game to do it though Augusta tests it for any weaknesses over 72 holes. The match play in Austin hinted that he is not in the same rich vein of form as of yet.

GMAC has a few demons gathered over the years at The Masters and distance seems to be main challenge for him at Augusta. His win in December at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba can do him no harm though.

Bubba Watson will be hard to beat as will Phil Mickelson. The latter travelling to Georgia slightly under the radar but showing some consistency in recent weeks.

Watson carding wins at hero World Challenge and the Northern Trust Open so will loom large as a possible contender on the Sunday afternoon

Adam Scott is up there too after his two wins this season – The Honda classic and WGC Cadillac Championship.

Outside chances include Brandt Snedeker who has shown some form this season. Or maybe Swede Henrik Stenson – always a firm favourite of mine. But again they need some consistency over the four days to be winners of a Green Jacket.

Another fancy is Louis Oosthuizen. He’s a tough, steady and competitive player with all the skills in his armoury to make the Masters his on this occasion. After coming so close in 2012.

Clearly he can manage his way around the Augusta course quite well   And has that that big easy swing that made Ernie Els such a success and hides the real power he gets on impact.

Jordan Spieth may arrive too exhausted after a Champion’s Year filled with lots of victories, commercial commitments and global travel. Recent weeks suggest it might have just taken its toll – as it does with every Masters Champion – and so the pressure might tell.

Then again Spieth might react positively to driving back down Magnolia Drive and the memory muscles help him just make it back to back titles.

No matter my money is still on Rickie Fowler