Seve Ballesteros loosing battle with neurological condition

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Seve Ballesteros

Seve Ballesteros

The Ballesteros family today issued a statement about Seve’s condition which said: 

“The Ballesteros family informs that Seve’s neurological condition has suffered a severe deterioration. The family will inform accordingly about any change in his health condition and takes this opportunity of thanking everyone for the support that both Seve and his own family have been receiving during all this time.”

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McIlroy shakes off Master’s blues to lead Malaysian Open

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy leads Malaysian Open

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel narrowly made the cut Saturday to join joint leaders Rory McIlroy and Alexander Noren in the third round of the Malaysian Open.

Defending champion Noh Seung-yul of South Korea was not as lucky when the second round of the rain-disrupted tournament was completed Saturday. Officials were considering extending the tournament by an extra day because of bad weather.

Schwartzel and Noh were among 77 players who were unable to complete their second round Friday after rain and lightning halted play for nearly three hours.

With the cut set at 1-over 145, Schwartzel survived with a 144 after shooting a second-round 71. Noh was 145.

McIlroy shrugged off his recent final-round collapse at the Masters, sinking eight birdies Friday to lead the tournament with Noren of Sweden at 11-under 133.

The pair are a stroke ahead of England’s Simon Dyson. Stephen Gallacher of Scotland, 17-year-old Italian Matteo Manasserro and Australia’s Brett Rumford are tied for third at 137. World No. 1 Martin Kaymer of Germany is 3-under 141.

Officials from the Asian and European Tours — who co-sanction the tournament — are expected to decide Sunday whether to extend the Malaysian Open to Monday for the first time. In 2006, the tournament at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club was shortened to 54 holes due to heavy rain.

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Golf Sensation Martin Kaymer supports Caddy For A Cure

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Martin Kaymer supports Caddy For A Cure

Martin Kaymer supports Caddy For A Cure

Caddy For A Cure is a non-profit organization that lets fans bid in online auctions to caddy for a PGA TOUR or LPGA Tour player during their official practice or pro-am competition round, with proceeds donated to charity. This unique once-in-a-life opportunity is being offered by Caddy For A Cure at the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship with the world ranked #1 player, golfing sensation Martin Kaymer.

 

As part of the caddy experience, the auction winner will spend the day with Kaymer and his TOUR caddy on the driving range, putting green and golf course, experiencing each shot first-hand and being in the middle of the action of a professional golf event. They will walk shoulder to shoulder among the world’s best players as they prepare to compete in one of the PGA TOUR’s most exciting events – a rare experience inside the PGA TOUR.

“Our objective has always been to offer golf fans the best and most unique experiences in professional golf; to let them see it from an insider’s perspective by bringing them closer to the game and to the players,” said veteran PGA TOUR caddy and Caddy For A Cure Founder Russ Holden. “While we’ve had most of the world’s best TOUR players participate with us before, this is the first time we’ve ever had the current world #1 ranked player participate with us. This is an amazing opportunity for someone to combine their passion for golf with a heart for helping others for an experience they won’t forget.”

While Caddy For A Cure supports and promotes awareness of the rare genetic disorder, Fanconi anemia, another component to the Caddy for A Cure program is its partnership with the PGA TOUR national military outreach initiative Birdies for the Brave program. Proceeds from this caddy experience with Kaymer will go toward supporting both causes, as well as toward the Teach for America Charlotte organization supported by the tournament and Kaymer’s charity of choice.

The auction for the opportunity with Martin Kaymer is currently live on eBay and may be found from the www.caddyforacure.com website “player auction” link. The caddy date will take place on Wednesday, May 4, 2011, during the pro-am competition round of the Wells Fargo Championship (May 2-8) at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC. For more information on Caddy For A Cure and its charitable beneficiaries, along with a complete list of upcoming auction opportunities, please visit www.caddyforacure.com or call (954) 341-4600.

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McIlroy`s flight from first to worst on Master`s Sunday

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Rory McIlroy on Masters Sunday

Rory McIlroy on Masters Sunday

In the 75 years that there has been a Masters, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that had more drama and excitement among such a large group of players as this past one. Charl Schwartzel’s four straight birdies to finish was astounding, but don’t forget the chip in for birdie on the first hole or the hole-out for eagle on the third. The young man played some incredible golf and is a deserving champion.

 

As I watched in amazement at all the different storylines, I realized I had a large number of possibilities to write about for this week’s “A Lesson Learned.” Tiger Woods’ aggressive play made up a seven stroke deficit in eight holes. His inability to convert a few short putts on the back nine cost him a chance to win a fifth green jacket. The Australian contingent of Ogilvy, Day and Scott showed incredible poise and looked like one of them would take the green jacket down under for awhile. There was also a time when I was sure K.J. Choi would win with his almost robotic-like consistency. And of course, Charl Schwartzel’s four-birdie close will be written about ad nauseum for years to come. But in some ways, the story of the week may have been the three-day dominance of Rory McIlroy and the gut-wrenching back nine he endured on Sunday. And those putts. Everyone remembers his drive on No. 10, but those putts on Nos. 11 and 12 are what doomed his chances.

I noticed early that Rory seemed to be walking a little quicker than normal. That’s a sign of tension. It showed early with a bogey at the first. But he did a good job, albeit with a few early struggles, of righting the ship and stood on the 10th tee still one shot ahead of the rest of the field. And then, one pulled drive later, a shot from by the cabins to the left of the tenth hole and a pitch that hit a tree near the green that came back to him, the young man had a triple bogey and was two shots behind.

But then he missed a short birdie putt on eleven and an even shorter par putt on the same hole. He then missed more short putts as he four-putted for double bogey on the 12th. Hearts across the golf world were breaking for him. It was maddening. It was gut wrenching. And to many golf instructors, it was understandable. We’ve all seen it before. We’ll see it again.

I heard the commentators talking about how all day, he seemed to be pulling his putts. That is what happens when you get tense.

When better players feel tense, they know it and often try, subconsciously, to make adjustments. When you feel like you’re too quick, you will slow your hands down, almost decelerate them, to get back what you think is your proper, natural rhythm. And you’re tense because you remember missing a short one earlier. That’s when even the shortest putts seem like hieroglyphics.

When you feel your body and nerves getting tense, you need to give yourself a deep breath and get back to the basics. This means regulate your breathing, exhale and be sure you go through your pre-shot routine. Most importantly, accept that anything that has happened on the last hole or last shot is not indicative of what will happen to you on your next shot. The best players in the world hit poor shots, miss short putts, stub easy chips. You will too. It happens. When your body tenses up, it may increase the likelihood of it. You’ve got to get back to basics. But if and when a bad shot or bad break happens, you have to accept it and move forward. Don’t let one bad hole turn into two or three. Don’t let one bad swing mess up your rhythm for the next five swings.

As for young Rory McIlroy, his fundamentals and balance are so solid, I am confident he will be back in contention at major championships soon. Probably very soon. He needs to use this experience to learn how to handle his emotions and learn to rely on his routines and selective memories when he gets back into that same position.

And for all of you who will be playing in a club championship, your weekend Nassau or just trying to beat your personal best: whenever you feel the pressure starting to build, remember that it effects every player of every level. Take a breath, go through your routine and perform confidently, regardless of what happened in the past. Your best golf shot should always be the next one!

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Tiger’s view on 2011 Masters Tournament

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Tiger about 2011 Masters

Tiger about 2011 Masters

The interview room was packed, with green-jacketed Augusta National members lining the back wall to make sure journalists didn’t get too unruly. Tiger Woods was on his way in, finally ready to answer some of the questions about the mystery that surrounded his life.

None of us in the room that day last April expected to learn much, and Woods was true to form. He talked vaguely about becoming a better man, danced around questions about his personal life and offered little about the state of his game.

Even the bizarre commercial Nike ran a few days later with his late father presumably speaking to him from above drew just a soulful gaze from an otherwise silent Woods.

“I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?” Dad asked.

A year later we’re still trying to figure that out. Woods remains as much of an enigma today as he was in the room that day at Augusta National, preparing for his return to golf while still grappling with the issues that would eventually make him a divorced man.

There are reports he has a new girlfriend, which stirred up some excitement recently among the tabloids. But as another Masters looms, the talk about his personal life has largely faded.

Now we just want to know about his game.

It was on display Saturday in Florida, where Woods entered the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with thoughts of contending after a posting a nifty 68 the day before on a tough golf course.

“We’re trying to build toward the first major, and that’s kind of how my game is,” he said after the round. “It’s building, and it’s coming.”

Hopeful words, though nothing we haven’t heard before. Woods has been talking about his game coming around for months now, even as his winless streak stretches into a second year.

Then he plays like he did on Saturday, and you wonder if he’ll ever win another Green Jacket again.

Two balls in the water on the back nine. Chunked chips from perfect lies. Misses on short putts, the kind he never missed before.

It all added up to a fat 74 that once again left Woods no chance of winning in his final tune-up before the Masters. On a course he once dominated, Woods struggled to hold his place as Bubba Watson and some of the game’s rising stars took dead aim at the flags.

The Masters is less than two weeks away. And Woods still looks lost.

Just what is wrong with his game has been debated in press rooms and bars from the coast of California to the swamps of Florida. Trying to figure it out is about as easy as trying to figure Woods out, and that’s a task a lot of amateur psychologists have failed at.

He has a good round, then follows it with a stinker. He hits shots like the Woods of old used to hit, then follows them with clunkers.

There’s no real pattern to it, which makes it even more perplexing. Woods himself seems baffled by it all, as if it’s happening to someone else.

He should be dreading the drive down Magnolia Lane to one of the parking spots reserved for former champions. In a strange way, though, Augusta National might just be the perfect place to turn it all around.

He picked it for his coming out party last year and was in contention all week, despite a balky swing. Every round was under par, and his tie for fourth place gave no indication of the struggles that were yet to come.

He knows every blade of grass and every shot he’ll have to play. If he was able perform like he did last year with the circus that surrounded him, he should be able to put some scores on the board this year.

“There are certain golf courses where I feel pretty good and comfortable no matter how my form is going into it, and Augusta is one of them,” Woods said. “Over the years I’ve won there a few times, but the majority of my finishes have been pretty high. Golf course fits my game.”

If Woods was upset after his round Saturday, he didn’t show it. He was patient with the press, then went and signed autographs for about five minutes.

That’s something the Tiger of old wouldn’t have done and proof he’s at least trying to live up to his vow of being more respectful to both the game and its fans. He’s still a work in progress but seems more comfortable in his occasional interactions with fans.

The new swing is coming around, too. There are more good shots than bad, and now it’s just a matter of putting them together more consistently.

Sooner or later, though, he needs to win to get his swagger back.

For Woods, the Masters couldn’t come at a better time.

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Weir misses Arnold Palmer Invitational due to wrist injury healing

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Mike Weir

Mike Weir

Former Masters champion Mike Weir has had a cyst on his left wrist drained and will miss the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard next week at Bay Hill.

The Canadian hopes to be ready for Augusta National.

Weir had a tendon injury in his right elbow last year and tried to play through it until deciding to take off the final four months of the season. He says he is skipping Bay Hill because he does not want to make the same mistake twice.

He says by having the cyst drained now, it will be able to heal properly and allow him to play the Masters and the rest of the year.

Weir failed to make enough money the first two months to retain his card. He is playing the rest of the year on his status as a past PGA TOUR winner and through sponsor invitations.

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Luke Donald adds European flare at World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in Miami

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Luke Donald maintains European challenge

Luke Donald maintains European challenge

Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington hit water trouble as they went hunting for the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in Miami.

After a 15 foot eagle putt on the long first had taken Harrington into a share of second spot with Donald, two behind American Dustin Johnson, he was twice in the lake at the 438 yard third.

Even with a 14 foot putt at the end of it a triple bogey seven went on the Dubliner’s card and, with Johnson two-putting the opener for birdie, it was asking an awful lot to come back from that.

At least Donald limited the damage to a bogey after following Harrington into the water with his approach from the rough to the third.

Chasing his second WGC title in three weeks – and one which would take him to second in the Official World Golf Ranking ahead of Lee Westwood – the 33 year old then only just carried the lake at the short fourth.

But a neat up and down saved Donald’s par there and on 11 under and three behind his hopes remained high.

Johnson played the first four in one under, but was caught when Hunter Mahan, the leader after the first and second rounds, had four birdies in the first six and Matt Kuchar had three in five.

On 14 under they were two shots ahead of their compatriot Nick Watney.

Donald was in a tie for fifth with 21 year old Rory McIlroy, the Northern Irishman two-putting the first for birdie and then salvaging a par on the fifth by chipping in after going from fairway bunker to greenside trap.

Scotland’s Martin Laird resumed on nine under, but after making birdie from five feet at the second he bogeyed the sixth before making birdie like Harrington on the seventh. It put both of them on nine under.

Only one behind them in 13th spot was Tiger Woods, who from 30th at the start of the day was at last finding form – too late for this week, but encouraging with The Masters Tournament only three weeks ago.

Woods turned in 34, then birdied the 11th, 12th, 16th and 17th, where his approach ran over the edge of the hole to three feet.

“I felt that as the week progressed this week, I felt like I hit a lot of good shots but then I would get sidetracked there for a little bit, and didn’t really know what the fix was a couple of times,” said Woods after signing for a 66.

“Today, I hit a lot of good golf shots and when I did mis hit one, I knew what the fix was right away, boom and I got right back on my run of hitting good shots again.  That feels good.”

Westwood gave himself a boost too with four birdies in the first eight, but three-putted the ninth and with one to go was five under.

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Mickelson makes special menu plans for Masters Champion dinner

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Mickelson plans Masters dinner

Mickelson plans Masters dinner

Phil Mickelson was planning a Spanish menu for the Champions Dinner at the Masters to honor two-time champion Seve Ballesteros until realizing the Spaniard was not healthy enough to travel.

Mickelson said Tuesday on a conference call that he had been in contact with Ballesteros, hopeful that he would be able to return to Augusta National this year despite his ongoing battle with brain cancer.

“I just sent him an e-mail saying that if he were able to come, and feeling healthy enough to be able to make this tournament, I would love to have the dinner be something that he would like — a Spanish dish of paella or whatever he thought would be appropriate,” Mickelson said. “I wanted to kind of honor him.”

Mickelson said some e-mails he received recently indicate that Ballesteros will not be able to make it.

“Our thoughts and prayers are going to be with him that evening,” Mickelson said.

Ballesteros was diagnosed with brain cancer in the fall of 2008, a year after he announced his retirement from golf at an emotional press conference at Carnoustie during the British Open.

The Spaniard remains an inspiration, and spoke by telephone to Europe’s Ryder Cup team before the matches in Wales last year, which Europe won over the United States.

Mickelson has a special connection to Ballesteros, beyond their imagination to escape trouble on the golf course. Mickelson was 9 when he first watched the Masters, which Ballesteros won for his first green jacket. He recalls telling his mother that day, “I want to win that tournament. I want to be like that and win this event.”

Mickelson won the Masters last year with a daring shot through the pine trees on the par-5 13th that set up a birdie and carried him to a 67 and a three-shot victory over Lee Westwood.

Without Ballesteros in attendance, Mickelson said he would honor past champions by going heavy on beef — further evidence that his attempt at being a vegetarian was, as he said last month, “doomed to fail.”

“I learned one thing over the years,” Mickelson said. “Many of the past champions, they love beef and they love meat. I plan on having a trio of different meats, whether it be bison or venison or just filet.”

He also said he would serve plenty of green vegetables.

The defending champion hosts the Tuesday night dinner at the Masters and is responsible for picking up the bill.

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PGA says “yes” to mobile phones at events

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graeme on phone

graeme on phone

The PGA TOUR announced Tuesday a mobile device policy that will allow fans at TOUR events to carry mobile devices and use them in select areas on the golf course.

The Honda Classic, scheduled for Feb. 28-March 6 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., will be the first event for which the mobile device policy will be implemented as an enhancement to the overall fan experience.

Testing was conducted at five TOUR events in late 2010 and early 2011 to gauge the potential impact of mobile devices at PGA TOUR events. The five tests allowed the TOUR to develop and refine a list of best practices.

“We understand that mobile devices are an important part of everyday life.” said Andy Pazder, PGA TOUR chief of operations. “We concluded after the five test tournaments that allowing mobile devices on-site at TOUR events was a tremendous fan enhancement, allowing them to stay connected to business and family. We anticipate our fans will be respectful of the policy and as a result the integrity of our competitions will not be compromised.”

With the revised policy, spectators are allowed to carry mobile devices on the golf course with the volume setting on silent. Phone calls can be made or received in designated areas throughout the golf course — for example, at concession stands.

Fans will be allowed to receive and send messages and check data on the golf course away from play.

No video recording is permitted at any time during the week, and no photography will be permitted during official competition rounds.

The mobile device policy will be implemented on a tournament-by-tournament basis, subject to the approval of the TOUR.

The Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship are not PGA TOUR co-sponsored events and have their own respective policies regarding the use of mobile devices on-site.

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Tiger Woods gets the boot off his own game by EA Sports

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Tiger Woods - EA Sports

Tiger Woods - EA Sports

One week into 2011, having not yet swung a golf club in competition, Tiger Woods is already having a terrible year.

Golf Digest ended a 13-year partnership with Woods yesterday, just 2 weeks after Gillette shunned him, declining to renew his endorsement deal before the New Year.

And Electronic Arts is dropping the golfer from the cover of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, deciding to feature a waving yellow flag in his place.  His name and picture have been shrouded in the background.

Having Augusta National in the game is a giant step for EA’s widely popular golf franchise. Video game golfers have dreamed of playing on America’s most hallowed course and decades after the “sport” began, they’re finally getting their chance.

The real-life course in Georgia only has around 300 members and is strictly invitation only.  Oh, and women can’t be members. The game boasts some female golfers and a create-a-player mode, so ladies will be able to tread on Augusta’s links for the first time without having to ask for a man’s permission. Hey, it’s not the real thing, but it’s a baby step.

As for Woods, it’s not all bad news. At least he gets to stay in the title, and he’ll be featured on the PlayStation 3’s collector’s edition of the game, which costs an extra $10

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