Jimenez and Quiros lead charge this week at Open de Esparia

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Miguel Angel Jimenez at El Prat

Miguel Angel Jimenez at El Prat

After finishing second to World Number One Lee Westwood in Korea last week, Miguel Angel Jiménez will, along with defending champion Alvaro Quiros, lead the home charge at this week’s Open de España.

 

As The European Tour returns to its home continent to begin a hugely exciting summer season, Jiménez and Quiros will be among the star attractions at the outstanding Real Club de Golf El Prat, alongside Europe’s last and next Ryder Captains Colin Montgomerie and José Maria Olazábal, as well as teenager Matteo Manassero.

Jiménez came within one stroke of winning his 19th European Tour title at the Ballantine’s Championship but lost out to the man who is currently the best player on the planet.

The Spaniard, however, will head to the outstanding Real Club de Golf El Prat on the outskirts of Barcelona in brilliant form hoping to win his national Open championship for the first time in his outstanding career.

Aged 47, Jiménez continues to amaze the world of golf with his wonderful attitude and approach to the game, and indeed life in general.

“I’ve been in good form, and hopefully this week is a little bit better for me and I have a chance to get the Spanish Open title,” said Jiménez.

“I’ve never won the Spanish Open and it would mean so much me to able to win that one. That’s the one I would love to win the most – and a Major, of course.

“I played very well in Korea. I was happy for Lee last week but hope this is my week.”

Quiros will be hoping that the Open de España is his week once again. The big-hitting, big-smiling Spaniard achieved one of his lifelong ambitions when he edged out Englishman James Morrison in Seville last year and will be looking for the same result in Barcelona this week.

The 26 year old, already a winner this year after his victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, is looking to become the first man since Max Faulkner in 1953 to successfully defend the Open de España.

“Winning my own national Open last year was one the most important things in my life for sure,” he said.

“To be the winner of your Open is something really, really great – along with The Ryder Cup and the World Cup they are the best three biggest things in golf for me.”

The course will be played over the new 7,296-yard par 72 El Prat course, whicyh was designed by Greg Norman and opened in 2004. It was the first course designed by the Australian in continental Europe.

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The European Challenge Tour returns to Florence as they host the Mugello Tuscany Open from May 12-15

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Floris De Vries

Floris De Vries

The European Challenge Tour will return to Florence, the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany, for the second edition of the Mugello Tuscany Open from May 12-15.

The picturesque Poggio dei Medici GC, in the town of Scarperia, will again host the €150,000 event, which last year helped launched the career of Dutchman Floris de Vries.

De Vries edged out fellow Challenge Tour rookie Thorbjørn Olesen of Denmark at the second extra hole of a sudden-death play-off, and the two 21 year olds would later finish side by side in the final 2010 Challenge Tour Rankings, with the Dane taking third place and the Dutchman finishing fourth.

Since then, both players have made impressive starts to their maiden European Tour campaigns, with Olesen occupying 45th place in The Race to Dubai after finishing runner-up at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and tied ninth at the South African Open, and De Vries currently in 70th place on the Money List after a string of consistent performances.

Alain de Soultrait, Director of the Challenge Tour, said: “Last year’s tournament was a tremendous success, with Floris and Thorbjørn playing some superb golf on the final day and showcasing what the Challenge Tour is all about. So we are excited about returning to Poggio dei Medici for the second edition of the event, and we must thank the club and also Una Hotels for agreeing to host the tournament.

“We should also thank the Italian Federation for their fantastic support – with Italian golf currently on a high through the exploits of Matteo Manassero and the Molinari brothers, it is important that we continue to develop and strengthen our relationship with the Federation. Finally, we must also thank the Tuscany region, without whose generous sponsorship this tournament simply would not be taking place.”

Co-designed by Italian architect Alvise Rossi Fioravanti and European Tour champion Baldovino Dassù, the 7,114 yard (6,503 metres), par 71 Poggio dei Medici GC also played host to the Ladies Italian Open between 1999 and 2003.

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Padraig Harrington adopts new role for R & A – just announced

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Padraig Harrington new Ambassador

Padraig Harrington new Ambassador

Two-time British Open champion has become the first “Working for Golf” ambassador for the sport’s ruling Royal and Ancient Club.

The 39-year-old Dubliner, who at Birkdale three years ago became the first European golfer to make a successful defense of the Claret Jug since James Braid in 1906, will be promoting the work of the St. Andrews-based governing body on his travels. He also won the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

“Padraig is a role model in the game and when he offered his time to support our golf development and rules education activities, we recognized the potential to reach the widest possible audience,” said R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson. “His active involvement in golf’s bid to rejoin the Olympic Games was an important factor in our success in what is a key development for the future growth of the game.”

Harrington, along with Matteo Manassero, Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen, spoke at the bid presentation to the International Olympic Committee two years ago, and golf will return to the Games in Brazil in 2016 after an absence of more than a century.

In his new role, he will coach young people in R&A-funded golf development programs, appear in Rules of Golf multi-media productions, promote the etiquette of the game, take part in biomechanical equipment testing sessions and support the work of the R&A Foundation.

“The R&A has been a constant feature of my development in the game, from playing in boys and amateur events through to winning the Open Championship,” Harrington said. “I appreciate all the guidance and opportunities they provided along the way. I am delighted to have this opportunity to give something positive back to the game, particularly in those countries around the world where golf is still in its infancy, introducing boys and girls to golf so they can benefit from the values that the game teaches you.

“I am constantly amazed at how much the R&A do for the game worldwide from development to the rules, etiquette and other areas,” he added. “The more I learnt the more I wanted to get involved in their work and, given that I play a global schedule, I am well-placed to assist on various projects around the world.”

In his first act as an ambassador, Harrington announced the R&A’s continued support for grassroots development programs in Ireland, worth about $300,000 over the next three years.

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Coach becomes the player on the European Senior Tour

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GordonBrandJr

Gordon Brand Jr

As coach to some of the brightest young players, Gordon Brand Jnr always has one eye on the future but the former Ryder Cup player is also carefully plotting his own success on the European Senior Tour.

The Scot enjoyed a superbly consistent 2010 campaign, capturing his maiden Senior Tour in the Matrix Jersey Classic and recording five other top five finishes to end the season fourth on the Order of Merit.

Brand Jnr also coaches the England Under 16 team, as well as the Gloucester and Somerset county boys, and while he feels the golfing future is in safe hands with the emerging generation, he is also eager to build on his own performances on the course.

His decision not to travel long haul anymore excluded the 52 year old from opening trio of events on the 2011 Senior Tour schedule – in Australia, Japan and Mauritius – but Brand Jnr remains hopeful of competing at the top end of the Order of Merit this season.

“The target is to win again but I’m almost biting the hand that feeds me with the tournaments I miss,” he said.

“It is a big ask to finish any higher than I did in 2010, even one place. I’m playing a third less events than everyone else. I have to put the Order of Merit out of my head unless I come out and really dominate it. I want to enjoy my golf and try to get up there and see how good or bad I am. I’ve set my stall out with my schedule and I’m quite happy with it.

“Last year was a good season and I enjoyed it. It was nice to have the win. I had a couple of other good chances but over the year I’ve played fairly solid and had a lot of top tens.

“I played some of my best golf – certainly for the year – in Jersey to win. I really had the putter going. Anytime you win is special, especially as a professional golfer.

“It wouldn’t have been such a good year without the win – that was the icing on the cake. There was an anticipation that I should win (on the Senior Tour) so it was nice to do it. It was only my second tournament of the year so that was a lovely way to set up the rest of the year.”

An eight time champion on The European Tour and part of the European Ryder Cup Team in 1987 and 1989, Brand Jnr is one of a select group of players to make more than 500 European Tour appearances.

He joined the Senior Tour in 2008 and lost an epic six hole play-off to his namesake Gordon J Brand on his debut in The De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championship.

In addition to his playing accomplishments, Brand Jnr has also forged a burgeoning career in the media, as an on-course commentator, as well as continuing to nurture new talent near his home in Bristol, England.

“Commentating is a nice way of being involved in golf, like my teaching, without hitting a ball,” he said. “I also get the opportunity to watch some of the best in the world and pick up the odd tip here or there.

“The teaching is also going well. I enjoy passing on the information. We’ve got one you guy coming through called Chris Lloyd who looks very good. He’s not quite Matteo Manassero’s standards, as Manassero has obviously won on the main Tour, but Chris is 18 and certainly in the next few years he is a name to look out for. But if you watch any of the England boys and even some of the county boys, they’ve all got a real talent. It’s really for them what they do with that.

“That’s where the fall-down comes. They almost feel it is their right to wake up and shoot 65 every day. It’s the effort that has to go into that. We try to get them to understand how much work is involved. You have to treat like a job, even though it is your hobby that has turned into a job.”

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Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois to host the 2012 Junior Ryder Cup

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junior ryder cup

Junior Ryder cup

The 2012 Junior Ryder Cup will be played at Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois, United States from September 24 – 25 2012.

Olympic Fields has hosted four Major Championships, and will be the next venue of the biennial contest for girls and boys under the age of 18. The United States will defend the trophy they won at The Gleneagles Hotel in September, where they beat Europe 13½-10½.

Allen Wronowski, President of the PGA of America, said: “We are looking forward to bringing the Junior Ryder Cup to the historic Olympia Fields Country Club. The Junior Ryder Cup brings together the best junior golf talent from Europe and the United States, and this venue will offer a perfect stage for competition.”

The South Course, a 1915 Tom Bendelow design, was restored it to its original style and strategy in 2008 by award-winning golf course architect Steve Smyers.

“Everyone at Olympia Fields Country Club is excited about hosting the 2012 Junior Ryder Cup,” said Brian Morrison, PGA head professional at Olympia Fields Country Club and the 2009 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities. “Our membership wants to promote the game of golf at the grassroots level and has truly embraced the amateur golf game as a whole.”

The Junior Ryder Cup, an international showcase of golf’s next generation, is designed to continue to build international friendships between top junior golfers in the United States and Europe. Notable past players include Rory McIlroy, Matteo Manassero, Carly Booth, Suzann Pettersen and Hunter Mahan.

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Something that the PGA and European Tour’s have in common? History with Titleist

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History was made on the PGA and European Tours this week, and both feats had one thing in common: Titleist. In a stunning finish in Las Vegas, Pro V1x loyalist Jonathan Byrd won a three-way all-Titleist golf ball playoff at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open with a hole-in-one on the fourth extra hole. In Spain, Titleist Brand Ambassador and Italian teenager Matteo Manassero rewrote The European Tour record book en route to his first professional victory at the Castello Masters Costa Azahor. The 17-year old becomes the youngest-ever winner on The European Tour. Additional victories on the LPGA and Nationwide Tours advances the 2010 Titleist victory count across the worldwide professional tours to 126, over 100 more than the nearest competitor with 22.

TITLEIST HIGHLIGHTS FOR WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 24, 2010

PGA TOUR: Jonathan Byrd aced the 204-yard 17th hole at TPC Summerlin in near darkness after he, Martin Laird (Pro V1x) and Cameron Percy, who was playing the new Pro V1 prototype golf, finished regulation play at 21-under 263. The win marks the fourth career PGA TOUR title for Byrd.

- The winner also relied upon the Scotty Cameron by Titleist Studio Select Newport putter.

- Titleist Brand Ambassador Webb Simpson (new Pro V1x prototype golf ball, 909D3 driver, 909F2 fairway metal, new 910H hybrid, AP2 and 680MB irons, Vokey Design TVD wedges) and Spencer Levin (Pro V1) shared 4th place, one shot back. The top five finishers all relied upon Titleist golf balls.

- In the three weeks since Webb Simpson has put the new Pro V1x prototype golf ball in play, he has finished T12, T44 and T4. This week he also led the field in Driving Accuracy (83.9%).

- Titleist Brand Ambassador Nick Watney (Pro V1x, new 910D3 driver, new 910F fairway metal, 909H hybrid, AP2 irons, Vokey Design wedges, Scotty Cameron Newport Tour putter), shared 6th place, another shot back. Watney was 6th in Putts Per Round (28.3) and 9th in Driving Distance (308.4).

- Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the event with 95 players, including 7 new Pro V1 and 15 new Pro V1x prototypes in play. Nine of the top 10 finishers trusted a Titleist golf ball for their success.

- Titleist also was first in iron sets (40); sand, lob and approach wedges (112); and putters (59).

- Titleist was second in the driver category with 34, including 24 new 910D2 or 910D3 drivers in play; and fairway metals with 33, including 12 new 910F models.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Matteo Manassero finished at 16-under, four clear of runner-up Ignacio Garrido (Pro V1x), for a Titleist 1-2 finish at the Castello Masters.

- What’s in Matteo’s Bag?: Manassero plays a full bag of Titleist equipment from tee-through-green, including: Pro V1x golf ball, new 910D2 driver (9.5), 909F2 (13.5), 909H hybrid (17), AP2 irons (3-P), Vokey Design Spin Milled approach (52) and lob (58) wedges, and a new Scotty Cameron Fastback doublebend putter, that he put into play for the first time this week.

- Matteo joins Ross Fisher as the second European Tour player to win with the new 910 driver. He is the ninth player across the worldwide professional tours to win with the new Titleist 910 driver since seeding began in July.

- Titleist was the golf ball of choice at the event with 69 players, more than all other golf balls combined.

LPGA TOUR: Pro V1x loyalist Jimin Kang birdied three of the last four holes, including the last to capture the inaugural Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia by one shot over Juli Inkster (Pro V1).

- The win was the second LPGA Tour victory for Kang, who finished with a final-round, 6-under 65 and a 9-under 204 total. Maria Hjorth (Pro V1x) tied for 3rd, followed by 5th place finisher Meena Lee (Pro V1x).

- Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice with 44 players, 11 times the nearest competitor with 4.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Mark Wiebe (Pro V1) was runner-up at the Administaff Small Business Classic. Dan Forsman (new Pro V1x prototype, 909D3 driver, 909F3 fairway metal, ZM irons, Vokey Design wedges, Scotty Cameron Studio Select Newport 2 putter) tied for 3rd.

- Titleist was the golf ball of choice with 56 players, seven times the nearest competitor with 8. Titleist also was first in iron sets (25); and sand, lob and approach wedges (50).

NATIONWIDE TOUR: David Mathis (Pro V1x) won the inaugural Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open, finishing with an 8-under 272 for a one-stroke victory over three players, including Titleist Brand Ambassador Won Joon Lee (Pro V1x, 905R driver, 906F2 fairway metal, AP2 and MB irons, Vokey Design wedges, Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter) and Jeff Curl (Pro V1x, Scotty Cameron Newport Fastback putter).

- With the victory, Mathis moved from No. 35 to No. 12 assuring him a spot among “The 25″ who will earn a coveted ticket to the 2011 PGA TOUR.

- Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice with 89 players, nearly five times the nearest competitor with 16. Titleist also was first in sand, lob and approach wedges (126) and putters (61), and second in drivers (31), including 19 new 910′s; fairway metals (34), including 21 new 910′s ; and iron sets (33).

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Italy’s Newest Hero also Youngest to ever win European Golf Tour Event

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Matteo Manassero

When he wakes up from the shock, he will be not only Italy’s newest hero, but also the youngest player to ever win on the European Golf Tour. Matteo Manassero, 17 years old has captured the Castello Masters title by four shots on Sunday. He had started his day behind the then leader, Gary Boyd, by two shots, but an unfortunate collapse by the Brit and an incredible back nine by the teenager, set up his first victory. Before today, the youngest tour player to win was New Zealand’s Danny Lee when he was 18 years old he was able to grab his victory in his own country at the Johnnie Walker Classic held in Perth, Australia in February 2009.

Manassero ended his last day with a four-under 67 for a total of 16-under 268 and won comfortably over Spain’s Ignacio Garrido (68) who’s late charge earned him a second place finish.

“It feels fantastic, I’ve always worked for this moment and I’ve finally done it,” Manassero told Sky Sports.

“I was very nervous at the start and I didn’t have a great time of it from the eighth to the 11th but then I hit some great shots coming in.

“The key was saving par with a great putt on the 12th. From 12 to 15 I made the most of this tournament,” added Manassero who trailed Boyd by two strokes with six holes to play.

The young player had missed a short 15-inch putt for birdie on the par 5, eighth hole, but was able to put together a nice string of three birdies from the 13th hole. At the same time, England’s Gary Boyd had made a the last few holes an easier win for the youngster from his sudden loss of form. This impressive young man only turned professional at the Italian Open in May.

“This is unbelievable, I’ve achieved this much earlier than I thought (I would),” he said after picking up a first prize of $466,000. “This will open up many more doors for me next year.

“I couldn’t imagine winning in my first year. I was just trying to make my card.”

After shooting a course record equalling 63 on yesterday’s round, Boyd had slumped to fire a 74 on today’s round and put him in a share of third place with three other players. Dutchman Joost Luiten, Ireland’s Peter Lawrie and Sweden’s Christian Nilsson all end the tournament at 11-under par. Boyd’s day took a turn on the par-3, 16th hole when he found water and ended the hole with a double-bogie five.

In a rare appearance and struggling from rheumatic problems, Jose Maria Olazabal was unfortunately disqualified for signing an incorrect score on his card. He had put a five down for the 17th hole when in fact he took a six. The well known Spaniard would have finished well down the field following a closing score of 77.

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