The 94th PGA Championship

94th PGA Championship

It is unusual for America to have anything really resembling history – in the grand scale of things – but this week’s lesson starts here; in 1670, the Head Chieftain of the Kiawah Indians led English Colonists to settle at Charleston Landing. With a little bit of home and garden help in 1991, the colony has grown to 1,170 settlers that remain on this unique island protected by towering gates and fences, some security guards and huge unwelcoming dogs.

For one week only though, it’s a different kind of interloper who has invaded this former baron land; an affluent multi-cultural multi coloured brand crazy native playing their own version of cowboys and Indians. It sounds primitive (and is) and involves sticks – some short, others long – and small white balls. Much fist pumping and hollering (hopefully not the “get in the hole” variety!) and it’s a major event in the calendar! Ladies and Gentlemen, roll up, roll up, the circus is in town. It’s the greatest game on grass – stand by your teepees and order in an Indian for the 94th PGA Championship from Kiawah Island!

Date:                     9th – 12th August 2012

Venue:                 Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina, USofA

Designed in 1991 by Pete Dye (you can tell that by the use of salvaged railway sleepers everywhere!) specifically for the Ryder Cup – this course, this year, ranks as the longest ever played on the PGA Tour – coming in at a whopping 7,676 yards (a lengthy par five longer than Royal Lytham for the Open Championship)! Consistently rated as one of the best and yet, due to large slopes, bunkers and tough Bermuda grass, most difficult courses on the planet (Golf World, Digest and others), it is a lengthy stern test of golf that was designed so that players have a view of the shoreline of the Atlantic but also exposes golfers to the oft-strong winds in the area.

Yards:                   7,676 yards

Par:                        36 + 36 = Par 72

Field:    

Once again the world’s best players meet for the last shot at glory including all of the top 103 in the world rankings (Webb Simpson and Jason Day allowed a return from babysitting duties!) and the top ten of most of the important tours and performance gauges around the world. The running order includes 28 winners from the 2012 PGA Tour (33 victories), 57 European Tour members (14 debutants), 13 PGA Champions, 33 Major Champions with 54 trophies, a young Matteo Mannesaro (363/1) and a Welshman (Jamie Donaldson) (615/1 – both BetDaq)!

Consider…:

I’ll keep this brief but this week, it’s clear that the player needs to be able to cope with (significant) length, (significant) wind, (significant) bunkers, (significant placement of) water and the fact that this is the last major of the 2012 year and the Ryder Cup looms so there’s a lot a stake and, like our forefathers, its survival of the fittest.

Ones to watch:

Is a true links specialist and has performed well in all of the seasons majors this year and so Graeme McDowell (45/1 at 32Red) (with his worst major result of 2012 a quite highly contended 12th at the Masters) is one to watch – following on from his 2nd in the US Open and a fifth at the Open Championship (not the British Open by the way!). For each day that the wind blows – this seaside expert probably will gain one shot per day on the field…

Tigers (10/1 with Ladbrokes) record in the majors rivals the best in the world – especially when his rather dull and monotonous iron play from the tee puts him in contention. We all know his putting is just one tweak from its best and so, love him or hate him; spitting, shagging and club hurling aside, he is the major draw in-case he brings his A-game. And if the former world number 1 doesn’t – it’s usually quite fun watching the best ever golfer come a cropper (like we all usually do)….

Ones to win:

Jason Dufner (28/1 with SkyBet) has finished no worse than 7th in his last four starts on the PGA Tour and has delivered back to back top fives in the PGA Championship in the past two years. He is one to win this week where he would add another victory to his two already on the big US tour. Lies sixth in greens in regulation, 5th in scoring average and total driving, 3rd in the FedEx Cup, 2nd in the Money list and so the only thing left is….

Despite only 14 events having been played in the US, seven top 25’s have been clinically delivered, in Europe it’s a similar story; 5 top tens in ten starts including 2 wins and a second at the Masters. For me, major winner Louis Oosthuizen (40/1 with BetDaq) looks like he is hitting the form that helped him breeze to the 2010 Open at St Andrews. He ranks 4th in longest drives, 3rd in shots around the 200 yard mark and 1st in putting from inside 5 feet. Surely a second major is not beyond him….

Trick shots:

The half way (36 hole) leader WILL be Jason Dufner and returns 33 of what you put on at PaddyPower.com. Statistically he has the lowest score on Tour after 18 holes and so you do the math’s and see what happens…

It’s cruel but it’s fun – Luke Donald to miss the cut returns 5/1 with StanJames. He doesn’t do it very often, but sadly more often than not in the major championships…

Top former winner is also a new tip for me – and so take Phil Mickelson (at 7/1 with PaddyPower.com) and subscribe to the when-you-least-expect-it theory with me!

Lastly – here’s a triple chance winner for all non believers. Westwood, Duffner and Dustin Johnson return 8/1 with SkyBet if you fancy hedging your bets a little!

Jenks Out!

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Self Destruct: The 1999 Open Championship

Accidentally pushing the self destruct button happens more than we care to think about in the wonderful and exciting world of golf.

In recent years, we will all remember the pain suffered by Rory McIlroy (who subsequently demonstrated bounce-back-ability to take the US Open two months later). Others though are not so lucky.

To tie in with the start of the Open Championship this morning, lets have a look at the last major collapse at this most iconic of majors (not the British Open American friends!) and in particular the exploits of Jean Van De Velde in 1999.

With a three shot lead on the 18th tee, a double bogey 6 or better was all that seperated the Frenchman from the Claret Jug. The video reminds us of the events and what unfolded:

However, its not all bad karma. A few months later, Jean VdV revisited Carnasty to exorcise his demons with his well respected and trusted “Never Compromise” putter to see if he could beat the 7 he recorded only using the flat blade of his most prized tool. Watch that particular storyline unfold too.

To keep up with the very latest on what the scores are at Royal Lytham & St Annes GC this weekend, visit here.

2012 Open Championship Infographic

Author: Jake Filan @ Golfsliced.com

The 2012 British Open is here and kicks off today at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. This is a highly anticipated major since Tiger Woods seems to have found his game and is looking for his 4th Open Championship in 12 years. The field is deep and so is the rough, should be a great week. For tips on who might take the crown this week see the betting blog here.

But its not all about the golf as this interesting insight behind the scenes demonstrates:

The 141st Open Championship

141st Open Championship

268 miles as birdies fly from the peace and tranquility of Castle Stuart and Moray Firth, is the beating heart of West Lancashire; home of the hot pot, the Illuminations, 24/7/365 Ken Dodd, the only curry house-come-disco I know (‘Planet Poppadom’ if interested!) and the gay capital of the north (does the R&A know?). It’s Blackpool-Sur-Mere!

Ten minutes further in a taxi is Lytham where the following has been taking place; Darren has returned a silver jug; agronomists have been busy shaving it nice and tight; the rough areas have been left to grow to waist height and Ted Potter Jr. is preparing for a good-old-fashioned-knees-up on the trams with a curry and a boogie.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s the oldest and most prestigious major golfing event on planet earth, so pop your Little Boots on for the greatest game on grass as the Royal & Awesome rolls into town for the 141st Open Championship!

Date:                     19th – 22nd July 2012

Venue:                 Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, Lytham St Annes, Lancs, England

It’s been 11 long years since the Tour Circus last rolled into Lytham and David Duval must be thinking that too (it was his last tournament win) here on the 11th Open outing over these fine links. For those of you old enough to remember, it is the only Open venue that is not directly on the sea; that starts with a par three; includes three par threes on the front nine and has three tough holes to finish (remember Seve’s shot from the car park on 16 in ‘79?).

It’s not a long track and it will favour accuracy over length due to 206 strategically placed bunkers near its narrow fairways and around its tiny greens – and sadly no one has said that it favours left-handers like Ted Potter Jr yet…

Yards:                   7,086 yards

Par:                        34 + 36 = Par 70

Field:   

Like all major tournaments, it’s the golfing crème de la crème this week including the top 50 in the world (minus Mssrs Simpson and Day who both opted for babysitting duties), the top 30 of both the 2011 PGA and European Tours, all previous Open Champions under 60 and Ted Potter Jr (500/1 (838/1 with BetDaq is available!)).

The field includes the walking legend that is Tom Watson (500/1) and every Open Champion from the recent modern era with the exception of Mark O’Meara – at the other end of the scale are two amateurs fighting for the silver medal; the motherlands Alan Dunbar (1/2 to take it) and the positively international Manual Trappel (6/4 – all Ladbrokes).

Consider…:

Luke Donald (37/1 with Betfair to be first round leader) nailed it when he said much of what you need to know; “It’s very fair, but it’s very tough. It’s certainly going to produce the guy who plays the best because there’s no escaping some holes; you’ve just got to step up there and hit good tee shots. You aren’t going to find lucky lies in the rough. You’re not going to be able to get to the greens from the bunkers. It’s about hitting fairways, hitting greens…”

Beyond that, the weather plays its part; and thankfully no rain is currently scheduled for competition days. There are 10 mph winds Thursday through Saturday and a positively challenging 20 mph wind on Sunday. Oooocha…

Ones to watch:

It is just a matter of time before Dustin Johnson (57/1 with 32Red) grasps his first victory in a major having had trophy’s snatched from his very clutches on two occasions; at the PGA Championship in 2010 and in this outing last year where he shared runner-up honors at Royal St. George’s after going OOB on the 14th. He tied for 14th in 2010 at St. Andrews and has proved he could win anywhere, could pound the par 5s and could deliver proven success in unpleasant conditions.

The cheeky Italian Francesco Molinari (49/1 with 32Red) failed to close the door on what would have been a wire-to-wire victory at last week’s Scottish Open, settling for his second straight runner-up finish and sixth top 10 in his last eight starts worldwide. He is second in the Race to Dubai and ranks highly on the European Tour in fairways hit and top five in greens in regulation. Does he have enough gas in the tank to compete again this week? I (ti) think so!

 

Ones to win:

The world’s top-ranked golfer has a pair of victories already this year worldwide – the BMW PGA and the Transitions Championship with 3 further top tens worldwide from 13 starts although his only two top 10s from 11 starts in the Open occurred in 2009 and 2010. Luke Donald (20/1 with BetVictor) has an improved range of shots from the tee that will be a valuable addition to his arsenal alongside his scrambling – which some think will see him finally grab the major honours that he deserves.

The first player in 2012 to hit the magical three wins is playing – he’s a former world number one and there is an argument that his recent swing modifications were built exclusively for this week. He’s fifth on the PGA Tour in total driving distance so won’t need the long stick often (we all remember his victory at Hoylake in 2006 when the big club gathered dust in his bag). He ranks 11th in greens hit and high in putting but more importantly he is Tiger Woods (10/1 with Ladbrokes).

Trick shots:

Ted Potter Jr to be the top finishing debutant delivers – 25/1 with Ladbrokes. (You heard it here first!!)

Ted Potter Jr to be the top finishing left hander will return you 14/1 with SkyBet (Thank me later!)

Ted Potter Jr to be the top finish American and you will get back 175 of what you put on (I said to you!)

Now cue the classic BBC golfing music and run VT…

Jenks Out!

Race to Dubai: AAM Scottish Open

Race to Dubai:   Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open

Salvaged – that’s what this was. Salvaged. After all that came out in the wash (fairways, banks, bunkers and only 54 holes I seem to remember!) this was salvaged from a mere statistical existence in a history books, unlike most other Scottish sport, by a late to the party sponsor (who seem to like to properties all things shite Scottish). That said, I am delighted that the best game on grass warms up for “The Jug” by playing links golf in the motherland.

Date:                     12th – 15th July 2012

Venue:                 Castle Stuart Golf Links, Inverness, Scotland

It’s already the 56th best global course after a few years in existence! The opening three holes on each nine run away from the Clubhouse along the edge of a raised running along the side of the Moray Firth. It’s spectacularly natural and offers incredible views over the water to the Black Isle. Beware though, the expanse of wild looking bunkers bordering fairways and greens, the rumples and infinity edges that will catch all but the most accurate of shots.

Pictures from CastleStuartGolf.com

Yards:                   7,193 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Looking at the full spectrum of talent on display consider the saltire clad loons James Byrne (500/1), David Law (600/1), Michael Stuart (1,000/1) and Sandy Lyle (1500/1) – with a cumulative world ranking of 5,436 (it seems the counting stops at rank 1447 (all bar James Byrne hit this invisible ceiling!) all the way down to the positively global Oosthuizen (33/1), Green (125/1) and Mickelson (28/1).

Consider…:

Not being negative (that’s the Scottish way) BUT, last year’s event was unfortunately hit by unprecedented summer storms that forced a foreshortened 54 hole version of the tournament. Coming off the back of 40 days and nights of recent rain – and with Noah clearly parking a sizeable floating zoo 100 yards out in the Moray firth – it all sounds too familiar aye? A winner again after 54 holes is possible but a little rain and 15 mph winds never hurt anyone right?

Ones to watch:

Hoping for another landslide victory on the 52 week cumulative anniversary as Numero Uno, it’s a majorly consistent Luke Donald (8/1 with BetFred) who has the potential to repeat what he repeated at Wentworth by repeating what he did last year. But I think it’s a likely podium not a triumph – though he does stand a better chance this week than next in the Open…

Pictures from CastleStuartGolf.com

“He’s big, he’s strong – he’s not been winning long – its Colsaerts!”. World number 35, tall and lithe, its big hitting Nicolas Colsaerts (22/1 with BetFair) who will out bat the rest of the field this week AND he’s been Mr. Consistent in his scoring too. He triumphed in the mighty lucrative Volvo Match play but currently clings to an automatic Ryder Cup  spot but he will want to cement his position and ensure that he’s the only Belgium you can’t blame anything on.

Ones to win:

Three top tens in five outings put Padraig Harrington (17/1 with BetDaq) back on the radar – and now crucially for such an experienced links player just in time for the three weeks of the Irish, Scottish and British Opens. An 8th in the Masters was followed by a 4th in the US Open and a 7th in the Irish. He’s the major winner of the field in the best current form but not guaranteed a Ryder Cup pick he will be aiming to find some form or a trophy to make up ground on his peers.

Having searched in the dark abyss of mediocrity, it seems that Henrik Stenson (31/1 with BetDaq) has finally found what he’s been looking for and stopped playing mince. Two consecutive top tens in Germany and France signify the sweet swinging Swede might be back to somewhere resembling his very best. I am unsure what we all think the reasoning behind his drop in form (a fall out with Fanny perhaps left at bitter taste in his mouth?) but it’s a great return for the former winner of the Ryder Cup, Players Championship and WGC World Match play. Its tatties for the rest of the field!

Trick Shot!

If a South African flavor trick shot is your thing, what about a triple chance where if Oosthuizen, Coetzee or Grace triumph – there’s a 12/1 return with SkyBet.

If it’s a more homeland feeling stirring your loins this week, consider a top ten place for Marc Warren that will return you 11/1 with William Hill.

Finally, if it’s for the top Sassenach to finish in the field this week, look no further than Simon Dyson – who returns odd of 8/1 (without Donald in the mix) from Bet Victor.

Jenks Out!

 

Race to Dubai: Alstom Open de France

Race to Dubai:   Alstom Open de France

From the Chalk white cliffs in Normandy, to the vineyards in Burgundy and everything in between including the Alps, stunning National Parks and Gorges and the azure blue of the Mediterranean. France has it all. Including this week,  the European Tour as its travelling company of golfers rolls into town on a links swing on its way to Scotland and The Open. So sit back, relax and enjoy culture and class in abundance; music Maestro! Players -break a leg!

Date:                     5th – 8th July 2012

Venue:                 Le Golf National (Albatross Course), Gay Paris, La France

25 minutes South of Paris is Versailles – you may have heard of it. It’s more over the top than Disneyland Paris, just as expensive and the original symbol of royal absolutism and embodiment of classical French art. In its garden is Le Golf National – a poncy French test of golf and, despite Seve’s best endeavours, host for the Ryder Cup in 2018. It is a confused offering: a links course but target golf where water hazards and bunkers create the demand for a full set of clubs. It has no hidden secrets but is open to being played properly in order to win including aggressively on the first 6; take the birdie chance on the 12th, and protect your score on the final holes.

Yards:                   7,347 yards

Par:                        Par 71

Field:                   

It’s a strong European field this including Westwood (who missed out on a cracking Irish Open!) (7/1), Poulter (28/1), McDowell (16/1), Rose (16/1), Molinari (22/1) and Casey (110/1 – all Bet365). No Americans have been invited after Bubba Watson riled Francophiles by referring to three French landmarks as the big tower, the archway and the L building and referred to the Palace of Versailles as a castle before ordering a 1787 bottle of Chateau Lafite and pouring it off his hotel balcony. Im sure the appearance fee of $240,000 softened the pain of no return invite…

Consider…:

In the last 12 years (barring the odd year) it has been a happy hunting ground for the mediocre journeyman pro – with wins for such household names (in their own quaint English villages) for John Bickerton, Phillip Golding (1,000/1 with Bet365) and Malcolm McKenzie in 2006, 2003 and 2002 respectively. However, history dictates it also appears to favour the Scots (the miserable weather perhaps?), the French (zut alore!) and the South Africans (lord knows!) who have all sampled the sweet taste of a garlicky and wine fuelled victory here.

Ones to watch:

Fabrizio Zanotti (80/1 with SkyBet) caught my eye last week – and his National flag looks vaguely French! After three good rounds including a closing 66 at Portrush netting him a € 149,140 pay day and second place, the micro Paraguayan still waits for the breakthrough victory but for now – he seems to be happy to continue being the bridesmade, not the bride – and as he showed from a full arsenal of shots and skills in Ireland, could be a contender on a tricky track like this.

As a 17 year old, David Drysdale (123/1 with BetFair) marked the score of Roger Chapman and John Daly in the 1992 Muirfield Open. Now himself a player on tour (despite years of nail biting finishes at the low end of the rankings) he is now an established accurate and consistent player who has compiled three top tens in 2012. Like, Zanotti, showed his ample talent with a closing 66 in Ireland to push him into the top 50 in the Race2Dubai and is a Scot – so plays good when its bad outside!

Ones to win:

Nottingham Forest supporting Tour vet (22 victories) Lee Westwood (7/1 with SkyBet) looks set to take the field by the scruff of the neck following a lazy week (sadly the best  week on Tour for both players, spectators and organisers alike). We all should know his form guide but its good – 4 top 5s in four months, 3rd in the Race to Dubai and over £1m in Euro take home pay already. Plus he’s above red hot Tiger Woods in the World Rankings! A potential winner? I think so…

Mais oui, c’est Victor Duboisson (80/1 with Bet365) qui a looking-a-likely-winner-this-week! With two top fives in his last three outings and with no finish worse than 27th since end of March, the Frenchman is ready for a breakthrough to the league of Tour winners. In 2009 he was world amateur number 1 and now a quiet 132 (in professional ranks) but on home soil, with the whole history of France on his shoulder and Louis XVII looking over him – a likely surge from a strong outing this week will be just what the Les Blues had in mind… But no jumping in the water please.

Jenks Out!

 

Race to Dubai: Irish Open

Race to Dubai:   The Irish Open

They promise us red hair, leprechauns, more pubs than you could ever imagine and more champ with your potatoes and chips than you can shake your stick at. But it’s not all here yet – its quiet, its calm and it’s too early in the week! However with 100,000 tickets sold for golf’s major (home) coming later this week – what a stick shaking carnival this will be. It’s the greatest game on grass and we are here at Irelands second best course (Royal County Down is best!) for the craic at the Irish Open with Guinness on tap and a best guaranteed party atmosphere anywhere on Tour!

Date:                     28th June – 1st July 2012

Venue:                 Royal Portrush Golf  Club, County Antrim, Norn Iron

Royal Portrush has one of the most dramatic entrances of any course – quite simply, it’s has a geography that could make you cough up your colcannon and say crikey. The fairways nestle in natural valleys between towering sand dunes, the putting areas are protected by grassy hummocks instead of the usual bunkers and the greens themselves are small and understated – completing designer Harry Colt’s masterpiece. Look out for the 14th hole suitably monickered “Calamity” – a 210 yard par three with a deep chasm to the right!! It will deliver a cliff hanger alright!

Yards:                   7,143 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

This week’s rich field includes 10 major champions not forgetting Irish golf’s great quartet of Clarke (67/1), McDowell (51/5), McIlroy (34/5) and Harrington (58/5). There’s yet more locals – a plethora of Brendans, Michaels, Eammons and a Mooney (969/1) including proven Tour winners in Shane Lowry (92/1) and Paul McGinley (49/1)! And finally a sprinkling of Uncle Sam’s winners too with Keegan Bradley (38/1), John Daly (176/1) and Rich Beem (552/1 – all BetDaq) making a welcome appearance on the European Tour.

Consider…:

In my mind this week it is the home crowd and the local players in this most anticipated event to hit the European Tour in years. What could be better than the home support cheering their own coming down the final stretch? And to anyone else threatening to knock them off the pedestal, what pressure to dare to hold your nerve? It’s a tough enough course this, especially in a wind, requiring solid driving, accuracy and course management to give any true competitor a fighting chance.

Ones to watch:

With 3 top ten’s in 4 recent outings including a tie for third last week at the BMW in Germany….this Irishman has hit form just at the right time! Scoring low last week with a 65 to start and a 66 to finish (marred somewhat by a 77 on moving (backwards?) day on the Saturday!) McGinley (55/1 with Totesport) is clearly feeling that it is time to play serious – especially with his home crowd around him. Remember his Ryder Cup fight back at the K Club, the winning put in 2002? What inspiration does a player need?

With a welcome return to some semblance of form Chris Wood (47/1 with BetFair) is now stringing some better results together with two podium places in the last two months including at the BMW in Cologne last week. The joint tallest player on Tour is well known for his heroics on the links at the Open Championship as an amateur in 2008 (finishing 5th) and as a pro in 2009 (finishing 3rd) and so entering the links season, expect a few contending weeks in the next 4 weeks.

Ones to win:

In five events, Padraig Harrington (12/1 with BetFred) has delivered three top ten’ and in front of his home crowd, this will be like the years fifth major and so expect some significant fighting and effort by the Dubliner… Playing most of his golf in the US in 2012, he has similar standing there – 7 top 25’s and three top 10’s from 10 cuts made. Another links specialist, is this the start of the form that sees 4 weeks of this genre of golf bring Harrington once again to the fore?

With weather looking to include drizzling rain, freshening temperatures and 14 – 18 mile an hour winds, look no further than links and bad weather specialist Paul Lawrie (28/1 with BetDaq) to continue his rich vein of form over the Dunluce Links this week. Well rested after taking a week off whilst others in the top 50 travelled the long way to California and likely disappointed after a tied 20th finish last week – he will be looking at once again striking while the iron is hot to ensure his inclusion in Olazabal’s Ryder Cup squad in August.

Trick Shot

At 16/1 with SkyBet, Peter Lawries recent return to form may just have you reaching for a fiver to take a punt on him finish as the top Irish man in the field….

Local amateur hero and newly crowned Amateur Champion, Alan Dunbar, could cause a stir this week and for returns of 100/1 everywhere for the first round lead, might just enable you to pay for the Guinness that will undoubtedly ensue!

Finally, in the handicap market, take – 4 from Brandon Grace and see what happens. If he then wins – 9/1 with (obviously!) PaddyPower sees the best possible return in that market.

Jenks Out!