Archive for February, 2009

Four Englishmen in the last eight

As the Spanish Amateur moves into the quarter finals four out of the remaining eight players are English: Tom Lewis, Eddie Pepperell, Sam Hutsby and Matt Haines. Sam and Matt unfortunately face eachother while young Tom Lewis is up against British Amateur Champion Rainer Saxton. Follow the results here.

Whitnell and Woods out

Two favourites left their respective championships early. Tiger Woods lost to Tim Clark in Arizona and Portuguese Amateur Champion Dale Whitnell failed to make the 36 hole cut in this week’s Spanish Amateur. 9 English players made it into the match play with former British Boys Champion Matthew Nixon finishing runner up as the leading English plaayer. Full results are available here. When the match play starts on Friday results should be possible to follow here.

Development in Golf

Last night I made my debut as an after dinner speaker. That is a tough job and even tougher if you are up against the closing minutes of Inter vs Manchester United on TV. Lucky for me there wasn’t a break before I was due to come on so those that would have taken such a chance to disappear would have been easily spotted had they tried to sneak out of the room. As an after dinner speaker you should be funny, quick, enthusiastic and inspirational while you deliver a thoughtfuland relevant message. I am under no illusions that I met any of those expectations but what I wanted to do was simply to get the many people involved in Golf Development to understand how important they are to not only the growth of the game as a whole (by getting people into the game) but also to the generation of future elite players. Perhaps this is a golf thing and doesn’t apply to other sports but we tend to talk about these things as separate from each other. As if the way to work would be substantially different when our focus is to get people started compared to if we think about how good these people can then become. I think that is a big mistake as what we need to do is to create an environment where people and children want to be as much as they possibly can. Those that spend a lot of time there will have the chance to become really good. Those that don’t will not reach as far but they will still enjoy to play the game.

This week is a big and awaited one in the golf world. The Tiger is coming back to the tour, 254 days after he won the US Open on one leg. Reports suggest that he is fitter an stronger than ever and it will of course be interesting to follow his every move in this week’s WGC event in Arizona. I would not think that it is a coinsidence that he comes back at a tournament sponsored by Accenture… Follow the action here.

In the amateur game the Spanish Amateur has just started with the first round today. Seven English players are in the top 14 so far. The top 32 after tomorrow’s round qualify for the match play stage. Results are available here.

Whitnell wins the Portuguese Amateur

Dale Whitnell, ©Tom Ward

Dale Whitnell, ©Tom Ward

The Portuguese Amateur 2009, the first individual amateur event of the year on European soil, ended as an all England affair. Jamie Abbott faced his England Squad friend, slightly more experienced Dale Whitnell in a play off for the title. With a birdie on the second play off hole Dale managed to seal the victory leaving Abbott in second place. This was Whitnell’s first international victory and also by far Abbott’s best international performance so far. Two more englishmen, Sam Hutsby and Luke Goddard finished in the top 6.

Pos. Nome Clube To PAR Total Dia 1  Dia 2  Dia 3 
1   Dale Whitnell ENG   – 6   210   71   68   71  
2   Jamie Abbott ENG   – 6   210   73   69   68  
3   Reinier Saxton NED   – 4   212   72   70   70  
4   Luke Goddard ENG   – 3   213   72   70   71  
5   Jurrian Van Der Vaart NED   – 3   213   68   69   76  
6   Sam Hutsby ENG   – 2   214   72   66   76  

For full results visit the Portuguese Federation results update here.

Another pretty impressive amateur this weekend was New Zeelander Danny Lee who managed to win the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia. By that he became the youngest ever winner of a European Tour event. Ross McGowan finished in a very nice tie for second place, one shot behind the winner.

Portuguese Amateur

It seems like the rain in portugal continues and the 120 players in the filed have only managed to complete two rounds. Four Englishmen are in the top 10; Sam Hutsby, Dale Whitnell, Jamie Abbott and Luke Goddard. The tournament continues tomorrow and you can follow the action here.

Portuguese Amateur 2009

As the amateur circuit has reached Europe the Portuguese Amateur of 2009 is underway. The tournament that usually kicks off the European calendar, in the last few years with a very strong field, started yesterday and if my Portuguese serves me right (news from round 1) it seems like bad weather meant that only 78 of the 120 players in the field made it around the full 18 holes. Leading the way so far is Portugal’s Pedro Figueiredo on 69. Of course this may change as the rest of the field make it to the 18 holes mark. Follow the results on the Portuguese Federation website here.

“If it looks too good to be true…

it is normally too good to be true.” I remember Deborah Meaden saying this in one episode of the Dragon’s Den on BBC. Perhaps the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) should have taken the step into the Dragon’s Den to check whether the offer from Sir Allen Stanford was a good idea before they signed the deal for the US$ 20 million Twenty20 series? Of course it is really easy to look back in hindsight and point the finger but the stories that are now being rolled out can hardly be good for the sport. And when even a Swede is talking cricket you know there is something seriously wrong.

The whole thing to me looked like something that really should not belong in sports. Here is the rich American bloke, apparently with a big interest in cricket, who simply decided to buy himself a match series. When the TV pictures of him with wives and girlfriends of England players on his lap were shown to the world I have a feeling there were more than a few eyebrows raised.  So where did this go wrong? Some would spell it money and perhaps there is some truth to that. Was this a way for the ECB to stop their players from going to India to play in the lucrative Premier League? Possibly. And if they had not managed to do that, then what kind of press would they have had? The tricky thing is that the short term decisions that seem to save us for the moment are not always right for the sport long term. There are a long list of examples of that as athletes very seldom are interested in thinking long term. Their careers are way to short for that. It is the officials that will always sit there with the responsibility, accountability and unfortunately way too often also the blame!

Time to take the next step

For reasons that I am not going to go into here I managed to miss a meeting, or actually two, last week. As I was not able to get to the place of the meetings we decided to stay where we were and instead try a software for online meetings that we had just discovered. Basically you make sure that the people you are meeting sit in front of their laptop, on broadband and with headsets (including microphones) plugged in. With the help of this software you are able to view each others screens and even control each others screens. Obviously when working on perhaps budgets or going through presentations this is invaluable as you are sure that everybody is viewing the same thing. But how about golf coaching? All of a sudden you can deliver a true live lesson where you can watch the same things in real time, talk about them, draw lines, make suggestions, view stats and share ideas, no matter if you are oceans apart. There are a number of different ways to easily send video back and forth over the internet, some of which has golf coaching facilities built in. Combine those with this feature and I am sure you have a winner.

And for me, perhaps I should plan to miss a few more meetings in the future…

Reality check

The Jones Cup is over for this year. If there is one winner of the event I think it is fair to say that it is the golf course, the newly renovated Ocean Forest at Sea Island. Dave Ridley, the England coach, reported before the tournament started that the course was the best he had seen and that players would have to have all the shots and putt great. After the second round Dave came back and explained how the course was winning. Players were making doubles and trebles because of not good enough driving where they found it hard to shape the ball both ways as is a must on this course. In the normal Sea Island way the pins were tucked away towards the edges of the greens and our guys lost shots when they tried to hard to get to pins they probably should not have tried for. Hitting the fat part of the green and try to hole some putts is sometimes a very useful strategy!

A number of these England players are already thinking about when to make the move to the professinal game. The information they got from this weekend can be incredibly useful if they use it in the right way – as a reality check. What were the good things? What do I need to improve? How can I do that?

For Jones Cup final results click here.

At the Heart of Golf

Anticipating a rather different turn up the snow, ice and cold only kept a few people from appearing at the Newmarket Racecourse and its conference centre today. The EGU held another one of the Heart of Golf conferences that have been rolled out across the country over the last four months. The purpose of these conferences is to spread the word about what the EGU does and how it supports the clubs, counties and helps the game grow. To spread that message can in itself be quite a challenge as traditionally governing bodies of any sport don’t seem to be loved by their members. I guess it is a bit like the taxman not being everyone’s favourite as very seldom do we realise that his work actually pays for schools, health care, roads and even the gritting on the motorways on a day like today.

Upon leaving Newmarket I have a distinct feeling that these initiatives are really important. I am pretty sure that the people that I left behind just after lunch now have a much greater understanding of why it is important to help develop World class players. I even think some of them will return to their clubs to try and do it. Or at least get players started on that pathway. But this is the group that were interested enough to come to Newmarket. The big question is how we get to the others.

I remember the Swedish Federation once produced some films about what they do and put them on their website. Very ambitiously the films were supposed to give a real inside view of what was going on at the HQ. I wonder if anybody ever watched them? And if anybody cared. Perhaps it is enough to care about the ones that actually came. In the snow, ice and cold.

Out in Australia Charlie Ford is going steady and has reached the Quarter Final in the New South Wales Amateur Championships. Live scoring is available here.


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