Archive for May, 2010

Golf’s X-factor

There are not many opportunities across the World nowadays, but when the few National Open Championships that still do so open up their locks for the qualifying it is something very special. The slim chance of teeing it up in one of these events serves as an inspiration to many a player and the fact that surprise names regularly come through to grab their chance means that more will seek the opportunity next time. This last Monday it was the Open across the ocean that had its European version of its own X-factor and boy were there some dreams that came true!
James Morrison, a very recent winner on the European Tour and a previous member of the England Squads booked his journey to America, as did Swede Rikard Karlberg. Most would now go ‘Who?’ which is perfectly understandable. Rikard is 1118 in the world rankings and spends most of his time on the Asian Tour where he is a rookie this year. His career earnings are about £100,000 and in a nutshell he is the beauty of all qualifiers. For every Rikard there are 1117 players in front of him and quite a few behind him that are going to go –
‘Wow! Just wait until next time. Then it is my turn!’

The secret garden of Wentworth

I feel like I have written this post before. Must have been last year on the same week. Every time I do get to go to Wentworth I come back thinking that it must be one of the prettiest places there are. At least at this time of the year when the rhododendron is in full bloom.

After three days the leaderboard looks pretty good; Chris Wood is leading the way. Robert Karlsson who took a trip home to Monaco thinking he had missed the cut and had to come back on a privately chartered plan is second after an incredible 62. Shared with Robert are Danny Willet and Luke Donald. A great Sunday for English golf could be coming up!

Wentworth 18

Wentworth 18

So is the ‘new’ Wentworth a great success? Depends who you ask I think. My jury is still out. I heard comments about the 18th having been turned into a 90 yard par 3 (the only sensible way of playing this now is to hit the fairway with the tee shot – probably three wood – and then lay up for a wedge into the well protected green). Later on I also heard people in the crowd saying how great a finishing hole it now is as they had seen some players take on the challenge and go for the green in two. What is clear though is that it is a very different course from the one Colt once designed.

A good effort

It was all systems go for England today at Chantilly. With France in the lead, 7.5-3.5, after yesterday England needed to gain some momentum early on. After four well-played foursomes matches the points were halved in the morning, taking the total to 9.5-5.5. France now only needed 3 points in the afternoon to win the trophy.

England had other plans though and it turned out a real nail biter in the end. France quickly secured two points with Levy beating Lewis and Lespinasse beating Pepperell. After that the match really got tight!

Tommy Fleetwood recorded an impressive win against the European Individual Champion Victor Dubuisson and he was followed by Shadbolt and Hodgson who nicely closed their games 4/3 and 3/1 respectively. Paisley got his match to all square after a great birdie on 17, Nixon was 2 up and Abbott 1 up. At this stage it was looking like England was going to get out of jail. In the end the match slipped away from England though with all these three matches ending up all square. This was enough to put France across the line and record a 13-11 victory.

Watch Tommy Fleetwood comment on his and England’s performance:

For second day and final scores click here.

England off to a rough start

After a convincing 3-1 after the foursomes in the morning England looked strong, at least to begin with, in the match against France at Chantilly. About 6 hours later the situation had turned around completely. France were on fire in the afternoon and captured the singles by a clear 6.5-1.5. Full update of the day one scores are available here.

In the afternoon England’s only win was delivered by Jamie Abbott. Jamie commented after play was concluded:

Play at Chantilly continues tomorrow and can be followed here.

A bright future

Just had a quick look at the leaderboards around the world. Always interesting. On the European Tour in Mallorca, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño is in the lead. My best memory of Gonzalo i when he was part of the Palmer Cup team that Keith Williams and I led at Kiawah Island a number of years ago. On the Ladies European Tour the leader is Ashleigh Simon. I remember her from the Women’s World Cup in South Africa 2005 where I was with the Swedish Team of Carin Koch and Sophie Gustafson. Ashleigh was 16 or something at the time and already played like a pro. On the PGA Tour one of the leaders is James Nitties from Australia. He came to Sweden as part of an exchange programme we had with the Aussies in the early 2000’s. It is no doubt interesting to follow what happens to players over the years. Of course not everyone make it but a substantial percentage of those that do become successful could actually be spotted quite a while ago. The only problem is that there are probably at least twice as many, in those early days, that are just as good but later fall by the wayside.

The next generation of English and French players will be on display at Chantilly over these next couple of days. France play England in the biannual match. Not sure if your French is up to scratch but there is supposed to be live scoring available here. Otherwise I will try to come back with further reports during the course of the match.

Different paths

The European Tour visited Italy this last week and I am sure it was a big thing for the home crowd to welcome teenage superstar Matteo Manassero to his first event as a professional player. Playing the first two rounds with Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomery, Matteo handsomely made the cut and cashed his first check from playing the game. When the tournament came to a conclusion on the Sunday it was two players with completely different backgrounds that battled it out though;

David Horsey with an impressive amateur record playing for England and Fredrik Andersson-Hed with an equally impressive amateur record playing for Sweden. The only difference is that David’s record is pretty recent while Fred’s stem back to the early 90’s. Fredrik now won his first title on the European main tour, David has yet to win his even though he came close to catching Fredrik at the end.

As a study on what professional golf can be like Fredrik Andersson-Hed is a fascinating one. No less than 14 visits to European Tour qualifying school I am sure have given him some strength; 1992, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01, 05, 06, 08, 09. It is easy to think that anyone with any talent at all outside golf would have found a few reasons to turn to that rather than trying to pursue this career in golf. But not Fredrik Andersson-Hed. And now he has won on the European Tour and does not need to worry about returning to Q-school. At least not for the next couple of years. Well done Fredrik!

No limit thinking

Today it was time for another session with the England Performance Coaches. Performing under pressure was on the agenda. Dave Alred, the rugby coach, performance coach in numerous sports and perhaps most known as Johnny Wilkinson’s kicking coach is a true expert in the field. Having been involved in the set-up behind England’s winning team at the 2003 Rugby World Cup, studied the people that train dolphins at Sea World and worked with the RAF pilots to find out how the handle pressure situations, it is hard to think of what else there might be to know in this area. As a true scholar though Dave continues to study and of course this is why spending time with him is not just a traditional lecturing. It is a battle with all our conventional ways of doing things.

One of Dave’s trademarks is ‘No Limit Thinking’. Having listened to Dave I cannot help wondering what it is that makes us constantly put people into pigeonholes. Or to have to use scales of various sorts; On a scale from 1 to 10 – how good are you? What if there is no such thing as a 10? What if you could be a 15 or a 29? And what happens after you have become a 10? Do you stop? Find a new sport?

Of course the challenge must be to constantly strive to get better. I remember a conversation I had at my son’s school where schoolwork is now very ‘goal oriented’. There are goals for everything that the children should learn. I am sure there are benefits with this, but what happens when the goals are reached? A wise and experienced teacher once said to me
-“Children used to come to school, eager, asking ‘what will we learn here?’ Now the only question is ‘what do you have to do to get a certain grade’?”
Sounds like every limit thinking to me…

Young guns

The first May Bank Holiday weekend is over. Golf was once again overwhelmed by its young guns around the World. At Royal Lytham I was involved in a couple of discussions around Rory McIlroy’s back problems and the problems of suffering from that at such as young age. His reply – well, he won the Quail Hollow Championship to become the youngest winner of a US PGA Tour event since Tiger Woods in 1996. No sign of back problems there I guess!

Another serious Young Gun of course is 18 year old Ryo Ishikawa who shot a 58 to win The Crowns in Japan. The old Swedish vision of 54 over 18 holes suddenly does not seem that far away!

And as if this was not enough, Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, one of the most exciting young talents in world golf, turned professional today and becomes the second youngest European Tour Member in history after the legendary Seve Ballesteros. Manassero has got a stunning record considering how young he is and no doubt he will be a player to watch in the future. His debut on home soil will be closely followed by many.

The Lytham Trophy came to conclusion with an Irish winner. Paul Cutler proved the strongest over the links in tough conditions on the Sunday. Full scores should be available here.

Holy land

Royal Lytham GC

Royal Lytham GC


Once again it is time to turn to England’s Golf Coast up in the North West and visit the area around Lytham and St Annes. I always love coming here and perhaps it is the memories of the 2001 Open Championship that makes it such a feel good place. At that time I worked for the Swedish Federation and as usual during the Open we had rented a house where the players could stay. We brought a Swedish chef along and for everyone it was a pretty special experience. For the players it was very different to the other 28 weeks or so during the year that they spent in a hotel. I am pretty sure that it was the Swedish meatballs that gave Niclas Fasth the strength to finish second behind David Duval!
Now that I return it is for the Lytham Trophy and the Fairhaven Trophy. The former is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the amateur calendar of the year and the latter is quickly becoming a really important fixture on the junior calendar. Play is underway and at Lytham, Lancashire’s own Tommy Fleetwood has taken an early and impressive lead at 5 under, 66. Scores should be possible to follow here.
At Fairhaven the first round scores are available by clicking here and then the following rounds should come up here

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