Golf World Blog

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Posted by Chris Jones, April 16th:

HSBC Champion of Champions Returns for 2009

One of the biggest competitions in amateur golf is back for 2009 – the HSBC and Golf World Champion of Champions.

We’ve joined forces with HSBC to relaunch the prestigious contest, which is open to every reigning club champion in the UK – and it’s FREE to enter. Titleist and FootJoy are also backing the event, with every finalist receiving shoes, balls and apparel.

HSBC CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS

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Posted by Chris Jones, April 8th:

It's amazing who you meet at Augusta

Sat in the stand by the 12th at lunchtime, there was a bit of commotion as a Green Jacket ushered a gaggle of VIPs into the media-only area. "Don't worry", joked my colleague, "it's only Barack Obama". Close - it was former US Secretatry of State Condoleeza Rice, on her first trip to the Masters. After working out which way to look through her binoculars, Ms Rice was then apprehended by an old security guard called Jerry working the stand. "Can I see your pass please?" he asked, before the Green Jacket had a quiet word in his ear. Let's hope Jerry is still there tomorrow.

Elsewhere, tennis superstar Chris Evert was doing here best trying to blend into the crowd following her husband, Greg Norman. Her $1000 sunglasses somewhat gave her away though.

Bubba Watson was outdriving everyone - we watched as he hit a 56 degree wedge into the 460-yard 9th. Other players have been hitting 6 and 7-irons in there.

Phil Mickelson is stalking Augusta's fairways in a very dashing outfit - black shirt and trousers, with a white cap, belt and white crocodile-skin shoes.

Aaron Baddeley is working on a new swing, having gone back to his childhood coach. Apparently he's ditched the "stack and tilt" swing he had been using after 12 months of lacklustre performances.

The sunshine here in Augusta is undoubtedly making the course play easier - a glance up to the scoreboard here in teh media centre soes a sea of red - every player in the top 10 is three or four under par, and we've had a 31 and a couple of 33s on the back nine.

Talking of low scores, few could believe their eyes as Ryder Cup star Chad Campbell played the front nine. He was two under after two, then three, then four, and then five under after five holes, where he stayed.

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Posted by Chris Jones, April 6th:

Day two of the Masters 2009... and it's cold, cold, cold

It's bright and sunny here at Augusta National for day two of the Masters 2009 - and it's freezing! Frost is predicted here for tomorrow morning, and outside the unaccustomed patrons have donned ski jackets, gloves and bobble hats. But things are hotting up on the range, as players fine-tune their preparations for the first Major of the year.

Padraig Harrington has just been in the press conference, revealing he's playing around with the lofts on his new driver - made by a certain company that rhymes with "railorfade". last week in Houston he found the water an incredible 10 times as he battles a hook off the tee. He also came out with this cracking line: "Lee Westwood came up to me on the range and said 'What's all this about the Paddy Slam - have you taken up wrestling?'"

Elsewhere, you can't miss rising Spanish star Alvaro Quiros - he and half a dozen members of his family are walking around Callaway panama hats. Here's some other observations we thought are intrigueing about this week...

Fred Couples (49) and Greg Norman (54) are a combined 103 years of age. Put it another way, the two Presidents Cup captains, combined, are one year older than the combined age of fellow Masters competitors Anthony Kim (24), Dustin Johnson (24), Rory McIlroy (19), Danny Lee (18) and Ryo Ishikawa (17).

Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas and Ernie Els are ranked in the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking, at third, eighth and 16th, respectively, but they've each got something else in common, too. None of the trio has made the Masters cut in either of the past two years.

For his victory at last year's Masters, Trevor Immelman earned $1.35 million. In 19 starts on the PGA Tour since that time, he has earned just over $1.28 million.

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Posted by Chris Jones, April 6th:

Golf World lands at Augusta National

Golf World is at Augusta National to bring you all the inside news from the first Major of the year. The crowds are flocking in, wearing their chunky trainers and "Cargo" shorts... the players are arriving in their Mercedes courtesy cars... there's a steady flow of private jets taking a detour over the course as they come into land at the tiny Augusta airport... The TV choppers are a constant in the skies above the course... Everything is set for an exhilarating week.

So, what news so far? It's been raining heavily this morning, and that has undoubtedly softened the course - any more downpours (and the forcast says we're expecting more by Wednesday) and this 7,435-yard par-72 brute will just wipe out anyone who doesn't hit it 300 yards off the tee. I watched last year as the soft fairways just sucked in golf balls... there was no run at all. Ryder Cup star Stewart Cink - who's found the delights of "Twitter" said after a practice round last week that he hoped it didn't rain, because the course would play more like 7,800 yards.

Players already in include British superstar Rory McIlroy, who is due in a press conference at 3pm. Anthony Kim is due in straight after. Others who checked in on Sunday afternoon include Tiger, Luke Donald, Trevor Immelman, Phil Mickelson, Oliver Wilson and Alvaro Quiros.

Fuzzy Zoeller - the only man to win the Masters in his first appearance - is calling it quits after this year. The 57-year-old, who won in 1979, says he just can't hit it far enough to enjoy yhe course anymore. He said: "The course before, everybody had a chance. Now only a select few do. It's no fun. It's fun to be there and be part of it, but as far as playing I've got to enjoy myself when I'm out there."

Brit Oliver Wilson is making headlines over here - he's on the front page of today's Augusta Chronicle newspaper, and writing a diary for them this week. The European Tour star, who hails from Nottinghamshire, went to college at Augusta State, and is set to marry an US girl from their women's golf team. Read an exclusive interview with Oliver about his first Masters here.

Check back for more updates during the day, when we'll tell you about some of the bargains in the pro shop, who's doing what out on the course, plus an interview with McIlroy about his first impressions of this amazing place.

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Posted by Chris Jones, April 3rd:

Golf World at Augusta National all week

Not long left before the first Major of the year kicks off, and we can't wait. Golf World will be there all week, bringing you all the news and inside stories from the course. We'll have hourly updates through the week, plus picture galleries and blogs.

To kick things off, here's some news from the weekend, when our man on the ground at the course told us Geoff Ogilvy and Rory McIlroy were enjoying a practice round. McIlroy loved the place, and shot 37 on both nines - not a bad start. Ogilvy though found trouble with the swirling winds on the 12th - first he hit an 8-iron... into the water. Then he hit two 7-irons... into the water. Finally he hit a 6 and hit landed on the bank in front of the bunker... and rolled into the water. He just packed it in and walked to the 13th!

We'll have loads more insight like that from now until the final putt drops on Sunday afternoon.

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Posted by Chris Jones, April 2nd:

New May issue of Golf World out now!

There's some fantastic features in the latest issue of Golf World, including scoring zone advice by Darren Clarke, Phil Mickelson and Lorena Ochoa, a brilliant 32-page supplement packed with tips from Tiger Woods, interviews with Lee Trevino, Ernie Els, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, plus a test of all the latest hybrids.

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Posted by Chris Jones, Mar 2nd:

New April issue of Golf World out now!

The April issue of Golf World includes an instruction special with Padraig Harrington, plus the 2009 Masters preview, with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Trevor Immelman and Oliver Wilson. Plus, there’s a FREE 132-page Golf Escapes travel guide.

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Posted by Chris Jones, Feb 20th:

Tiger: That's my boy...

World no. 1 Tiger Woods is a dad again...

The latest addition to the Woods family came last week with the arrival at their Orlando, Florida, home of first son Charlie. Read more on this story here...

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Posted by Chris Jones, Feb 17th:

Tiger Woods To Return To Action

Tiger Woods is poised to return to action next week at the WGC-Accenture Matchplay Championship in Arizona. Read more on this story here...

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Posted by Simon penson, Jan 16th:

TaylorMade R9 Driver

So, the most iconic driver of our time (the r7) is to be replaced by the Taylormade R9 driver.

Traditonalists amongst us may give out a collective sigh as we discover it comes complete with an instruction manual and torque wrench to adjust its loft and face angles but it could prove to be the best example yet of the next generation of golf club technology?!

By all accounts it has followed the lead of the Cobra L5V and Nike STR-8 Fit.

One thing is for sure, this classic driver will never be the same again, and we can't wait to test it for you very soon right here on the site...

For more details check out the next issue of Golf World.

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Posted by Chris Jones, Jan 16:

Vijay has knee op... but no-one would know

When Tiger had his knee surgery, the entire world was transfixed - what was wrong, who did the op, would he come back, was there a scar... Well Vijay SIngh has just had knee surgery, too - and the only thing we've read about it is this small story from Associated Press:

Singh, the defending FedEx Cup champion, had athroscopic surgery Wednesday in Jacksonville to repair torn cartilage. He hope to return in time for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. "The doctor says I'll be on crutches for a few days, and then I'll be OK," Singh said. "I don't consider this a big setback or anything. I think the knee will be much stronger in the long run, and it is certainly better that it happened now compared to the middle of the season."

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Posted by Chris Jones, Jan 16:

Monty for captain at Celtic Manor!

Overnight there has been a dramatic shift in the speculation about who will captain the Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor in 2010 - the latest puts Colin Montgomerie in the frame for Wales, with Jose Maria Olazabal taking the job in the USA in 2012. This from Golf World columnist Lawrence Donegan in today's Guardian:

Like Olazábal, Montgomerie has been intent on playing his way on to the team but the fact is he is now 127th in the world rankings and showing no signs of recapturing the form that once made him an automatic choice for any Ryder Cup side. But if he is not the player he once was, he still the remains a significant figure on tour — popular with fans and, more important in these straighten financial times, popular with sponsors.

It has long been assumed the Scot would take on the Ryder Cup captaincy in 2014, when the event will be played in Scotland, but there is a mood within the players' committee after Nick Faldo's captaincy that the team needs a captain who competes regularly against, and is in touch with, potential team members.

Another committee member has been quoted as saying "expect something innovative".. Can't wait for Dubai to find out what!

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Posted by Chris Jones, Jan 14:

Tiger's ghost in Hawaii?

Want to know how important Tiger Woods is to the PGA Tour? Take a look at the results from last week's Mercedes Championship here. Despite Woods being 10,000 miles away in Florida, it seems his ghost was present in Hawaii...

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Posted by Chris Jones, Jan 14:

"Ollie has two weeks to make up his mind"

Jose Maria Olazabal has been given two weeks to decide whether or not he wants to be Europe's next Ryder Cup captain - according to reports in today's Independent. Thomas Bjorn - the head honcho at the European Tour's committee which makes the decision - says they'll make an announcement at the Dubai Desert Classic in a couple of weeks.

Ollie doesn't have the greatest record when he's been in a senior position in team events - only last week his European team took a hammering from Asia in the Royal Trophy - but his capaincy is more popular that the man who, we'd argue, is a better fit for Celtic Manor in 2010 - Sandy Lyle. Sadly, if Ollie gets the job Sandy never will. Surely better for Sandy to do it in Wales (with Woosie as assistant, just as he was Woosie's at the K Club) before Ollie takes on the USA over there in 2012.  

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Posted by Chris Jones, Jan 14:

"So far my knee has held up well"

Tiger Woods is back on the golf course, practicing at  Isleworth in Orlando, according to tigerwoods.com

"As I had hoped, after January 1, I started hitting longer irons and my driver," Woods said Monday. "I'm not swinging as hard as I can, but I'm working towards that goal." Woods has also played a few holes with coach Hank Haney. He has not played competitively since he had surgery on his left knee following his US Open win at Torrey Pines in June last year.

"So far my knee has held up well, but I don't know when I'll be able to return to competition," he said. "I'd like to thank everyone for their support and concern and I'm looking forward to rejoining the PGA Tour when I think that I'm ready." We reckon Woods will defend his title at the Accenture Match Play Championship in late February if his recovery goes according to schedule. He has declined to speak publicly about his return date, saying only that his goal is the Masters. 

According to his mate Mark O'Meara, Woods is looking pretty damn good on the range, too. "I'm not always right, but a lot of times I seem to be right about him, and he'll come back better than he has ever been," he said. "You're going to see some pretty phenomenal things from Tiger Woods the next three years." Woods began hitting full shots with short irons last month. He will build up strength in the pool, gym and on the golf course."

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Posted by Chris Jones, Jan 9:

"The Irish Open returns to Baltray much to the delight of Harrington and his colleagues"

Ireland is home to many of the world's best links - County Down, Portmarnock, Ballybunion, Lahinch. So it was always a bit off that the country's national championship should be played at a parkland venue. So it's good to hear this year's Irish Open will be held at County Louth GC, more affectionately known as Baltray.

Karl McGinty, in the Irish Independent, said: Baltray has been confirmed as the venue for next May's massive re-launch of the Irish Open under the '3' banner, much to the delight of Padraig Harrington and his colleagues on the European Tour. With three-time Major-winner Harrington leading a powerful home contingent -including teenager Rory McIlroy - in the battle for a €3m purse, the May 14-17 tournament could herald a return to the halcyon days of the Irish Open."

I hope more events are held on our classic links - twice a year for The Open and the Dunhill just isn't enough to showcase the best golf Britain has to offer. Chris Jones

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Posted by Chris Jones, Jan 9:

"I think the first and foremost is coming out in good shape in the wide range of scrutinies that we always get during these downturns"

The love-in that is the Mercedes Championship in Hawaii - first event of the year on the "PGA Tour" (where players and caddies can use buggies in the practice rounds so as not to get too tired for their post-round snorkelling, whale-watching and surfing) gave us the chance to get more gobbledegook from management-speak handbook of tour boss Tim Finchem. Like this:

Q. You indicated that your major focus was to be better coming out of whatever this is we are in right now, than going in. How do you do that?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, there's a number of things that go into that. I think the first and foremost is coming out in good shape in the wide range of scrutinies that we always get during these downturns.

Can anyone actually understand what he's talking about? Chris Jones

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