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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India’s Bold Plan To Become Golfing Powerhouse

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When you think of the powerhouses of golf a string of countries come to mind, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and European centres like France and Germany.

There’s always a few exciting South Africans and increasingly more South Americans joining the mix as well.

Such is the nature of the game though that a top player can come from anyway, Vijay Singh from Fiji highlighting this better than anybody.

There’s one region though that’s yet to be really tapped as a producer of golfing talent though and one which if done right could open the floodgates into the future.

India has a population of 1.1 billion people but at the moment they’re a mere spec on the world golfing landscape.

Tiger about 2011 Masters

Forget the players you know, Indians are set to become a common fixture by Rio 2016.

They do have a professional circuit known as the Processional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) but only limited players abroad.

With the re-inclusion of golf in the Olympic Games in 2016 though the Indian sporting fraternity has picked the sport as one they’re really planning to target into the future.

Director of the PGIT Padamjit Sandhu says tangible investments will be made not only for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but also extending into the future.

“We have five years before the Olympics but we need to look beyond it as well,” Sandhu said.

He picks out players Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal as the best positioned currently to represent the country but also said they’d be placed under pressure from the likes of Jyoti Randhawa, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri.

He stressed the need for all five players to get more regular tournament time in events outside of India including invitational’s in Japan and Singapore.

“Let the players compete. This will help Indian players gain points in world rankings, thus providing a stronger bench-strength,” he said.

“We will need players who can be consistent over four days. For that the players need more exposure in international tournaments to get used to playing under pressure.”

That is part of one of the main problems he see’s with current players, their strength and fitness not quite up to scratch either physically or mentally.

If the Olympics were to be held tomorrow India would be included in the top 60 qualifiers however they are under no illusions as to the gap they have to make up if they are to be a medal prospect.

“A medal at the Olympics is unrealistic but we can press for them 2024 onwards. The idea is to bide time and ensure that when they win, they win big,” coach Romit Bose said.

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3 of the 1981 United States Ryder Cup Team will attend US Senior Open Championship

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Tom Watson will attend 2011 US Senior Open

Tom Watson will attend 2011 US Senior Open

Three of the iconic 1981 United States Ryder Cup Team  are set to make a sentimental return to Walton Heath Golf Club for The 2011 Senior Open Championship, 30 years after defeating Europe at the venue.

Tom Kite, Jerry Pate and Tom Watson have all entered the world class field for the 25th edition of The Senior Open, which will take place at the Surrey venue, in England, for the first time from July 21-24.

The trio were part of the United States Ryder Cup Team in 1981, widely acclaimed as one of the strongest in the competition’s history, which defeated Europe 18½ – 9½ at Walton Heath.  It was the first time Europe had competed as a combined team on European soil.

Watson is a three time Senior Open champion, having also captured the Claret Jug on five occasions. He teamed up with the legendary Jack Nicklaus in The 1981 Ryder Cup to win two points for the United States, including a second day foursomes defeat of Manuel Piñero and Bernhard Langer.

He will attempt to overcome Langer once more at Walton Heath, when the German defends the Senior Open crown he won at Carnoustie last year.
Kite, meanwhile, will be joined in the field by current European Senior Tour Order of Merit leader Sandy Lyle, who he defeated 3&2 in a remarkable singles match in 1981.

Pate, Kite and Watson will spearhead a strong looking American challenge that will cross the Atlantic this summer, which also includes former Open Champions Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Lehman and Mark O’Meara, and the 2010 United States Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin, who finished runner up to Langer last year.

Two-time champion Loren Roberts, who won the Senior Open Championship in 2009 at Sunningdale on its only other visit to the South of England, has also confirmed he will be part of the field.

Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Senior Tour, said on behalf of the Championship: “We are delighted to have such a strong American contingent travelling over in July for The Senior Open Championship, including the three members of the 1981 Ryder Cup team who have already confirmed their participation.

“It will be fantastic to see them back at Walton Heath alongside some of the European players they competed against as part of one of the greatest American teams we’ve seen in the competition.  The Senior Open Championship promises to be another memorable occasion and a superb opportunity for spectators to see some of the legends of golf from the other side of the Atlantic.”

Tickets for The Senior Open Championship at Walton Heath are on sale now. Discounted advance tickets are priced at £60 for a season pass and £16.50 for any one day pass if booked before July 1.

 

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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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Jim Huber gets the inside scoop from PGA players

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Jim Huber does interviews

Jim Huber does interviews

We have, in the last two weeks, learned a great deal about the common humanity of our men on tour. And in every instance, that knowledge grew from a kind of self-inflicted disaster that would have had the rest of us turning the air blue with rage.

 

We watch our heroes and learn from them weekly. Usually our education is a technical brand; swing thoughts, putting tips, balance, rhythm.
I spend a great deal of my time at professional tournaments on the driving range, watching, listening, seeking. Though my purpose in being there is work-related, I normally come away with one or two things that I can take to my own range and work on. Let’s try an initial move with the left knee. Why not try splaying the right foot out a bit?

And, of course, I eventually become a human pretzel, turned this way and that with little good result.
But we also learn a bit about what lives inside these men and women. And that comes when they have taken themselves to the very edge of their emotional range.

At the Masters, Rory McIlroy found himself traipsing in the backyards of cabins very few knew existed off the left of the 10th fairway. One hack led to another and another and his wheels came terribly unbalanced.

His final round 80, after leading going to that 10th hole, could have provoked a post-round collapse, as well. Instead, with a pained smile, he was thoughtful and considerate, belying his 21 years on this planet. There was a grace about him that made us admire him for something altogether different than just his golf.

And last week in San Antonio, the young firebrand Kevin Na took the much-publicized 16 on a par-four. To make matters potentially worse, he had agreed to be miced by Golf Channel and so we seemed ready to be an intimate party to a furious meltdown.

Instead, he smiled, wondering how he would ever remember how many strokes he had actually taken. He shook his head in playful derision and then, when it was all over, faced the media like a man. There but for the grace of God go we all, and yet would we indeed have had that grace?
So what did we learn from these two youngsters in their hour of peril?

Perhaps it’s not so important what WE learned, for I assume we’re past that stage. But every father out there should make each instance required viewing for their sons and daughters. Not about how to handle their golf but how to handle themselves.

Speaking of grace, your response to last week’s A Sense of Huber regarding Tiger’s post-round petulance was large and, for the most part, supportive. There were some among you, however, who took me to task for my presumption.

Seak05, via Twitter, wrote: being a sports fan, I have never seen the media insert how they feel/are treated the way the golf media does.

It’s an interesting observation, one to which I have no answer. Those of us given the privilege of a microphone become part of the story, at times, especially those who are the first line of defense, so to speak. It becomes personal, right or wrong.

Ryan Hodges asks via e-mail: No American currently holds a major championship. Is this a sign the U.S. is trailing in golf development?

Ryan, I think it’s simply a sign that the rest of the world is catching up to the U.S. There are cycles to everything in life and we’re aboard one of those at the moment. And don’t forget, many of the highly-ranked international stars were actually trained in America, going to U.S. colleges, etc.
Send me your thoughts and questions to askjimhuber@turner.com or use the PGA.com Facebook page or send them to me via twitter @jamesrhuber and I will pick a few to answer next week here on PGA.com. While we’re dealing with questions, I have just one: Lee Westwood tweeted last week that “the skipper brings out his best squirrel for weddings”. Is that a British thing? I was patiently informed by Lee’s manager, Chubby Chandler, that it is a hair thing.

 

 

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Will Wilcox takes two shot lead into final round of Abierto International Copa Antioquia

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Will Wilcox

Will Wilcox

American Will Wilcox takes a two shot lead in the final round of the Abierto International Copa Antioquia after a third round 72 in Colombia.

Wilcox was required to play 25 holes after the weather disruptions of Friday, first finishing his second round by picking up an eagle and birdie in the seven holes he had outstanding to pull three clear of the field.

After a quick turnaround, the American was back out on the course at Club Campestre but found himself falling back into the pack with three dropped shots in the first ten holes before a second eagle of the day, this time on the 12th, put him back into the driving seat. Six pars to finish left the American on ten under par 203.

“I missed a lot of short putts this afternoon. I mean, I really could have this thing in my grip a lot better if I had made some putts. Anyway, I couldn’t be any happier to still have a two-shot lead after the way I played”, admitted the 24 year old leader from Birmingham, Alabama.

Wilcox said the key hole was the eagle on the par five 12th which he felt turned his day around.

“I had a really good drive, it was kind of into the wind and I went after it,” he said. “I swung very hard, trying to play a straight ball and I connected with it. That gave me a lot of confidence and a chance to hit 9-iron into the green, instead of trying to finesse an eight. I hit it to about twenty-five feet and made it. That changed everything in my head.”

He leads Germany’s Nicolas Meitinger and Frenchman Charles Russo, the European pair tied on eight under par 205 after rounds of 67 and 68 respectively, and Canadian Brad Fritsch, who birdied two of the last three holes for a 70.

England’s Matthew Baldwin moved up through the field with a four under par 67 to move to seven under par, continuing his fine form of recent weeks which helped him to a fourth place finish on the Challenge Tour’s first visit to India at the start of the year.

He was joined on the seven under par mark by Argentine amateur Emiliano Grillo, who posted a 69, and Colombian Jose Manuel Garrido, who signed for a 72.

Frenchman Anthony Snobeck made the biggest move of the third round after a six under par 65 moved him up 32 places to a share of the seventh.

With a prize fund of $250,000 the event co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour and the Tour de las Americas, the second event of the 2011 season, offers an early opportunity to make gains on the Challenge Tour Rankings.

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A look at the ever popular Miguel Angel Jimenez

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Miguel Angel Jimenez

Miguel Angel Jimenez

Miguel Angel Jimenez seems to get better and better with age. Golfweek’s Jim McCabe has a look at the man behind the cigar.

Flags from 15 countries flapped in brisk mountain air, and beneath them walked 63 players who could have been cut from the same mold. Be they American or Japanese, Irish or Australian, German or Italian, they carried themselves lean and fit, as if headed to a GQ photo shoot, offering fluid swings and impeccable posture and focus.

Then there was the other guy, he of the ponytail and cigar, the slight paunch, and the warmup routine that made you wonder if he weren’t preparing for a game of Twister, what with the way he took clubs back and contorted his upper body.

It was the 13th edition of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, but so far as unmatched play goes, the winner already had been decided in a rout.

Take a bow, Miguel Angel Jimenez.

He represents Spain, but stretch the picture a little bit. He represents so many of us who are what we are and strive to be happy with that – even on those days when we come up short.

So he lost in the quarterfinals to Martin Kaymer?

Jimenez shrugged, then looked you in the eye, as if to calm your disappointment for him.

“We are humans,” he said. “We are not machines. It is the first thing you have to learn in this life.”

During a week in which eight of the final 16 players were younger than 30, when a 17-year-old won twice, when a 26-year-old became the world’s No. 1, when neon green and electric pink shirts and pants were more prominent than cacti . . . Jimenez – at 47 the oldest in the field – provided a reminder that being comfortable in one’s own skin is a beautiful thing.

Should you not know anything about Jimenez and you saw him walk to the first tee of your club, two things would hit you. One, you might think he’s the Dos Equis guy and remind you to “stay thirsty, my friends.”
Two, you’d probably want to give him two a side.

Hours later, after having shot 64 and taken you for all you might have wagered, Jimenez might invite you to lunch, because everyone needs to know when to shut off and focus on what life has to offer us . . . and who better to learn from than the Spaniard?

Asked about Jimenez, a longtime PGA European Tour official smiled and explained that the man was the definition of low maintenance. When he travels to a big tournament, he asks for just three things: “Extra virgin olive oil, good Cubans (cigars) and Marques de Riscal.”

Sounds like a wonderful way to travel, eh, Miguel?

He smiled and conceded that people seem to know that about him and appreciate him for it. That is good.

“I am myself. I don’t pretend to be anything else,” Jimenez said.

Matt Rollins and Chance Cozby know this up close and personal. Tour reps for Ping, Jimenez’s clubs of choice for years, they have seen the man’s humility.

“He creates a level of comfort,” Cozby said. “When you’re with him, he wants you there, and you feel that.”

Having been eliminated in the first round at this championship three years ago, Jimenez asked if he could tour the Ping factory in the Phoenix area. Rollins started walking Jimenez out to where the clubs are physically built when the Spaniard stopped, swept his arm over a room of about 10-15 workers and said, “Are these the people who build my clubs?”

Told they were, Jimenez promptly shook his hands with each one, introducing himself and thanking them “for making my clubs.”

That he has employed those clubs for nearly 30 years as a professional and won 18 times on the European Tour is cause for celebration, given that he has done it all with a homemade swing and remained true to himself.

“He has a great attitude, a good love for the game,” Luke Donald said. “He may not have the most classic swing, but he gets it done.”

Down four holes and seemingly out against Kaymer, Jimenez won the 15th with a birdie, the 16th and 17th with pars, and shockingly delivered the match to the 18th hole. Alas, the magical comeback against the world’s best was not to be, so when Jimenez failed to pitch in for birdie, he embraced his Ryder Cup teammate and marched up the hill toward the clubhouse. It was time to extinguish the competitive fire that burned within and embrace the love of life that envelopes him.

Until his next golf challenge, the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, Jimenez was going to visit a friend in the Dominican Republic, where they would roll cigars, savor good food and sip fine wine.

As himself, of course, because “I wouldn’t want to be anything else.”

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The National Golf Show 2011 will display the Ryder Cup

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National Golf Show 2011

National Golf Show 2011

While the Belfry claims to be the spiritual home of the Ryder Cup, the famous trophy will be spending time just a few miles down the road when it comes to the National Golf Show from April 15-17.

And two special emissaries will be bringing the precious cargo to the golfing extravaganza – head of the PGA Sandy Jones and Ken Schofield, the former chief-executive of the European Tour.

The duo have both been heavily involved in the biennial contest fulfilling various roles including sitting on the Ryder Cup Selection Committee and will be regaling golf fans with anecdotes as well as answering questions when they appear on the National Golf Show’s stage twice each day.

As well as hearing stories from inside the ropes, visitors will have the chance to have their photo taken with the Ryder Cup which will be in situ for three days of the event to raise money for the PGA Benevolent Fund charity.

The presence of the Ryder Cup alongside Jones and Schofield will give visitors to the show an exclusive preview of a forthcoming theatre show which will see the ‘trio’ undertaking a nationwide tour organised by sports entertainment specialist Sports Greatest.

Jones said: “The Ryder Cup holds a special place in golfers’ hearts and for Ken and myself it is an absolute pleasure to share our experiences and see the joy it gives people to hear the behind the scenes stories.

“To have the Ryder Cup at the National Golf Show will give thousands of people the chance to see it close up.”

The National Golf Show takes place from April 15-17 and a strong focus on visitor participation will mean golfers are greeted by a host of opportunities to swing a club, with free tuition from fully qualified coaches and the chance to win fantastic prizes on a variety of innovative fun and games among the show’s main features.

All the latest equipment from big brands will be available to test and buy as well as the latest training aids and apparel, with the show bringing together all elements of the golfing world.

Advance tickets to the National Golf Show cost just £7.50 – a 25 per cent saving from the on-the-door price – and come with a selection of exclusive golfing offers and benefits for visitors.

For more information or to buy tickets call 0844 581 0801 or go to www.nationalgolfshow.com.

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Weir loses exempt status on PGA Tour

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Mike Weir

Mike Weir

Mike Weir’s free ride on the PGA Tour is over, after the Canadian golfer failed to make the cut Friday at the Honda Classic, ending his full-time exempt status on the Tour.

The 40-year-old native of Bright’s Grove, Ont., struggled through two rounds at the Classic, including an opening 7-over 77 on Thursday, then a 15-over 85 in Friday’s second round. His 22-over through 36 holes left him in last place for the tournament.

The winner of the 2003 Masters, Weir was given a medical exemption as a result of the torn ligament in his elbow he suffered last year. He needed to cash cheques worth $227,885 US in five events to equal the 125th spot on last year’s money list (US$786,977).

Players among the top 125 in money received their 2011 Tour cards.

However, Weir missed the cut in four of the five events and finished in a tie for 77th in the other.

He ended up with $569,880, leaving him in the non-exempt group of players between 126-150.

Weir hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2007. He’ll now have to rely on sponsor and other tournament exemptions to compete in tournaments.

Since the start of 2011, Weir has only made $10,788 on tour.

According to Yahoo Sports, Weir’s career earnings sit at a hefty $29,124,761. His best year was his Masters winning year when he won $4,918,909.

Meanwhile, Calgary’s Stephen Ames shot a 2-over 72 on Friday and is tied for 52nd place with 5-over 145. American Kyle Stanley is in top spot after shooting a 4-under 66 Friday. His two-day total is a 6-under 134.

Rory Sabbatini had the round of the day — a 6-under-par 64 — and is alone in second at 5-under.

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Ryder Cup through to 2018 conditionally agreed to and announcement made

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Richard Hills - Ryder Cup Director (left)

Richard Hills - Ryder Cup Director (left)

Ryder Cup Europe is delighted to announce that all five nations bidding to stage The 2018 Ryder Cup have now signed Conditional Host Agreements, in advance of the official announcement to name the 2018 Host Nation for the biennial match between Europe and the United States.

One of those legally binding contracts will be activated as soon as the identity of the successful candidate is known following the public announcement and Press Conference at 12.00 noon on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at Wentworth Club in Surrey, England.

Ryder Cup Director, Richard Hills, said: “We would like to express our gratitude and congratulations to the representatives of France, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Spain, who responded so professionally and diligently to Ryder Cup Europe’s bidding criteria. All five countries have responded positively to the conditions that we laid out, giving us to confidence that each one would be well positioned to host a memorable 2018 Ryder Cup.

“The signing of the Conditional Host Agreements is a very important part of what has been a long and detailed process. It means that when Ryder Cup Europe announces the 2018 host on May 17, a fully binding legal contract is already in place and will be triggered on the announcement of the successful candidate. We should remember that the successful nation will be entering into a multi-faceted relationship with Ryder Cup Europe, lasting a minimum of 12 years and benefiting many aspects of golf at all levels.”

The official announcement on May 17 comes at the conclusion of the first formal bid process undertaken by Ryder Cup Europe, which commenced at the end of 2008 and involved a comprehensive examination of bids submitted by France, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Spain, one of whom will follow Ireland in 2006, Wales in 2010 and the 2014 Host Nation, Scotland, by securing the right to stage the biennial contest in 2018.

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