Clubhouse: Baselworld review, Kobold watches, Last Drop whisky
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION ISSUE 63
HKGOLFER.COM APRIL 2012
TRAVEL: EUROPE'S BEST NEW COURSES
Our guide to the first major of the year DISPLAY UNTIL 15 MAY
STYLE: LADIES’ GOLF FASHION
58 On the Cover:
Australia’s Jason Day The stunning 16th hole at Augusta National Golf Club – “Redbud” – will likely be the scene of much drama when the Masters Tournament is played in early August. Photo by Miller Brown
30 | Our Guide to the Masters
10 | In Focus
Seve’s last visit to Augusta, Nick Faldo’s thoughts on Amen Corner, a peek inside Rory McIlroy’s bag, the experience of watching the tournament – all can be found in our preview of golf’s greatest show By The Editors
52 | Faldo Series Asia Grand Final
A review of the final event on the popular Faldo Series Asia tournament calendar By The Editors
58 | Dressed to Impress ...
... and it’s the Asian stars of the LPGA Tour who are leading the way in the fashion stakes By Lewine Mair
50 | European Renaissance
AFP (LPGA); Power of Sport Images (Kitty Tam)
Over the past decade, Europe has thrived from a golf course architecture point of view, with a number of high quality layouts coming online. Our well-travelled correspondent picks six of the best By Andrew Marshall
72 | Wonder Holes: the Extreme 19th
A look at the world’s most outrageous – and arguably most spectacular – golf hole in the world – the Extreme 19th at the Legends Golf & Safari Resort in South Africa By The Editors
HK Golfer・APR 2012
86 | Final Shot: Retief Goosen
The two-time US Open champion opens up about the state of his game in this Q&A By The Editors
A pictorial review of the past 30 days – locally and globally By The Editors
20 | Tee Time
A review of the best of Baselworld 2012, the world’s biggest watch exhibition By Evan Rast
22 | Tee Time – Special Feature
A look at a watch of quite epic proportions – the Kobold Himalaya Everest Edition By The Editors
24 | Whisky
The Last Drop, one of the most exclusive whiskies you can buy, is all that it is claimed to be, says our whisky editor By John Bruce
28 | Market Watch
An examination of the remarkable parallels between the form of the two greatest golfers that ever lived and the health of the world’s stock markets By Kevin Armstrong
28 | Global Tournament News
A roundup of news from the WGC-Cadillac C ha mpion sh ip a nd t he World L ad ie s Championship held at Mission Hills Hainan By The Editors HKGOLFER.COM
M AST ER S PR EV I EW 32
Seve: The Last Hurrah
Inside Rory McIlroy's bag
Nick Faldo's Guide to Amen Corner
The Masters Experience
HK GolferăƒťAPR 2012
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION APR 2012 • Issue 63
Editor: Alex Jenkins email: email@example.com Editorial Assistant: Cindy Kwok Playing Editor: Jean Van de Velde Photo Editor: Daniel Wong Contributing Editors: Lewine Mair Ariel Adams, Robert Lynam, Evan Rast David Cunningham III Published by:
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64 D E PA R T M E N T S 12
HK Golfer Mailbag
18 Divots 52
Around the HKGA
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HK Golfer Mailbag Olympic Golf Quite honestly I was shocked but delighted to hear that Gil H a n s e h a s won t h e bid t o design t he gol f cou rse t hat wil l host t he 2016 Su m mer G a m e s i n R i o d e Ja n e i r o. I don’t wa nt to bel it t le t he other candidates – far from it – but Hanse was in my mind the standout candidate. Having played his Castle Stuart course in Scotland last year – and loved every minute of it – I’m sure he will come up with another superb layout. It would have been very easy for the selection committee to choose a playerdesigner like Jack Nicklaus or Gary Player, so I think they also deserve a lot of credit for the boldness of their decision. David Smith Via email Editor’s reply: Quite honestly I was pretty shocked too, David, but like you I also applaud the decision. Aside from the quality of his work, one of the things that stood out for the selection committee was Hanse’s total commitment to the project; he said he’ll move to Brazil full-time to oversee the project. I’m not sure Nicklaus or Player – whose own body of course design work is universally excellent – would have shown quite the same enthusiasm. On a related note, be sure to have a read of our travel story which starts on page 64 this month – Castle Stuart (pictured) is included!
Ryo in the Masters It’s nice to see that the Masters Tournament has extended an invitation this year to Ryo Ishikawa, the super talented young player from Japan. If your readers will remember, Ishikawa donated his winnings from 2011 to earthquake and tsunami relief after the tragedy that beset his country 12 months ago. While I don’t think he received the invitation because of this, it would be nice to see him do well. Susan Li Shouson Hill
Editor’s reply: This will in fact be the second time that Ishikawa has received a special invitation to the Masters; the first time was in 2009. Historically, the Masters has invited international players not otherwise qualified to expand the tournament’s global reach. Personally speaking, I agree with you.
Great Day Out Inspired by a review of Chung Shan Hot Spring Golf Club that I read in a rather ancient copy of HK Golfer (discovered in the waiting room at my doctor’s surgery) I travelled across the border last week to check it out for myself. I’m glad I did. I played both the Palmer and Nicklaus courses and loved them both. It’s rare that you find a 36-hole club where the courses are of equal standard but this definitely applies to Chung Shan. Fun layouts and in great condition too. As you point out in the editorial, it’s great that China’s oldest club can still rank up there with the best.
Unique insights. Perfect balance.
Central Golfer Mid Levels Editor’s reply: That’s great, CG. Chung Shan is a personal favourite in Guangdong, so am delighted to hear that the place continues to thrive. We Want to Hear from You! Have something to say about an article in HK Golfer or a topic affecting golf in our area? Send your thoughts and comments to email@example.com. Please also include your address, contact number, email and HKGA #. The winner of the best letter will receive a bottle of Champagne Louis Roederer courtesy of Links Concept.
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Local Focus Faldo and his Fans Sir Nick Faldo visited Mission Hills in Shenzhen last month to oversee the Grand Final of the Faldo Series Asia – the six-time major champion’s successful youth development programme. The Englishman, who won three Masters and three Open Championship titles over the course of a brilliant career, announced that the world’s biggest golf club will continue to host the annual tournament for another four years through 2016. The World Amateur Golf Ranking event was the climax of a season that featured 17 tournaments in 13 countries. For a review of the tournament turn to page 52. Photo by Power of Sport Images
Global Focus Tight at the Top Rory McIlroy (pictured) reached the summit of the Official Golf World Rankings for the very first time after victory at the Honda Classic in Florida early March, only to see Luke Donald regain the No 1 spot two weeks later by winning the Transitions Championship in a play-off. Less than one quarter of a point separates the Ryder Cup teammates, but the rivalry appears good natured, with McIlroy, the reigning Hong Kong Open champion, tweeting after Donald’s win: “Well I enjoyed it while it lasted! Congrats @LukeDonald! Impressive performance!” Photo by AFP
Entries Open for Pyongyang Golf Tournament Here’s an event with a difference. The 2012 North Korean Amateur Open is now open for entry to amateur golfers from all around the world. The tournament is officially endorsed by the North Korean Travel Service, KIYTC and will take place over three days from 19-21 May, 2012. The event, which was won last year by Olli Lehtonen, a scratch player from Finland, will take place at the picturesque Pyongyang Golf Complex, situated 27km from the capital. The layout has something of a reputation after it was reported that when the late Kim Jong Il opened the course in 1987, he made 11 holes in one on his way to a world-record 38-under-par round. It was the Dear Leader’s one and only round of golf. The first day of play will be pre-qualifying with the top 16
gross scorers going onto a match play event on the following two days. The remaining golfers will be entered into a stroke play event, with trophies awarded to the winners of both. It will be led by tournament director Brian Wilkie, who worked for two seasons for the European Tour as a rules official. Bookings are being taken e x c l u s i v e l y t h r o u g h U Kbased Lupine Travel. Entry to the tournament comes as part of a seven-night full package. Price for entry is €1499 (approximately H K $15 , 3 0 0). T h i s i n c l u d e s a l l DPR K visas and permits, entry to t he tourna ment, return train travel from China into North Korea, all meals, six nights 4-star hotel accommodation in Pyongyang, 1 night 4-star accommodation in Dandong (China) and a 3 day tour of DPRK. Travel to and from China and double entry Chinese visa are not included.
Away from the Fairways Best in show: The all-new Sky-Dweller from Rolex
Visit northkoreanopen.com for more information.
AFP (Open Qualifying), Courtesy of Lupine Travel (North Korea)
Lahiri Leads Open Qualifying Quartet Anirban Lahiri of India earned his major debut at The Open Championship after shooting a final round five-under-par 67 at International Final Qualifying (IFQ) in Bangkok last month. Lahiri, winner of the SAIL-SBI Open in India a week earlier, led the trio of Prayad Marksaeng, who shot the best round of 64, Kodai Ichihara of Japan and Mardan Mamat of Singapore (all pictured), who sealed the fourth and final ticket after winning in a three-way play-off against compatriot Lam Chih Bing and Jonathan Moore of the United States. Lahiri turned in 35 at Amata Spring Country Club on the outskirts of the Thai captial but sparked into life on his homeward nine highlighted by an eagle-three on the 15th hole when his five-wood approach shot landed three feet from the hole. “It has been a childhood dream of mine. It feels really nice. This is the third IFQ I have come for and the last the couple of times I played pretty poorly. It is really nice that I have made it,” Lahiri said. 18
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Basel in Focus Evan Rast presents trends and highlights from the biggest watch show of the year, Baselworld
Open bound (from left to right): Mardan Mamat, Prayad Marksaeng, Anirban Lahiri and Kodai Ichihara are all smiles after their qualifying success HKGOLFER.COM
CONTINUED OVERLEAF HKGOLFER.COM
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With 14 patents, five of which are new, the SkyDweller is certainly an impressive innovation ... it has all the makings of a winning Rolex watch
The Savvy Traveller
New arrival: The Rolex Sky-Dweller is equipped with a new in-house automatic calibre 9001 and features a dual time zone and annual calendar 20
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t came much earlier this year, yet everyone who attended was wellprepared for the juggling act that is Baselworld. Gruelling schedules and back-to-back appointments all worth it, of course, given the privilege of being among the first to see the latest and most technically sound creations that will make their mark in the world of high watchmaking this year. So what’s in store for us come the first deliveries in the summer? Each brand had a story to tell, but there were certainly a few trends we’ve picked up on.
If you do quite a fair bit of flying, then you will appreciate the efforts many brands have made to produce highly original and easy ways for the stylish traveller to keep track of time. Watchmaking tour de force Rolex has released a new model called the Sky-Dweller, which features a dual time zone and annual calendar. It has all the makings of a winning Rolex watch, made more interesting by an offcentre disc on the dial. Equipped with a new in-house automatic calibre 9001 – a certified Swiss chronometer – the watch is a breeze to operate. Local time is read using the central hands, while your home or reference time is displayed via a 24-hour rotating disc on the dial. The annual calendar, called Saros (after the astronomical period which inspired it), is particularly fuss-free in that it requires only one date adjustment a year, between February and March. Twelve windows on the circumference of the dial will show you which month it is. Local time, reference time and date can be adjusted using the rotatable Ring Command bezel, then winding the crown. With 14 patents, five of which are new, the Sky-Dweller is certainly an impressive innovation from Rolex. The watch is available in a 42mm Oyster case in 18k white gold or Everose gold. Then we move on to a unique world timer. Two years ago Bremont was commissioned to produce a world time chronometer for the crew of the C-17 Globemaster, a transport aircraft used by the US Air Force, the UK Royal Air Force and the Qatar Emiri Air Force, to name a few. The watch is easily one of the most complicated military watches the brand has ever produced, with an etched globe on the dial and a Roto-Click bezel that enables the user to work out the global time zones using the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) airfield identifiers, which represents a C-17 landing location in all 24 time zones. The watch itself can show UTC or ‘Zulu’ time through its adjustable 24-hour hand. Very cool. HKGOLFER.COM
Fitted with the automatic movement BE-54AE, the World Timer from Bremont is presented in leather wallet, handmade in England, and comes with a strap changing tool and an extra NATO military nylon strap
World at your feet: Launched in the brand's signature TripTick case with three-piece construction and helium release valve, the World Timer, ALT1WT features a strengthened, scratch-resistant steel case that measures 2000 Vickers on the Mohs hardness scale 22
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This year, the Globemaster is now available for civilians like ourselves, in the form of the Bremont World Timer, ALT1-WT. Launched in the brand’s signature Trip-Tick case with three-piece construction and helium release valve, the watch comes in a strengthened, scratch-resistant steel case that measures 2000 Vickers on the Mohs hardness scale (compared to the regular 316L stainless steel at 300). The date window takes inspiration from the Globemaster’s Head Up Display. The watch comes in a blue, black and white dial. Fitted with the automatic movement BE-54AE, the watch is presented in a leather travel wallet, handmade in England, and comes with a strap changing tool and an extra NATO military nylon strap. Another brand that has presented a striking universal timer is Breitling. The Transocean C h rono g raph Un it i me come s w it h a movement produced in-house, the automatic, COSC-certified 05 calibre. A double disc on the dial constantly indicates the time in all 24 time zones, with a vintage-looking chronograph counter and globe on the centre. Despite its many indications, the watch is quite easy to operate. To change time zones, one would simply have to pull out the crown and turn it in one-hour increments to adjust the hour hand, city disc, 24-hour disc, and the calendar in one smooth move, without disturbing the time or any timekeeping operations in progress. The watch here is in 46mm steel case with a black dial and a steel mesh Ocean Classic bracelet. The Transocean Chronograph Unitime is also offered in a polar white dial and red gold case, with an option of a leather strap. First-class travel on the wrist! If you’d like a more masculine take on the traveller’s watch, Hublot presents one. The King Power Unico GMT takes the brand’s in-house Unico chronograph movement to the next level by integrating a GMT function for travellers looking for the perfect blend of function and design. It sports a matte black dial featuring four satellites with hour indications, linked to move and rotate centrally with the main time. This allows you to tell time in each of the 14 cities marked on the bezel and dial in different font sizes. The piece is powered by the HUB 1220 calibre with a 72-hour power reserve and is water-resistant to 100m/10 ATM. As a true showcase of modern sporty elegance, it comes with a black ceramicand-rubber bezel, a matching black ceramic case back and a rubber strap with a black PVD-coated titanium King Power folding clasp. The 48mm watch is also available with an 18k gold case, pushers and clasp.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 78 HKGOLFER.COM
TEE TIME - SPECIAL FEATURE
Himalaya Everest Edition Timekeeping from the Roof of the World
h e n watch ma ker Michael Kobold and his eponymous watch c o m p a n y ’s b r a n d ambassador, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, set out to reach the summit of Mount Everest, little did they know that their expedition would be the impetus for the first watches made in Nepal. The two reached the summit in May 2009 and almost three years later the Kobold Watch Company is introducing its first series of “Made in Nepal mechanical wristwatches”. As if this weren’t novel enough, Kobold and his team developed a most unique timekeeper by incorporating a piece of Everest summit rock into one of the watch models. Kobold’s Himalaya Everest Edition features a 7mm thick dial made from rock the two adventurers collected at the summit. It would take a German specialty firm almost two years to cut, polish and shape the rock in a way that would preserve its physical integrity – no easy feat when dealing with a specimen made up of layers of slate and sandstone. The result is a stunning conversation piece that has no equals. Each dial is unique and exhibits the various characteristics found inside the rock. For sportsmen and businessmen alike, the provenance and symbolism of the Kobold Himalaya Everest Edition makes it an instant collectible. “You don’t have to climb Mount Everest to wear this watch,” explains Kobold, adding, “with this watch you can celebrate a major achievement in a totally different field, for instance a successful closing of significant proportions.” Watch af icionados likely know of the Pit t sbu rg h , USA-ba sed Kobold Watch Company’s reputation for adventure watches, but outside this exclusive circle, the small 24
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As if this weren’t novel enough, Kobold and his team developed a most unique timekeeper by incorporating a piece of Everest summit rock into one of the watch models. independent watch company is little known. At the tender age of 19, Kobold founded his namesake company while a college student. Before then, Kobold had been mentored by famed master watchmaker Gerd-R. Lang, the founder of Chronoswiss watches. Armed with his lifetime savings of US$5,000, Kobold set out to make his mark in the watch world. “They told me that I’m dyslexic and not much good at university, so I decided to do something on the side that was fun and that I excelled at, and that was watchmaking,” explains the 33-year-old entrepreneur. Fourteen years later, his company has made watches for astronauts, test pilots, deep sea divers and US Navy SEALs, to name just a few of the hard-core professionals who sport Kobold watches. In fact, the elite Navy SEALs helped design one of Kobold’s most popular watches, the Phantom Chronograph. It was the Navy SEAL Fund, a charity that supports injured SEALs and their families, that Kobold and Fiennes climbed
Experts in their field (clockwise from top): British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes; Kobold's Phantom Chronograph, designed in part by US Navy SEALs; the very special Himalaya Everest Edition is the first mechanical wristwatch made in Nepal
Everest for in 2009. And this is where the circle closes for Kobold. The legendary explorer Ranulph Fiennes had this to say about his young sidekick’s idea to make an Everest rock watch: “If you fly into Geneva airport, you see all these watch ads. Mike has to try very hard to make his watches stand out. And with the Everest watch, he did just that.” We agree. KOBOLD is represented in Hong Kong by SinoGo. For more information, contact email@example.com; www.sinogo.com
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At the end of a great day...
A Very Special Blend The Last Drop, one of the most exclusive whiskies in the world, is all that it is claimed to be, writes John Bruce
he year 1972 is officially the longest year on record with scientists adding two seconds to the leap year in order to preserve some cosmic balance; a decision that may or may not have had anything to do with the prevalence of hallucinogenic drugs at the time. Perhaps it was all of that extra time on peoples’ hands but the extended year played host to many historic moments: G Gordon Liddy’s nocturnal escapades brought down a president and the Queen Elizabeth caught fire in our own Victoria Harbour. But for true inspiration we had an unknown blender Supply chain: who created the whisky that 88 bottles of Last is now available, in very Drop made it to limited quantities, as “The Hong Kong; Last Drop”. few remain E i g h t y- t wo w h i s k i e s comprised of 12 grains and 70 malts had been blended in 1972, none of them less than 12-years-old at the time and put into sherry casks. Many of these came from distilleries that no longer exist, with the youngest whisky being from 1960 with some going back to the 1940s. The casks were stored in Auchentoshan cellars near Glasgow and largely forgotten about for 37 years. At this point, serendipity intervened as a trio of whisky aficionados were in search of old whiskies to create a truly memorable blend. Jason Espey, Tom Jago and Peter Fleck have more than a century’s experience in the liquor trade and a history of bringing highly successful products to the market. Tom was the man behind the creation of Bailey’s Irish Cream and Peter launched Malibu. James and Tom were also, more encouragingly for whisky lovers, the men behind the launch of Johnny Walker Blue Label (a blend that I am always delighted to sample). They discovered three barrels of the 1972 mystery blend in the cellars and this led to The Last Drop, of which only 1347 bottles were produced. Eighty-eight of these bottles made it to Hong Kong; most have been sold or, taking the glass half full stance, a few are still available. Having set off to review an outstanding blend, I now encountered a major hurdle 26
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... a sublime experience
in that, unlike our featured single malts, I had not sampled the Last Drop. Honestly, this would have been the end of this article as I maintained a suspicion, perhaps due to the creamy liqueur connection, that these people were very good marketers and that the whisky might not be all that it was said to be. To my chagrin, the publisher declined my suggestion he purchase the only bottle that is on sale in that Wan Chai institution, the Canny Man, in order to thoroughly review the product. However one should never underestimate the acumen of an ex-banker and he had, to my delight, managed to procure a decent sample. The blend has received numerous outstanding reviews and our mutual sampling confirmed all that we had read. Indeed, a small but select group of expatriate Scots making so much of so little but paying even less would have led to smirks of justification on the faces of those who remark on our notional national parsimony. The Last Drop requires diluting as it is 52 per cent in strength, neither filtered nor chilled, but a little less than the same again brings out some magnificent flavours. A great nose that pervades the room if it is left in the glass for a few moments leads into sweet and rich tastes that end with more than a hint of spice. The Last Drop is all that it is claimed to be and is ample reminder that great blends are a magnificent counterpart to the glorious malts that Scotland produces. HK Golfer is pleased to offer the ultra-rate Last Drop at the special price of HK$17,888 (duty paid) delivered anywhere in Hong Kong. Just write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (852) 3590 4153 to reserve your bottle. HKGOLFER.COM
As Jim Murray said in his Whisky Bible, “…A whisky that gives you the will to live !” We chose this as our first release because we had never tasted a distilled spirit at once so old – and so young. Only a taste can tell you how splendid it really is. And when it’s finished (which is very soon, now) there may not be anything like it for a while; it took us many years to find these 1,348 bottles, and it will be a long search for its successor. Meanwhile, we suggest you have a look at our cognac 1950, 478 bottles of which have just been released.
email@example.com; (852) 3590 4153 lastdropdistillers.com
Bulls, Golden Bears and Tiger
Kevin Armstrong of ANZ examines the remarkable parallels between the form of the two greatest golfers that ever lived and the health of the world’s stock markets
olf has always been a ‘bull market sport’ in that it has always tended to flourish during periods of optimism and enthusiasm. To an extent this can be seen when the growth in money winnings by top professionals is compared to the appreciation in stock markets. In 1967, Jack Nicklaus was the world’s leading money winner. Had he taken his entire earnings that year and invested it all in the world stock market over the next 33 years it would have grown about 40 times in value. Coincidentally, Tiger Woods in 2000 won almost exactly 40 times what Jack had won in 1967. Not only has the overall growth been similar but the general ebb and flow along the way has also been shared. Again, this appears to be peculiar to professional golf. This relationship between investment markets and golf can be seen in both Jack and Tiger’s careers. Both players arrived on the professional scene in the latter years of a long term bull market in equities. Tiger’s first full year as a professional saw him win his first major, the 1997 Masters, just as Jack won his first major, the 1962 US Open, in his debut season. By the time these long term bull markets ended – in 2000 for Tiger and 1966 for Jack – both had become firmly established as the ‘best player in the world’ and both had secured their first Grand Slams, although 1998 saw a hiatus for both Tiger and the markets. Tiger won no majors that year and slipped to fourth on the money list, while US markets suffered a substantial setback when hedge fund giant Long Term Capital Management collapsed. This all changed in 1999 and 2000 when, with equity markets racing higher, Tiger won four more majors and set successive money winning records. From the 1966 peak the US stock market meandered in a wide trading range over the next 16 years, and incredibly Jack’s form seemed to mirror what was happening in the market. He won the 1967 US Open but then began his longest major drought. This was broken with victory over Doug Sanders at the 1970 Open
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Championship, which amazingly coincided with the start of a new bull market just weeks earlier after a miserable 35 per cent decline in the US market. Throughout the seventies Jack’s major record echoed that of the markets, with 1974 being one of his worst years as a professional and the worst year for the market in decades. Just as Jack’s career echoed the rise and fall of the markets from 1966 to 1974, the same was true for Tiger from 2000 through to 2008. The year 2000 was Tiger’s career high point for the next five years and 2000 was also the high point for the Dow for the next six years. Through 2001 and 2002 Tiger continued to dominate but his earnings on the course were down substantially from his 2000 peak, so too were the world’s share markets. From their 2003 lows share markets recovered and by 2005 and 2006 markets were at or approaching their old highs. So too was Tiger. He won two majors in each of those years and led the money winning stats, accumulating around US$10 million in both seasons. This continued into 2007 when he set his all time money winning peak with almost US$11 million. World markets also peaked in late 2007, prior to their most severe decline in seven decades. HKGOLFER.COM
2008 was a miserable year for investors and it was a huge disappointment for Tiger as he was forced to withdrew from competitive golf for knee surgery after winning the US Open in June. Tiger’s absence was painful for golf; TV ratings and crowds fell and at the same time the worst effects of the Global Financial Crisis were being felt. Tiger’s absence from golf may have been a blow to sponsors and fans but it turned out to be only a minor distraction compared to the turmoil that was being suffered in global financial markets. That turmoil was potentially going to have an even greater effect upon professional golfers and their tours than Tiger’s non-appearance. When Tiger returned to competitive golf in early 2009 the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 40 per cent from where it had been when he secured his 14th major the previous year. The prevalent mood was incredibly bleak. Amazingly, the stock market collapse only lasted another week after his return but at its low point in the second week of March the Dow was down 55 per cent from where it had been in October of 2007. It had been a horrendous 17 months for investors. From t hat i nc re d ibly depressed level markets the world over rocketed higher, much to the surprise and disbelief of investors. Less than three weeks later Tiger teed up in the Arnold Palmer Invitational after the Dow had enjoyed one of its best rallies ever, surging 24 per cent. Tiger returned to form too, spectacularly winning the title for his 66th tour victory. After the win at Bay Hill the rest of the year was almost vintage Tiger. He won five more times on tour, won the season-long FedEx Cup, won the money title and was voted the PGA Tour Player of the Year for the 10th time. The markets also enjoyed the balance of 2009. The Dow ended the year 60 per cent higher than it had been at the depths of the March lows. With a win in Australia in November it seemed that 2010 was set fair for Tiger and the pursuit of his 15th major and his ultimate target of Jack’s record would continue. The recovery in markets had also raised expectations that Great Depression II had been averted and that things were back to normal for investors. Neither quite transpired as expected but the meltdown in Tiger’s personal and professional life was almost incomprehensible. Whilst US markets delivered only a modest 10 per cent return in 2010, the year will go down in the record books as Tiger’s poorest ever as a proHKGOLFER.COM
Less than three weeks later Tiger teed up in the Arnold Palmer Invitational after the Dow had enjoyed one of its best rallies ever, surging 24 per cent. Tiger returned to form too, spectacularly winning the title for his 66th tour victory. fessional. For the first time in his career he failed to win a single tournament. Tiger’s slump in form continued through 2011, a year that again saw the US markets deliver only a very modest six per cent return and again Tiger was winless. What had seemed his destiny just a couple of years earlier, to surpass eighteen majors, was beginning to look increasingly like a fragile dream. By the end of 1977 Jack had been a professional for 16 seasons. In that time he had won 64 tour events including 14 majors. For the first four years of his professional career Jack enjoyed the tail wind of the crescendo of a bull market, but for
Bullish: Tiger Woods might need a bit of help from the markets if he’s to reach Jack Nicklaus’ haul of 18 major wins
the next 12 the investment environment became substantially more challenging as the market swung violently in a series of deep bear markets and strong but short recoveries. As 2011 ended, Tiger had encountered almost the identical market back drop. His first four years saw the culmination of an incredible bull market and then the next dozen saw the market fall and rise in an even more violent fashion than during Jack’s career. Tiger had also won 14 majors and had won 71 tour events. These parallels between both players and each player and the markets are remarkable, but only time will tell whether Tiger does ultimately achieve his long stated goal of winning more than 18 majors. It is worth remembering that it took Jack another nine seasons to win his final major, the 1986 Masters, and by the time he did the frustrating and volatile sideways tracking bear market that began in 1966 had ended and a remarkable new bull market had begun. Kevin Armstrong is chief investment officer for ANZ. This article is a synopsis of a chapter from Bulls, Birdies, Bogeys and Bears to be published later this year by Wilkinson Publishing Pty Ltd HK Golfer・APR 2012
Masters 5-8 April, 2012 Augusta National Golf Club
preview of the first major of the year ... 30
HK Golfer・APR 2012
HK Golfer・APR 2012
The Last Hurrah Lewine Mair recalls her time spent with Seve Ballesteros at the 2007 Masters, the final occasion the two-time champion played at Augusta
Swashbuckling Spaniard: Seve, aged 50, at the 2007 Masters Tournament HKGOLFER.COM
“I’m here to celebrate turning 50,” he began (his birthday was on 9 April). “My back’s feeling a whole lot better, I’m ready to play and I’m ready to remember the good things.” With particular reference, you would have to imagine, to his two victories, the first of which was in 1980 when he was the youngest-ever winner at 21. In finishing four ahead of Gibby Gilbert and Jack Newton, he had a grand total of 23 birdies – a record at that time – and led or shared the lead every day. The win, incidentally, was one to open the floodgates for the rest of the Europeans who proceeded to win nine of the next 16 instalments. He donned the second of his green jackets in 1983 in a week when he had bedded down on the Saturday night a shot behind Ray Floyd and Craig Stadler. Come the Sunday and he started birdie, eagle, par, birdie and never looked back. “It was like he was driving a Ferrari and everybody else a Chevrolet,” said Tom Kite of that electrifying start. Ballesteros, who also lost out to Larry Mize in a play-off for the 1987 Masters, told me he was looking for ward to the C ha mpion s D i n ner on ly le s s t h a n he was itching to play again – not just at Augusta but in a selection of events among the US seniors. HK Golfer・APR 2012
he sun had just come up on the Monday of the Masters. A few cars were starting to turn into the parking lot in front of the professional’s shop, the one reserved strictly for men such as Hootie Johnson, the chairman emeritus of Augusta National, and legends like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. The media always keep half an eye on the area and, that morning, I found myself doing a double-take as a man as dashing as the Seve Ballesteros of 20 years before stepped from his car. It was not impossible that it was him but it was unlikely. After all, he had not been back at Augusta since 2003, the year when he had an 86which told the golfing world the extent to which things had gone downhill from the good old days. The chance to have a second look at the new arrival was denied, or rather interrupted, as he was swept into the arms of an elderly Augusta member. Only when the two disentangled themselves did it become clear. It was indeed Seve, a leaner, fitter and more smiling version than we had seen in years. The opportunity could not be missed. Ballesteros had become a bit suspicious of the press but now he was happy to talk.
In good company (clockwise from top): Ballesteros receives the green jacket from Craig Stadler for a second time in 1983; regardless of his form in later life, his swing was still a joy to watch; playing a practice round at Augusta with fellow Spaniards José María Olazábal and Miguel Angel Jimémez
He spoke, enthusiastically, of what he had done to prepare the way for this fresh start. Since the 2006 Open at Hoylake where he had scored better than was anticipated with a 74 and a 77, he had exercised and dieted and lost at least a stone. He made it clear that he was not expecting to make his fortune on America’s Champions Tour – “I’ve never played golf for the money” – and that the exercise was all about having a bit of fun and keeping himself in good golfing shape.
I asked if he had rediscovered some old golfing secret but the answer was in the negative. Indeed, he said he had recently come to the conclusion that there were no secrets to golf or life. “It’s more a matter of being constant in what you are doing and working hard,” he advised. It was at this point that we were joined by Charles Coody, who had won the Masters in 1971. “Are the rumours true, Seve,” Coody asked. “Are you really going play with the old boys? “If you are,” he continued, “you’ll find it more relaxed than the main tour but not as relaxed as it was.” Ballesteros nodded and said that he had guessed as much from watching on television. As Coody went on his way, I asked Ballesteros about the European Senior circuit. Surely he would want to spend at least some of his time competing among old friends closer to home. At that, he muttered something about the better weather in the States before admitting that he had absolutely no intention of playing in Europe. “Why?” I asked. “I’ll leave that to your imagination,” he said, his wry smile shot with hurt.
Seve: Memorable at the Masters
1980 Playing superbly, Ballesteros enters the final round with a massive seven-stroke lead, only to see that advantage reduced to just two shots after the unheralded Gibby Gilbert reeled off four back-nine birdies in a row. Ballesteros, who started the closing stretch bogey, par, double bogey, bogey, with a tee shot in the water on the 12th and a second shot in the water on the 13th, recovers his composure with a birdie at the par-five 15th. With a 39 on the back nine, he ended up winning by four for his maiden Masters title.
1982 While Ballesteros was being interviewed after the third round, the leader board in the interview room was updated to reflect Craig Stadler making a third straight birdie to finish the round and open a three-stroke lead. Asked to comment on Stadler’s finish, Seve said, in his Spanish accent that everyone loved, “Birdie, birdie, birdie. He’s very consistent!” The next day Ballesteros would finish one stroke out of a play-off won by Stadler over Dan Pohl.
1983 One behind Ray Floyd and Stadler through 54 holes, Ballesteros roared out of the gate with a birdie-eagle-par-birdie start on the way to a five-under 31 on the front nine. He once again stumbled on the back nine but finished with a 69 to win by four, with a chip-in for a par on the last hole. Said Tom Kite of Seve’s start, “It was like he was in a Ferrari and everyone else in a Chevrolet.”
1985 Come the Sunday [in 1983] and he started birdie, eagle, par, birdie and never looked back. “It was like he was driving a Ferrari and everybody else a Chevrolet,” said Tom Kite of that electrifying start.
Ballesteros finished second, two strokes behind Bernhard Langer, who clinched his first Masters. Although it looked close on paper, the destiny of the tournament was really between Langer and Curtis Strange, who blew the lead on the back nine.
1986 The one that got away. Jack Nicklaus, aged 46, was making a charge, but the Masters was still in Ballesteros’ hands as he stood in the 15th fairway with a one-stroke lead and about to hit a four-iron to the green for his second shot to the par-five. Then disaster: he hit it in the water and made bogey. Nicklaus birdied the 17th, and it would be a sixth green jacket for the Golden Bear instead of a third for the Spaniard.
Clearly, he was not seeing the Senior Tour as far enough removed from the regular European circuit where he had had more than his share of spats with officialdom since turning 40. At the 2003 Italian Open, for example, he had refused to accept a one-stroke penalty for slow play and made a big thing of changing the penalty-inflated five on his card to a four by way of demonstrating his disapproval. That same day, he had referred to European Tour officials as “nearly like Mafia”. 34
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Another chance gone when Ballesteros three-putted for a bogey on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with Greg Norman and eventual champion Larry Mize. Declining a cart ride, Seve slowly walked back up the hill of the 10th fairway to the clubhouse.
1989 This was the last time Ballesteros was a real force at the Masters – he finished fifth, two shots out of the Nick Faldo-Scott Hoch play-off. Seve really excelled in his youth. Although he would triumph at regular tour stops well into the 1990s, his last major victory arrived at the 1988 Open, when he was only 31-years-old.
HK Golfer・APR 2012
He had recently come to the conclusion that there were no secrets to golf or life. “It’s more a matter of being constant in what you are doing and working hard,” he advised.
Never boring: Ballesteros often saw parts of the golf course that few other players did, but it was his powers of recovery that made him so special to watch 36
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The following year, Seve launched a physical attack on European Tour referee José María Zamora at the Spanish Open, which was played at him home course at Pedreña. It happened in front of representatives from the Spanish Federation and club members. Those who were there were inclined to link it to the goings-on in Italy the previous year but there was another school of thought, namely that it had more to do with the frustration born of his disintegrating marriage – he and Carmen were divorced in 2004 – and his fading game. At one point in that dark period, he had admitted that the biggest mistake he had ever made was to start playing golf in earnest at 16. “I lost all my growing up years,” he reflected. There were those who felt that the European Tour should have given him some kind of ambassadorial role, one which would have taken the place of the golf which had been his life. The impression garnered from our Monday morning conversation – that Ballesteros had
found himself and was set to make the best of life’s inward half – remained gloriously intact until the Masters got under way. Then, he handed in an 86 via rough and trees which left him last but one. On the Friday, he improved to an 80 but that only served to leave him absolutely at the bottom of the heap. “In my first round, everything went wrong 100 times over. Today was not quite so bad. I was quite pleased with the way I controlled my nerves,” he said, in a bid to find a positive. When he left, he was altogether less certain about playing on the Champions Tour, with the same applying to whether or not he would return to Augusta. He did play one event on the senior circuit before realising that he was way out of his depth, but he never did return to Augusta. Where, in 2007, he had stood proudly in a group of 28 past Champions for the traditional photo call ahead of the Champions Dinner, there was no sign of him in the picture of 2008, the year when his brain tumour was diagnosed in the autumn. It was prior to last year’s Champions Dinner that Ballesteros charged his old Ryder Cup comrade-in-arms, José María Olazábal, to send his good wishes to everyone at the table. Olazábal did as much amid an atmosphere in which everyone knew the end was nigh. It came just one month later. HKGOLFER.COM
The world No 2 talks us through the tools of his trade as he gears up for The Masters
The number of strokes that Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters by – which is a record. Woods’ victory that year was his first major triumph, and came after a shaky start. Reaching the turn in 40 strokes (four-over-par) of his first round, Woods fired a six-under 30 on the back nine for a 70. He followed that up with rounds of 66, 65 and 69.
Is the number of times the Masters title has been decided in a play-off. The last play-off was in 2009 when Argentina’s Angel Cabrera beat Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell. Nick Faldo is the only player to have won more than one Masters after extra holes. The Englishman defeated Scott Hoch in 1989 and followed that up with another play-off win one year later against Ray Floyd.
Was the first year that the Masters was won by a non-American. That title goes to Gary Player, who holds the record for the most number of starts made in the tournament. He made his debut in 1957 and played 52 straight years until 2009. Player won a total of three green jackets.
My 8.5 degree Titleist 910D2has a Fujikura Rombax 7V05 X-stiff shaft, which I’ve used since 2008. I’m very comfortable with it. I set it to C2, which means it sits slightly open with a slightly less loft. This is good for me because of my pretty high ball flight and helps neutralise the draw I put on the ball.
DISTANCES CLUB YARDS Driver 305 3-wood 270 5-wood 245 3-iron 225 4-iron 210 5-iron 200 6-iron 185 7-iron 170 8-iron 160 9-iron 145 PW 130 SW 110 LW 95
Schwartzel Wants Barbeque of Champions Reigning Masters champion Charl Schwartzel wants to bring a unique South African flavour to the annual Champions Dinner this year – by doing the cooking himself. Schwartzel has asked Augusta National Golf Club officials for permission to have a braai, hoping to handle the grilling of steaks, lamb and boerewors himself. “We’re going to try and do a barbecue - in South Africa we call it a ‘braai’,” said Schwartzel. “I don’t like formal dinners. I thought of keeping it very relaxed, sort of standing around a fire and cooking the meat. That’s what I do when I’m at home on my off time.” Augusta National officials have yet to agree to the idea, with concern that the sheer numbers for the select annual gathering could make the braai format impossible. “The only thing that could stop me probably is if there’s too many people - then it is very difficult to do the meat yourself,” Schwartzel continued. “But we’re still waiting for confirmation if it will be allowed [and to] see how it works. “Their initial response was obviously, ‘We’ll come back to you on that.’ I think it took them quite by surprise, maybe [they were] expecting something a little different or more the way they always do it.” A basic standard menu is typically offered, in addition to the selections of the reigning champion, for those past winners who are less adventurous with their culinary choices.
“If I knew what was going through Jack Nicklaus’s head, I would have won the Masters.”
BALL I play the Titleist Pro V1x and always highnumbered ones – 5s, 6s, 7s, and 8s. I draw a single line on top to help me line up putts. ––––––––––––––
MARKER I use all sorts of coins. This week I’m using a Swiss Franc. There’s no story behind it – it’s just a good size.
Titleist MB (712 Series) 3-9 with True Temper Project X Rifle 7.0 shafts. All my grips are Golf Pride New Decade multicompound in yellow and black.
WEDGES Titleist Vokey Design SM4 - 46, 54 and 60 degree with True Temper Project X Rife 6.5 shafts. All three have “RORS” stamped on the back.
PUTTER I’ve used this Newport GSS since the BMW PGA Championship last year. I won the US Open with it, so I don’t think it’ll be coming out of the bag anytime soon.
- Tom Weiskopf (pictured), when asked what he thought Jack Nicklaus was thinking on his way to winning the 1986 Masters
I carry two Titleist 906F2s – a 13 degree and an 18 degree, both of which have the Fujikura ZCom 95 X-stiff shaft.
HK Golfer・APR 2012
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Nick Faldo’s Guide to:
White Dogwood No. 11 505 yards Par-4
I have a lot of affection for the 11th because it is where I won my first two Masters titles [in play-offs against Scott Hoch and Raymond Floyd, in 1989 and 1990, respectively] but it has changed a lot since those days. The tee has been pushed back by 40-odd yards and the fairway has narrowed significantly. It used to be that if you really hit a good drive you could catch the down slope, which would leave a shorter approach, but nowadays that option is really only for the very longest hitters. Most of the guys will reach the top of the hill and still have around 200 yards in. The other thing: you can’t take the drive too far down the right side as there are now trees which can block the approach. The second shot has always been a tough one. There is the famous pond on the left [where Raymond Floyd dunked his approach on the second play-off hole to lose to Faldo in 1990], so the tendency is to go right, but from the bailout area there it is not easy to get upand-down to a the traditional final-day pin position because the green slopes away from you and back towards the water. A great hole.
Historical Stroke Average: 4.29 Historical Rank: 3
In late April 1958, legendary golf writer Herbert Warren Wind was looking for a catchy phrase to describe the three holes at Augusta National Golf Club – 11, 12 and 13 – that provided the most drama and excitement during the Masters of that year. Baseball had “Hot Corner”, while American Football had “Coffin Corner” – what could the golfing equivalent be? His answer: Amen Corner. Fast forward to 2012 and these three holes are still just as thrilling as they were 50 years ago. Three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo guides us around arguably the most famous acreage of terrain in the game
“The second shot has always been a tough one. There is the famous pond on the left, so the tendency is to go right, but from the bailout area there it is not at all easy.”
HK Golfer・APR 2012
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Golden Bell No. 12 155 yards Par-3 It is the shortest hole on the course but you have to be so precise because of the angle of the green. If the pin is on the left then it is probably only around 135 yards, but if you pull it then you are in the flowerbeds and goodness knows what. If the pin is cut in the centre it brings in the front bunker, and the depth of the green there is only a matter of yards. There is really only about an eight-foot circle when you can land it. When the flag is on the right, where it normally is on the final day, the water [Rae’s Creek] is more of a factor. The back bunkers is definitely not the place to be either; you have to be so delicate just to keep it on the green from there. What compounds everything is the infamous Amen Corner wind. If it is swirling then club selection is so much harder. Downwind – the ball just seems to carry forever, like it is on some kind of jet stream. If it is blowing in your face then you have to try and take the spin off the ball and make sure it does not balloon on you. Trusting your yardage – and yourself – is never more important than at the 12th.
Historical Stroke Average: 3.30 Historical Rank: 2
“Trusting your yardage – and yourself – is never more important than at the 12th.”
HK Golfer・APR 2012
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Azalea No. 13 510 yards Par-5 You have to hit a hook off the tee here to make sure you get round the corner, otherwise you can be in the pine straw like Phil Mickelson was in 2010 – not that that seemed to make any difference to him! But generally, if you are too far right you can have a hanging lie with the ball above your feet, which makes the second shot – if you’re going for the green in two – that much harder to figure out. You cannot hit it left and into the Rhododendrons, which you tend to do with that kind of lie, but fanning it right means the water. I played a practice round with Angel Cabrera a year before he won [in 2009] and he managed to cut the corner by hitting it over the mammoth trees with his drive, but that is not a shot you expect to see being attempted by those in contention on the final day – it is too risky, especially with the creek meandering up the left side. Long is no good either because the green, which is divided by ridge, feeds everything towards Rae’s Creek. That being said, the 13th is a good birdie opportunity – one that could be all so important come the end of play on Sunday.
Historical Stroke Average: 4.80 Historical Rank: 17
”If you are too far right off the tee you can have a hanging lie, which makes the second shot – if you’re going for the green in two – that much harder to figure out.”
HK Golfer・APR 2012
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Seldom seen: The Par-3 Course at Augusta National is a wonderful curtain raiser to the tournament proper
The Masters Experience Faye Glasgow, a veteran of precisely one Masters, gives the lowdown on what first-time Augusta visitors can expect from the greatest show on Earth
ast year I fulfilled a long-held ambition by going to the Masters. It didn’t disappoint. Far from it. In fact it was the best nonplaying golfing experience of my life, a truly unforgettable week. There’s a great deal of fun to be had from following the final group at an Open Championship or watching the closing moments of an epic Ryder Cup battle, but there’s nothing quite like strolling among the mighty Georgia pines and seeing the world’s best taking on the world’s most recognisable golf course. Like any golf fan worth his or her salt I felt like I knew Augusta. We’ve all become accustomed to getting up in the middle of the night here in Hong Kong and listening to the syrupy tones of CBS announcer Jim Nantz – the “voice of the Masters” – bang on in that rather corny way of his about the tradition and history of the place. Amen Corner, Rae’s Creek, Magnolia Lane, the Butler Cabin – there’s a comforting familiarity to the Masters that you just don’t get with any other tournament. But there are a lot of surprises in store for those who have wangled a ticket for the first time. Not least the ticket itself, which is actually called a badge and is somewhat easier to get a hold of than you might at first think [see the sidebar on page 50].
Arriving at the gates and joining the well-behaved crowds and fast-moving queues, first-time visitors to the Masters need to be aware of Augusta’s relatively draconian regulations . Mobile phones are strictly prohibited and cameras are only allowed on practice days. Failure to adhere to these policies – as well as a bunch more [see Best Behaviour] – will result in the ticket holder’s removal from the grounds and the permanent loss of future ticketing credentials. Make no mistake: they really mean business here. Getting into the grounds is similar 46
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to passing through airport security; metal screening machines are everywhere. Despite this, staff are unfailingly polite; even the most fierce-looking security guards smile and say, “Welcome to the Masters” to everyone passing through. Each attendee is given a very useful Spectators Guide and a daily draw sheet. Maps are also freely available. The first area one encounters is the practice range and this is definitely worth a visit. It’s probably your last chance to get this close to the players and see them so relaxed. It’s also the only area where spectators are permitted to ask players for autographs. You then proceed through the Patron Corridor, past the Tournament HQ and Press Centre and the biggest golf store on the course, before walking by the main scoreboard and onto the course itself, halfway along the first fairway. A short stroll up the hill takes you to the lovely colonial-style clubhouse and the famous oak tree that was planted before the Civil War. This is a favourite meeting spot, although so many people try to meet there it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.
First Impressions The condition of the course is remarkable. The colours are ridiculously vibrant, impossibly HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・APR 2012
asked the USGA for one. However, unofficial reviewers have suggested a course rating of over 78 and a slope rating as high as 148. To put that in perspective, Carnoustie is officially the hardest course in Scotland with ratings of 75 and 145. Given the lack of penal rough at Augusta these are very tough numbers indeed and the scoring reflects the quality of the field. An interesting but little-known fact is that founder Clifford Roberts insisted that hole distances always be measured in five-yard increments, which explains why you never see the famous par-three 12th listed as 157-yards, for example. It is – and will likely forever be –155-yards.
Where to Watch In the Spectator Guide there is an excellent section, written by the legendary Bobby Jones, telling patrons to avoid following a single group and instead recommends some prime spots from which multiple holes can be seen. Jones suggests that a “trek around with one particular pair” is “the least satisfactory” way to see all 18 holes and is “more tiring than playing them”. It should be added that given the lengthening of the course and spectator restrictions, it’s now almost impossible to keep up with a single group even if one wanted to.
Being there: Like the course itself, Augusta's colonial-style clubhouse (top) is fronted by some rather impressive flora; this image of the parthree 16th lends a rather different perspective to one of the most notable holes in world golf 48
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green with flowers everywhere. The fairways are immaculate and there isn’t a weed in sight. But then you know all that already. It’s often remarked upon but really nothing can prepare the first-time attendee for the elevation changes at Augusta. The 445-yard first looks flat on TV but actually drops about 50ft before rising again all the way to the green which is perhaps another 30ft above the tee. The par-five second falls steadily for almost 120ft over the first two shots before rising again to the putting surface. The 10th, where Rory McIlroy came a cropper on Sunday last year, looks like a ski slope, such is the startling change in altitude. The 18th is the opposite; from tee to green the terrain rises 60ft. In all seriousness, a modicum of fitness helps enormously, as this is certainly no stroll in the park. The most striking architectural feature at Augusta are the mounds, which are seemingly
Jones’ advice is sound. An excellent place to start is behind the second green, from where multiple holes can be seen. Here you are afforded a view of the putting surface, the third tee, the seventh green, eighth tee and 17th fairway. It’s a superb spot early in the week but gets extremely busy on the weekend. Amen Corner – holes 11, 12 and 13 – is of course at the heart of the event and the atmosphere here is tremendous. There are numerous great standing and sitting positions, but an equally good choice is to head for the grandstands, all of which are in prime locations. Seats cannot be reserved in the grandstands and people enter and leave constantly. Just join the orderly queue (everything is orderly at Augusta) and the marshals will find you a space. One final great viewing vantage is the mound behind the 17th green. This hole has been the scene of so much drama over the years – something always seems to happen here in the final round – and so it proved last year, with Jason Day, Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel all recording birdies to set up that memorable finish. If choosing to sit in one spot for a while, remember that another Augusta rule is that only one chair can be brought into the grounds. If you forget, don’t worry: chairs can also be purchased inside for US$30 each. There is a gentleman’s agreement that no-one will take your chair if you leave it, and this works. Supposedly if it is left for an “inordinate” period of time a marshal will remove it, but this seemingly never happens. Instead, it’s abundantly clear that some people place chairs at multiple vantage points and move locations as the day progresses. It’s not unusual to see people bringing extra chairs with them as they finally return to the seats they had carefully placed by the 18th green earlier in the day. Many others simply abandon their chairs altogether. Thousands of seats are gathered up at the end of every day of the tournament, which shouldn’t be that surprising: if you are paying US$12,000 for a ticket, US$90 for three abandoned chairs isn’t going to worry you too much.
everywhere. In many cases, the tee is the only flat lie on the entire hole. Bobby Jones and architect Dr Alister MacKenzie deliberately used mounds instead of bunkers to penalize errant shots as “they are more pleasing in appearance, less costly to maintain and often serve well to emphasize strategic conceptions.” Undoubtedly true, but they are brutal up close. This is especially the case at the par-five eighth, where the green is hidden behind huge humps. Perhaps the shot of the tournament last year was Tiger’s raked three-wood that skirted the mounds and wound up eight feet for eagle on the final day. Unfortunately, as at the 11th where another large mound dominates the view from the right side of the green, these mounds aren’t at all obvious on TV, which tends to flatten the topography. The course itself has no official rating because in typical Augusta fashion they’ve never HKGOLFER.COM
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Best Behaviour Naturally, patrons are expected to behave appropriately or risk losing their lifetime privileges. Some behavior is frowned upon: no running within the grounds, no shouting to one another, no cheering of bad shots, no taking of other people’s seats. It’s all very civilized. As a result, this is possibly the only professional golf tournament in the world where there are no marshals waving “Quiet Please” signs. The patrons police themselves. You find yourself talking in whispers 50 yards from the action. The silence is such that Luke Donald was once put off his drive by the sound of someone eating crisps. Where marshals are front and centre is at the crossing points on certain holes. Invariably pleasant and polite, they nevertheless guard their fairways zealously, ensuring that the players have passed before allowing anyone across. Apart from the cross points, no-one is allowed inside the ropes, not even accredited photographers. Masters marshals are lucky too: they’re invited to return to Augusta to play the course a month or so after the event has finished.
The Hottest Tickets in Sports
Masters badges have been described as “The Hottest Tickets in Sports” – and for good reason. Passes are only sold to “Patrons” – golf’s equivalent of football’s season ticket holders – who are given a lifetime right to purchase the coveted entry badges.
There are seven main concession stands, and they are a delight to use. In a far cry from the US$12 hot dogs and US$19 steak sandwiches at the US Open, the prices at the Masters are unbelievable low. Example: three beers and six sandwiches cost just US$18! A Masters special, the pimento cheese sandwich – yours for only US$1.50 – has to be tried, if only once; although this writer favoured the BBQ pork option. A bonus is that the plastic tumblers for beer and soft drinks are inscribed with the Masters logo and almost everyone takes them home with them as mementoes. A visit to the Golf Shop is essential. There are four big stores and six smaller kiosks where you can kit yourself out in a huge range of apparel. Two of the main stores are actually outside the property and, uniquely, can be visited without having a ticket. Once again, the prices are exceptional. The cheapest shirt at Pebble Beach is US$120; it’s only US$50 at Augusta. There are higher priced shirts, but the comparison remains the same. Items only sold for one week at the most exclusive venue in the world cost less than the prices at almost every other highend club in the US. A cap costing US$30 at TPC Sawgrass is US$16 at Augusta. It’s remarkable. There appears to be an infinite assortment of items, but be warned: stocks are limited. When something is sold out, it’s gone for good.
In 1972, the club stopped selling tickets to anyone other than patrons and opened a waiting list for tournament day tickets. As such, they haven’t been directly available to the public since. Even the waiting list itself was closed in 1978 and was only briefly reopened in 2000. So how can we mere mortals get tickets? The easiest route is from established ticket brokers, who have been buying from patrons for years, although prices can be astronomical. Prices as high as US$12,000 for just one ticket (which gives you entry for all four tournament days, the Par-3 Tournament on Wednesday and Tuesday practice) have been reported. Since 2001 it has actually been legal in Georgia to purchase tickets from “scalpers”, as long as the transaction takes place more than 1,500ft from the event. Given that fake tickets have been discovered in the past, this is a strange law in that it ensures that the seller of the fake ticket has plenty of time to scarper! It is also a significant leap of faith to fly all that way to take a chance on getting a ticket on the day. Prices here also vary massively, with scalpers last year supposedly asking for five times more than normal for weekend tickets after Tiger Woods scored a 66 on Friday to move into contention. It is my understanding – and this cannot be confirmed – that scalpers generally won’t settle for anything less than US$1,000 for a Thursday or Friday badge. The good news is that HK Golfer has been working with accredited agents and will be offering Masters packages (including tickets, accommodation, transfers and hospitality) for the 2013 tournament. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Don’t Go Alone
HK Golfer・APR 2012
The most important piece of advice for those wanting to attend the Masters: if at all possible, do not attend alone. This event needs to be shared with at least one friend of long-standing, ideally another golf nut. Half of the fun is pointing out people, sights and sounds, in real time, to someone who knows exactly what you are talking about: “Look! It’s Rae’s Creek!”; “This is where Larry Mize chipped from!”; “Hey, it’s the Sandy Lyle bunker!” When all is done, your trusty companion will be the only one who you can really talk to at length about what you witnessed at this most exclusive of venues. After all, everyone else will be far too envious to listen to you properly.
Outside the ropes (clockwise from top): Lengthy queues at the Golf Shop – but that's to be expected given the bargains available inside; unattended seats is not an uncommon sight, especially in the early rounds; the manual Masters scoreboards are an agreeable throwback HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Faldo Series Asia Grand Final Japan’s Ito claims overall title as Hong Kong youngsters put in an impressive showing at Nick Faldo’s prestigious youth tournament at Mission Hills
asamichi Ito of Japan claimed the third Faldo Series title of his career with victory in the sixth Asia Grand Final at Mission Hills Golf Club in mid-March, an event that saw Hong Kong players record some impressive results. The 16-year-old Itp fired a final round 67 over the Faldo Course to win by three, adding to the Asia and Europe titles he won in 2010. “I am so happy to win again,” said an emotional Ito on receiving his trophy from the six-time major champion. “My two Faldo Series wins in 2010 created so much opportunity for me so to win a third time is unbelievable. I am just so happy.” “Masamichi beat our largest ever field and fully deserves his third Faldo Series title,” commented Faldo. “All the players will benefit from the experience this week. I hope they enjoyed themselves, I certainly did!” “I am grateful to our partners, including Mission Hills, The R&A, ISPS and UFL,” added the former world number one. “It is this kind of support which allows us to provide opportunity for the finalists this week and to more than 7,000 young golfers annually in 27 countries worldwide.” Kanagawa-born Ito opened with three birdies and an eagle to stun overnight leader Kohei Kinoshita. He went on to reach 10-under-par and finish three ahead of his compatriot while 20-year-old Mai Aria ensured a double for Japan by claiming the 52
HK Golfer・APR 2012
68 71 67
70 66 72
3= Cahyo Adhitomo
71 71 67
71 71 67
5= Joshua Ho
71 78 66
73 73 69
74 74 69
75 71 72
73 72 75
10 Wang Wei-lun
75 73 73
16= Terrence Ng
80 72 74
22 Kitty Tam
77 79 74
24= Tiffany Chan
83 78 70
71= Jacky Chan
83 81 92
On a mission (clockwise from top): Terrence Ng finished strongly with rounds of 72 and 74; Tiffany Chan fought back well after a slow start to her week; the six-time major champion keeps a close eye on runner up Kohei Kinoshita; with the winner, Masamichi Ito; Kitty Tam placed third in the girls' under-16 division
Faldo Series Asia girls’ title. Guan Tian-lang from Guangzhou claimed the inaugural M ission H il ls Trophy as t he highest-placed f in isher from mainland China. The 13-year-old will now join Ito and Aria at the Europe Grand Final in Northern Ireland later this year. Also celebrating victory in their age-group and a place in the 2012 Europe Grand Final at Lough Erne Resort in September were Cahyo Adhitomo from Indonesia (Boys’ Under-21), Singapore’s Joshua Ho (Boys’ Under-18) and Nur Durriyah Damian of Malaysia (Girls’ Under-16). The Hong Kong contingent of players fared especially well, with Tiffany Chan overcoming a poor first round to finish the girls’ under-21 division in second place. Chan, who won the Hong Kong Ladies Close Amateur Championship in February, opened with an 11-over 83 before bouncing back with rounds of 78 and 70 to finish seven strokes back of the division winner. Kitty Tam proved she’s back to some of her best form with three solid rounds in the 70s to finish third in the girls’ under-16 category, while Terrence Ng fired a three-round total of 226 (10-over-par) to place equal sixth in the boys’ under-18 division. Established in 1996, 37 Faldo Series tournaments now take place in 27 countries worldwide with more than 7,000 golfers taking part each year. Past winners include current world number ones Rory McIlroy and Yani Tseng. HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・APR 2012
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Williams Wins Again
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Veteran takes Spring title for second successive year Doug Williams recorded 37 points to win the gross division at the Spring Men’s Stableford tournament held in early March for the second year in a row. Hong Kong Golf Club member Williams, a former Spanish Amateur champion who has won numerous local titles including the Hong Kong Close Amateur, took advantage of perfect playing conditions at Discovery Bay Golf Club to edge local member Stephen Ahmoye by a point. Dallas Reid earned third spot, a further three points adrift. In the nett division, Garry Lai finished on top after his remarkable 45-point haul. Wong Chi-fai and Ho Ching-ling were close behind on 43 points each. The Spring Ladies Stableford event, which was due to take place on 6 March, was cancelled due to fog.
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HK Golfer・APR 2012
Dr Brian Choa reports on the final of the Hong Kong Golf Club’s most prestigious event
Since its inception in 1889, the Hong Kong Golf Club has witnessed two five-time winners of the Club Championship. TS Forrest achieved the feat in the early part of the 20th century, while George Carter matched that accomplishment a few decades later. Could Irishman and four-time winner Roderick Staunton, the defending champion and still in his twenties, make it a third? Or would Max Wong, who is the only person to have won the Championship three years in a row, avenge his defeat by Staunton in the semi-final last year and add to his own tally? These were the questions that made this year’s final, played on 18 March, particularly intriguing. That it took place on the warmest day for a final since 1996 took on special significance as neither player was fully fit. Staunton, on the morning following St Patrick’s Day, was short of sleep and Wong, who had bested the experienced Doug Williams the day before in the semi final, was feeling the effects of food poisoning. The morning round opened with Wong bunkering his approach shot and losing a shot to par, going one down in the match. However, despite his discomfort he proceeded to reel off 13 pars and a birdie to gain a three-hole lead on Staunton, who was struggling with both his swing and his putting. On the 16th, Wong gave Staunton, who overcame the elegant Tim Orgill in his own semi-final match, a break by driving into a lateral water hazard, losing the hole to a bogey. Neither player parred the par-three 17th but there was drama on the 18th. From Staunton’s point of view, going three down at lunch was not an option and he duly played a fine approach and holed an uphill 20-footer for a birdie. Wong faced a downhill putt on this severe green from a similar distance and holed his putt as well to maintain his two-hole lead. Despite everything, Wong got off to a good start in the afternoon, two brilliant shots on to the green of the par-five third gave him a birdie and restored his three-hole lead. The mercury was moving past the 30-degree mark and, alas for Wong, he started running out of steam. Six dropped shots in the next seven holes gave Wong’s opponent a two-hole lead. The sixth was key. Staunton, still one down at that stage, pulled his tee shot that rebounded behind a bush, no more than 200 yards from the tee; Max was down the middle with no only 100 yards to the hole of this 380-yard par-four. Incredibly, Staunton salvaged a four and Wong, over-pitching, left himself and impossible putt and took five, losing a hole he might have expected to win. The match was now square for the first time since the third hole in the morning. At two down after 10 and visibly struggling, Wong nevertheless birdied the 11th, only to be matched by Staunton’s equally excellent putt from middle distance. By now, Staunton’s tail was up and he was looking more energetic than ever. His par at the long 12th was enough to give him a three-hole lead. However, at the par three 13th, after a good tee shot by Staunton, Wong played a very fine shot to about six feet and holed for the birdie to get back into contention. All golfers know that when you are two up with five to play, the one thing you must avoid is to lose a hole immediately. On the par-five 15th,
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Staunton’s Houdini-like spirit came to his rescue. His drive was pulled so far left that the ball came to rest near the large grave on the 15th hole. From there, he played a miraculous long iron shot to within 40 yards of the green. The resulting par was good enough for the half. Two up with four to play is just so much better and Staunton was able to close out the match at the 16th with a par to his opponent’s bogey. In winning, Staunton therefore becomes only the third player in Hong Kong Golf Club history to have five Club Championship titles to his credit – and who can doubt there will be many more to come? It is testimony to his quality as a golfer that, despite feeling that he was well below his best, he shot approximately 74 and 70 in the final, assuming pars on the last two holes. In the Junior Division, for players with handicaps of 10 and above, the final was between two of the best putters in the Club, Sher Limbu and Tim Linton. On the day, Limbu was the stronger and won handily, achieving a third win in the event, an unprecedented feat. HKGOLFER.COM
Dressed to Impress ... ... and it’s the Asian stars of the LPGA who are leading the way, reports Lewine Mair
t is not too many years since LPGA players were complaining darkly about the proliferating number of Koreans on their tour. Their main grouse was that the newcomers’ English was not up to scratch and that they were failing to entertain their Pro-Am partners as they should. Instead of reading the putts and admiring the shots of these corporate clients, they were all too apt to concentrate on their own play. How all that has changed. Today, the Asian players’ English is improving all the time. They ‘get’ what is required of them in a Pro-Am context and revel in fulfilling the role to the best of their ability. Indeed, at the recent HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore, they were waiting to greet their Wednesday partners with much the same eager anticipation as would have applied had they been about to play with Rory McIlroy (who seems to have taken over Adam Scott’s mantle as every girl’s favourite). Going on from there, Asian golfers are dominating the rankings at the moment, with four in the top10 and 37 in the top 100 of the Rolex World Rankings. And another thing ... they are way out in front in the fashions takes. W h o s ay s s o ? N o l e s s a n authority than Paula Creamer, the player who has always set trends of her own. It was10 years ago that the then 15-year-old Creamer became the first junior to play golf in a tennis skirt before introducing the ‘golf dress’. Simultaneously, in a move which turned out to make the best of business sense, she made the colour pink her own. On the subject of her sister professionals from the East, Creamer says that
HK Golfer・APR 2012
their influence on the fashion side of things has been huge. “The overall standard of appearance on Tour has improved a lot over the last few years and much of it is down to the Asian contingent. They look amazing. “We have a handful of big clothing names in the States but in Asia they have a never-ending supply of different lines to choose from.” All of which presumably does away with the danger of players turning up for a tournament day in precisely the same outfits, as happened at t he 2 011 H S BC Women ’s Champions. The Nike-sponsored Suzann Pettersen and Michelle Wie were the players in question as they found themselves setting out in the same trio in matching skirts and tops. Creamer has found herself in Asian department stores where the equivalent of a whole floor of Harrods is devoted to women’s golfing wear. And in golf clubs in China where the floor space given over to women is entirely in keeping with that available to the men. “At home,” she explains, “we would have to make do with a corner.” Creamer went on to talk of the accessories the Asian players have introduced to the women’s golfing scene: “Little things like fancy HKGOLFER.COM
Trendsetting: Paula Creamer [inset] has taken to wearing long socks after admiring the fashions of Japanese players like Ai Miyazato HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・APR 2012
If you were to tell Paula Creamer that she would be denied one of two things as she set out for the final round in her next major – her driver or her earrings – she would hand over her driver without a second thought.
HK Golfer・APR 2012
ball markers, nicely-styled bags for tee-pegs and visors with wide brims and glittery touches. The Japanese players, in particular, do not hold back on the glitter. There’s glitz and glamour in all their clothes,” she says. When Creamer brings out her own clothing range, she says she will want an Asian influence. Even now, she has introduced the odd flash of the East to the Adidas apparel she has been wearing for the last eight years. Take, for example, the shoes she has made to her own design. The pair she was wearing on the day of our meeting had silver ribbons serving as laces and matching silver bows on the heels. Creamer and the Asian contingent are very much on the same wavelength in believing that wearing the right things and showing them off to best advantage is all part of the equation when it comes to playing top level golf. “It’s actually a far bigger par t t ha n most people think,” says Creamer. If, for instance, you were to tell the former US Open champion that she would b e den ie d one of t wo things as she set out for the final round in her next major – her driver or her earrings – she would hand over her driver without a second thought. “I cannot,” she says – and she is being entirely serious – “play without my earrings.” In which connection, there came a day when she set out in a long and dangling pair which kept getting painfully caught up in her pony-tail on the backswing. Mercifully, her mother was able to save the day by agreeing to a swap. Along much the same lines, Japan’s Miki Saiki, the half-way leader at least year’s Evian Masters, detonated any amount of laughter when she explained to the assembled media that she travelled with 50 different pairs of earrings. Creamer would not have laughed. She would have understood. “We love our clothes,” HKGOLFER.COM
said Korea’s Hee Young Park, who agreed with the Creamer view that Asians have the best fashions of the moment. Park, the most engaging of girls, has entirely enough English at her disposal to be able to deliver a few home truths without hurting feelings. “In the West,” she says, “the clothes are – how can I say? – very nice but a little basic. Ours are more fitted – a better fit – and we invent our own colour schemes. In America, they sell outf its that match. We look for HKGOLFER.COM
clothes that don’t necessarily match.” She drew attention to her own shirt in which three unlikely hues, pink, turquoise and yellow ran side by side, before describing her favourite colour-mix of the moment as blue and orange. China’s Shanshan Feng, like Park, suggested that the emphasis had to be on colour. “You have to pick shades that will stand out against green grass,” she said, which is not something too many would us would have paused to consider. As Feng was talking, so Jiyai Shin, the former
Chic apparel: Japan's Momoko Ueda (top) and Hee Young Park of Korea (opposite) are two of the best-dressed players on tour, according to Creamer
HK Golfer・APR 2012
In the 1920s, for example, there were no waterproofs, with one good lady having to ask the Ladies’ Golf Union’s permission to put her woollen skirt through a mangle before she went out and played the 19th.
Think you've seen everything in Hong Kong?
No 1, passed by in a pink and blue spotted shirt with a prettily-raised collar, while Jenny Shin, no relative, arrived on the scene in a luminous yellow shirt with yellow and white matching patent shoes. It would have been interesting to show pictures to this new breed of what sportswomen in the West would have worn nearly a century ago. In the 1920s, for example, there were no waterproofs, with one good lady having to ask the Ladies’ Golf Union’s permission to put her woollen skirt through a mangle before she went out and played the 19th. The 2010 US men’s Ryder Cup side, whose waterproofs leaked through the little holes where the players’ names had been embroidered across the backs, would have known how the good lady felt. For the most part, though, today’s top players have garments which shrug off the rain and cold-weather outfits in which they stay warm without looking like Michelin men. Here again, you ask where the best fabrics originate, and the women are apt to chorus ‘Japan’. In summing up appearances, Creamer describes the optimum look as “athletic and girly”. There are, as she says, certain rules to which players on the LPGA Tour must adhere, but it is a bit like a school uniform. Insofar as it is possible, you push the rules to the limit rather than flout them – and make yourself stand out from the rest. Hee Young Park was far too polite to say as much, but ‘basic’ means boring.
Montgomery Turns Heads in Haikou After collecting her prize, a pearl necklace and pearl hand chain, Montgomery, who finished the event in a share of 54th, said: “It was exciting. I do like to look my best out on course and it was something extra to the whole competition. It got the girls talking and made sure we put some effort into how we dressed, and generated a bit of interest out on course and online. I didn’t play my best today but it’s been a fantastic week here at Mission Hills and it’s nice to come away with something!”
At the inaugural World Ladies Championship, held at Mission Hills Haikou in March, the organisers took the innovative, if somewhat unusual, step of including a “Best Dressed” award. The tournament, which was sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour, was won by China’s own Shanshan Feng, but the coveted title of Best Dressed Player went to English pro Danielle Montgomery (pictured), who took the honours with some 21,384 votes from an online poll.
HK Golfer・APR 2012
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GOLF ATRAVEL Player’s Guide
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Over the past decade, Europe has thrived from a golf course architecture point of view, with a number of high quality layouts coming online. The well-travelled Andrew Marshall picks six of the best Photography by Paul Marshall
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Castle Stuart Golf Links Highland Classic The brainchild of Mark Parsinen, the American who gifted the world Kingsbarns, this cracking layout overlooks the Moray Firth and various well-known Inverness landmarks – the Kessock Bridge, Chanonry Lighthouse, Fort George and Castle Stuart itself – and enjoys similar topography to majestic Royal Dornoch further north, with an old sea cliff creating two tiered plateaus with six holes running alongside the water. The course has been designed with
Son Gual Spanish Stunner
To the manor born: Son Gual (top) and Castle Start (opposite) feature historic buildings overlooking their glorious courses 66
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Since opening in 2007, Son Gual has quickly gained a reputation as not only a Mallorcan must-play, but also one of Europe’s top new courses. What was once 156 hectares of flat nondescript agricultural land on the outskirts of the island’s capital, Palma, has been transformed by three-time German Amateur champion and course designer Thomas Himmel into a polished layout that winds its way through a landscape of gently rolling hills, a thousand mature olive trees, fields of wild flowers, pockets of vineyards and water features all overlooked by a hundredyear-old Mallorcan manor house.
wide fairways to offer plenty of lines of play on ground that is just perfect for links golf. One of the many great things about Castle Stuart, which was co-designed by the highly rated Gil Hanse, who has been awarded the Rio de Janaeiro Olympics golf course design project, is that you get a real sense of seclusion and most of the time you are not aware of any other golfers out on the course. The views all around are fabulous, especially from the fabulous art deco 1930s-style clubhouse that sits proudly overlooking the course. Castle Stuart Golf Links, now the home of the Barclays Scottish Open, is a modern-day classic. Contact: castlestuartgolf.com
Adding to the club’s growing reputation is the fact that Son Gual has hosted a European Seniors Tour event, the 2009 Mallorca PGA Seniors Open, which saw former Ryder Cup captain Mark James defeat Irishman Eamonn Darcy in a play-off to claim the title. The 66 bunkers of Augusta-like sand are a major feature of Son Gual and some are so extensive they make the ones on most other courses look like children’s sand pits. Many other things will stick in the memory long after playing this fantastically manicured course, which is decked out in wall-to-wall bent grass – not least the dramatic water-laced par-five 18th, a serious contender for the best long hole in Spain. Contact: son-gual.com HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Golfplatz Eichenheim Alpine Wonder Two of the Austria’s key golf areas, Zell am See in Salzburgerland and Kitzbühel in the Tyrol, are within a short drive of each other and have all the right ingredients for the travelling golfer: chic ski towns, top-class restaurants, friendly locals, spa and wellness treatments, a multitude of outdoor activities and invigorating stress-free golf. From quirky nine-holers to championshipclass designs, the golf courses are mostly quiet, the green fees affordable and because of the altitude, well struck shots can fly an extra 10 per cent of distance through the crisp clean air. But the absolute essence of Alpine golf is the breathtaking scenery and the panoramic vistas
Praia D’El Rey Atlantic Links
Continental adventures: The wonderful links-like back-nine at Praia D'El Ray (top), less than an hour's drive from Lisbon; there's scenery galore at Golfplatz Eichenheim in Austria 68
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Portugal has always been one of Europe’s most popular golfing destinations and although the southern Algarve may have the lion’s share of the courses, for the travelling golfer looking for something a little quieter and off-the-beatentrack, the Oeste region is an interesting option. Star billing here must go to the Praia D’El Rey Golf & Beach Resort, which is situated along a beautiful sandy beach in a rural landscape of rolling sand dunes and pine tree forests within an hour of Lisbon. The centerpiece of this luxury resort is Cabell B.Robinson’s wild and wonderful Praia D’El Rey course – a marvellous combination of a parkland front nine and a links-like back
that unfold as you play, and nothing sums up this better than Golfplatz Eichenheim in the Kitzbühel region. Designed by Kyle Phillips, whose impressive portfolio of layouts includes Kingsbarns in Scotland and The Grove in England, the 5,944-metre track presents a stern test for players of all standards, with superbly manicured greens, rollercoaster fairways, meandering water hazards and regular elevation changes, which combine to produce a truly memorable experience. After playing your approach shots through a cut in the rocks, at the par-five first, take a few moments to appreciate the setting. The emerald green appears perched on the same level as a snowcapped mountain range in the distance, creating one of the most stunning vistas in Austrian golf. Contact: eichenheim.at
nine that follows the coast with spectacular views over the Atlantic and the Berlenga Islands beyond. When he first viewed the site Robinson said: “This is the kind of landscape we architects try to create, but at Praia d’El Rey it’s all here, naturally. Now it’s my responsibility to protect it.” After the tighter pine-lined fairways of the opening nine, the layout opens up and heads towards the ocean, offering all the elements of a Scottish or Irish links, but one which is played in rather more comfortable temperatures. Bold deep bunkers, undulating greens, and natural sand areas contrast sharply with lush green fairways. The signature stretch of holes is from 12 to 15 that runs parallel to the coast, although mention must also go to the 17th, a gigantic uphill par-five measuring in excess of 600 yards. Contact: praia-del-rey.com HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・APR 2012
Doonbeg Eyes are Smiling Standing on the elevated tee of the 567-yard parfive first, eyes are drawn down a fairway that bucks and plunges like a raging river towards a large green protected on three sides by soaring dunes. This is the start to a classic round of golf at Doonbeg in County Clare, a links designed by Greg Norman less than a decade ago but one that looks and plays like it’s been part of the landscape for a hundred. Holes play up, down, beside, around and seemingly into the towering
sand hills. Bunkers are dug by hand, some edged by tall layers of stacked sod, others by shaggy tufts of native grass. Depending on the ocean breezes, Doonbeg’s knowledgeable caddies may suggest taking anything from a four-iron to a sand wedge at the tiny signature hole - the spectacular 111-yard par-three fourteenth, arguably the best short one-shotter in Irish golf. The par-four 18th is a fitting finale to a memorable course, with the ocean stretching the length of the 440-yard hole and the magnificent granite Lodge providing a grand backdrop. Contact: doonbeglodge.com
Bro Hof Slott Supersized Swede The Swedes love their golf – indeed, out of a population of just nine million, there are over 600,000 registered golfers. To put this in perspective, there are fewer regular golfers in China – population 1.3 billion – than there are in this Nordic land, which goes some way to explaining how the country has produced the likes of Annika Sorenstam, Robert Karlsson, Henrik Stenson et al. Since the first golf club, Gothenburg, was founded in 1902, quickly followed two years later by Stockholm’s Golf Klub, Sweden now has around five hundred courses with at least 50 of these within an hour’s drive of the capital. Travelling to the courses is all part of the Swedish golf experience and it doesn’t take you long to leave the capital behind and enter the countryside, where traditional homes with their 70
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distinctive yellow, musk and red facades contrast vividly against the ubiquitous conifer and birch woodlands, farmland and rocky outcrops. The number one ranked course in the Stockholm area is Bro Hof Slott’s Stadium Course – a state-ofthe-art layout that opened in 2007. Built around the baroque-style Bro Hoff Castle – formerly owned by the Swedish royal family – the attention to detail is evident from the moment you enter the regal gates to the very last hole. Said course designer Robert Trent Jones II: “Everything is big at Bro Hof! The holes are longer, the greens are bigger, the course has more water and the bunkers are larger and well placed. Besides which, the wind is always part of the game. On the dogleg holes you not only have to hit the balls a long way, you also have to get them to stop.” Bro Hof Slott is now the venue for the Scandinavian Masters and is also rumoured to be a hot favourite to host the Ryder Cup in 2022. Contact: brohofslott.se
Northern highlights: Bro Hof Slott (above), designed by Robert Trent Jones II, is one of the vastest courses in Europe; the fine links and equally fine Lodge at Doobeg in County Clare HK Golfer・APR 2012
The Extreme 19th
Courtesy of Legends Golf and Safari Resort
elcome to the world’s most outrageous golf hole. The tee-off point on this 390-yard par-three – yes, par-three! – sits on top of a mountain in South Africa – and more than US$1 million awaits the player who can score a hole in one. Players must take a helicopter to the mountain’s summit, but taking the shot also requires courage – there isn’t a whole lot of room between the “tee box” and a 1,400ft drop to the bottom. The hole is based at the Legends Golf and Safari Resort, within the Entabeni Safari Conservancy in South Africa ‘s Northeastern Limpopo Province . The other 18 holes, which are rather more conventional, were designed by tour pros, including Colin Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Australia’s Robert Allenby. The Extreme 19th costs R6,700 (HK$6,900) per four ball, which includes helicopter ride, souvenir cap and glove and a DVD of you playing the hole. So far, no one has even come close pocketing the million-dollar prize, but Harrington became the first golfer to make a par when he managed to get down in three at an exhibition match two years ago. That score has since been beaten by West Indian cricket legend Franklyn Stephenson, who smacked a driver to within 20ft of the flag and then drained the putt. Harrington said: “This is the type of innovation and excitement we need to get more people playing golf. There aren’t many new innovative ways to play the game but this is certainly one of the best. I think this hole is awesome.”
Cliffhanger: Perched 1,400ft above the green, the teebox at the Extreme 19th is not for the faint of heart
Rose in Full Bloom Englishman reels in Watson to claim first WGC title; McIlroy solidifies No 1 ranking Justin Rose won the WGC-Cadillac Championship in the second week of March, his final-round 70 proving good enough to overtake Bubba Watson, whose erratic effort added to the drama of a day that saw Tiger Woods withdraw injured. Rose captured his 10th global title and his first in an elite World Golf Championships event. His two-under round included four birdies and two bogeys and gave him a 16-under total of 272. However, he had to wait out Watson, who started the day with a three-shot lead but was three-over on the front nine. Watson had a chance to force a play-off with a birdie at the 72nd hole and he fired out of the rough to inside 10 feet but didn’t make the putt. He finished with a 74 for 273, one shot in front of Rory McIlroy, the reigning Hong Kong Open champion. McIlroy, playing his first tournament since gaining the word No 1 ranking, started the day eight shots off the pace. But he briefly pulled within one shot of the lead thanks to a round that included holing out for an eagle from a bunker at the 12th, finishing with a 67 for 274. Meanwhile, Woods caused a sensation when he withdrew from the tournament moments after hitting his tee shot on 12 with tightness in his left Achilles tendon. Woods injured the same tendon at the Masters last year and was sidelined long enough to miss both the US and British Opens. “It’s a shame because he looked like he was coming out this year, swinging it really well, playing good, getting himself into contention,” said McIlroy, who held off Woods to win the Honda Classic the week before despite the 14-time major champion’s final-round 62. Not that Woods’ trials were of any concern to Rose, who surprisingly missed the cut at the Hong Kong Open in December. “I’ve been very focused on seeing this whole Florida Swing as like a body of work, and not really trying to put too much focus on any individual tournament,” he said. “I kind of knew I was playing well, and if I just kept out of my own way for the most part and kept thinking well and doing the right things, I had a feeling something good might happen. “For this little beauty to show up on my mantle place so early in the season,” he said, pointing to the blue trophy beside him, “definitely a fantastic feeling. It sets up a very exciting year.” 74
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An Evening With
Feng Spearheads Chinese Sweep in Hainan
Veteran commentator hosts memorable Britcham evening
Becomes first mainland player to win on the Ladies European Tour It was a clean sweep for the home nation when Chinese representatives won the individual, team and amateur title sat the inaugural World Ladies Championship on Hainan Island in early March. World No12 Shanshan Feng earned a one-stroke victory in the individual stroke play event for professionals, which was held over 54 holes on the Vintage Course at Mission Hills Haikou, making history as the first player from mainland China to win on the Ladies European Tour. Feng finished with a 10- under par total of 206 after rounds of 66, 69 and 71, ending a stroke ahead of Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum, with Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg a shot further behind in third. Feng’s partner in the team event, Ye Li-ying, ended in share of fourth place on seven- under alongside Italian Diana Luna, who led the tournament outright after 13 holes. However, the former Solheim Cup player dropped a shot at the 16th to fall into a tie for the lead with Feng. She then triple bogeyed the 18th after hitting her second shot into a water hazard over the back of the green. Feng and Ye’s total scores also saw them collect the team title in the pairs event. The duo combined for a winning total of 415 a two stroke victory over Thai pair Nontaya Srisawang and Phatlum, with Sweden’s Lindberg and Linda Wessberg three strokes further behind in third. Feng said: “I wasn’t really shooting a low score today. I think at one time I was three behind, but I wasn’t worried at all because I knew I would have more chances on the back nine and I would catch up and finally I got it.” Sixteen-year-old Chinese national team member Jing Yan, who was born and raised in Singapore, showed her class by leading the amateur honours. She posted rounds of 72, 73 and 71for an even par total of 216, ending the tournament two shots clear of the next best placed amateur, World No1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand. 76
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WORLD LADIES CHAMPIONSHIP 1 Shanshan Feng 2 Pornanong Phatlum 3 Pernilla Lindberg 4= Diana Luna Ye Li-ying 6 Nontaya Srisawang 7= Giulia Sergas Melissa Reid Linda Wessberg Beth Allen
66 69 71 68 69 70 69 70 69 66 71 72 68 67 74 70 71 69 71 73 68 70 74 68 69 72 71 67 71 74
206 207 208 209 209 210 212 212 212 212
Dougie Donnelly Renowned sports commentator Dougie Donnelly was in town last month to team up with the British Chamber's Scottish Business Group and LDC, the equity house, to host an “Evening with ...” dinner at the Hong Kong Football Club in Happy Valley. The Scot, who can be regularly be heard commenting on European Tour events on the Golf Channel, was in fine form, regaling his audience with a bevy of hilarious anecdotes about his experiences over a 25-year broadcasting career; a career that has encompassed seven Olympic Games, two World Cups, eight Masters and 18 Open Championships. A silent auction also took place to raise money for the Make-A-Wish charity. For more news about British Chamber events visit britcham.com
In fine form: Dougie Donnelly
Craig Wilkinson, Dougie Donnelly and John Bruce
€56,276 €38,080 €26,262 €18,083 €18,083 €13,131 €9,154 €9,154 €9,154 €9,154 Dinner guests at the Hong Kong Football Club
Craig Wilkinson, Jacqui Donaldson, Stewart Saunders HK Golfer・APR 2012
We always see a good number of diver and marine-inspired watches presented at Baselworld, and this year was no different. Here are three that stood out: Continuing on their vintage path, Tudor presents the latest addition to its Heritage collection, the Black Bay. Inspired by a dive watch from 1954, the Black Bay features a black dial with a matte burgundy bezel and rose gold hands and hour markers. The combination is really quite stunning. The watch, which is larger than the original, features an automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve, a 41mm steel case water-resistant to 200 metres, and luminescent hour markers. The crown is engraved with the Tudor rose. The watch is delivered with two wristbands: a black fabric strap and a choice of steel bracelet or exclusive aged brown leather strap. Still on the subject of diving watches, Rolex has updated its Oyster Perpetual Submariner, with a subtly redesigned case and a new bezel and bracelet. The unidirectional bezel now comes with a black Cerachrom insert for resistance to scratches, fading and corrosion. The dial has hour markers and hands with Chromalight, an improved luminescent material that emits a blue glow, for increased legibility in the dark. Equipped with the automatic calibre 3130, the watch has all the features of a Submariner: the parachrom hairspring for shock resistance, the 40mm steel Oyster case water-resistant to 300 metres, and the Triplock waterproof crown. Ulysse Nardin has been creating marine chronometers since the late 19th century, and last year presented its in-house UN-118 calibre with DiamonSil escapement, which is a combination of diamond and silicon that requires no lubrication, essentially making the watch more durable and less prone to inaccuracies. This year, Ulysse Nardin has come up with an artfully designed 2012 Marine Chronometre, now with a larger 45mm diameter case, a new crown for easy handling complete with a rubber notch for comfortable winding, and a beautifully handcrafted enamel dial produced by famous enamellist Donze Cadrans. The dial is a bright white offset by black Roman numerals and cherry red accents. An 18k rose gold bevelled case houses the famed UN-118 movement, which offers a 60-hour power reserve.
It was obvious that many watchmakers wanted to highlight their finishing skills and movement expertise, as there were quite a number of openworked watches presented at the show. It’s not easy to pare down an existing movement to create a skeleton watch, much less make one from scratch! And while these openworked details are certainly the focal point of these timepieces, their functions certainly don’t take a back seat. While we are still on the subject of travelling watches, a piece from A rnold & Son is definitely worth your attention. Limited to 50 pieces, the Hornet World Timer Skeleton indicates the equation of time, multiple time zone display and big date display, and features six hands: the baton-style hour and minute hands, arrow-tipped skeleton hand for the month, two extra-long hands tipped with a luminescent triangle and stylized sun to indicate two time zones, and the shortest hand that shows the equation of time. Counterbalancing its functionality is its innate complexity, with a skeletonised mechanism, the A1766 calibre, that provides a 42-hour power reserve. Its stainless steel case measures 47mm. “Be proud tourbillon” is the theme of Franck Muller’s latest offering, the Giga Tourbillon Round Skeleton. With its 20mm tourbillon occupying nearly half of this timepiece, it’s no surprise why. Not only is the tourbillon imposing, it’s also technically magnificent, featuring four barrels instead of the usual two. These barrels are 16mm wide – 4mm more than traditional ones – delivering constant force to operate the giga tourbillon. A 49mm 18k white gold case houses the FM 2100 calibre which is circular-grained and rhodium-plated, offering a 10-day power reserve. The movement has been reversed to further highlight the tourbillon and bridge, relocating hour setting and winding to the caseback. Arnold & Son also unveils a new watch, the TB88, which stands for True Beat 88. Instead of a sweeping second hand found on most watches, the company reintroduces a function standard in most of its watches and chronometers: the dead-beat second. It’s useful if you need to be precise in counting seconds. The number 88 stands for the unique design of the AS5003 movement, with two visible barrels at 10 and 2 o’clock providing over 100 hours of power re ser ve , t he ba la nce wheel at 4 o’clock, and the dead-beat second at 8’o clock which toget her form a double eight. A combination of rose gold case, and the black and red (jewel) elements on the dial makes this watch a real head turner. 78
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Basel beauties (clockwise from top): the Black Bay from Tudor, Rolex has updated its Oyster Perpetual Submariner; the TB-88 from Arnold & Son; another Arnold & Son watch, the Hornet World Timer Skeleton, is limited to 50 pieces HKGOLFER.COM
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Jaq uet D ro z pre sent s a mo onpha se complication on a dial carved from a black onyx disc. The Eclipse Onyx’s fully black dial comes into contrast with rhodium-finished star and moon appliqués. The moon phases in black onyx at 6 o’clock, and the day and month windows at 12 o’clock complete the handsome dial. A 43mm steel case houses the Jaquet Droz 6553L2 automatic calibre that offers a 68-hour power serve. Each model is numbered. Straight from its Villeret Collection, Blancpain introduces a retrograde small seconds watch, the first of its kind to feature a flinqué lacquered dial. Multiple layers of translucent blue lacquer are applied to the dial to create depth. The watch is equipped with the ultra-slim 7663Q calibre which displays the hours, minutes and date, shown by a central serpentine pointer, with retrograde seconds at 6 o’clock.
Our Master Watchmaker never loses his concentration With his legendary concentration and 45 years of experience our Master Watchmaker ensures that we take our waterproofing rather seriously. Gilbert O. Gudjonsson, our Master Watchmaker and renowned craftsman, inspects every single timepiece before it leaves our workshop. As a privately owned and operated company, we have the opportunity and duty to give all our timepieces the personal attention they deserve.
Sleek and Elegant
Style and substance (clockwise from top): Claude Meylan's Répétition 5 is an exquisite piece of watchmaking; the Eclipse Onyx from Jaquet Droz; Blancpain's retrograde small seconds watch from its Villeret Collection 80
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Last but not the least, I’d like to bring your attention to some notable dress watches that bring new meaning to the words distinguished and refined. A skeleton watch and minute repeater, Claude Meylan’s Répétition 5 is an amazing picture of pinions, wheels and gears that are exquisitely finished to form an orchestra that sounds the hours and five-minute intervals on demand. The watch features an automatic minute-repeater movement that is fully skeletonised and engraved by hand. The 42mm case comes in either steel of 18k gold, with a sapphire crystal and numbered transparent back. The watch will be in a limited series of 100.
Official HK Agent: Times International Creation ltd. Contact: email@example.com Tel: +852-3590-4153
PROPERTY - SPECIAL FEATURE
London Calling Billed as the most eagerly anticipated riverside development in central London, Ballymore’s Embassy Gardens looks set to wow Hong Kong investors
ccording to the latest reports, the London property market, f uel led by internat iona l investment, is surging, with asking prices in the British capital reaching near record levels. It’s a trend that looks set to continue, because although Britain’s economy is stagnant and unemployment levels are at their highest in 16 years, there simply isn’t the supply of upscale properties in central London where demand is greatest. This isn’t necessarily the case in the rest of the British housing market, but overseas investors, looking for political and economic stability in the wake of the Eurozone crisis, have put London in addition to New York at the top of their wish lists. One recent report predicted a 140 per cent property value growth in the short to medium term. One central London development that has sparked enormous interest is Embassy Gardens, a riverside complex from Ballymore, one of the leading urban regeneration specialists in Europe, who are also behind the acclaimed Pan Peninsula in Docklands. Hongkongers make up a significant percentage of Ballymore’s clientele, and the London-based developers, in harness with Jones Lang LaSalle, will host the world premier sales launch of Embassy Gardens here at the Landmark Mandarin Hong Kong from 20-22 April.
Where is it?
With an enviable central location on the banks of the River Thames and close to London’s cultural Southbank, Embassy Gardens takes in spectacular views of Westminster to the east, Chelsea and Pimlico to the north and is just steps away from London’s most expensive residential communities. The development is part of Nine Elms in the borough of Wandsworth and is the largest 82
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regeneration project in central London. To add to the prestige, the US Embassy will be moving from its current site in Mayfair to the Nine Elms site by 2016. The area has had enthusiastic support from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who describes Nine Elms as “a catalyst for economic growth and regeneration on that side of the river.” Transport links are good. The Zone 1 Victoria Line on the Underground can be accessed at Vauxhall along with a bus station and is a six minute walk away. Two new proposed Northern Line tube stations are planned for the area and will link residents to The City and Leicester Square in 20 minutes. Waterloo station can be accessed via Vauxhall station which then connects with most major lines. London’s main international airports are all within one hour of the site. HKGOLFER.COM
What’s it like?
The first phase of development will see the development of The Ambassador building, crafted from traditional brick it has been designed into six distinct and intimate areas for discreet and private access. The Ambassador building will comprise luxury suites, one and two-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom penthouses rising to 19 stories. With tall ceilings and open-plan designs all apartments promise an attractive and generous sense of proportion. The high quality specification chosen will include oak parquet flooring, walnut veneer, comfort cooling, beautifully designed kitchens and marble bathrooms. All apartments have either balconies or winter gardens to complement the abundant natural light from the floor to ceiling windows and offer attractive riverside views of London landmarks. With the US Embassy at the heart, Embassy Gardens comprises approximately 15 acres. Planned by the highly regarded master planner Sir Terry Farrell, the development is strongly influenced by the architectural style of New York’s meatpacking district and London’s Victorian and Edwardian mansion blocks to create a distinctive style for what Ballymore are describing as London’s newest landmark destination. A key element of the overall master-plan for Nine Elms is Linear Park, which runs the length of Embassy Gardens and ends at Battersea Park creating beautiful, green open spaces, gardens and walkways. Landscaped gardens, a riverfront walk offering access to the River Thames and the vibrancy of bars and restaurants will provide a variety of al fresco spaces for relaxation and enjoyment.
The development is strongly influenced by the architectural style of New York’s meatpacking district and London’s Victorian and Edwardian mansion blocks to create a distinctive style for what Ballymore are describing as London’s newest landmark destination. Split over three levels, the club includes a hydrotherapy spa plus an indoor / outdoor pool and numerous other wellness amenities. In addition, residents can also enjoy the north facing landscaped deck with BBQ facilities and communal gardens overlooking the River Thames. There will also be a 100 bed boutique hotel and 130,000 sq ft of retail space including a new Waitrose supermarket.
Suites from £349,000, one-bedroom from £449,000 and two-bedrooms from £599,000. For more information contact Mei Wong of Jones Lang LaSalle at (852) 3759 0918 or visit the exhibition launch at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental between 11am and 7pm from 20-22 April.
Ballymore has created a unique 5 star resort-style experience for residents through the concept of the “EG:LE” private residents’ club. HKGOLFER.COM
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back into shape and win a few more events. But who knows in this game? I mean, my best days could still be coming, you never know. I could be a great senior player. So is the senior tour on your mind at all? I think every player who gets to this age thinks about it, thinks about scaling back, playing only in the events they want to play and spending more time with the family instead of being on the road all the time. Do your business interests come into your thinking as well? Well yes, there’s the wine [check out thegoosewines.com, although it is not yet available in Hong Kong]. And I used my time off last year to concentrate on that. It’s not an easy product to set up and it takes a lot of effort to build your market and get your name out there. But the wine is doing very well, we’ve had some very good ratings and it’s exciting times because the wine is on its way up. At the end of last year, you slipped out of the top 50 of the World Ranking.
There are a few players that jump up and down on the course as well as off the course. I’m one of those who don’t jump up and down on the course but probably do off the course – and maybe that’s why I’m full of injuries! CONTINUED FROM PAGE 86
Global golfer: The South African counts St Andrews (top) and Augusta as his two favourite courses in the world; Goosen had a red-hot putter to thank at Shinnecock Hills in 2004 (opposite) when he held off Phil Mickelson to claim his second US Open in brilliant fashion 84
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As we sit here, you’re really chatty and personable, yet on course there’s a ‘game face’ and you don’t show much emotion. Does it bother you that people assume that the oncourse Retief Goosen is the real you? Well, that’s going to be the case with almost any pro. There are a few players that jump up and down on the course as well as off the course. I’m one of those who don’t jump up and down on the course but probably do off the course – and maybe that’s why I’m full of injuries! But every player has his own way of getting around and for me that’s my comfort zone. Unfortunately people don’t get to see what you’re really like and they judge you by what they see on TV. And how was your experience of The Presidents Cup last year? It was great, but it was disappointing. I really thought that this time around we had a pretty
good chance, with a lot of Aussies, a lot of home support and a lot of our guys had played that course so many times. But it shows you that in this game it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve played the course or how big the support is, you’ve still got to hit the shots. Are the teams quite evenly matched or do the Americans have an advantage in that they play a similar format every year, alternating The Presidents Cup with the Ryder Cup? Well it seems like they do, especially in the foursomes. We lose 80 per cent of our matches in the foursomes so we start the day four points down, then we claw it back in the betterball and play foursomes in the afternoon and we give five points back. And if you go into the final day five points back, it’s not easy.
That was disappointing and it all came about when I took time off to recover from my injury and I dropped about 25 spots. But it’s made me more determined to get back into it and play well. You’ve had an incredible career, but what would you need to achieve over the next few years to be able to look back and say you’ve achieved all you wanted to? I still think I have the ability to win another major. I still hit the ball long enough – although I’m 20 to 30 yards behind the long hitters – but I think this year is going to be a good one for me. My body is feeling a lot better so I’m looking forward to some good events this year.
Do you have any ambitions to become a Presidents Cup captain in the future? One day yes, when I’m old! A long time from now...
As a professional golfer, how much looking back do you do – at tournaments where you could have done better? Everybody does that every week! There’s only one guy who is happy – the other 155 guys are upset and thinking I wish I could have done that. Unfortunately golf is the way it is and there’s only one winner every week and even the best players in the world only win a few times a year.
Do you ever sit back and take stock of your career and set yourself new goals? I’m at a point in my career when I need to concentrate on winning more tournaments. I’m 43 now and I think I still have a good three years ahead of me. So I’m trying to get my game
Are there any memories that haunt you – such as Pinehurst in 2005? Well yes, that one was very disappointing. That final round [of 80, when Retief started the day with a three-shot lead] was a bit of a shock to the system, no doubt about it. I went in
Probably the biggest change is that I’m 40 yards shorter than I was when I started [on tour]. Even with the older technology I was longer than I am now – when I first joined the European Tour, I was the longest hitter on tour and now I average about 290 yards and I’m only 80th! thinking I could win and shot a big number, so it was really disappointing. That round is one that I’d like to have over. You see all the up-and-coming youngsters in South Africa. Who is the next big star? Well they are all youngsters now, aren’t they? Branden Grace won last week, Charl [Schwartzel] and Louis [Oosthuizen] are playing great and I think there must be about 20 South Africans playing on the European Tour and I’m sure one of them will break through like Charl and Louis did. We’ve also got lots of good amateur prospects. What is the biggest change that you’ve seen in your 20 years on tour? Twenty years, has it been that long? Yes, it was the end of 1990 that I started – so 21 years ago. Probably the biggest change is that I’m 40 yards shorter than I was when I started. Even with the older technology I was longer than I am now – when I first joined the European Tour, I was the longest hitter on tour and now I average about 290 yards and I’m only 80th! Modern technology has brought the short hitter in line with the long hitters. The long guys are still long, but instead of being 50 yards ahead, they are only 30 yards ahead now. It means more players can win. HK Golfer・APR 2012
A spate of injuries have seen the South African slip down the world rankings. From being firmly ensconced inside the top 10 to now lying outside the top 50 the Goose is in need of a comeback. He’s confident it is coming soon Spring in his step: Goosen, who turned 43 in February, believes he still has what it takes to win another major
alive! I putted nicely in the Africa Open and the Joburg Open so hopefully I’ll keep that going.
With over US$27 million in career earnings, two US Open titles and 44 professional wins, Retief Goosen has guaranteed his place as one of the greats of the game. The problem is that he’s not quite done yet. At 43 years old, there’s still life in ‘the Goose’ and, having recovered from a string of injuries, he is hoping to regain the form that kept him in the top 10 of the World Ranking for over 250 weeks. The early 40s, it seems, are an odd time in a golfer’s career – it’s not quite the twilight years, but you can certainly start to see the shadows lengthening and, as much as you’re hoping for a few more big wins, you can’t help but ponder the fairways and the riches of the senior tour.
Compleat Golfer; Photo: AFP
Retief, how’s the state of your game at the moment? Much better thanks. Anything else? (Laughs) My game is slowly on its way back. My health is a lot better and I’ve been working hard on my back over the past three months. If you have a healthy back and can practise regularly, you can start playing better and I’ve not been able to do that since April last year. But I’ve worked hard with [physio] Cornel Driessen and I must say that since the SA Open my game has really started to come back. And the belly putter seems to suit you – it’s working well? Yeah, the putter worked really well last year, but only because I missed a lot of greens! I mean I topped the putting stats purely because I’ve been chipping and putting well after missing too many greens. I’m lucky my short game has kept me 86
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You’re getting yourself into contention without quite closing it out. Is it a just a matter of needing to get over the line? Yes, it’s a question of trusting yourself again when you haven’t been in contention for a while and you hit a bad shot at the wrong time. In the Africa Open I had a chance to win but I just didn’t hit my irons well enough in the final round to put myself into a position to make enough putts. Then in the Joburg Open I didn’t feel too well over the weekend [Goosen suffered from a stomach bug] and lost momentum. Going back to your injuries, it seems like it’s been a couple of years now that you’ve had some sort of ailment, from leg to toes to eyes and back. Are you fully patched up now and ready to go? I think so, yes. I’m trying to behave and not be too wild [laughs], not too many extreme sports! Although, I wasn’t even in the water when I hurt myself on the boat – I pulled the trailer over my toe. So yes, the last few years have felt like one injury after another, which is disappointing, but really since the South African Open last year I feel like I’m in one piece and that I can start playing again. Is the confidence back as well? I need to work on the confidence a little bit more now, trust my swing a bit more. But when you haven’t practised much it isn’t easy. CONTINUED ON PAGE 84 HKGOLFER.COM
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Published on Mar 31, 2012