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My Top 10

Courses

From the beauty of the Monterey Peninsula to the windswept Lancashire coast, two-time major winner Mark O’Meara reveals his favourite layouts

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© Joann Dost

’m a big fan of the older style of golf courses – and my ten favourites (see sidebar, page 65) definitely reflect that. Pebble Beach (above), Royal Birkdale and Portmarnock in Ireland all sit very high on that list, and are all classic designs that can still to this day can test the very best players in the world. Today’s game – particularly on tour – is dominated by power, and as a result many designers have become infatuated with length. I wouldn’t have gone with that strategy myself. Simply making courses longer as a way of combating the advances of modern equipment takes away creativity. In a roundabout way, designers are now playing into the hands of the most powerful players by doing so. In my experience, it’s the shortest holes that drive just as much fear into the top players. The tenth at Riviera Country Club and the twelfth at Augusta a sub-300 yard par four and a 155 yard par three – are great examples of that. Remember Phil Mickelson making a charge on the final day at the Masters last 70

HK Golfer・FEB/MAR 2010

year only to make a double at the twelfth? The seventh at Pebble is another great par three, one that’s only 107 yards long. Giving players a variety of options on how to play a particular hole rather than forcing one strategy upon them is very important; it might sound strange, but the more options a player has, the more testing the hole becomes. Pebble Beach is a simply unforgettable course. Before I joined the Champions Tour, I played the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am there twenty-two years in a row. Its beauty is unsurpassed and it doesn’t matter how well or poorly I’ve been playing, I always get excited at the thought of returning. I’ve won at Pebble Beach five times, which gives a pretty good indication of how much I enjoy playing there. I’ve always enjoyed travelling overseas as a professional golfer – I realized early on that CONTINUED ON 69 HKGOLFER.COM


GLOBALTOURNAMENTNEWS ROYAL TROPHY 2010

Amata Spring GC, Thailand, Jan 8-10 Europe pulled out a victory against Asia in a tightly fought Royal Trophy match play event, with Henrik Stenson picking up the final hole against Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee to secure an 8 1/2 -to-7 1/2 victory. Jaidee, the local favourite, came up just short on a 15-foot putt at the last that would have given him a win over Stenson, squared the three-day event at 8-8 and forced a playoff. The Swede then sank a 7-footer to square the match and give Europe a victory in the annual team tournament. “All credit to my team for fighting. We all contributed at least one point this week,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said. “Congratulations to my team. [It’s a] Good start for European golf.”

Kapalua, Hawaii, Jan 7-10 Australia's Geoff Ogilvy rallied from a two-shot deficit with 10 holes to play thanks to flawless golf for a 6-under 67 and a one-shot victory over Rory Sabbatini at the season-opening SBS Championship. A year after winning the same event by six shots, Ogilvy posted his eighth consecutive round in the 60s on the Plantation Course. He joined fellow Australian Stuart Appleby as the only repeat winners since this tournament moved to Kapalua in 1999, and he became only the seventh player in the 58 years of this winners-only tournament to win in consecutive years. “We knew what we had to do," said Ogilvy, who moves to the top spot in the FedExCup standings with the victory. “I'd never been in that situation. I'm happy and excited to get it done. I needed to make birdies and I did.” 1 2 3 4 4 6 6 6 9 10

Geoff Ogilvy Rory Sabbatini Matt Kuchar Martin Laird Sean O’Hair Kenny Perry Retief Goosen Ryan Moore Stewart Cink Angel Cabrera

69 66 68 67 70 68 70 63 67 68 71 67 67 68 69 70 68 67 71 68 70 67 70 68 70 69 67 69 69 68 68 70 68 69 69 70 68 68 70 71

SONY OPEN IN HAWAII

270 271 273 274 274 275 275 275 276 277

$1,120,000 $645,000 $426,000 $300,000 $300,000 $208,333 $208,333 $208,333 $185,000 $160,000

Waialae CC, Hawaii, Jan 14-17 Ryan Palmer expected the worst when his chip from 50 feet short of the 18th green came out a little strong. Seconds later, he never felt better. His chip struck the pin squarely, and instead of running several feet past the hole, it settled a few inches away. Palmer tapped in for a birdie and a 4-under-par 66, giving him a one-shot victory in the Sony Open when Robert Allenby missed a 10-foot birdie putt. “What a way to start the year,” said the 33-year-old Palmer, who earned $990,000 for his third victory on the PGA Tour. Palmer, a Texan, finished at 15-under 265. Australian Allenby closed with a 67 and Steve Stricker (65) finished third at 13 under. 1 Ryan Palmer 65 66 68 66 265 $990,000 2 Robert Allenby 65 67 67 67 266 $594,000 3 Steve Stricker 66 67 69 65 267 $374,000 4 Retief Goosen 69 67 70 62 268 $264,000 5 Charles Howell III 73 66 66 64 269 $200,750 5 Davis Love III 65 69 68 67 269 $200,750 5 Carl Pettersson 66 70 67 66 269 $200,750 8 Chad Campbell 68 64 73 66 271 $154,000 8 Nathan Green 71 67 65 68 271 $154,000 8 John Rollins 70 69 67 65 271 $154,000 68

1 Pebble Beach California, USA 2 Royal Birkdale Lancashire, England 3 Portmarnock Co. Dublin, Ireland 4 St Andrews (Old Course) Scotland 5 Augusta National Georgia, USA 6 Cypress Point California, USA 7 Pine Valley New Jersey, USA 8 Waterville Co. Kerry, Ireland 9 Seminole Florida, USA 10 Tuhaye Utah, USA

ASIA SCENE

SBS CHAMPIONSHIP

HK Golfer・FEB/MAR 2010

WORLD PROFESSIONAL GOLF RANKINGS

Mark O’Meara’s Top 10 Courses

CONTINUED FROM 70

golf is a global game and playing around the world certainly helped me develop as a player. The different grasses, the different weather – playing in those kinds of conditions really helped me become much more creative with my shotmaking. I always thought that’s the reason why the European players did so well at the Masters. The short game thought process comes into play more often at Augusta – another of my favourites – than at any other course I can think of. In Europe, the weather can sometimes get difficult – downright nasty at times – which tests players both mentally and physically. The Europeans were prepared. I came to enjoy the rough weather – and tough links courses especially. I reckoned that half the field was already eliminated and I love it when courses are playing really challenging.

That was the case in 1998, the year I won both the Masters and the Open at Royal Birkdale. I wasn’t actually playing that well going into the season – and at the age of 41, nobody expected me to win – myself included – which took some of the pressure off and lowered my expectations. But Birkdale’s been very special to me – I always enjoyed the challenge, having finished third in the Open to [Ian] Baker-Finch in 1991 and winning the Lawrence Batley International there in 1987 – so to hold off Brian Watts in the playoff and clip Tiger by a shot was hugely satisfying. Again, it’s about creativity. Links golf forces you to be creative and Royal Birkdale – like Portmarnock, another quite brilliant links across the Irish Sea – demands that. –As told to Alex Jenkins

As of January 25, 2010 1

Tiger WOODS

USA

13.59

2

Phil MICKELSON

USA

7.83

3

Steve STRICKER

USA

6.83

4

Lee WESTWOOD

ENG

6.37

5

Jim FURYK

USA

5.51

6

Martin KAYMER

GER

5.31

7

Padraig HARRINGTON

IRL

5.24

8

Henrik STENSON

SWE

5.20

9

Paul CASEY

ENG

5.16

10 Ian POULTER

ENG

5.12

11 Rory McILROY

NIR

5.10

12 Geoff OGILVY

AUS

4.96

13 Kenny PERRY

USA

4.68

14 Sergio GARCIA

ESP

4.34

15 Robert ALLENBY

AUS

4.26

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Alan C.Birch (Courtesy of Royal Birkdale); Kevin Murray (Courtesy of Portmarnock GC)

PGA TOUR RESULTS 2010

Royal Birkdale

Portmarnock

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HK Golfer・FEB/MAR 2010

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1002MarkOMeara  

My Top 10 From the beauty of the Monterey Peninsula to the windswept Lancashire coast, two-time major winner Mark O’Meara reveals his favour...