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HK Golfer Kitzbühel Golf: Lewine Mair on Austria’s Alpine getaway

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION ISSUE 43

DECEMBER 2009 / JANUARY 2010

$40

RORY McILROY

Golf's Next Number 1? DISPLAY UNTIL 15 FEBRUARY

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contents

HK Golfer

43

Issue 43

December 2009 / January 2010

Features 22 | Joy Rider

Ian Poulter has gone from earning HK$40 an hour as assistant pro to the thirteenth best player in the world. As Alex Jenkins explains, there’s a lot more to the colourful Englishman than meets the eye.

30 | Hong Kong Open Review:

The People’s Champion

He might not have won the UBS Hong Kong Open, but it was Rory McIlroy who the galleries were backing late on Sunday afternoon.

43 | Teen Titan

October’s Masters Golf Fashion Hong Kong Open Amateur Championship was highlighted by an Australian victory and two notable performances by local golfers.

50 | Jason Hak’s Seven Days in Scotland



Shenzhen Golf Club, surreally located in the heart of the city, offers three great nines – at a cost.

68 | Alpine Wonder

Best known as Austria’s premier skiing destination, charming Kitzbuhel is well worth visiting during the summer months with your clubs in tow, reports Lewine Mair.

Plus… 06 | E-mailbag 12 | Steven’s Sweet 65

16-year-old Lam sets new course record at Kau Sai Chau

14 | Tee Time

Evan Rast on the history of Vacheron Constantin

Five weeks before his heroics at the Hong Kong Open, Jason Hak teed it up at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship where he played over three of the most famous courses in the world – St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

18 | Augusta Bound

58 | Tommy Armour – The Greatest

48 | Tournaments

Dr Milton Wayne looks at the remarkable life of the legendary “Silver Scot”

30

66 | Downtown Golf

On the Cover:

Rory McIlroy, Hong Kong Golf Club Photo by Charles McLaughlin

HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

Coverage from the Asian Amateur Championship

42 | Around the HKGA

A roundup of news and other events from Hong Kong The latest events and coverage

54 | Golf Punting

A rc h ie A lb at ro s s re v ie w s t he 2 0 0 9 M ajor championships

74 | Final Shot

Ryder Cup Q&A with Sam Torrance HKGOLFER.COM


hk golfer e-mailbag Rub of the Grain

I am a member of the Hong Kong Golf Club and was a little disappointed to hear the incessant complaints and commentary about grain on the greens during the recent UBS Hong Kong Open. It’s true: our greens are susceptible to grain. However, for one week a year – Hong Kong Open week, no less – we prepare them so that they run at around 11 on the stimpmeter and so the effect of grain is all but nullified. The greens were in that condition on the Monday of Open week and the professionals loved them. However, my club was “requested” by the European Tour to soften them up a bit and also to slow them down. The result was inevitable. Furthermore, the European Tour also insisted we grow rough around what are clearly run-off areas, thereby, in many instances, leaving simple chips rather than very difficult pitches when one of those greens is missed. These runoff areas were integral to the original design of the course and are an important and strategic defence. Sadly, their impact on play during the Hong Kong Open was all but eradicated. The result on what is already one of the shortest courses on Tour: a winning score of 19-under-par, the lowest total since 2001. I hope we prepare the course ourselves next year such that the greens are harder and slicker and the run-offs are left as they were originally intended. Then we will see what the winning score is. My bet is no lower than 12-under. Black Cloud Fanling

Where’s Johnny?

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION Dec 2009 / Jan 2010 • Issue 43

Editor: Alex Jenkins email: alex.jenkins@hkgolfer.com Sub-editor: Linda Tsang Playing Editor: Jean Van de Velde Contributing Editor: Lewine Mair Published by:

TIMES INTERNATIONAL CREATION Times International Creation Limited 20/F, Central Tower 28 Queen’s Road Central Hong Kong Phone: +852 2159-9427 Fax: +852 3007-0793 Publisher: Charles McLaughlin Art Director: Mimi Cheng Office Manager: Moira Moran Accounting Manager: Christy Wong Advertising For advertising information, please contact: ads@hkgolfer.com For purchasing information contact: sales@hkgolfer.com For subscription information contact: subs@hkgolfer.com Hong Kong Golf Association Suite 2003, Olympic House 1 Stadium Path, So Kon Po Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Phone (General): +852 2504-8659 Fax: +852 2845-1553 Phone (Handicaps): +852 2504-8197 Fax: +852 2504-8198 Email: hkgolf@hkga.com handicaps@hkga.com HK GOLFER is printed in Hong Kong.

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One omission from the prodigies list [Top Ten Prodigies, Oct/Nov issue] is Johnny Miller. Now well known as a television announcer, Miller won numerous tournaments as a junior in his native California. He gained national attention by capturing the USGA Junior Open title in 1964, and then, as a college student, he won the low amateur medal when the US Open was played at his own club – the Olympic Club – in 1966. As a professional, Miller won two Majors in dramatic fashion: shooting a final round 63 to win the 1973 US Open and trouncing the field at the 1976 British Open to win by six shots. What is often overlooked is Miller’s status as an innovator. For example, he positioned his caddie directly behind him when he putted, so as to shield himself from the gallery and also to help report on his line (a practice now banned partly because of him). He was also the first player to use graphite-shafted clubs to win a Major (at the British Open) and experimented with the long putter before anyone else on Tour. Unlike a lot of commentators who just describe the action on the screen, Miller, while controversial at times, adds great value to the proceedings. Because of his experiences, he knows what is going through the players’ minds. Miller can be said to have been successful in all phases of his career and has found his niche in the sport. Gordon Lee Kowloon Tong

HK Golfer

HKGolfer Kitzbühel Golf: Lewine Mair on Austria’s Alpine getaway

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION ISSUE 43

HKGOLFER.COM

DECEMBER 2009 / JANUARY 2010

$40

RORY McILROY

Golf's Next Number 1? DISPLAY UNTIL 15 FEBRUARY

+

Ian Poulter Tommy Armour Hong Kong Open

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ALL ABOARD FOR THE HKO Yang Yong-eun, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Lin Wen-tang had plenty to laugh about during a tram ride through Central at the start of Hong Kong Open week. With the media pack following closely behind, the four stars could barely contain their delight when the photographers' tram braked late, scattering the lensmen from their already precarious positions. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHARLES McLAUGHLIN



HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

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HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010




FAN FAVOURITE Young fans vie for a glimpse of Rory McIlroy from the side of the first tee during the final round of the UBS Hong Kong Open. Tiger Woods aside, 20-year-old McIlroy is the hottest property in world golf and draws enormous galleries wherever he plays. Although McIlroy would finish runner-up in the tournament for the second successive year, he undoubtedly won the heart of the Fanling galleries. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHARLES McLAUGHLIN

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I

the starter

Steven’s

t’s been described as one of the finest rounds ever compiled by a Hong Kong golfer – and for very good reason. Playing in the Faldo Series Asia Hong Kong qualifying tournament, which was held concurrently with the UBS Hong Kong Open qualifier on October 15, Lam fired an astonishing eight birdies over the North Course to break Derek Fung’s record of 66 by a shot. As anyone who has ever played the course can attest – and that will include the majority of HK Golfer readers – the North is one of the most brutal tests in Asian golf, the kind of course that can, on occasion, destroy all faith in one’s abilities. But Lam, aided by calm conditions and laser-like iron play, made short work of the Gary Player-designed layout, putting on a masterful display of course management. “The North Course is essentially my home course,” said Lam, who followed up his 65 with an almost equally impressive 68 in the final round. “I’ve played it so many times that I know what to do, but this was by far my best ever round.” Lam, who entered the event in a rich vein of form after making the cut at the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open – an Asian Tour and Japan

Sweet 65

16-year-old Lam sets new course record at Kau Sai Chau

Golf Tour co-sanctioned event – two weeks previously, had a simple strategy: get his gapwedge in hand. “The only plan I had was to leave myself as many shots with my 52-desgree gap-wedge shots as possible,” said Lam, who was no slouch with the putter either, using the flatstick on only 27 occasions. “The North Course isn’t so much about power as it is precision. I was just trying to leave myself with around 100 yards to the flag each time.” “It was unbelievable to watch,” said fellow squad member Charles Stone, Lam’s playing partner, “and the funny thing is it could have been even lower.” Starting off with a run of five consecutive pars over the course’s championship routing, Lam drained a birdie on the sixth before playing holes eight to fourteen in a remarkable sixunder-par. A bogey at the sixteenth, where he missed a five-foot putt, was quickly recovered by a stunning birdie at the tough par four seventeenth (which normally plays as the tenth), while a solid four down the daunting 464-yard final hole (normally the ninth) completed the round. Lam ended up winning the Faldo Series Asia qualifier by a staggering twenty-five strokes

from second-placed Liu Lok-tin. Although he wasn’t entered for the UBS Hong Kong Open qualifier – having won the Hong Kong Close Amateur Championship earlier in the year, Lam was already exempt for the event – he bettered winner William Fung’s 36-hole total of 145 by twelve strokes.

Seaside stunner (top): A seven-iron to six feet gave Steven a birdie at the signature fourteenth (which played as the twelfth).

How Steven did it Hole 1

Hole 2

Hole 3

Hole 4

Hole 5

Hole 6

Hole 7

Hole 8

Hole 9

Hole 10

Hole 11

Hole 12

Hole 13

Hole 14

Hole 15

Hole 16

Hole 17

Hole 18

560 yards. Par 5. Driver, hybrid, 40 yard pitch to 15 feet, 2 putt. PAR.

364 yards. Par 4. Hybrid, 7-iron to 20 feet, 2 putt. PAR.

174 yards. Par 3. 7-iron to 20 feet, 2 putt. PAR.

401 yards. Par 4. Driver, 8-iron into greenside bunker. Splash to 3 feet, 2 putt. PAR.

348 yards. Par 4. Driver, gap wedge to 15 feet, 2 putt. PAR.

338 yards. Par 4. 3-iron, gap wedge to 7 feet, 1 putt. BIRDIE.

148 yards. Par 3. 9-iron to 15 feet, 2 putt. PAR.

568 yards. Par 5. Driver, 4-iron, gap wedge to 20 feet, 1 putt. BIRDIE.

210 yards. Par 3. 3-iron into greenside bunker, splash to 4 feet, 1 putt. PAR.

521 yards. Par 5. Driver, 3-wood, chip to 4 feet, 1 putt. BIRDIE.

308 yards. Par 4. Hybrid, gapwedge to 1 foot, 1 putt. BIRDIE.

168 yards. Par 3. 7-iron to 6-feet, 1 putt. BIRDIE.

344 yards. Par 4. Driver, sandwedge to 3 feet, 1 putt. BIRDIE.

308 yards. Par 4. 3-iron, gapwedge to 3 feet, 1 putt. BIRDIE.

570 yards. Par 5. Driver, 5-iron, gap-wedge to 20 feet, 2 putt. PAR.

373 yards. Par 4. Driver, 9-iron short of green, chip to 5 feet, 2 putt. BOGEY.

462 yards. Par 4. Driver, 8-iron to 5 feet, 1 putt. BIRDIE.

464 yards. Par 4. Driver, hybrid to 30 feet, 2 putt. PAR.

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 TEE TIME

When Time is of the Essence HK Golfer watch editor Evan Rast takes a closer look at one of the greatest names in Swiss watchmaking, Vacheron Constantin

I

f there were three Swiss brands a watch collector ought to have in his arsenal, it would have to be the triumvirate made up of Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. These timehonoured manufactures have essentially maintained their position at the pinnacle of high watchmaking since the beginning of their long histories, and the fact that these have spanned generations makes their reputations all the more impressive. Vacheron Constantin, in particular, has been one of those that have caught my fancy since the beginning. And why not, with a client book that reads like the who’s who of the past 250 plus years, the brand’s lineage is certainly beyond question. Si n c e it s e a rl ie s t d ay s , Vac he ron Constantin was the Swiss government’s gift of choice for royalty and heads of state. In the 1950s, a few years after the end of World War II, when the Allied leaders met at the Palace of Nations in Geneva for peace talks, all of them, including then US President Eisenhower and the British Prime Minister A nthony Eden, were presented with a Vacheron Constantin as a commemorative gift. Even Queen Elizabeth received a timepiece from the Swiss government upon her coronation in 1953. But what has really fuelled Vacheron Constantin’s staying power? Is it the brand’s long, uninterrupted history that began more than 250 years ago? Is it the impressive list of royalty and dignitaries that have, on occasion, worn a Vacheron & Constantin masterpiece on their wrists or chains?

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To understand the true essence of this brand, a roundup of past achievements is necessary. It was in the 18th century when the name Vacheron became synonymous to fine watchmaking, mainly due to a young intellectual Jean Marc Vacheron, who joined the ranks of Geneva’s cabinotier and quickly established a reputation for producing high quality timepieces. Word of his talent reached the royal courts of Europe, where his creations impressed even the royal watchmakers and timekeepers of the court. In 1770, Constantin created his f irst complication, and nine years later designed his first engine-turned dials. His brand became a frequent participant in design competitions, receiving many top prizes. Jean Marc’s son, Abraham, took over the family business in 1785, and 25 years later, grandson Jaques-Barthélemy initiated the company’s first exports to France and Italy. It was during this time that a partner was introduced to the firm, François Constantin, who, as the person in charge of international distribution, helped the company become recognized in far-off markets like North America. But it was a man by the name of GeorgesAugust Leschot that further cemented Vacheron Constantin’s position in the watch industry. Hired in 1839 to supervise manufacturing operations, Leschot is credited for being the first person to standardize movements into calibres. While efforts had already started in the direction of creating parts usable for serial production, the machines that were created at the time weren’t as reliable or consistent, resulting in watches that, even with the same design and movement, could essentially be considered one-offs because each watch only worked with its own unique set of parts. But Leschot was able to devise machines that could produce components that were, in effect, interchangeable in the same calibre, which resulted in a drop in production costs and increased efficiency for the company. Because of this achievement Vacheron Constantin became a major supplier of components and ebauches (incomplete movements), including to established brands like Cartier. One could also say that the manufacture played a pivotal role in the industrialisation of watchmaking, paving the way for future watchmaking giants such as Omega and Rolex. The brand continued creating classical pocket watches until the early 20th century when the Golden Age of wristwatches began. However the contributions to the world of horology did not stop there. The brand actively participated in the research for antimagnetic watch technology HKGOLFER.COM

since the late 1800s, having first experimented with non-ferrous materials for the balance and hairspring in 1846 and creating the first antimagnetic watch in 1885. Today Vacheron Constantin continues to be the industry’s leader in the field, brought to the fore today through the company’s Overseas line, which is among the few in the market (apart from Audemars Piguet ’s Royal Oak Offshore) that have antimagnetic inner shielding for its watches. Vacheron Constantin was a solid force in watch innovation and design until the quartz revolution in the late 1960s, where the house struggled to maintain its traditions of mechanical watchmaking despite the weakening of the market. It entered a period of decline, as if slept through the next two decades. The renaissance of the mechanical watch industry in the 1990s helped the brand come out of its slumber. It released five main collections, starting with the Overseas, or the sporty line; Les Historiques, which are re-editions of the classic designs from the ‘40s and ‘50s; the basic Les Essentielles line; and Les Complications, which made up the haute horlogerie pieces like minute repeaters, tourbillons and perpetual calendars. In addition to working on new in-house calibres for complications, the company broke new ground in technical mastery while focusing on novel ways of telling the time, with pieces such as the Mercator, which featured a compass-

Prize possesion (top): this Quai de l’Ile stole the show at this year's Only Watch auction in Monaco

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type retrograde minute and hour indicator, and the Metiers d’Art, which became a continuous series of themed collections depicting dazzling enamel artwork and engraving. In 2005, to celebrate its 250th year, the house released the one of the most complicated wristwatches in the world, the Tour de l’Ile, which was made up of 834 parts and featured 16 different complications. Since then, there seemed to be a deluge in creativity at Vacheron Constantin. In the years that followed, the manufacture unveiled some of the most interesting and innovative pieces in the market: Released in 2008, the Quai de l’Ile stands for the efforts the brand has made to showcase a new watchmaking aesthetic. Bra nd ish i ng it s new cabi not ier department, the manufacture created a unique watch that can be personalised by choosing components from a large selection of options. With a revolutionary case of seven main parts, a choice of three metals (pink gold, pa l lad iu m a nd t ita n iu m) a nd t h ree dials featuring topsecret security printing technology, the watch can be assembled in nearly 400 different combi nat ions. T he Quai de l’Ile comes in an automatic with date powered by the calibre 2460 SC and one with a day-date and power reserve, housing the calibre 2460 QH.

Unique pieces (from top): the Malte Moonphase collection incorporates a variety of finishes on the dial; the Overseas line is among the few in the market that have antimagnetic inner shielding. 16

Another line with an impressive fol low i ng is t he Pat r i mony Trad it ion nel le, wh ich wa s f i rst introduced in 2007. This is widely held as the collection that testifies to the brand’s technical and aesthetic prowess, mainly for the simple yet exquisite workmanship that show off the manufacture’s most beautiful historical models. It was early this year that the company introduced the new Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph, featuring the renowned calibre 1141, a self-winding column-wheel movement with 42-hour power reserve, celebrated not only by Vacheron Constantin but many other watchmakers for its superb construction. A n d t h e n j u s t r e c e n t l y, t h e M a lt e Moonphase Power Reserve was launched, 10 years since Vacheron Constantin launched the collection, with its first in-house tourbillon and

HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

 SINGLE MALTS

the extra shilling would be too much to pay but, whatever dictates applied, this transaction is a fine example of why we Scots have a business reputation for being astute to the point of theft. A single bottle of their superb 2005 bottling, or “expression” as Glenfarclas call it, “50 year old” would, for example, fetch nearly twelve distilleries at present day prices. Indeed, the distillery has remained a family-run business ever since and the Grants have recently admitted to the taxman that they have recovered their initial investment although they remain cautious about actually declaring a profit. Speyside malts are rightly famous and with water gathered on the slopes of Ben Rinnes’ 2,700 ft peak and filtered by heather, granite and peat before springing back to the surface, Glenfarclas is a distinctive example of the great whiskies that emanate from the North East of Scotland. These Speyside malts are as distinct from their western cousins as caramel is from butterscotch in that they are evocative of that fine Scottish description, “the same but different”. One knows that the same essential ingredients are used but the final product, with only a small amount of finishing, would defy this knowledge. The underlying peat taste remains but it is in no way dominant and the saltiness of the Islay or Campbelltown malts is entirely absent. There are a large number of expressions but two that I have sampled are the 12-year-old and the glorious 30-yearold. The former is aged in sherry casks and this combined with the spring water has produced a delight that is a fine introduction to the freshness, slight smokiness and lingering sweetness that is both typical of and delighting about many Speyside malts. However, it is when one encounters the 30-year-old that one appreciates the glorious heritage that remains in the hands of the Grant family. This dark golden malt is so rich, spicy and sweet of flavour that it has been compared to distilled Christmas cake. Indeed, the finish is of such length that Easter might speed by before it completely leaves the palate. Truly deserving of the awards that it has won all over the world, this bottling should be sampled wherever it is, all too rarely, found. I would be delighted to describe the taste of the celebratory 50-year-old that was bottled in 2005 to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of John Grant, but the only two bottles that I know the whereabouts of (there were only one hundred and ten produced) belong to a particularly curmudgeonly associate of mine. His consistent reaction to my oft-made suggestion that we should “share a drop” is reminiscent of Saint Peter’s rush to breakfast after leaving Gethsemane, and I hold no great hope of this changing. If, however, Paul of Tarsus was heading east on the A95, I believe that he might truly experience another conversion as he encountered the “Miracle on the road to Dufftown” that is Glenfarclas. Although, unlike the ABC minors, it would be with a snifter rather than a bang.

Glenfarclas,

West of Dufftown

Whisky editor John Bruce on this Speyside special “We love to laugh and have a sing song, such a happy crowd are we, we’re all pals together, the minors of the ABC.” manual-windng chronograph with perpetual calendar. The tonneau-shaped Malte Moonphase Power Reserve comes with a movement based on the manual winding in-house calibre 1400. The case is a generous 39x49x13mm, a little bit smaller than the Tonneau Chronograph and Tourbillon Regulator. And as with the entire collection, the brand shows much talent in incorporating a variety of finishes on the dial. For 2010, Vacheron Constantin has decided to go for the ultra waif look. A sneak peek at its SIHH novelties reveals that house has revived some of its finest and thinnest movements from the 1950s and 1960s for its Historiques collection. The brand considers the 20th century as its “Golden Age” for ultra-thin watches, and it is from this period that it has chosen to conjure its latest pursuits: The Ultra-fine 1955 is equipped with the handwound 1003 movement, which comes in a thickness of 1.64mm (about the size of a 20-cent coin), making the watch, at 4.1mm, the thinnest in the world. The Ultra-fine 1968 features the automatic 1120 calibre, with a new decorated oscillating weight. Both watches bear the Geneva Seal and were developed at Vacheron Constantin’s historical L’Ile facility. Wit h developments t hat have wowed aficionados, impressed experts and swayed critics, I believe that the essence of Vacheron Constantin’s staying power is fuelled by its motto, “Do better if possible and that is always possible.” With such a close connection to its past and a promising future, it is without a doubt that VC will continue its reign as one of the outstanding pillars of horology. HKGOLFER.COM

T

h is was t he happy song ema n at i n g f rom c i nema s around the UK on Saturday mor n i ngs i n t he late 60 s a nd early 70s as t hree hours was ded icated to kids’ entertainment. There was some live entertainment and also a few cartoons but there was always the “big film” and the one that has stuck in my mind for many years is 1969’s Krakatoa, East of Java. There were a great many children who didn’t sleep after seeing Hollywood’s rendition of the 1883 phenomenon that remains the biggest volcanic eruption in modern history. What brought this to mind was my research into the location of Glenfarclas distillery in Speyside. Looking at it on the map, I thought that ‘West of Dufftown’ was adequate for the purpose but the description brought to mind a wee fact that came to light in response to the success of the film; Krakatoa was actually west of Java. Apparently the film company realized their error during pre-release publicity but decided that the exoticism of the East outweighed the need for geographical accuracy. Some eighteen years prior to the big bang (not something that the physicists at the Large Hadron Collider will ever say) John Grant purchased the Glenfarclas distillery for the sum of five hundred and eleven pounds and nineteen shillings. An interesting task would be to research what rule of the Exchequer dictated that HKGOLFER.COM

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asian amateur

W

Augusta Bound South Korea’s Han Chang-won prevailed at the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship to book his ticket to the 2010 Masters 18

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ithout doubt the most important amateur golf tournament to ever take place in Asia – and a clear illustration of the growing importance golf’s hierarchy places in this part of the world – the Asian Amateur Championship, which was devised by Augusta National Golf Club in harness with the Royal & Ancient, went the way of the softly-spoken Korean whose almost flawless swing and sublime putting touch make him a prime candidate to join the likes of KJ Choi and Yang Yong-eun as one of Asia’s leading lights. Wit h t he win ner receiving a coveted invitation to tee it up at next year’s Masters, 17-year-old Han revelled in the soft conditions at the Jack Nicklaus-designed World Cup Course at Mission Hills Golf Club, firing a four-day total of 276 (12-under-par) to triumph by five shots from compatriot Eric Chun. Both Han and Chun also gained exemptions into International Final Qualifying for the British Open. “It feels fantastic and I can’t wait to play in the Masters,” said Han, who somehow manages to squeeze in five hours a day of practice despite being a full-time student. “I know I’ll need to improve my concentration – I was a bit nervous at the end of the round despite my lead – but it’s wonderful. I never thought I could ever play at Augusta as an amateur. It would be a dream come true if I get partnered with Tiger Woods.” Hong Kong had six representatives in the elite tournament – Steven Lam, Liu Lok-tin, Terrence Ng, Shinichi Mizuno, Jason Hak and Roderick Staunton – and while we’re still waiting for a second local golfer to make it into a Major championship field (the first and so far only was Jock Mackie, who played in the 1959 Open at Muirfield), Staunton and Lam in particular proved they weren’t out of their depth by making the halfway cut. Indeed, 16-year-old Lam, with opening rounds of 70 and 71, was placed inside the top-10 before weekend rounds of 75 and 76 pushed him into a tie for 30th at four-over-par by tournament end. Staunton finished two shots further back in a share of 37th. “The big difference was putting,” said Lam, who was paired with the eventual winner over the first 36 holes. “He [Han] took advantage of his good shots by holing the putts afterwards, which was something I wasn’t able to do this week. I’m disappointed with the way I finished but it’s great to play with the very best players in the region. I learned a lot.”

HKGOLFER.COM

Steven Lam Roderick Staunton

Final Scores 1 2 3= 6 7 8= 10

Han Chang-won Eric Chun Kim Meen-whee Peter Spearman-Burn Jordan Sherratt Matthew Giles Mohammed Ismail Jonathan Woo Tomoya Tokunaga Judson Eustaquio

KOR KOR KOR NZL AUS AUS MAS SIN JPN PHL

30= 37=

STEVEN LAM HKG RODERICK STAUNTON HKG

66-69-71-70 74-68-66-73 75-68-68-71 69-68-73-72 68-67-74-73 71-71-73-68 70-72-71-71 70-74-70-71 74-72-68-71 68-76-70-72

276 281 282 282 282 283 284 285 285 286

70-71-75-76 71-77-75-71

292 294

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Allan Gormly, Chairman of the R&A, Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, Kwang-soo Hur, President of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, and Dominic Wall, Tournament Director of Asian Amateur Championship, pose for the media after a news conference ahead of the Asian Amateur Championship.

Player Steals the Show a long time, and a lot of practice and many hard years of work to be able to go to those tournaments.” • “It’s costing too much money to maintain the golf courses. We’re building the golf courses too long, because the golf ball is going too far, so the costs are going up instead of going down…and it’s stopping the number of people that are playing. So it is critical we cut the ball back for professional golf, 50 yards. Leave the technology for the amateur.” • “We have to build golf courses for the people. We have to change. Change is the price of survival. We cannot go on in the golf business as we are now. We have to get more people playing, more people out, more children playing, and we’ve got to change our whole concept.” One of the highlights of the week was a lengthy, wide-ranging press conference dominated by nine-time Major winner Gary Player, who travelled to the tournament as a guest of Augusta National. Player, now 74, touched on subjects from Kau Sai Chau (which he designed) to the continuing troubles in the Middle East and at one point pleaded with the mainland golf media to never change their diets. “The greatest threat to the Western world is obesity, not war,” boomed the super-fit South African, who at one point stood up and repeatedly hit himself in the stomach to prove how important exercise is to the human psyche.

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Here are a few excerpts: • “I’m very proud to have designed 36 holes at Kau Sai Chau. When I finished with it, I felt so gratified, like I really contributed to society knowing that it was something not only for the rich. It was something for everybody.” • “I’ve traveled a long way to come (to the Asian Amateur) because this is an important week for amateur golf, not only in Asia, but actually in the world…I hope players realize how lucky they are, because they’re possibly going to the two best golf tournaments in the world (the Masters and the British Open). It took me

• “The world is running out of water quickly. By the year 2025, the world will be short of 20 percent of water. The water is one of the greatest problems facing the Earth right now.” • “The greatest threat to the Western world is obesity, not war. (The Chinese) don’t have the high animal protein, fat diet. This is what I eat almost every day: rice, vegetables, mushrooms, fruit and juice, and nuts. We all live on bacon, sausages, milk, white bread. We live on all the stuff that’s detrimental to your health. So I beg the Chinese, eat like Chinese, not Westerners.”

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interview

In the space of twelve years, Ian Poulter has gone from earning HK$40 an hour as an assistant pro selling hot sausage rolls to the thirteenth best player in the world. As Alex Jenkins explains, there’s a lot more to the colourful Englishman than meets the eye.

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Joy Rider

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I

t’s the Monday of Hong Kong Open week and Ian Poulter is a happy man. We’ve just left the Omega flagship store in Causeway Bay where the 33-year-old Englishman sat through a rather inane press conference and photo op. Now free from fielding such questions from the local golf media as, “What’s your favorite colour, Ian?” and “Do you think you can win the Hong Kong Open?” (the answers, in case you’re wondering, were “pink” and “yes” respectively), Poulter, decked out in an allblack ensemble and silver Swarovski necktie, is admiring some wild and wonderful garb hanging in the window of Jean Paul Gaultier. “Blimey,” he says in that jovial Estuary English accent of his, “I could spend some money in this place.” This isn’t Poulter’s first trip to Hong Kong. At the 2004 Open he carded rounds of 70 and 76 to miss the cut by some margin. But much has changed over the past five years. Whereas before he was known as an outspoken clothes horse who could play a bit (all mouth and trousers, screamed the British tabloids), he’s now risen to the highest echelons of the sport. At number thirteen in the world rankings and with a win just two weeks before at the Barclays Singapore Open, Poulter is truly backing his showmanship with substance. “I’ve become much more consistent in recent years,” says the man who shot to global attention at the 2004 British Open by wearing a pair of Union Jack slacks in the first round at Royal Troon. “I’ve never been short of confidence, but I do believe that if I apply myself and concentrate properly, I can do anything. This is certainly the best form I have ever been in.” The records agree. Solid displays at this year’s Majors – the British Open was the only event where he finished outside the top twenty – and a runner-up finish to Henrik Stenson at the prestigious Players Championship in May were his highlights of 2009 prior to the win in Singapore. But it was at the British Open the year before where Poulter really made his move. A gutsy 69 on the final day at windswept Birkdale, which he calls his best ever round, moved him into championship contention, only for Padraig Harrington to play flawlessly down the stretch to edge him into second place. That gritty performance, however, was enough for Nick Faldo to somewhat controversially select him ahead of long-time campaigners Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie as one his two ‘wildcard’ picks for the European Ryder Cup team. To his enormous credit, Poulter put the selection hysteria behind him and played with a passion that his teammates could have done well to replicate. With four wins out of his five matches, he was the highest points scorer from either side.

Poulter: "The last twelve years have been a fun ride." 24

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2009 Singapore Open champion

The Poulter File Born: January 10, 1976 Place of birth: Hitchin, England Attachment: Woburn Golf & Country Club Residence: Orlando, Florida & Milton Keynes, England Turned Pro: 1994 (4 handicap) Family: Wife: Katie; Children: Aimee-Leigh (2002), Luke (2004), Lilly-Mai Grace (2009) European Tour wins: Italian Open (2000 and 2002), Moroccan Open (2001), Wales Open (2003), Nordic Open (2003), Volvo Masters (2004), Open de Madrid (2006), Singapore Open (2009). Favourite airline: British Airways. I’m a true patriot. Frequent flier programme: I’m with One World and Virgin’s FFP, but the funny thing is I’ve never spent a single mile. I’ve got over two million stashed away. Favourite hotel: The Fullerton in Singapore is as good a place as I’ve ever stayed. Magnificent rooms, excellent food and a really comfy bed. Favourite car: I’ve got seven, but I really like my Bentley GT. It’s both smart and casual. Favourite courses: Augusta National, Valderrama, Loch Lomond, the Old Course at St Andrews and Woburn. In Asia, I like the Serapong Course at Sentosa (Singapore), the Olazabal Course at Mission Hills (China), and the Phoenix Golf Resort and the Gotemba Course at Taiheyo Club, site of the 2001 World Cup (both Japan).

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To the manor born: "I always speak my mind," says Poulter. 26

“It was devastating to lose [the Ryder Cup],” says Poulter, as we clamber into the back of a cab for the drive to his hotel. “But on a personal note it was good to turn the controversy on its head. I went through a lot that week – as did Nick – and I had a lot to prove. But I used it to make me a better golfer.” Having to prove himself to others is nothing new for the Orlando-based Poulter, who along with the likes of Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey, successfully plies his trade on both sides of the Atlantic. Unlike his peers, however, Poulter’s route to golf ing glory was anything but conventional. Born to working-class parents in Hitchin, a market town to the northwest of London, Poulter started playing golf after following his Dad around a local public course. Sharing a set of second-hand clubs with his brother, Danny, Poulter took to the game quickly, and by 1991, at the age of 15, he had left school and was working in the pro shop of a club near Stevenage. While the likes of Luke Donald and David Howell, Poulter’s contemporaries, were competing on the British amateur circuit, Poulter was re-gripping members’ clubs and vacuuming the pro shop floor – all for the princely sum of £3.20 (HK$40) an hour. On his days off he’d help out on a friend’s market

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stall, flogging £10 shell-suits and discount jeans, to earn a bit of extra cash. Today, he has his own clothing company – IJP Design (www. ianpoulterdesign.com) –in which he invested over US$1 million of his own money in start-up and production costs. Whichever way you look at it, it’s been quite the turnaround. “I didn’t have the chance to play full-time amateur golf like some of the other kids because my parents couldn’t afford it,” he says. Wanting to turn professional, Poulter enrolled into the British PGA’s training programme – but only after taking a cheeky initiative. “To turn pro I needed a handicap of four, but I never really had a handicap, because I never really played any amateur golf,” he remembers with a laugh. “But it wasn’t too much of a problem because I was in charge of handicapping at my club, so I just made it up. I put down “four” and sent it in. I might get in trouble for saying that but it’s a bit late now.” Changing clubs, but still working as a professional’s assistant, Poulter played in a series of low-key regional events, such as the Mizuno Assistants’ Championship (which he won) before making it onto the Challenge Tour, the European Tour’s developmental circuit. “The past ten years have been a very fun journey. It’s all a bit surreal to be honest,” says Poulter, as HKGOLFER.COM

if only just now realizing what he’s achieved. “I was working in a pro shop for seven years – serving up hot sausage rolls and that kind of thing – and now I’m ranked the thirteenth best player in the world. Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.” Poulter’s first professional win – at the exotic Open de Côte d'Ivoire in 1999 – also falls into the “fun” category. “My caddie was the spitting image of Bob Marley,” laughs Poulter, who shared a room for most of the Challenge Tour season with best friend Justin Rose. “He had the same dreadlocks and the same voice. We sang Bob Marley songs together the whole way around. But he was a brilliant caddie. He read the greens and I only had 102 putts for the whole week, which is the lowest I’ve ever had. I gave him ten per cent of my winnings, which is a lot of money in the Ivory Coast, and he was really appreciative. It was a great time and playing and winning in Africa got me excited. I wanted to play more and more around the world.” Graduating to the European Tour after successfully emerging from the rigours of qualifying school the next year, Poulter found almost instant success by winning the 2000 Italian Open, a result which helped earn him the coveted Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award. But despite five more victories over the next four years – including the prestigious season-ending Volvo Masters in 2004, where he beat Sergio Garcia in a sudden death playoff – the 6ft 1in Poulter was making more headlines as a result of his comments and on-course behaviour than he was for his form. “I always speak my mind,” says Poulter, suddenly serious. “I’m always going to say it how it is. It might not always be PC [politically correct], but I don’t agree with being PC just for the sake of it. I’d rather be honest.” One example of this honesty came eighteen months ago when he told a British golf magazine: “The trouble is I don’t rate anyone

else. Don’t get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven’t played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.” In the ensuing aftermath, Poulter was widely berated by the media, who accused him of supreme arrogance and, well, being a bit of an egotistical prat. But while the Hertfordshire native certainly wouldn’t win any awards for modesty, there’s a lot more to him than the brash peacock he’s made out to be. Over the course of the interview, Poulter was humorous, polite, thoughtful and even sensitive. I wasn’t sure what to expect prior to our meeting but he was thoroughly engaging – and no more so than when the chat moved on to his involvement with Dreamflight, a UK-based charity whose purpose is to take seriously ill and disabled children on a ‘Holiday of a Lifetime’ to the theme parks of central Florida. Poulter, who has three children of his own, is one of the charity’s largest donators and plays an active role by greeting the 300 children off the plane and joining them for their days out at Disney World and Universal Studios. “It’s an incredible thing,” says Poulter, “and it’s very emotional. The charity does a brilliant job in giving the kids a great holiday, and they’re really great kids. But at the back of your mind you know that because of their illnesses you might not see them again the next year.” He pauses for a few moments, seemingly uncertain about how to continue. “But from the moment I heard about what Dreamflight was all about I wanted to be involved. I find it hard doing interviews about it without getting emotional, to be honest, but it’s really important that more and more people read and understand more about the charity. They enable a lot of deserving kids to have a lot of fun. At the end of the day, that’s what life should be all about.” Poulter, one thinks, appreciates this more than most.

Ian’s Bag Driver: Cobra ZL (9.5º) with Fujikura 6.0 Motore Speeder X flex shaft Fairway woods: Titleist 909F2 (13.5º, 18º) with Fujikura Rombax 7X07 and Grafalloy Prolite 35X shafts. Hybrid: Titleist 909H (19º) with Aldila NV Hybrid 85 X Irons: Cobra Pro CB (4-7) with Dynamic Gold X100 Irons: Cobra Pro MB (8-PW) with Dynamic Gold X100 Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design (54º, 60º) Putter: Odyssey Tri Hot #3 Ball: Titleist Pro V1x On the new groove rule for 2010: It’s definitely going to make a difference. That maybe an advantage for me, but the timing was bad. It’s costing the manufacturers a lot to get all the products out – and this comes at a time when the companies are laying people off. The timing just wasn’t right.

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hk open review

Spectacular Sunday: McIloy (left) drains his eagle putt on the thirteenth to the delight of galleries; but it would be Bourdy (below) who would come out on top with a nerveless back-nine display.

The People’s Champ He might not have won, but it was Rory McIlroy who the galleries were backing late on Sunday afternoon 30

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STORY BY ALEX JENKINS PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHARLES McLAUGHLIN

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W

hat does Rory McIlroy have to do to win the Hong Kong Open? For the second year running, the incredibly gifted Ulsterman came within a whisker of triumphing at Fanling only to be denied at the final hurdle. In 2008, the then 19-year-old’s hopes were dashed by – lest we forget – Lin Wen-tang’s miraculous shot-making in one of the most drama-packed sudden death playoffs in history. Twelve months on and it was Gregory Bourdy who deprived McIlroy of a second professional title. Take nothing away from the Frenchman. While many expected the 27-year-old from Bordeaux, who started Sunday with a twost roke lead over Rober t-Ja n Derkson, to fade over the backnine, the two-time European Tour winner held his nerve with an almost flawless display down the stretch. No question: he deserved this victory, which was by far the biggest of his career. It was the kind of performance that defines careers – and he will head into 2010 with one eye on a place in the Ryder Cup and the other on breaking into the world’s elite top-50. He clearly has the game and the disposition to compete at the highest level. 32

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It’s hard to feel sorry for a 20-year-old lad who has banked over €3.5 million in the past season, particularly one that’s got a Ferrari and a Lamborghini in the garage. But even the most cynical of observers wouldn’t have begrudged McIlroy a Hong Kong victory this year. The way he approaches his sport – the rhythmical but powerful swing, the jaunty stride, the cheery demeanour and the speed at which he plays – makes him wonderful to watch. It might sound like a cliché, but one has the feeling that McIlroy plays for the love of the game. The money is nice, of course, but its really only titles he’s after. Starting the final round five shots in arrears of Bourdy, the wunderkind from Holywood got off to a solid, if unspectacular start, parring his way through the first two holes. Picking up a birdie at the par-five third, McIlroy missed a couple of decent chances before holing a nice putt on the eighth for a two. Not that it made much of an impact in the grand scheme of things. Bourdy, playing in the company of Derksen, was up to the challenge, carding red numbers at the fifth and sixth to maintain his lead. If there’s been one recurring characteristic of McIlroy’s play since joining the professional ranks (apart from a slightly worrying tendency to miss the occasional short putt), it’s been his ability to produce low final rounds. And he was at it again on the back-nine of the Hong Kong Golf Club’s unusually soft Composite Course. A good three at the par-four eleventh lifted the spirits, and with the support of the local galleries behind him, the youngster produced a brilliant eagle at the thirteenth to narrow the margin. With the momentum on his side – and with HKGOLFER.COM

the memories of the year before still fresh in his mind – McIlroy parred the tricky – and often overlooked – fourteenth before draining two consecutive birdies at the fifteenth and sixteenth after quite brilliant approach shots. Now only a shot behind with two to play, McIlroy was on course to stage one of the most remarkable fight backs in Hong Kong Open history, which given the event’s storied past is really saying something. The large Fanling crowds – who had roared McIlroy’s opponent Lin home only twelve months previously – had found a new hero. Although the likes of Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari – still a largely forgotten participant in last year’s enthralling playoff – and Bourdy’s fellow countryman Raphael Jacquelin had mounted fine final day charges, their efforts weren’t going to be enough to trouble the Frenchman’s lead. Furthermore, his nearest challengers at the start of the day – Derksen and the unheralded Irishman Peter Lawrie – had fallen off the pace. It was now a straight shootout against the boy wonder. But the thrilling climax that everyone wanted wasn’t to be. Ultimately McIlroy was undone by the very characteristic that puts him into contention so often – aggression. After dragging his approach to the seventeenth twenty feet left of the flag, McIlroy, needing a birdie to increase the pressure on Bourdy, bolted his first putt three feet past the hole. It wasn’t a bad effort by any means, but – as has happened at the latter stages of tournaments in the past, most notably at the 2008 European Masters – he then missed the short comebacker. The groan that reverberated around the course and clubhouse could be heard as far away as Sheung Shui.

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Fanling contenders (clockwise from left): Molinari enjoyed another fine HK Open: Darren Clarke after making a double bogey during the second round; a 64 on the final day lifted Poulter into a share of fifth; China's Liang Wen-chong got off to a fast start but a 72 on day three ended his hopes; Lin Wen-tang made a stout defence of his title; Yang, Asia's Major champ, struggled over the weekend.

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UBS Hong Kong Open Results 1 2 3= 3 5= 5 7 8 9= 9 11= 11 11 11 11 11 11

Euro summit: Despite a disappointing performance, Westwood (below) would go on to claim the Race to Dubai title, beating McIlroy (right) into second place.

Gregory BOURDY (FRA) Rory McILROY (NIR) Francesco MOLINARI (ITA) Robert-Jan DERKSEN (NED) Raphael JACQUELIN (FRA) Ian POULTER (ENG) Peter LAWRIE (IRL) Simon DYSON (ENG) Scott STRANGE (AUS) David DIXON (ENG) LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) Scott DRUMMOND (SCO) Mark FOSTER (ENG) Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) Darren CLARKE (NIR) Charl SCHWARTZEL (RSA) Danny CHIA (MAS)

64 66 66 63 66 68 66 68 68 64 66 69 65 64 69 65 67

67 68 68 68 68 66 68 67 65 69 65 67 69 71 67 66 66

63 65 66 65 68 68 66 67 70 69 72 68 69 68 67 71 68

67 64 64 68 64 64 67 66 66 67 67 66 67 67 67 68 69

261 263 264 264 266 266 267 268 269 269 270 270 270 270 270 270 270

-19 -17 -16 -16 -14 -14 -13 -12 -11 -11 -10 -10 -10 -10 -10 -10 -10

$416,660.00 $277,770.00 $140,750.00 $140,750.00 $96,750.00 $96,750.00 $75,000.00 $62,500.00 $53,000.00 $53,000.00 $39,035.71 $39,035.71 $39,035.71 $39,035.71 $39,035.71 $39,035.71 $39,035.71

Pictorial Gallery

McIlroy, understandably furious with himself and knowing his chance had gone (right), hurled his Titleist into the surrounding trees and trudged to the eighteenth tee. In the post-round interview, the likeable Irishman, who ended the day with a 64, said: “It was a bit of an anxious putt on the seventeenth but apart from that it was a really good round of golf. “I went out with the mindset that if I went

lower than 65 then I might have a chance but Gregory obviously played very well.” Yes he did. But it’s McIlroy who has the world at his feet. Whether he can wrest away the number one spot from Tiger Woods, his childhood hero, remains to be seen – however, given Tiger’s current personal troubles this might not be such an unlikely proposition. Only time will tell. But if McIlroy returns to Fanling in 2010 in a bid to make it a case of third-time lucky, the Hong Kong golfing public – not to mention the event’s new title sponsors – will be a very happy bunch indeed. 34

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Jock Mackie, who played in the first HKO in 1959, hasn’t missed one since.

Anything Tiger can do...

Christian Cevaer, playing solo, shoots three-under in the third round in three hours.

Photographer Stuart Franklin gets into an unusual shooting position at the final hole.

One young fan enjoying the final round action.

Colourful Udorn Duangdecha, who led after the first round, prepares to hit his opening shot of the second day. The immensely strong Johan Edfors rips an iron off the fourth tee.

SSP Chowrasia crosses the hazard on the seventeenth.

Miguel Angel Jimenez is reduced to thumbing a lift after the final round.

Clowning around on the last day.

Rules maestro John Paramour gets a quick snap done before his officiating duties.

Alan Sutcliffe and Moira McLaughlin outside the HK Golfer booth.

Mikael Lundburg watches his tee shot closely.

Charlotte and Luna Hoffmeyer lend their support to compatriot Anders Hansen of Denmark.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHARLES McLAUGHLIN HKGOLFER.COM

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hk open review

Home boys (clockwise from below): William Fung lines up a putt on the second day; a happy Hak after making the cut; Steven Lam (with sister Sharon on the bag) wasn't his usual self at the HKO; Derek Fung battled gamely late on but missed out on the weekend play.

J Jason Does it Again In an otherwise disappointing tournament for local players, teenage amateur Hak makes it two made cuts out of two at the Hong Kong Open STORY BY ALEX JENKINS PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHARLES McLAUGHLIN

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ason Hak’s love affair with Fanling’s Composite Course continued at the Hong Kong Open, with the 15-yearold making the cut for the second successive year. Twelve months ago, Tsim Sha Tsuiborn Hak carded consecutive opening rounds of 70 to become the youngest ever player to make the halfway cut at a European Tour event – surpassing the record set by Sergio Garcia thirteen years previously. This time around, the tall, slender Hak opened up with another 70 in the first round before firing five birdies in a brilliant 67 on the second day to make the weekend action with a shot to spare. Hak, who bases himself in Florida where is coached by noted instructor Mike Bender, was the only Hong Kong player to make the cut. “I played really great,” said a delighted Hak, who finished the event in a tie for 60th after a pair of 72s in the final two rounds. “[The second round] was definitely up there as one of my best ever. Playing in this tournament is such a great experience. It has helped develop me as a player and I really enjoy playing at the Hong Kong Golf Club.” Hak, who earned an invitation into the field from sponsors UBS thanks to his heroics of a year ago, rebounded after a three-putt bogey at the first hole of his second round in fine style with four front nine birdies. Finding every green in regulation, Hak put on a ball-striking exhibition on the back side, his only other error coming at the fourteenth, where he again needed three putts. Coming to the eighteenth, the teenager smashed a drive down the centre of the fairway before hitting a wedge to eight HKGOLFER.COM

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In control: Jason, with the help of his caddiefather, lines up a putt enroute to a brilliant 67 on the second day. 40

feet and then holing the putt for birdie, which 52-year-old debutant William Fung (the he celebrated with a fist-pump, a rare show of second oldest player in the field after American emotion for the normally placid youngster. Champions Tour player Mark O’Meara) “I love that hole,” beamed Hak of the Hong slumped to a 79 on the second day after an Kong’s notorious closer. opening 72. Derek Fung, a veteran on the local Although Hak, whose father doubled up as professional scene, battled gamely late on in his his caddie for the week, only spends a few weeks second round, making three back-nine birdies, of the year in the city of his birth, he said he was but eventually fell three shots short of the cut proud to wear the bauhinia emblazoned on his line, which fell at two-under-par. shirt and was grateful for the encouragement of “I went into the event rusty, and although the local galleries. I played pretty well over the final nine holes I “They’ve shown me tremendous support knew it wasn’t going to be enough,” said Fung. throughout the tournament,” said Hong Kong Player Scores Ha k. “ They ’ve given me a lot of encouragement and they’ve made me 60 Jason Hak (A) 70-67-72-72 281 feel really comfortable out there. I can’t 92 Derek Fung 71-70 ------- MC thank them enough.” 132 Chris Tang 74-74 ------- MC Aside from Hak, Hong Kong’s 135 Jovick Lee 74-76 ------- MC eight other representatives struggled 137 William Fung 72-79 ------- MC in the tournament, which began in 139 Grant Gibson 77-76 ------- MC cold and wet conditions. Highly-rated 140 Steven Lam (A) 78-78 ------- MC Steven Lam, the defending Hong Kong 141 Lokkky Lee 75-83 ------- MC Amateur Close champion, wound up 142 Wong Woon-man 80-80 ------- MC with successive rounds of 78, while

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hk amateur review

From the President Amazingly, Hong Kong does it again. What it is about the UBS Hong Kong Open I don’t know, but for what seems like the umpteenth time in succession, the tournament came down to the wire and ended in yet another thrilling finish – and once more it featured rising star Rory McIlroy. I have to confess feeling sorry for the young Irishman. Last year he was outdone by the brilliant shot-making of Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang in arguably the most exciting playoff in European Tour history. This time around it was the steely nerve of Gregory Bourdy that kept him from lifting the famous trophy. Tipped to become one of the world’s most dominant players, I’m sure his time will come. But congratulations to Bourdy. Showing remarkable poise in the heat of what turned out to be a titanic final round battle, the Frenchman overcame the strongest field in the tournament’s fiftyone year history to pick up his most important ever professional victory. I for one look forward to welcoming him back to Fanling in 2010 to defend his title. His sheer coolness under pressure will live long in the memory, as will Jason Hak’s brilliant performance in making the halfway cut for the second year in a row. For one so young, Jason continues to amaze us with his fantastic play. I sincerely hope that many other young people in

Hong Kong can take inspiration in what he has achieved. The Hong Kong Open is one of the most prestigious tournaments in Asian golf, but it couldn’t possibly be run so successfully without the support of both its title sponsor and the volunteers that work so tirelessly throughout the course of the week. Over the past five years UBS have taken the tournament to another level – both in terms of reputation and prize money. Their devotion to the game of golf in Hong Kong has been remarkable and I would like to personally thank them for all their magnificent effort in bringing worldclass golf to the Hong Kong Golf Club. I am also extremely grateful to all the event volunteers – the vast majority of who are HKGA subscribers – and spectators who gave the players such a tremendous welcome. The tournament is well known on both the Asian and European circuits for providing a wonderful atmosphere over all four days, and this certainly proved to be the case again this year. Hong Kong golf fans are among the most knowledgeable in this part of the world, a fact which is not lost on any of the professionals.

—William Chung President HKGA

Clearwater Bay Wins for Halpin and McKee Christopher Halpin and Joanne McKee were the big winners at the Clearwater Bay Amateur Open, which was held on November 21. Halpin (pictured here with Club Chairman Dr Ryan Li) shot a composed 76 over the seaside layout to win the Gross Division by three strokes from Giles Scott in second place. Kelvin Inge claimed third place on countback from Stuart Wilson. In the Ladies’ Division, McKee’s 84 won her the Gross title, with Christine Kwok earning the Nett prize after a 76.

October’s Masters Golf Fashion Hong Kong Open Amateur Championship was highlighted by an Australian victory and two notable performances by local golfers.

HK Success at Macau Opens Golfers from Hong Kong dominated November’s Macau Open Amateur tournaments, which were held at Macau Golf & Country Club. In the Men’s event, Doug Williams holed a remarkable 60-foot putt for birdie to overcome Derek Paton at the first playoff hole after the pair finished regulation play on a two-round total of 153. Two weeks later, 18-year-old Demi Mak (pictured here) clinched the Ladies’ title with solid rounds of 72 and 74 to win by five strokes from her twin sister Ginger. Tiffany Chan placed third, a further four strokes adrift. 42

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TEEN TITAN

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REPORT BY ALEX JENKINS PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHARLES McLAUGHLIN

Daniel Nisbet, Discovery Bay Golf Club HKGOLFER.COM

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compatriot, Jhonnel Ababa, who fired a 65 in the third round – the low round of the week – placed third, a further four strokes adrift. “It feels great to have f inally won an overseas title,” said Nisbet, who by virtue of his win earned a berth in the following week’s UBS Hong Kong Open, where he narrowly missed the cut. “It’s a great golf course and the conditions were really testing. I played well, but I had to. The quality of golf among Asian amateurs is really high. It was really tough out there.” He wasn’t wrong. The opening two rounds were characterized by high winds, making the already formidable clifftop layout, with its swift, undulating greens and myriad hazards, a very tough proposition indeed. To add to the difficulty, par on the Diamond-Ruby championship course was reduced to 71 for the tournament – the 492 yard fourth was converted into a brutish par four – and it wasn’t until the third round that a score in the 60s was recorded. Surviving the initial 36 holes with respectable rounds of 72 and 74, Nisbet came to life on day three with a 68. Entering the final round paired with Fernando and Ababa, the overnight leader, the highly-rated Australian plundered four front nine birdies to steal a march on his playing partners. Playing almost flawless golf, Nisbet carded two more birdies on the back, and despite a heart-in-mouth moment at the last when his drive flirted with the Out of Bounds flanking the right side of the hole, the Royal Queensland member was in a class of his own.

Title contenders (from top): Mhark Fernando and Jhonnel Ababa of the Philippines pushed Nisbet all the way; Roderick Staunton tied for fourth. 44

With his win, Nisbet became the highest ranked Australian in amateur golf, climbing to 42 in the Royal & Ancient’s world rankings, a nd now has h is sights set on t urn i ng professional in 2010. “I’m going to see how it goes over the next few months, but I’ll be targeting the [US] PGA Tour qualifying school towards the end of next year,” said Nisbet, who won four major Australian amateur titles in 2009 to set a new national record. “But winning the Hong Kong Amateur is really important to me. It shows I can compete away from home, so hopefully I’ll be able to use this experience going forward.” Roderick Staunton and Steven Lam led the way for Hong Kong, finishing in a tie for fourth, nine shots behind Nisbet. The

H

e’s still only a teenager but keep an eye out for Daniel Nisbet in the months a nd years a head. The 19-year-old Queenslander, who has dominated the Australian domestic golf scene over the past 12 months, enjoyed a stellar final two rounds as he wrapped up his first international triumph in style at Discovery Bay Golf Club. Nisbet, a strapping six-footer with a laidback persona, played his final 36 holes in eight-underpar, good enough for a two-shot win over Mhark Fernando of the Philippines. Fernando’s

HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

In the hunt (from top): Lester Peterson won the Mid Amateur title by twelve shots from Hong Kong's Tim Orgill; Steven Lam was top HK finisher.

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duo, fresh from playing all four rounds at the Asian Amateur Championship the week before, notched up solid performances, with Staunton in particular looking sharp. A third round of 68 vaulted the 27-year-old into championship contention, although any hopes of him becoming the first local winner of the tournament in over a decade were dashed by a lacklustre final round of 74. 16-year-old Lam, who entered the event in a rich vein of form following a stunning 65 a Kau Sai Chau only two weeks previously, cobbled together four decent scores, but was left to rue a decidedly cold putter. “From tee to green I was OK, but I couldn’t get anything to drop on the greens,” he said. The same couldn’t be said of the champion. Growing up on the Bermuda grass greens of tropical Queensland, Nisbet felt right at home at Discovery Bay and was deadly with the flatstick. And while having a brilliant amateur career doesn’t always translate into success at professional level, you have to think that Nisbet has all the traits to go very far indeed. C

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HK AMATEUR – TOP 10 OVERALL

Solid performers (from top): Nisbet will turn his attention to the PGA Tour qualifying school in 2010; Hong Kong's Derek Paton complied four tidy rounds to finish inside the top twenty. 46

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1 2 3 4= 7 8 9 10=

Daniel Nisbet Mhark Fernando Jhonnel Ababa Jerome Ng Steven Lam Roderick Staunton Lester Peterson Huang Yong Le Lam Zhi Qun Matthew McBain Tim Orgill

AUS PHL PHL SIN HKG HKG AUS CHN SIN AUS HKG

72-74-68-66 73-75-66-68 73-77-65-71 74-78-69-68 74-72-71-72 74-73-68-74 74-71-74-71 83-73-70-72 72-72-79-78 81-75-72-74 78-79-70-75

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tournaments

results Fancourt's stunning links awaits the winners of the HK leg of the World Corporate Golf Challenge

Around the Clubs The Hong Kong Golf Club

Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club

Gussie White Trophy – Gross Section 25 October K Inge / J Inge and C Halliday / I Houstoun tied in the Gussie White Trophy Gross Section played over the Old and New Courses with 149. They will play off on a date to be decided.

Ladies Section

Baffy Spoon – Nett Section 25 October C Halliday / I Houstoun won the Baffy Spoon Nett Bogey played over the New Course with +2. J Pethes / M Grimsdick were the runners-up with +1.

World Corporate Golf Challenge Comes to HK Leich Goes Wire-to-Wire at Kau Sai Chau

Two Up Front (Fancourt); Alex Jenkins (Leich)

Australia’s Mark Leich led from start to finish to capture the Kau Sai Chau International Open at the end of October. Leich (pictured below) fired rounds of 70, 75 and 74 to win by a shot from the Hong Kong pair of Winston Wu and Wong Yan-yi who shared second. Hong Kong senior Terry Collins placed third, a further eight shots adrift. 27-year-old Leich, a regular visitor to Hong Kong, is a member at the highly regarded New South Wales Golf Club outside Sydney and took an instant liking to the Gary Player-designed North Course at Kau Sai Chau. “It’s a great layout; it’s pu n i sh i ng i f you don’t drive the ball well but the greens were in great shape,” sa id L eich, whose t wounder-par 70 on the first day was the joint lowest round of the tournament. Surprisingly, Leich couldn’t carry over his form to the Hong Kong Open Amateur Championship two weeks later, missing the third round cut. In the Ladies’ Division, Filipino phenom Chihiro Ikeda, the reigning Hong Kong Ladies Open Amateur champion, won by a shot from compatriot Ana Imelda Ta npinco. I keda carded rounds of 72, 69 and 73. Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan placed third, ten shots back. 48

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Golf-loving business executives are being given the chance to represent their company – and Hong Kong – on the world stage. The territory is to host a leg of the World Corporate Golf Challenge – the prestigious inter-companies tournament that each year sees thousands of businessmen around the globe transfer their boardroom battles to the fairways. The prize on offer to the winners of the Hong Kong event is an all-expenses paid trip to the World Final in South Africa next May. Twenty teams – comprising four players each – will contest the WCGC Hong Kong event on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at a Hong Kong golf club that will be announced soon. “ This goes way beyond your t y pica l corporate golf event,” says Simon Wait, project director of event organizers Two Up Front. “As well as enjoying an ultra-competitive tournament here in Hong Kong, the teams will be playing for a fantastic prize – the chance to represent the HKSAR in a world tournament at an exotic location.” Previous World Finals have been held in Jamaica, Mauritius, Malaysia and Spain. The 2010 World Final – featuring teams from more than 20 countries and territories – will take place at the beautiful Fancourt (pictured here) and Oubaai Golf Clubs in South Africa's spectacular Garden Route region from May 3-8. HK Golfer is the Official Golf Magazine of the tournament. Companies requiring information about sponsorship opportunities or wishing to register a team in the WCGC Hong Kong should call Amy Broomhead on 3579 8110 or email amy@laxtonmarketing.com

HKGOLFER.COM

HKJC Centenary Trophy – Gross Section 26 October MCK Wong won the HKJC Centenary Trophy Gross Section played over the Eden Course with 35 points. P L M Cheng was the runner-up with 32 points. HKJC Centenary Trophy – Nett Section 26 October AR Hamilton won the HKJC Centenary Trophy Nett Section played over the Eden Course with 41 points. FYK Ng was the runner-up with 40 points. HKGC vs Royal Bangkok Sports Club 31 October

Played over the Eden Course: HKGC: 34½ points Royal Bangkok: 14 points

E J R Mitchell Cup – Gross Section 1 November

DC Nimmo / T Orgill won the EJR Mitchell Cup Gross Section played over the Old Course with 44 points. I Houstoun / C S Fraser were the runners-up with 33 points. E J R Mitchell Cup – Nett Section 1 November

DC Nimmo / T Orgill won the EJR Mitchell Cup Nett Section played over the Old Course with 45 points. A Laband / AK Laband were the runners-up with 40 points. Monthly Medal – Gross Section 7 November

D Williams won the Monthly Medal Gross Section played over the Old Course with 73. Monthly Medal – Nett Section 7 November

R Chipman won the Monthly Medal Nett Section played over the Old Course with Nett 68. The Composite Cup 16 November

S Mak / A Mak won The Composite Cup played over the Composite Course with 39 points on count back over the last six holes from Mrs. B Ip / Ms. FK Ip. HKGC vs SICC 21 November

Played over the Eden Course: HKGC: 39½ Points SICC: 13 Points

October Medal 7 October Division 1 Gross Winner: Sunny Kang (78) Nett Winner: Akiko Harada (75) Nett Runner-up: Oshima Kok 76) Division 2 Gross Winner: Lily Lau (94) Nett Winner: Cecilia Szeto (74 C/B) Nett Runner-up: Miki Motogui (74) October Stableford 21 October Division 1 Winner: Chikako Yabe (31 points) Runner-up: Mei Wu (27) Division 2 Winner: Liz Amez Droz (39) Runner-up: Linda Wang (32)

Men’s Section

Captain’s Cup 17 October Gross Winner: Raaj Shah (76) Gross Runner-up: Mark Harris (77) Nett Winner: Mark Harris (67) Nett Runner-up: Raaj Shah (71) Chairman’s Cup 17 October Winner: Runner-up:

Chow Tak-yiu (37 points) Steven Chan (36)

Discovery Bay Golf Club Anniversary Cup 3-4 October Men’s Winner: YH Chin (75 points) Men’s Runner-up: MY Cheung (74) Best Gross: Michael Stott (67) Ladies Winner: Yasuyo Nagatomi (81) Ladies Runner-up: Helen Cheung (80) Best Gross: Chisako Kubota (54) HKC Cup 2009 17 October Team Winner: Rest of the World (310 points) Best Gross: Japan (146) Individual Gross: Shinichi Mizuno (37) Individual Nett: BW Rhee (40) James Hui Cup 20th Anniversary 18 October Winner: Matajiro Nagatomi (68) Runner-up: John Seto (69) Best Gross: BW Park (75) Club & Junior Championship 31 October – 1 November Club Champion: Michael Stott (144) Runner-up: Jay Won (145) Best Nett: JW Koh (138) Junior Champion: Dr Peter Miles (166) Runner-up: KS Leong (172) Best Nett: SH Park (148)

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Jason Hak’s Seven Days in Scotland Five weeks before his heroics at the UBS Hong Kong Open, Jason Hak Shun-yat teed it up at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Playing over three of Scotland’s most famous courses – the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns – the 15-year-old enjoyed an unforgettable week in the company of some of the game’s biggest names. PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBERT HELLER

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a vi ng ret urned home from Scotland, I’m now trying to catch up with all my school work. It’s really hard though, because all the great memories from my week there are still swimming around inside my head. I still can’t believe I was there – at the home of golf. My favourite day by far was the third round at the Old Course on Sunday, October 4. We were supposed to play the round on Saturday, but strong winds postponed the tournament by one day. We used the break in play to visit the British Golf Museum. It was fascinating to see golf through the ages here in the very place where golf was born. Looking at an exact replica of the Claret Jug, I tried to imagine what it was like to play at the first Open in 1860. Back then, players could only hit 150 yard drives. The balls were made out of leather and filled with feathers. Can you imagine that? Drawings and pictures of all the past champions lined the walls and I thought about how cool it would be to have my own picture there one day. Sunday, the weather was perfect for golf. It was sunny with very little wind. At breakfast, the other amateur in my group, Alvin, asked me what was our tee time. “11:37 a.m.,” I said. We’re the last group.” “Wow!” exclaimed Alvin. “Before you get too excited,” I told him, “I think you should know that we’re starting on the tenth tee.” All of Alvin’s excitement drained right out of his face. Usually, the leaders go out in the last group and finish on the eighteenth. We would finish on the ninth.

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After a strong start and getting birdies on the fourteenth and sixteenth, my foursome came to the tee box at the famous seventeenth – the “Road Hole.” The hole is completely blind. It is impossible to see the fairway from the tee. Luckily, I had already experienced this hole during practice. I hit a good drive over the shed by the hotel logo and it stopped on the left side of the fairway. My approach shot stopped right next to the infamous – and really deep – pot bunker that guards the left side of the green. I had two choices. I could either chip over the bunker, or putt around it. Both were risky and very difficult shots. After a long discussion with my caddie, Nick, I putted, and unfortunately, the ball rolled back down the hill into the bunker. A collective “awwww!” came from the galleries that were pressed along the ropes on the side of the fairway and in the road behind the green. I tried to calm down and told myself “no worries.” I hit a great shot out of the bunker, and even though I had to settle for two putts, it was a great experience. As I walked off the green, Alvin put things in perspective. “If you play the Old Course,” he said, “and you don’t hit that bunker, you haven’t played. That’s where ‘Showtime’ happens!” Photographers took our picture as we crossed the Swilcan Bridge. Even though we’d taken lots of pictures there earlier in the week, it was far more special getting snapped during the tournament. That kind of thing never gets old. On the eighteenth, a 340 yard par-four, I hit a perfect drive straight at the flag. I was anxious to see if it hit the green, and Nick, with his great knowledge of the Old Course, told me it had. That was a really great feeling. The combination of a following wind and a few good bounces got me to within twenty-five feet of the pin. Hundreds of people had gathered around the green and more were heading that way to see my attempt at eagle. I hit a perfect right to left uphill putt that found the bottom of the cup in front of a cheering gallery of four hundred strong! I gave a little fist pump like Tiger, but I didn’t go as nuts as I wanted. I didn’t want to take anything away from the pros. Maybe one day I’ll return here at The Open and make an eagle on 18 on Sunday to win! Then I’ll pump both my fists like crazy! A really funny thing happened on the ninth tee box, our last hole. While we were waiting to tee off, Nick looked over at Alvin and said, “Those are really nice shoes you’re HKGOLFER.COM

In the Auld Town (from left): Jason with rising Spanish star Pablo Larrazabal; teeing off in front of golf's most recognizable backdrop.

wearing today.” Alvin said, “Oh! After eighteen holes you finally noticed my new shoes, huh? These are Footjoy Icons. This is the first time I’ve worn them because I was saving them for the final round on the Old Course, and they’re really comfortable too.” I have to admit they were really great looking shoes and I wanted a pair, to which Alvin replied, “Jason, when you’re old enough to shave, then you can get some Icons like mine. Nick chimed in with: “Don’t worry, Jason. If you keep playing like you did today, you’ll turn pro and Footjoy will pay you to wear their beautiful shoes.” Ha! HKGOLFER.COM

Looking back on the last week in Scotland, I’m so glad for the invitation to play in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championships. I made lots of new friends, and I really grew to appreciate the uniqueness of the championship, especially the Pro-Am format on three of the greatest courses in the world. Playing a practice round with Pablo Larrazabal and his dad, and joking around with them, really made me feel part of the professional golfing family. Maybe one day I’ll return here as a professional and play with my dad, just like Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els did with their fathers this year. I’ll remember this last week for as long as I live. HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

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golf punting

I

n our season preview, we expressed the wish for a return to the drama and majesty of classic Major tournaments of yore: Freddie's ball defying gravity at Augusta, Tiger's Nike moment, Monty's “what was that?” seveniron at Winged Foot in the US Open. Well, Tiger's name was not engraved on any Major trophy this past year (defying the even money claims of many punters), nor was Monty in a position to choke down the stretch (also evens with most good bookmakers) but we certainly got some classic moments in 2009. Archie Albatross reviews the 2009 Major Championships and focuses on the betting act ion from t wo d ra mat ic playoffs.

The Masters

Close to a

Classic

Archie Albatross reviews the 2009 Major championships and focuses on the betting action during two dramatic playoffs 54

HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

A rusty Tiger, an emotionally drained Lefty, a serial-shanking Sergio – the perfect recipe for a hat-trick of ho-hum Augusta champs following the uninspiring wins of Johnson and Immelman in 2007 and 2008. Who then would have predicted one of the most compelling Easter Sunday conclusions ever seen on the rolling green hills of Georgia? As the final round progressed, all the Asian early-risers started to lick our chops in anticipation of a true Masters' Monday to remember. From the moment Phil Mickelson – paired with his nemesis Tiger Woods – birdied six of his first eight holes to record a record front nine score of 30, the bookmakers went on high alert and their reactions caused violently volatile 'in-running' market swings. For instance, when Kenny Perry almost aced at the short sixteenth and tapped in to take a twoshot lead, the punters installed him as short odds-on favourite. But within twenty-five minutes, as Angel Cabrera and the anonymous Chad Campbell parred their own way home, HKGOLFER.COM

Kenny started to crack and indeed nervously bogeyed his last two holes. So Cabrera, Perry and Campbell scuffed and puffed their way into the first sudden-death three-way play off in a Masters since 1987. With fortunes changing as wildly as John Daly's trousers, this allowed astute golfing punters to snap up each player at such long odds to create a positive return with any result. Most punters missed the warning signs of Perry's last two regulations holes however and by the time the playoff commenced, the ultimate steady-Eddy of American golf was confirmed as favourite. All went well for his backers on the first extra hole and with Campbell deeply bunkered (he would bogey) and Cabrera deep into the right hand trees, it seemed we would witness the historic coronation of golf’s oldest ever Major winner. But no! With Seve-like willpower, Angel conjured up a double-barky par (twice in the trees) to stay alive. The tension was as thick as Georgia syrup and yet, even for the sharpesteyed punter, it was extraordinary to see the speed of capitulation as nerves got the better of the good ol' Southern boy Kenny. As he stood over his approach shot in the fairway on the tenth, the second playoff hole, and repeatedly waggled and re-gripped, it was clear that the Ryder Cup veteran had lost control. The hard, pull hook that followed, missing the green by fully 30 yards brought out only a wry chuckle from this experienced player; he knew he had lost his chance. Cabrera's price immediately tightened further to short odds-on and he duly obliged for a two-putt par and victory. During the playoff alone, Cabrera's odds to win the championship swung from 6/4 to 3/1, to 5/1 before settling back to 5/4 just before Perry hit his second on the tenth. Upgrade your modem folks, there's good money to be made on betting in-running.

The US Open

The leaderboard volatility at the wet and wild US Open at Bethpage, New York was only marginally lower than that great Masters playoff. Under weather conditions more appropriate for the (British) Open than the US version, Lucas Glover outlasted the chasing pack of Hunter Mahan, Ian Poulter and the emotional favourite, Phil Mickelson, to win his first Major championship. A classic? Probably not – but good entertainment with a tight leaderboard and spiced up by pleasingly wild conditions. Come on, admit it: we amateur hackers all like to see the pros struggle.

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The Open Championship

As the previews nostalgically recorded the great Nicklaus / Watson “Duel in the Sun” in 1977, nobody ever dreamed that the adopted Scot, wee Tom Watson could ever roll back the years and have the crowds cheer him on again. But the Open Championship is like Viagra and Red Bull rolled into one for ex-winners. Just as Greg Norman had done the year previously, Watson calmly delivered three canny under-par rounds to sit atop the board on Saturday night, all the while smiling to the crowds and modestly under-playing his chances. Come Sunday, he hit fairway after fairway in his final round, giving the younger, longer players – including Steve Marino, an obvious and successful final round sell vs. Watson in R3/4 match-ups – a lesson in controlled links golf. We watched – mesmerized – as Tom kept it together and started to believe as the closing pack (including Lee Westwood and Stewart Cink) were kept at arm's length. Even when Cink conjured up a spectacular birdie on the eighteenth, we felt Tom could prevail; just a par needed for the most unlikely and famous victory of all time. And to his credit, he got himself into position to do it; he gave himself a chance… In the end, of course, it didn’t happen. Perhaps the intensity of the four days took its toll. Tom made an indifferent chip at the last and left himself far too long a knee-knocker for glory. From the moment he waved hopelessly at that last regulation putt and then, smiling that charming, sad smile, made his way back out for the four-hole playoff, I think he and we all knew youth would finally win the day. Tom's tired muscles reneged on their promises of the previous four rounds and Cink, fully under control bot h mentally and physically, saw off the old man. Stewart said he almost felt like a criminal in disappointing one of golf's most beloved icons, but it truly would have been criminal not to snap up some of the 10/11 on offer for him to win the playoff. This was indeed a great Open; a classic that allowed all golfers to dream of glory, but value is value, folks. The f inal punting word on the disappointment of

Woods and Mickelson (opposite page) failed to add to their combined haul of seventeen Major titles in 2009; Stewart Cink (below) bested Tom Watson in a memorable Open Championship for his first Major victory.

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PGA Championship

The bookies had started to pay out on Tiger winning the PGA Championship after just two rounds as he moved inexorably to the head of the leaderboard. But everyone can have a bad weekend and by Sunday afternoon, Tiger – who has a Thai mother – was chasing a fellow Asian down the track. Even with a slender lead gained after a brilliant chip-in on the fourteenth, Yang Yongeun was not considered a worthy favourite to most watching the leaderboards. But after an outstanding 220 yard hybrid to the last green, the little-known Korean had two putts for the win. He only needed one - and editors around the region stopped the presses as he recorded the historic first Major win for an Asian-born player. Next generation: Archie tips McIlroy (above) to feature prominently in 2010; can another Asian golfer follow Yang (below) and win big next year?

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Watson's almost-win at the Open was the value to be had in shorting him in the Senior British Open the following week. Sucker, sentimental punters were seduced into thinking he would continue his wonderful play and vanquish his fellow old-timers. Wiser, more cynical observers could see the physical and mental toll that the Open had exerted on the old champ. Betting against such a man makes you feel like a louse, but a fat-walleted one.

HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

Archie Albatross will be back early in the year with his 2010 previews. For punters wanting to get some ante-post action, we can tell you now that Archie believes the young guns of Rory McIlroy and Michelle Wie will both feature prominently in their respective Majors in 2010. Invest early and wisely!

HKGOLFER.COM

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China 86 151 0360 1588

office@enghgolf.com


looking back

Tommy Armour The Greatest Dr Milton Wayne looks at the remarkable life of the legendary “Silver Scot” In August 1917, at the height of the First World War, a young Scottish soldier lay in an army hospital in agony. His left arm was shattered, a metal plate had been inserted in his head and he was completely blind from exposure to mustard gas. It would be an easy prediction to say that, if he lived, the young man would not have a normal life. He certainly did not. Within ten years, the same man would be lifting the US Open trophy on the way to becoming one of the greatest golfers the world has ever seen... Childhood

Thomas Dickson Armour was born on September 24, 1895 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father George died when Tommy was only four years old and his biggest influence was elder brother Sandy. It was Sandy who would introduce Tommy to golf, being a very gifted player himself. Tommy would be carrying Sandy’s bag when the latter won the Scottish Amateur Championship in 1921. He attended Fettes College, (as would former British Prime Minister Tony Blair sixty years later) taking up violin and starting to learn to play bridge, before reportedly studying at Edinburgh University. He is always referred to as a graduate of the University, but a HK Golfer investigation of the archives show no record of Tommy graduating, probably due to the War, but nevertheless, he probably became the first university educated professional golfer and was known as a master bridge player and classical violinist. 58

HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

The Great War

He joined the army at the outbreak of war in 1914. Starting in the Black Watch, he became famous as the fastest machine gunner in the British Army. Armour then appropriately joined the newly created Tank Corps, where he rose to the rank of Staff Major, one of the youngest in the army. Diminutive future PGA star and lifelong friend Bobby Cruikshank served alongside Tommy in France and later told several tales about Armour, the most famous being how he captured a German tank singlehandedly, including strangling the German tank commander with his bare hands when he refused to surrender. He won several bravery awards and, in a foretaste of his later mixing HKGOLFER.COM

with the great and good, Tommy’s heroics earned him an audience with King George V. Soon afterwards however, he was incapacitated when his tank was shelled with mustard gas in a desperate action in France. In hospital, another metal plate was used to reconstruct his left arm, and he gradually regained sight in his right eye. However, he would remain blind in his left eye for the rest of his life.

Amateur Champion

As soon as he got out of hospital, he took up golf again to rebuild his shattered health. In 1919, Armour became a member at the James Braid-designed Lothianburn Golf Club, one mile from Edinburgh. The records show he HKGOLFER.COM

joined with a handicap of +2, but also that he never won the club championship. It soon became clear that although he regained his strength and his magnificent swing had clearly returned, his putting was notoriously fragile, the lost eye destroying his depth perception. Outplaying everyone tee to green, he would lose tournaments with poor performances on the greens. Once, on the way back from a tournament, he gathered together his putters and threw them from the train as it passed over the Forth Rail Bridge. He persevered however and the following year became a pivotal turning point. In 1920, less than two years after his nadir in the army hospital, Tommy won the French

Tommy Armour in his beloved Boca Raton, Florida, 1954.

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A mateur tit le, and headed over the Atlantic to compete in t he US Amateur. Against all the odds, Armour progressed to the fifth round, finally falling to former US Open winner Francis Ouimet. He a lso won h is f irst PGA title, teaming up with Lou Deigel to take the “Pinehurst Fall ProA m B e stba l l ” (wh ic h he won again in 1934). He returned to a hero’s welcome, an honorary life membership of his club, and was selected to represent Britain in the International match against the United States. It was during t he t ra nsat la nt ic crossi ng after the French Amateur that Tommy met Walter Hagan for the first time, a meeting that transformed Armour’s life. Hagan took the young player under his wing and in many ways became a father figure to the orphaned Armour. They remained close for the rest of Hagan’s life and he was a huge influence.

American Pro

Trans-Atlantic Tommy (clockwise from top left): Armour (left) with Francis Ouimet and Bobby Jones, US Amateur, 1921; Tommy with Cooper prior to their playoff at the 1927 US Open; sinking the putt to tie Cooper in regulation play; Armour in front of the car awarded to him by his home club, Congressional, after his first US Open win; the "Black Scot" attracting admiring glances at the 1921 US Amateur; playing in the company of his mentor, Walter Hagen. 60

In 1923, Armour emigrated to the US, as so many ambitious Scottish golfers had before (and since). Hagan arranged for him to get the high-profile role as secretary of the Westchester-Biltmore Club, the appointment warranting a headline, picture and story in the New York Times. Shortly after, in 1924, he became a US citizen and turned professional. He soon earned the nickname “The Black Scot”, which over time became “The Silver Scot” in reference to the colour of his hair. He also married his first wife Consuelo Carrera, a wealthy lady who funded his early years as a pro. By 1926 Tommy once again appeared in the International match between the US and Great Britain, but now playing for the Americans. As a result, he became the first golfer to represent both nations. He was proud to represent his adopted country and later, in the midst of celebrations when he won the Open

HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

Championship in Scotland, he stated: “I am a Scotsman, but I should like it to be known that I learned my golf in the United States.” From the start, he was seen as a player who could grind hole after hole with exceptional ball striking, especially with the driver and fairway woods. His belief was simple: “It is not solely the capacity to make great shots that makes champions, but the essential quality of making very few bad shots” – a theme later absorbed by Ben Hogan.

1927 US Open

Oakmont in 1927 was brutal, the first example of what we would today call a classic US Open course. Former champion Ted Ray couldn’t cope with the slick greens, Hagan was destroyed by the 300 bunkers, everyone was beaten up by the fiendish rough. In the event the course gave up only a single round under par over the 5 days of play, making it the joint toughest US Open course ever, bar one – Brae Burn in 1919. That single round? Armour, with a stunning 71 on the second day. Tommy had scored a 78 on the first day – which remains the highest first round score by a winner since the nineteenth century. However, over the four days, only one man had seemingly held himself together consistently – Harry “Lighthorse” Cooper who had finished with a total of 301. Coming off a double bogey at the longest hole in US Open history at the time – the interminable 621 yard twelfth (still the sixth longest ever) – Tommy stood on the thirteenth tee knowing he needed to play the last six holes in one under par to match Cooper. He also knew that the previous day, reigning US Open Champion Bobby Jones had stood on the same

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tee with a share of the lead and then played the next four holes in seven over to watch his title slip away. Armour started grinding, scoring par after par for the next five holes, until he stood on the eighteenth, knowing he needed a birdie to tie. Unbelievably, he hit his drive 250 yards down the middle, and then knocked in a three-iron to eleven feet. With the boisterous crowd willing him on, he stroked in the birdie to force an eighteen-hole playoff. Cooper had been sitting in the clubhouse for over an hour seemingly untouchable. The following day, a huge crowd again willed Tommy to glory, having for some reason taken a dislike to Cooper. It was felt that the locals appreciated Armour’s humility, whereas Cooper was seen as brash and was nicknamed “Cocksure Cooper” and “Chesty Harry”. Speed of play would be a factor as Cooper was the fastest player on Tour, hence the “Lighthorse” nickname. In Armour he was competing against the most deliberate player in the game and his languid pace became glacial on Oakmont’s unforgiving track. In the event the Tortoise and Hare tale played out perfectly, with Cooper racing to a two-shot lead after eleven holes, only to take 27 shots over the final six holes as Armour again played brilliantly, requiring only 22 strokes to win by three. Holing enormous putts along the way, Armour’s prowess with the putter was surely payback for all those missed chances after the war. As the Scotsman newspaper reported: “It was emphatically an Armour gallery. Everybody in that huge crowd was neutral - they didn't care how many strokes Armour won by.” It was a stunning victory and Armour celebrated in a suitably alcoholic manner. No doubt as result of this, less than a week after winning his f irst Major, Tommy shot what still stands as the highest score ever scored on one hole in a PGA event, the first ever "Archaeopteryx" (15 or more over par) when he managed to take 23 strokes on a par five. Also in 1927, Tommy poignantly teamed up again with his wartime brother-inarms Bobby Cruikshank to win the Miami International Four-Ball. Tommy adapted easily to his newfound fame. Seen as naturally f lamboyant, he soon rivaled his HKGOLFER.COM

mentor Walter Hagan in the sartorial stakes. Tailored jackets, plus fours, sil k handkerchiefs, ascots, and his rugged good looks not only marked him as different from the other pros, it also proved devastating to the ladies and he soon gained a reputation to rival that of his friend Errol Flynn. Tommy later eloquently stated: “Love and putting are mysteries for the philosopher to solve. Both subjects are beyond golfers”. He was also a notorious gambler, especially while playing. Armour took a young Henry Cotton under his wing when he visited the US in the late 1920’s and Henry got a first

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The later years (clockwise from bottom): Armour flanked by 1930 US PGA opponents Gene Sarazen and Johnny Farrell; a 60-year-old Armour demonstrating his unbelievable hand strength; Tommy the teacher studies the form of one of his well-heeled pupils.

hand look at the Silver Scot’s betting practices. In 1948 Cotton reminisced that “Armour is one of the biggest bluffers in the game. I am not sure what he likes best, the golf or the betting. He is not satisfied unless he is wagering on every hole, every nine, each round and, if he can, on each shot. When people ask Armour what the ‘D’ stands for in his name, he always replies, 'Dough', and he's not far wrong!” Armour continued to improve and in 1929 won the Western Open, then considered a Major, by eight shots with a stunning score of 273, the lowest four round total ever recorded at any PGA tournament at that time. Amazingly, the current Tour record is held by Tommy’s grandson Tommy Armour III, who shot 254 at the Texas Valero Open in 2003.

PGA 1930

Armour continued to win titles and had taken eight more championships when the 1930 PGA rolled around. Played at Fresh Meadows Country Club, in Flushing, N.Y., Tommy cruised through to the quarterfinals where he ran into Johnny Farrell. In a whirlwind start, Farrell took five of the first six holes and Armour looked to be making a quick exit. However, as so often before, Tommy started grinding down his opponent, and eventually prevailed 2&1. In the final he was playing local favorite Gene Sarazen. In a war of attrition – neither player got more than one hole in front – they came to the thirty-sixth hole all square. To the disappointment of the vocal locals rooting for Sarazen, little Gene finally blinked and Armour took his second Major with a par and a 1-up victory.

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Open Championship 1931

T he fol low i ng yea r, Tom my made a triu mpha nt ret urn to his cit y of bir t h, Edinburgh, when the Open was held in nearby Carnoustie. After three rounds, the unlikely leader was Argentinean Jose Jurado. His closest challenger was pre-tournament favourite Mac Smith with Tommy a distant third, five shots back. In the event, Armour shot 71 then sat sipping whisky in the clubhouse as first Jurado, then Smith were destroyed by the closing three holes. Then, as now, the toughest finishing stretch in the majors decided the champion. Jurado was particularly devastated at the manner in which he lost, shooting double bogey, bogey, bogey to lose by a single shot. A popular character, Jurado’s gallery included HRH the Prince of Wales who was taking lessons from the dapper Argentinean. The Scotsman newspaper described Jose’s reaction: “Jurado, a dazed man, went through the crowd and into the room reserved for the players behind the first tee, broke down completely and cried like a child.” Armour still didn’t believe he would win as Mac Smith was now leading by two shots. However, the tragic Smith was similarly undone and dropped six shots over the final three holes to let the title slip to Armour, who told reporters: "I've never lived through such an hour before.” In the era before the Masters, Armour had become only the third man in history to win all three Majors.

Talking for a living was a natural move for Tommy. Byron Nelson once said that Armour was "absolutely the most gifted story-teller I've ever known in golf. He could take the worst story you ever heard and make it great.” Later, Tommy put this to use during the Second World War, touring army hospitals and raising the spirits of the troops with his dazzling tales. However, given his own wartime memories he found the experience extremely depressing. In 1936 Tommy was hired by the Macgregor golf company. To many, it looked like a “front man” role, but in fact he became deeply involved in designing their clubs. His innovations transformed Macgregor’s fortunes and his drivers became their bestsellers. Later he created his own manufacturing company and his name is still on clubs sold today.

Early Retirement

In 1933, at the US Open at North Shore Country Club, Tommy set another record during the first round by opening up a five-shot lead, the biggest ever. Unfortunately, he recorded another record on top of that – the highest non-winning 18-hole lead in US Open history – when he let title slip through his hands. The eventual winner was Johnny Goodman, who remains to this day as the last amateur to win a Major. Armour’s putting issues were compounded by yips when chipping and, despite getting to the final of the PGA in 1935 (losing 5&4 to Johnny Revolta) he didn’t play much after that year. He won another PGA tournament in 1938, and had a couple of runs in Majors, but he was to all intents and purposes semi-retired. It is perhaps fanciful to think that he looked at the example of his former fierce rival Bobby Jones quitting while on top and decided it wasn’t worth the stress and pain. But regardless, still in his thirties, he had decided enough was enough. Instead he started on another lucrative tour, giving lectures all over the country. It was during this time that he met Estelle, his second wife. Unfortunately he was still married to his first wife at the time and a messy divorce followed. HKGOLFER.COM

Teaching

Since 1929, Tommy had been teaching during the winters in Boca Raton, Florida and had gained a reputation as an outstanding advisor on the game, especially to gifted pros. Major-winning players like Henry Cotton, Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Lawson Little gave him the credit for their success and Julius Boros called him “a genius at teaching you how to play your best golf.” He also enjoyed mingling with celebrities like Errol Flynn, Babe Ruth, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and was a notorious drinker and womanizer. Grantland Rice once said he had giant hands like “two stalks of bananas”, and he was known to be able to rip packs of cards and telephone books in half. He once famously won a substantial drunken bet with world champion boxer Jack Dempsey when he picked up a billiard cue with two fingers and held it straight out by the tip at arm's length. He had less time for the well-heeled captains of industry who would pay outrageous sums to be given short-thrift by the Silver Scot, as he pulled no punches. He loved teaching naturally HKGOLFER.COM

gifted players, but felt much “tuition” given to poor players was a waste of time and money and called it “the most abysmal advice ever given by the ignorant to the stupid.” It was these people who saw the other side of the gregarious, smiling raconteur and he was described by CB Keeland as having “a mouth like a steel trap, a nose like a ski jump and eyes which indicate he would enjoy seeing you get a compound fracture of the leg.” Charles Price agreed, saying: “His eyes were as deep as Rasputin's. Tommy was temperamental and acid-tongued, he was not a man you approached comfortably.” Despite this, his reputation grew a nd it wou ld be no exaggeration to say that he was the most sought after teacher in the world through the 1940s and 50s. Like Bob Torrance today, his preferred style involved sitting in the shade in Boca Raton each winter or in Winged Foot each summer, with his trademark tray of gin bucks, bromo seltzers and shots of Scotch and passing judgment on his wealthy pupils, all of who feared him. Like Torrance and Harvey Penick, he would watch silently as the player struck shots and would then make a suggestion for a tweak or two in a very concise manner. His grandson, Tommy Armour III, told the classic Silver Scot teaching tale: “He was asked one afternoon to give a lesson to a wealthy golfer who had taken up the game primarily for the social benefits. He watched the man hit a dozen or so shots. The duffer was slapping away at it, feeling pretty good about his progress, when he finally turned to Armour for an evaluation. 'Well, what d'ya think?' he said. 'I think you should give it up,' Armour said, and walked away.” Despite (or because of ) this and ever increasing teaching fees, there was a huge waiting list of people desperate for some magic advice from the great man. Perhaps his old Army buddy and friend for 60 years, Bobby Cruickshank, knew him best: “Some called him HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

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dour and temperamental, but he was the kindest, best-hearted fellow you ever saw. Certainly, Tommy was a complex man and misunderstood, but he seemed to like it that way.” Charles Price eloquently summed up the Armour personality cocktail as having “a dash of indifference, a touch of class, and a bit of majesty.”

Bestseller

From there, it was a natural progression to publish a book on his teaching philosophy. Book companies fought for the rights to get what would almost certainly be a successful publication. In the event Simon and Schuster’s offer was accepted and in 1952 Tommy contacted Herb Gra f f is, a n old d r i n k i ng buddy and struggling former newspaperman from Chicago, to be his ghost writer in return for a 50/50 split of the profits. The pair would meet each day near Winged Foot in a bar in Mamaroneck, New York as Graffis reworked Tommy’s manuscript. The book, How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time was an immediate success and became the best-selling golf book of all time. Graffis retired a happy man in Florida and would send a Christmas card each year “from the house that Tommy built.” Due to his permanently weakened left arm, Tommy unconventionally favoured a dominant right hand in the swing. He put it less subtly to one client telling him to “just knock hell out of it with your right hand.” Marginally less successful but more useful was the 1956 follow up, A Round with Tommy Armour. Another bestseller, it was a masterwork on the mental side of the game, the first serious look at golf psychology.

Legacy

Despite the adulation and financial success Tommy never truly felt that he had achieved all he could with his life, given his education. He once said: “It's nice to be a good golfer and win championships, but, hell, being the finest golfer in the world never cured anyone of polio.” He encouraged this thinking in his son Tommy Junior who became a surgeon, but it clearly didn’t reach the next generation. His grandson Tommy Armour III is a record-holding twotime PGA Tour winning professional, and is as infamous as his grandfather was in terms of his drinking and womanizing. The common theme throughout Armour’s life was that he was at his strongest when things 64

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got tough. He was seen as a “closer” and a team man, whose tournament record includes five wins in team events. His overall contributions to the game in terms of playing, teaching, writing and club design have never been equalled. Overall Armour won twenty-seven events (twenty-five PGA), three Majors, and had twenty-one top-20 finishes in the Majors. It’s worth remembering that the Masters didn’t exist for almost his entire professional career, and he won the Western Open, long seen as a Major. He also won the Canadian Open three times, seen at the time as easily the biggest Open after the US and the British. He is still one of the top-25 PGA Tour winners of all time, and was elected to the PGA Hall of Fame in 1942. He avoided the “Hall of Shame” debacle and was grandfathered into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976. Tommy died next to his beloved W i nged Fo ot i n Larchmont, New York on September 11, 1968, just two weeks shy of his seventy-fourth birthday. He was cremated at the Ferncliff Cemetary in Hartsdale, resting place of celebrities like John Lennon, Yul Brynner, Joan Crawford, Judy G a rla nd , Nelson Rockefeller, Ed Sullivan, Paul Robson, Christopher Reeve, Jerome Kern, Malcolm X and even Madame Chiang Kai-Shek. The records there list him as a “professional golfer” and it is nice to think that Tommy would be happy with that two word description. However, his continuing influence on the game tells us he was so much more.

The Greatest

It is easy to recall the dour drinker of his later years but surely the abiding memory should of the man, his achievements and the swing in his prime. Noted golf writer Bernard Darwin was in awe of his iron play and wrote that: “His style is the perfection of rhythm and beauty.” Ross Goodner remembered: “Nothing was ever small about Tommy Armour's reputation. At one time or another, he was known as the greatest iron player, the greatest raconteur, the greatest drinker and the greatest and most expensive teacher in golf.” To that we can add the greatest fairway wood player, the greatest club designer, the greatest clutch player and the greatest writer. Without doubt, he was also the greatest character the game has ever seen; his enduring fame is the best indicator of his true status: Tommy Armour, The Silver Scot, The Greatest. HKGOLFER.COM


course check

Course

Downtown Golf

Shenzhen Golf Club, surreally located in the heart of the city, offers three great nines – but at no small cost BY THE EDITORS

Background

Less than ten minutes in a cab from the border at Huanggang, amid Shenzhen’s wacky skyscrapers, lies Shenzhen Golf Club – site of one of the best courses in southern China and an oasis of calm in an otherwise manic megalopolis. With its twenty-seven cracking holes and an unbeatable location, this place is a class apart from a sprinkling of uninspiring courses that rim the city’s perimeter. No wonder China’s golfing trailblazer, Zhang Lian-wei, has made the club his base, and the great man can often be seen gorging on mounds of noodles in SGC’s stylish clubhouse before embarking on yet another practice round. Opened for play in 1985, the club has the distinction of being one of the oldest courses on the mainland. Originally designed by Isao “The Tower” Aoki, the layout started life as the domain of Japanese and Korean businessmen and was an attractive, if fairly innocuous challenge. Enter Nelson & Haworth – the design firm who gave us Shanghai’s Sheshan International, the East Course at Kau Sai Chau and a slew of other courses across Asia – who, in the late 90s, were called in to add much needed beef to this parkland layout. 66

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Nelson & Haworth’s changes, which focused mainly on tweaking the g re en complexe s a nd improving the playing surfaces, have turned the course into a formidable challenge, strong enough to host the 2005 Volvo China Open, which England’s Paul Casey won following a playof f w it h fel low countryman Oliver Wilson. The difficulty of the course comes not from the beautiful lychee and pa l m t rees t hat f la n k the fairways, or even the umpteen water hazards that creep into vision on both tee and approach shots. Its length (all three combinations of nines measure in excess of 6,500 yards from the members’ blue tee) is a factor, but not crucial. There’s not even any real rough to speak of. By far and away the trickiest aspect here are the putting surfaces and the obstacles t h at s u r r ou n d t h e m . Although comparisons with, say, Augusta National are a little extreme, there’s absolutely no doubt that the greens at SGC are severe. Multiple tiers, spines, crowns, shoulders – whatever you want to ca l l t hem – ca n ma ke even decent putters look decidedly foolish. This is accentuated by the fact that thanks to excellent conditioning they routinely run in excess of 10 on the stimpmeter. Pitching and chipping, too, call for precision and the greenside bunkering is both plentiful and punishing. Easy bogeys, tough pars s what this course is all about.

Clubhouse / Amenities

Unlike some of the bigger clubs in the immediate region, SGC lacks a tremendous variety of pre- and post-round amenities. The functional yet stylish nineteenth hole houses a decent restaurant, while the outdoor terrace is a popular spot for golfers wanting to dissect their rounds over a post-play pint. The locker rooms – including a Japanese-style onsen (hot bath), at least in the men’s – are particularly wellHKGOLFER.COM

appointed. Massage facilities are also available, but it is advisable to check their availability before you tee off. The one truly disappointing aspect of SGC is the club’s practice facilities. The mat driving range (accompanied by ancient rocklike balls) is out of keeping with the rest of the club and should be addressed.

Verdict

While SGC has had longer than most in getting things right, other Guangdong clubs could do with taking a leaf out of SGC’s book. Yes, the club has the definite advantage of cash – membership fees are high without being exorbitant, while visitor green fees are pretty much the most expensive in Shenzhen – but they appear to have spent money in the right manner. Course maintenance is routinely first-class and sound service ensures that everything runs smoothly – at least most of the time. Of course, the most significant advantage the club has is the course itself: the A/B layout is the toughest of the three combinations, while the B/C course offers the most variety. Undisputedly pricey, but its convenient not to mention jaw-dropping location makes it worth the splurge. A must-play – more so now than ever. Rumours abound that the club’s lease is set to expire in the not too distant future, and given the increased value of the land that the club occupies, getting an extension to that lease will likely be a tough proposition.

Need to Know Shenzhen Golf Club

Green Fees (Visitors): RMB1,360 / 2,190 (WD/WE – includes caddie and cart fee). Getting There: A taxi from the stand at the Huanggang border takes approximately eight minutes and costs RMB30 each way. Contact: Shennan Road, Futian, Shenzhen; Tel: +86 (0)755 330 8888 Yardage: 7,169/6,631. Par: 72. (A/B Course). Course Rating: 72.5/69.9 Architects: Isao Aoki (1985) / Nelson & Haworth (2000).

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travel

Alpine Wonder Better known as Austria’s premier skiing destination, charming Kitzbühel is well worth visiting during the summer months with your clubs in tow, reports our European correspondent Lewine Mair PHOTOGRAPHY BY J.HÖLZL / MEDIA LOUNGE

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Mile-high marvel: the third hole at the Kyle Phillipsdesigned Golf Eichenheim affords one of the most dramatic views in continental Europe. 70

here are links courses where the mere sight of billowing rough from the first tee can dent the confidence. Similarly, any aggressive list of “do’s and don’ts” – we have all seen one of them – can play havoc with a man’s first-tee equilibrium. Head for Austria, on the other hand, and the early vibes tend to be rather more settling. With many of the Austrian courses at altitude, there is the happy prospect of getting more yards for your Euros than you might at any another European venue. A ball will travel some ten percent further through mountain air while, in Kitzbühel in particular, there are plenty of elevated tees to enhance this glorious fact of golfing life. Take the third hole at Golf Eichenheim, a Kyle Phillips-designed course which was voted among the top 100 in Europe in the 2006-2007 Peugeot Guide. The teeing ground at this particular par-five is so high as to inspire much the same feeling of eager anticipation known to skiers setting out on the world-famous Hahnenkamm Run (Hahnenkammrennen). Yet not too many visiting golfers latch on to what is happening to their ball-flight at the first time of asking – and that includes no less a player than Colin Montgomerie. Back in 1987, when Montgomerie was preparing to make his debut on the European Tour at Crans sur Sierre in neighbouring Swizerland, his clubs were delayed en route and he had no time for a practice round. T hough worr ied about h is lack of preparation, he found all his fears evaporating when he teed off from the 10th and hit the drive of a lifetime, one which sailed through the skies and travelled a country mile. “It was as if I had gathered an extra 25 yards simply through turning professional,” recalls the Scot. He strode proudly down the fairway where he found himself faced with a less-than-taxing second to the green. “It was 145 yards to the pin, just the shot for an easy eight-iron,” he remembers. That easy eight-iron was still soaring as it carried the putting surface and pitched into the trees beyond. The 2010 Ryder Cup captain amassed a double-bogey six and finished with a disaster of a 77. On top of those extra yards, golf in Kitzbühel is simply dripping with charm. The mountain views are one thing, the fastidious manicuring of the courses another. Even the old machinery chalets are apt to feature window-boxes filled to overflowing with geraniums. This should be the place where every professional repairs at those inevitable times

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Need to Know Golfers visiting Kitzbühel can buy a Golf Alpin Pass (€280 for five rounds) to play on the following courses: Schwarzsee; Rasmushof, Wilder Kaiser Ellmau, Reit im Winkl, Walchsee, Kaiserwinkel, Larchenhof, Mittersill. Annual junior camps, weeklong affairs for children aged between six and 12, are run at Golf Club Eichenheim, while the 8th Kitzbühel Golf Festival – an annual event for all standards – takes place from June 20-27, 2010. For more information www. kitbuhel-golf.com

First-rate: KitzbühelKaps features two island greens and top-notch postround amenities.

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when golf becomes a bit of a chore – a stage reached by Nick Dougherty at the recent HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Dougherty, after he had amassed a nine at the water-laced 18th in his second round, came up with the rueful comment that he had had one of those days when a job stacking shelves in a supermarket seemed a not unattractive proposition. Kitzbühel has what it takes to encourage a player to do as the late Walter Hagen once recommended. Namely to stop and smell the flowers along the way. Golf in Austria dates back to 1901 when the Emperor Franz Josef became hooked on the game. He provided land at an annual rent of 1 Krone for a course at Wien-Krieau which was constructed by the French architect, M C Noskowski. This first course would become the home of the Golf Club of Vienna. Edward, Prince of Wales, following his abdication, played regularly in the city, while another aficionado of the Austrian way of golf was the late Sir Henry Cotton. The latter used to boast less about his three Open championship victories than the fact that his wife, “Toots”, who was never lower than an eight-handicap, won the 1937 Austrian Women’s Championship. In those days, the event was more of a social affair than anything else but, as Cotton used to say, a national title is a national title. Today, golf in Austria, no less than skiing, is a sport for the many rather than the few and one in which the number of golfers is proliferating all the time. Though there were fewer than 300 people playing in the late 1930s, there are now 68,000 plying their sport over 136 venues.

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Though most wil l assu me t hat t hese practitioners are all as fit as mountain goats and have to shoot up and down a series of slopes as dramatically elevated as a Phil Mickelson wedge, that is by no means always the case. In Kitzbühel, Golf Eichenheim may be best played in a buggy but there is no question of golfers having to hit with the ball above or below their feet all the time. Schwarzsee, the other 18-hole layout in the little city, is another championship venue of the highest order having, in 2003, come in for a host of tributes when it hosted the Challenge Tour’s 2003 Kitzbuhel Golf Alpin Open. Larchenhof, a little further out of town, boasts a challenging course along with a first-class practice ground where the mountain backcloth seems to inspire even the most unlikely of candidates to get his or her shots nicely lofted. Of the two nine-hole courses in the city, Rasmushof lies on the lower slopes of the Hahnenkammrennen and is correspondingly hilly. In golfing terms, though, the hills are merely the equivalent of skiing’s nursery slopes, the perfect place for beginners. In contrast, Kitzbühel-Kaps, has only one severe ascent – up the sixth tee. It is a bit of an effort, though rather less of one if you are making the ascent on winged feet following a par or better at the fifth. The course, which is attached to the stunning A-Rosa resort, closes with two island greens. Aside from adding up to a delicious test for the golfer, they can make for plenty of entertainment for those sitting on the clubhouse veranda. Après golf and the visitor can either languish in one of the five-star spas which seem to be integral to Austrian golfing resorts or enjoy t he delights of Kitzbühel. The latter are manifold. There are plenty of designer boutiques mingled in with the finest of highquality all-Austrian shops. Meanwhile, if you are simply looking for a sightseeing trip round the pretty streets, there is no better way than by horse and trap. Yet it goes without saying that the best sights of all are those from the top of the Hahnenkammrennen. There, from 5,617 feet above sea level, you can pick out the four courses which have made the city no less of an exhilarating destination in summer than it is in winter. HKGOLFER.COM

EXPERIENCE

VISION

Luxe Hills, China Hole 2 Par 3

WORLD CLASS RESULTS Mark E. Hollinger ASGCA

Address: 1513 Folger Drive, Belmont, California 94002 USA Tel: 1-650-620-9670 Fax: 1-650-620-9707 China: (86)136-6018-6366

www.jmpgolf.com


final shot

Ryder Cup Q&A:

Sam Torrance

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With only ten months to go until the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales, the former skipper and long-time player gives us his views on the biennial match play event hat for you makes the Ryder Cup so special? It’s like a cup final but one that’s held over three days. From 9am on the Friday morning to the final putt on Sunday evening – it just swings and flows. It’s just amazing. Even though I’m no longer involved it’s a big part of my heart. It's enthralling. I can't take my eyes off it.

How important is it that the next European Ryder Cup captain, Colin Montgomerie, will still be playing on Tour when the match is held next year? That Monty is still playing is very important when it comes to captaining the team. In fact, it’s almost imperative. When I was captain I was still playing on Tour. I was seeing the players week in, week out. You can create a bond with the players, you have that camaraderie, which is crucial when it comes to the Ryder Cup. I didn’t think Monty would be captain this time around. 2016 at Gleneagles is when I had him picked for, but regardless, Monty is going to be a great captain. Do you have any sympathy for Sandy Lyle, who many thought would be selected as captain? Sandy lucked out. Peter Allis never got the captaincy, nor did Peter Oosterhuis. Many great players that should have got it didn’t. The timing just wasn’t right. Monty is going to have three ‘wildcard’ picks? You only had two when you were captain. Is that going to be a help? That’s his choice. But it creates more headaches, I’ll tell you that. The picks are one of the hardest things about being captain. When I was captain I had to choose Sergio Garcia when he was number four in the world. He was the highest ranked player on the team but I had to pick him. I probably needed three picks because I had to leave out [Jose Maria] Olazabal. I chose [Jesper] Parnevik, as he’d won in America, but leaving out Olazabal was really tough. The 2010 Ryder Cup is in Wales, in October. Weather-wise, is this going to be a problem? It’s not good at all. I think it’s going to be a huge problem. It may have to go into a fourth day. The problem is the FedEx Cup. The Ryder Cup should be two weeks earlier, but it can’t because it has to accommodate the FedEx events. It’s a tough one for the Americans. You’ll have the likes of Woods and Mickelson playing four or five weeks on the trot. You’d think the best players will play [in the Ryder Cup] but we’ll see when it comes to the time. We’ll see then how much the Americans value the Ryder Cup then. What’s the difference between playing and captaining? It’s so different it’s scary. Captaining is totally different than playing. I learned more from being vice captain to Mark James in 1999 than I did playing in eight Ryder Cups. It’s a powerful position to be, being captain, although you have to 74

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make sure all the players are comfortable and happy. I remember having to order in some olive oil for Miguel Angel Jimenez, as he wanted it for his breakfast. He just poured some in a bowl and ate it with some bread. But that’s what he wanted so that’s fine. The hardest part of captaining was the public speaking. What did you make of Valhalla in 2008, and Nick Faldo’s captaincy in particular? I don’t want to go there. OK, I thought Paul Azinger did a great job. That’s all I’ll say on the matter. Gamesmanship in the Ryder Cup. Where do you stand? I abhor it, hate it. I don't mind a wind-up, never have; but I don't believe in gamesmanship…at all. I think it's part of the sport that is certainly not necessary. Gamesmanship to me is cheating. It's like a footballer when the two of them go for the ball and one knows they touched it last as it goes out of play. Almost always they both put their hand up to appeal that it wasn't them. One of them is lying but they get away with it. In golf, it's such a fair, honest sport that gamesmanship cannot come into it at all. You’ve had many Ryder Cup highs, but what was the worst moment as either player or captain? During the Saturday afternoon fourballs in 2002. Paul McGinley, who was playing with Darren Clarke, came up to me on the eighth tee and said: “I’m sorry, Sam, but what rules are we playing under?” I didn’t know what he meant, but he then told me he was using a TaylorMade R driver – a hot-faced club banned on the US PGA Tour but legal in Europe. I told him it was fine but I had no idea and ran off to find Mark James [his vice captain]. Both he and the chief referee confirmed that we were playing to European Tour rules and that R drivers were legal. We really couldn’t have afforded to lose that match.—As told to Alex Jenkins HKGOLFER.COM


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