Countdown to the Masters at Augusta

Most golf enthusiasts all over the world will be glued to the television from this Thursday through to Sunday watching the Masters live from Augusta National Golf Club Georgia . Thousands of lucky people will actually be there watching as the tournament unfolds. Who will win? Many say that Tiger has a ‘Tiger in his tank again’!

Those also in contention include Rory Mcllroy who many say has the best chance because of his all round game.  He has recently taken time off to prepare for the Masters and has been spending more time with long-time coach, Michael Bannon, who has come over to the US from Northern Ireland.

Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are also heavily tipped to do well. Who is the dark horse? Some say Keegan Bradley who won the 2011 US PGA has the game for it, but there are also plenty of other good players out there. We are all in for such a treat over the next few days.

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Ryder Cup Team Announced

Europe Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal has now chosen his 12-man team.  They are Belgian rookie Nicolas Colsaerts, Ian Poulter,  Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Peter Hanson, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari and Paul Lawrie. The biennial event against the United States will be held in Illinois on September 28-30 and we can’t wait to watch it.

Great to see Sergio Garcia regain his form after winning the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina two weeks ago. He also looked on course for back-to-back victories on the U.S. Tour until a poor final round at the Barclays Classic on Sunday meant he had to be content with a share of third place.

The introduction of golf as an Olympic sport from 2016 is arguably one of the most talked about subjects amongst golf fans and golfers alike at the moment. Some say it is the greatest thing to ever happen to our game and some say it should never be in the Olympics. We shall all have to wait to see what happens in Rio in four years’ time! Without doubt, the long-term benefits to the game we hope will be priceless.

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Singh wins the Scottish Open, but who will Sparkle this week at The Open at Royal Lytham St Annes

As a taster to this week’s Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, we all enjoyed watching the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.

Jeev Milkha Singh lifted the Scottish Open crown. Singh sitting in the clubhouse watched the final last holes and then had to play a sudden-death play-off with Italian Francesco Molinari after a final-day round of 67 rocketed him to the championship title.

Singh won his first Tour title in four years at the first extra hole after finding a superb birdie four to deny the European Ryder Cup star, who had led going into the last day.

Sadly home hero Marc Warren was left feeling disappointed as the trophy and a place at The Open at Royal Lytham St Annes slipped away in disastrous fashion after a double-bogey six at the 15th.

A total of 156 players will compete at Royal Lytham and St Annes this week with the leading 70, and those tied for 70th place after two rounds, qualifying for the final 36 holes.

We are certainly in for a great four days at The Open when big names in the world of golf will compete. These include Luke Donald, Tiger Woods, Rory Mcilroy, Phil Mickelson,  Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen  and the currently in form Alex Noren,  Francesco Molinari and lastly the Scottish Open winner Jeev Milka Singh.

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A fantastic ending to the 112th Open

What an exciting last few hours Webb Simpson gave us all on Sunday!  He won the 112th Open held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco with a 13-hole surge that deprived, amongst others, three former U.S. Open champions — Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell and Ernie Els.

Simpson birdied the toughest hole on an incredibly tough course — the par-4 sixth — to start a three-hole run of birdies that put him into contention. He made just one more birdie the rest of the way, at the 10th, but ran out eight straight pars and then waited nearly 45 minutes watching on TV with his wife for the players behind him to falter.

“I was just as nervous watching the telecast as I was out there playing,” Simpson said.

But one by one, his more experienced challengers fell away.  McDowell, the 2010 Open winner at Pebble Beach, stroked the potential tying putt well left of the hole, and Simpson, a 26-year-old fifth-year pro out from Charlotte, N.C., was suddenly the 15th straight different winner of a major and the ninth first-time champion in a row. His four-day total of 1-over 281 was a shot better than McDowell and first-round leader Michael Thompson.

Once it was over, Simpson couldn’t believe that he had emerged the winner.

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Noren’s number one at Celtic Manor

Alex Noren kept his overnight lead to capture the Saab Welsh Open at the Celtic Manor Resort yesterday by shooting a final round 70.

The Swede finished two shots clear of the chasing pack of France’s Gregory Boudry and Former Volvo PGA Champion Anders Hansen.

Two solid rounds of 67 in the opening two days set the Swede on his way to the crown as he held his nerve over the weekend however the Stockholm born winner did admit to feeling nervous, he said: “”The pressure was all on the front nine and I said to myself if I can get through 14 a few ahead it would be easier coming home.”

Noren’s only blemish came at the 15thwhen he found the water hazard off the tee at the driveable Par 4. He stated he was trying to: “seal the deal” by looking to put it on the green and give himself an eagle putt to increase his lead.

He said: “My caddy told me to hit my rescue club and just play short of the green, but my three-wood went the perfect distance the first two days.” Luckily for the 28 year-old it did not prove to cost him going down the last three holes.

Noren also commented on his change in practice regime that he believes has helped him gain this success, he stated: “When you look at the big guys they don’t spend as much time as I do practising at tournaments.” He added: “It makes me feel much more fresh coming down especially today on 18.”

Noren had always been known to work tirelessly on his game since turning pro in 2005 and it now seems that he is reaping the rewards for his hard work after his second victory on the European Tour.

Now based in Monte Carlo, Noren played four years of golf at Oklahoma State University before turning pro and also has a degree in Economic Studies.

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Wish you could play as well as the Pros? Find local golf lessons near you today and choose from a wide selection of golf coaches.

Tiger wins the PGA Memorial tournament in Ohio

Tiger Woods birdied three of the last four holes, one with an amazing chip shot, to win the PGA Memorial tournament in Ohio and match host Jack Nicklaus for second on the all-time victory list.

Wood said after his victory “I hit it good today,”. “That was some good stuff out there. I never really missed a shot. I hit it great. I had the pace of the greens really nice and I made a few putts.”

South Africa’s Tory Sabbatini and Argentina’s Andres Romero tied for second.

The victory comes two weeks before Woods will try to move closer to Nicklaus on the major win list at the US Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

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The future is orange for Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler triumphed in a three-man playoff last Sunday that included Rory McIlroy, the world’s new No. 1 player, and D.A. Points to win the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina USA.

Ex-Oklahoma State standout Fowler stuck to the usual bright orange pants and shirt he wears on tournament Sundays.

Fowler won with a 4-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole after closing with a 3-under-par 69 for a 72-hole total of 14-under 274. McIlroy had a 70 and Points shot a 71.

Rickie made an emotional speech when receiving the trophy and said he was relieved and really satisfied with his play.

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Salute to Seve

What a great tribute to Seve Ballesteros it is to recognise the astonishing revival of Spanish Golf players lately. Last year most of the top players were struggling. Now the situation has changed dramatically. Since the Ryder Cup qualifying Alvaro Quiros, Gonzalo Fernandez have won big events in the middle east and far east. Cabrera-Bello won the Dubai Desert Classic and there has been some wonderful play from Sergio Garcia during his double tournament wins. We will all be interested to see how they play in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson which starts today.  Seve would have been proud.

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Congratulations to Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke

Congratulations go to Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy who were both honoured at the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony in London on Monday night. The two men from Ulster were acknowledged for their major-winning feats in 2011.

Rory McIlroy’s amazing win at the US Open resulted in him being awarded the statuette for sporting breakthrough of the year.  Meanwhile Darren Clarke was given a wonderful ovation from the sporting audience at the Central Hall, Westminster, as he collected the Comeback of the Year award from Gary Player for his emotional victory at the Open in Sandwich on the 20th attempt at the age of 42.

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Everyone’s talking about Robert Rock, Kyle Stanley and Lydia Ko

England’s Robert Rock played the game of his life holding off Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods to win Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday. It was a nail-biting last round and only his second victory in 227 European Tour events.

When interviewed Robert said “I really can’t believe I have done that today,” after an anxious six on the last hole had given him a one-stroke victory over McIlroy.

“I was just very happy to be playing with Tiger. That’s a special honour in itself.”

While he shot a two-under-par 70 to finish 13 under, Woods scrambled his way to a 72 and instead of recording a second successive victory on the comeback trail had to settle for a share of third place with Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn.

For years Rock worked in the Swingers Golf Centre in Tamworth, “selling Mars bars and watching Tiger win majors”.  He was 26 before he made it onto the European Tour and 31 when he finally tasted success at last year’s Italian Open. “It’s been a steady progression and I’ve worked hard, but I didn’t think this would happen,” he said.

So many people are also talking about Kyle Stanley. Stanley started round four on the US Tour event at Torrey Pines in California with a five shot lead.  Kyle Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round, and he still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the 18th tee.

Brandt Snedeker, who was playing ahead of him, had a birdie on the 18th and finished the round with a 67 as runner up.  He then watched Stanley spin a wedge into the water, then three-putt from 45 feet for a triple-bogey eight and a 74. Two play-off holes later and Snedeker had snatched the win from Kyle’s hands.

“It’s just crazy,” Snedeker said. “To get my mind around what happened in the last 30 minutes is pretty hard to do right now. My heart is out to Kyle. I feel bad for him to have to go through this.”

Our last person everyone is talking about is Lydia Ko a New Zealand Amateur who has just become one of the youngest winners of a professional tour event after winning the New South Wales Open. South Korean-born Ko shot a three-under-par final round of 69 to finish 14 under beating some fantastic golfers including Laura Davies.

As an amateur, Ko had to forfeit the £12,600 prize money which went to runner-up Becky Morgan who comes from Wales.

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