Archive for July, 2009

Be the best that you can be

Different sports certainly have different requirements. When Tom Watson finishes second in the Open Championship he does it thanks to a certain set of skills that he has built up over a number of years playing professional golf. Or over a life time involved in golf. It is quite amasing that in another sport, swimming, a 15 year old girl can qualify for the final of the World Championships and set a new World Record while doing it. It is also interesting that sport writers across the World still spend their time trying to compare sports. What they should be doing is to try and explain why sports differ!

I have posted a new Peter’s Monthly. Check it out in the Monthly section!

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Champion golfer of the year

I wonder if the dust has settled at Turnberry yet. What a week it was and what a Sunday it came down to. If anybody noticed, Stuart Clink actually won in style. When shots were lost left, right and centre, he holed a great putt on 18 to go to 2 under which eventually got him into the play off. The whole world felt for Tom Watson when he ended up taking 5 down the 18th and the tournament slipped through his fingers. It was not 1977 all over again. It was 2009 and the discussions were already running high as to whether the fact that a 59 year old had come so close to winning the sport’s greatest championship was good or bad for golf. I cannot help wondering why those discussions keep taking place.

Golf has, for as long as I can remember, been challenged for its place among other sports, mainly because it is different from other sports. I think one difficulty is that we have always struggled to define the skill that it takes to be a champion golfer. You do not need the physique of a gymnast, the speed of a 100 metre runner or the endurance of a Tour de France cyclist. It helps if you do, but none of those alone or together will make you a champion golfer. You also need the strategic mind set of a chess player, the concentration abilities of a shooter and the patience of a cricketer in a five day test match plus of course the given ability to hit a few different golf shots. The necessary blend of these factors however, are determined by the golf course and the conditions at hand. They will vary, sometimes on a day by day basis and always on a tournament by tournament basis. That is why Tom Watson was such a great athlete and player at Turnberry. At least for 71.5 holes. Perhaps a different mental fitness would have helped him to choose another club for his third shot or hit a better put for his fourth on 18. Maybe he would have then walked away with the Claret Jug once again. And if somebody does not understand what an incredible sportsman that takes then I am sorry!

The Open Championship

The Open Championship is underway again. As so often before, there is something quite special about the leaderboard. Tom Watson, 59, spent the night in a tie for second following his first round 65. You wonder if this is 1977 all over again. It may well be that Mr Watson is way down the leaderboard on Sunday night when this is all over and of course he should not be able to compete with the young guns of today. No matter what happens between now and Sunday he has still proved that he actually can beat many of the modern day top players. Perhaps it is the found memories of his victory in 1977 that are all coming back to him. Or perhaps it is the fact that Tom is still one of the best PLAYERS of this game. Open golf at Turnberry is not about hitting the ball a country mile with a fantastic looking golf swing. It is about minimizing the damage and working your way around the golf course in a way where a few holed putts and a sharp short game is bound to pay dividends. The Open Championship has a field where everybody will find it difficult to hit both greens and fairways, no matter how good your long game is. I have a feeling old Tom can still get a few putts to disappear.

And when I saw Mark Calcavecchia on the driving range this morning I cannot help wondering how he can be up there competing. But guess what he is more than most guys in the field? A PLAYER.

Moving on…

The two most hectic weeks of the year in amateur golf are over for this time. The European Championships; men’s, boys’, women’s and girls’, all take place during a two week spell in early July. As every year these two weeks are a pretty good indicator of what is happening in European golf. Not too long ago certain countries could pretty much walk through the qualifying process, find themselves in the A-flight and start playing for real once things got towards the semifinals. This is not the case anymore. In the men’s event I would say that 15 teams fought hard for the 8 spots in the top flight. Any of those with the help of two good days could have made it there. At the conclusion it ended up being two very established countries in the final; Scotland and England, but perhaps this was also down to the way the course played. It was a true links playing dry and firm for most of the week. In the boys’ event the number of teams fighting for the top flight spots were probably about the same. In the end Denmark played Germany in the final, the Czech Republic made the top 8 and Wales found themselves in the third flight. Of course this is great for golf and it won’t take long until this is reflected also in the top end of the professional game.

The two England Teams, men and boys, each lost one match in the top flight. This meant that the men’s team brought home the silver medals while the boys had to settle for 5th place, having lost to Germany in the quarter final. Not what the team came there to do but certainly what can happen in today’s golf.

Looking forward to the coming week it is again time for the greatest tournament in golf, the Open Championship. This time at Turnberry. As always it is interesting to see how the big guns prepare for the event. The usual way is to play the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond. Even though this is an astonishing place and I can understand why playing there is an easy choice, it is not exactly an Open type of golf course. Padraig Harrington on the other hand used what before has proved to be a winning formula for him – he stayed at home, won the Irish PGA Championships and got another links tournament under his belt. It will be interesting to see what that is worth once the tournament gets going at Turnberry!

Scotland win the European Championships

No, it was not England’s turn. The reigning World Champions, Scotland, can add “European Championships” to their resume after beating England today in the final of the European Championships at Conwy, Wales. Having lost both the morning foursomes England once again made a strong come back. Hutsby and Haines in the top two matches secured their points while Whitnell lost. It was now down to Fleetwood and Goddard, still on the golf course. Scotland were up in both those matches though and neither of Tommy nor Luke managed to turn the match around. Paul O’hara holed the winning putt on 17 against Luke Goddard.

See England Coach David Ridley comment on England’s performance this week:

 

For full  coverage of the European Championships, click here.

England in the final!

After a heroic come back the England Team is in the final of the 2009 European Championships at Conwy, Wales. Having been down, 2-0, after this morning’s foursomes England had to get at least four points out of this afternoon’s singles. Matt Haines, Sam Hutsby and Tommy Fleetwood delivered their points in style and it now came down to Dale Whitnell and Luke Goddard. After Dale Whitnell had lost on the 18th green to Norwegian Anders Kristiansson, Luke Goddard was put to the test. On the 2nd sudden death hole the Norwegian found trouble over the green of the difficult par 3 and even though he hit a great shot out of there he found his ball rolling over the green. A chip and a missed putt later Luke did not even need to hole his par putt and the match was over.

Watch Luke Goddard comment on today’s performance:

Some would say that tomorrow’s final is a dream final; England vs Scotland. Follow the final on the live scoring available here.

England through to the semifinal

England cruised through to the semifinal of the European Championships at Conwy in Wales after beatnig France yesterday, 5.5 – 1.5. After convincing foursomes by Ford/Whitnell and Haines/Fleetwood had put England ahead, 2-0, going into the afternoon singles it only took Haines and Goddard to secure their points to give England an unbeatable 4-0 lead. Figures were completed by Whitnell winning his match and Ford halving his.

Watch England Captain Colin Edwards comment on the win against France:

England now face qualifying winner Norway who came back strong to beat Finland by winning all five singles in the afternoon.

Live scoring is available here.


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