Top Guns Continue To Roll In For Australian Open

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The big names continue to enrol for the 2011 Australian Open with three more signings sure to bring even more people through the gates at The Lakes Golf Club next month.

Aaaron Baddeley is the main feature as he looks for a third Australian Open title.

Aaron Baddeley is confirmed as an Australian Open starter.

The event holds good memories for the Australian as he won back to back titles in this tournament in 1999 and 2000 when still just a teenager.

Joining him on the card in 2011 are American duo  David Toms and Bill Haas who will come to Sydney for the November 10 feature.

It will be the first time Hass contests the Australian Open and he couldn’t be in better form leading into his debut start.

Just a matter of weeks ago he won the season ending US PGA Tour Championship and in doing so picked up a handy $10 million.

Tom’s meanwhile is a major winner, 2001 US PGA Championship, and has banked 13 US PGA Tour titles along the way so far in his career.

He’s the latest in a long line of Americans to attack the event including Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan.

Tiger Woods is also in the field as he looks to reverse his downward spiral on the World rankings where he currently sits in 55th spot.

The last time Woods was in Sydney was back in 1996 when as a 20 year old he tied for fifth spot.

In terms of the Australian contingent Jason Day and Adam Scott will lead the charge with defending champion Geoff Ogilvy also in the mix.

President’s Cup captain Greg Norman will also be looking for a good result as he does battle with President’s Cup rival captain Fred Couples.

 

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Bradley Shows Just What President’s Cup Is Missing

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Keegan Bradley has claimed the Grand Slam of Golf championship in Bermuda today in what ended up as a frantic finish to the two day tournament.

Bradley picks up a prize of $600,000 in a unique tournament on golf’s annual calendar.

Keegan Bradley wins PGA Championship

Keegan Bradley wins PGA Championship title.

The Grand Slam of Golf pits the winners of that year’s four majors against each other in a battle to find the best, this year held at the Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda.

Bradley won the tournament with a round of 71 giving him a total score of 138 across the 36 holes.

It was just enough to get ahead of Charl Schwartzel who revelled in the windy conditions to almost close the seven shot deficit with a round of 65.

It was an interesting mix in this year’s tournament with all four players first time major winners.

Rory McIlroy started the day with a share of the lead with Bradley but buckled under the pressure to drop to third with a round of 75 to finish on 142.

It was only slightly better for British Open champion Darren Clarke who added a 74 to a horror first round that left him on 151 overall.

Bradley would have taken tremendous satisfaction from the win after being snubbed by US President’s Cup team captain Fred Couples in favour of the horribly out of form Tiger Woods.

Bill Haas collected the other wildcard spot for the US team after his Tour Championship victory but it’s the selection of Woods that caused the most controversy.

If anything Bradley’s win has put more pressure on Woods to perform know that it’s been made clear the US Team has taken a huge gamble by leaving out such a quality in-form player like Bradley.

The President’s Cup gets away at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia in early November following the Australian Open in Sydney before that.

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Couples Defends Picking Tiger In President’s Cup

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US President’s Cup team captain Fred Couples has defended using his wild card pick to select Tiger Woods in his squad after the former world number one continues to struggle.

Woods has played just once professional tournament since the announcement was made and finished down the order in 30th spot at the Frys.com Open.

Tiger misses cut

Tiger needs to improve rapidly to be any hope in the 2011 President's Cup

He carded rounds of  73-68-68-68 with his putting at times nothing short of horrible.

Couples though is insisting he made the right call and says Woods will be a bonus in his team come the President’s Cup.

This is despite him not winning a tournament since 2009 and playing only limited golf throughout 2011.

“I don’t think he needs a vote of confidence,” Couples said

“He just needs to play.”

While that may sound good in theory the fact is there are only a matter of weeks left until the President’s Cup kicks off meaning his chance to ‘just play’ are few and far between.

He’s scheduled to play at the Australian open in Sydney early next month but after that it’s virtually straight into the President’s Cup lead up.

Couples says he’s surprised by the amount of controversy his selection has caused.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” he said.

That being said Couples knows he needs to give Woods every possible advantage and that is likely to include reuniting him with former playing partner Steve Stricker.

They played together in the 2009 tournament and won all four matches they were involved in.

“He’s going to do well,” Couples said. “He has a better chance of winning every match than not playing well.”

Woods may not play a professional tournament again before the Australian Open as he reportedly practices at home for up to eight hours a day.

“I believe in the guy,” Couples said.

 

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Australian Open A President’s Cup Teaser

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If you want an early taste of the 2011 President’s Cup then you’ll have to look no further than the Australian Open in Sydney at the start of November.

As it stands there are half a dozen United States team members confirmed for the Australian Open feature as well as at least five Internationals.

Bill Haas

Bill Haas will make it seven US President's Cup team members playing in the Australian open.

The latest Americans to confirm their presence are world number nine Matt Kucher, world number 11 Nick Waney and world number 19 Hunter Mahan.

That joins a list which already includes Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods.

It’s also expected that Bill Haas the PGA Tour Championship winner will also travel to Sydney for the Open meaning seven of the 12 in the USA team will play at the same event.

For the internationals their brigade will be headed by Robert Allenby who makes his first return to the Australian Open since the now notorious 2008 event.

At that tournament he was heckled by drunks at the final hole with comments made in relation to his dead mother.

At the time it caused massive outrage and resulted in changes to the setup at the Open in future years.

The other Internationals to play the Australian open will include world number seven Jason Day and world number eight Geoff Ogilvy with Aaron Baddeley also expected to line up in Sydney.

In a nice bonus both captains will also be at the event, Greg Norman and Fred Couples out to prove they’ve still got it.

The major opposition to the Australian Open is the $US6 million Singapore Open which is likely to attract half of the internationals.

The vast number of entries creates an interesting aspect in terms of pairings with the one everyone wants to see being Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.

Woods old caddy Steve Williams made headlines after publicly attacking Woods following his first victory since teaming with Scott.

Gold Australia tournament Director Trevor Herden said though it was very unlikely to occur.

”I could almost guarantee that you will not see them paired together because [in Scott and Woods] we have two huge drawcards that have to be spread through the field,” he said.

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Wayward Tiger Can’t Find His Short Game

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There were plenty of positive signs for Tiger Woods leading into this week’s Frys.com Open and to be fair a few of those signs were evident on the golf course.

In the end though it wasn’t replicated on the scoreboard as his hours of swing technique practice showed…through his horrible putting.

It was his first event for two months saying taking a break to sort out his niggling injuries as well as refocus his mind.

Woods lead up work was solid but at the end of the day his finished at a two over par 73.

Tiger Woods at Doral

Tiger Woods can't get his putting right in his comeback tournament.

Highlighting his green troubles were two main misses, one form six feet and the other from four feet both costing him birdies.

As it stand he’s six off the leader but he knows it could have been so much better.

“That’s probably one of the worst putting rounds I’ve ever had,” he said.

“I just had a hard time hitting my (putting) stroke, and then I started altering it. I started losing confidence in it because I wasn’t hitting my line, so it was just a downward spiral.

“I think I’m going to go put some lead tape on it (the putter) and see if maybe I can get a little bit more mass. It’s always worked in the past.”

His round consisted of two bogeys, two birdies and a double bogey at the par five 12th hole.

All up he had 27 putts for the round and made just half of the greens in regulation.

His only putt greater than six feet came on the 10th when he dropped a 12 footer to save par.

“I’m just playing to get competitive and win a golf tournament,” Woods said.

“It’s about going out there and playing, and right now I’m six (shots) back. I need to put together a good round tomorrow and gradually piece my way back into the tournament.”

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Rory Mcilroy Gears Up For The Korea Open

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World number one aspirant and arguably the face of European gold Rory McIlroy will ply his trade in Asia this weekend as he contests the Korea Open at Woo Jeong Country Hills Club in Cheonan.

It’s a tournament he’s familiar with after finishing third at his only visit to the country back in 2009.

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy to continue his quest for glory at the Korea Open.

The popular Northern Irishman comes into this tournament just third up since having a two month break back in July.

He started well in the Dutch KLM open and progressed further when second in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland on Sunday.

He will need a big round if he’s to break through for his first win since returning though with a mountain of support for hometown hero and defending champion YE Yang.

There’s also good representation from other Asian players as well as the usual European and Australian suspects.

“I am excited to be back for the first time since 2009. I went close last time and finished third, so it would be nice to come back and do better,” McIlroy said.

“I remember the course, but the thing I remember most is that the par threes are tough, especially on the back nine.

“All aspects of your game have to be in shape every week, but especially iron play this week considering the tough par threes we will have to play.”

For Yang the Korea Open probably has more pressure than the average major, something that’s continued to increase since he beat Tiger Woods in a playoff to win the PGA Championship in 2009.

There’s no doubt he’s the one they’re going for this weekend so he’ll need to handle that as well as McIlroy.

“I have good memories of the course from last year. I enjoy this tournament and I know that Korean fans look forward to this week,” said Yang.

“Rory is a good player and I am looking forward to playing against him this week. I lost to him at the US Open so I would like to beat him, but he is the highest ranked player in the field this week.”

He’s not the only Korean in the mix though with Noh Seung-yol looking to make amends after letting go a five shot lead in the 2010 tournament.

“I’m sure YE Yang has great memories of last year, but I don’t and I hope he will feel my pain this time around,” Noh said.

“I play the Korea Open every year and I am looking forward to playing alongside top quality players.”

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Fall Of The Tiger, Woods Slips Outside Top 50

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It’s something that his fans thought wouldn’t happen until the day he retired but Tiger Woods is out of the world’s top 50 players for the first time since he entered into it in 1996.

Woods now sits at 51st in the rankings his lowest spot since way back on October 13, 1996 when he was ranked 61st following his maiden US PGA Tour win at the Las Vegas Invitational.

It was only a week after that he first ventured into the top 50 after winning at Disney World and beginning a remarkable run up the leader board.

In fact Woods spent a total of 778 inside the top 50 where he racked up 14 major’s in the process.

Tiger Woods at Bay Hill

Tiger Woods drops from top 50 but is showing signs of promise.

The former world number one does have a chance to reclaim his spot though as he returns from a two month break to play at the Frys.com Open at CordeValle on Thursday.

He is showing signs of regaining some form as well after shooting a practice round of 62 in preparation for the event.

It would be a huge turnaround though from a player who hasn’t tasted victory for nearly two years, the Australian Open of November 2009 his last triumph before his life infamously unravelled.

Throughout this year it’s been a real struggle for the former champ who’s battled problems in his knee and Achilles and was ultimately forced to reoperate after missing the cut in the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club back in August.

“We’re practicing very hard up at Medalist and I’m playing as much as I possibly can, something that I hadn’t not done all summer, because I hadn’t been cleared (by doctors) to do it,” Woods said.

A big portion of his break has also been spent working on a new swing technique with coach Sean Foley which is designed on taking some of the pressure of his lead leg.

It seems to be paying off though with his 62 on the Medalist a course record which included 10 birdies, seven on the back nine, where he shot 29.

“My training sessions are great,” Woods said.

“Strength has come back. My explosiveness has come back through my training, and now just trying to get my feels back, and it feels great.”

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Allenby & Baddeley Score President’s Cup Starts

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The home course advantage and home captain advantage has paid off for Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley who have received the call up from Greg Norman for the International’s President’s Cup squad.

Norman always hinted that he was likely to favour an extra Australian presence, going one further and picking two Victorian’s with intimate knowledge of the Royal Melbourne golf course.

Robert Allenby has long held a good relationship with the layout of the course and he was widely tipped to get the first position.

It was the second that was up for debate and there’s little doubt Baddeley scraped through by the skin of his teeth.

Aaron Baddeley just scrapes into President's Cup squad with final wild card.

In fact it’s unlikely he’d even have been considered were it not for a spectacular season ending performance in the Tour Championship in Atlanta last weekend where he fell one short of entering the playoff.

Of those to miss out on the President’s Cup squad there’s no doubt South African Louis Oosthuizen would be the most disappointed after finishing in 11th spot on the money list, just one place out of automatic entry.

For the American’s Tiger Woods was named as one wildcard earlier this month while the final spot went to FedEx Cup Champion, (the man who beat Baddeley by a shot), Bill Haas.

“I actually put in a call to both Aaron Baddeley and John Senden at the start of the Tour Championship out of courtesy,” Norman said.

“Also on the list was Vijay Singh and Camilo Villegas and obviously Louis Oosthuizen.

“But knowing that we are playing in the backyard of Australia, I wanted to hopefully load up the team with as many Aussies as I possibly could.

“So Aaron put in a tremendous performance there, and had a chance of winning the golf tournament, played extremely well and has played very, very well for a few years now.”

The last time the President’s Cup was held in Australia was 1998, a time when Baddeley was a mere spectator making his call up all the more special.

“For an Aussie to play in the Presidents Cup, it really does not get any better than that, and especially with Greg being the captain, because . . . I know, for me, Greg was the man I looked up to growing up,” Baddeley said.

“I always got up early to watch TV, to watch Greg; and to have him captain the team in Australia, to me, that’s an absolute dream come true.”

It’s a sentiment reflected by Allenby.

” Obviously Melbourne is my home. I’ve been playing at Royal Melbourne since I was 12 years old,” he said.

“I’ve had some success there and the relief was humongous. Greg will tell you himself how happy I was, and you know the first thing I said was that you’ll get 12 billion per cent out of me.”

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Donald Attacks Uk Paper Over Claims Tiger’s Toasted

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Luke Donald has refuted a front page headline in the UK which quotes him as declaring Tiger Woods a spent force in world golf.

Yesterday morning the headline across the Daily Express read, “Luke Donald: The Tiger Woods Era is ‘Over’”.

Luke Donald

Luke Donald insists he didn't make the comments quoted in a British tabloid.

Today though Donald has taken a stance against the tabloid insisting he said no such thing.

“I don’t recall ever saying the Tiger era is over,” Donald said.

“I’ve certainly said in the past I think it’s tough to come back from physical injuries. I’ve had some, and obviously being away from the game for so long, it’s certainly not going to be easy for him to get back to where he was.

“I wouldn’t doubt that Tiger will come back and win again.”

It’s an interesting battle between the tabloid and Donald given his words weren’t paraphrased however directly quoted according to the author.

An extract from the article reads as follows:

“When you get that combination of injury plus the scandal that went on, mentally that’s quite scarring. It’s a lot to take, even for someone with one of the strongest minds in golf. It’s a confidence sport. Even though Tiger’s only 35, there are a lot of young guys coming up Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley and a bunch of others. I would assume a new era is upon us.”

If Donald had admitted to the story few could argue with him anyway, Woods hasn’t won a single event on the PGA tour for nearly 24 months.

His last triumph came in November of 2009 when Woods was treated like royalty during his stint down under for the Australian Masters.

It was after that win though that he was involved in the now infamous car accident and one of the biggest scandals in sport unravelled.

There’s also no refuting the fact there are a lot of young players coming through, in fact of the last eight major champions, five of them are yet to turn 30.

Still though, Donald is eager to clear the air and have his true feelings put forward.

“Whether the Tiger era is over, I don’t know,” Donald said.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of great young players coming up and showing a lot of talent. But certainly, I would never be naive enough to write Tiger off.

“He has a tremendous amount of talent, and I’m sure when he starts playing a little bit more, that will start showing again.”

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After missing the cut, where will Tiger show his stripes next…?

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Tiger misses cut

Tiger misses cut

Bears go into hibernation and now a Tiger will, too. Only this time it won’t be by choice.

Tiger Woods missed the cut in a major championship for just the third time as a professional and fourth time overall Friday, shooting a 3-over-par 73 to finish his week 10 over.

His next stop will be Jupiter (Florida, that is) after he hit some otherworldly shots at Atlanta Athletic Club, where he arrived 129th in the FedExCup standings and left out of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup following five double bogeys over two days.

That, by the way, was the first time the two-time FedExCup champion has put up such ghastly numbers.

It also means it will be the last time we will see him until Novemeber when he is scheduled to play in the JBWere Masters in Australia and possibly The Presidents Cup — should captain Fred Couples select him.

Woods needs the tournament reps, but he needs first to go back to the range to do the work he’s been unable to do because of his health or lack thereof after a knee and Achilles injury sidelined the 14-time major champion for three months.

“I showed signs that I can hit the ball exactly how I know I can,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, I just didn’t do it enough times.”

Time is exactly what Woods needs now, maybe now more than ever, to do the things Sean Foley has tried to impart but has been unable to because of Woods’ battered body and mind.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but Foley has his work cut out with a soon-to-be 36-year-old Tiger.

“Now I have nothing to do but work on my game,” said Woods, a four-time winner of the PGA Championship who missed the cut in the event for the first time in his career. “That’s going to be good.”

Woods was anything but good this week, except for maybe his distance off the tee.

“I’m hitting the ball farther,” he said.

Farther into the woods maybe. That’s what Woods did on the par-5 12th Friday, for example, when he hit a low snap hook with a fairway wood on his way to one of those five double bogeys.

Woods said the week was a step backwards in that he didn’t make the cut and therefore didn’t contend in the tournament.

Well, it wasn’t a step forward, either, so it could only be backwards. If you’re not doing one, you’re doing the other.

Earlier this year, Woods returned too soon from the injuries he sustained at the Masters only to pull out of THE PLAYERS Championship following just nine holes.

Nothing was right then and not much is better now. But maybe all this in a weird way will do Woods some good.

He can go back to spending all his waking hours working on his game — driving, ball-striking, chipping, putting — and get away from the spotlight, scrutiny and everything else that goes with being him out here.

Besides, half the reason he put his face on golf’s Mount Rushmore was because he outworked everybody else.

Woods is ultracompetitive, like all the great ones always are, and he came to the PGA Championship with the same expectations he’s always had.

“A ‘W’,” Woods said. “A nice ‘W.’”

Instead, he left with another set of letters next to his name: MC.

And in the long term, it might just do him some good.

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