Clubhouse: Fisker Atlantic, Michel Parmigiani & Two Hands wine
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION ISSUE 65
HKGOLFER.COM JUNE 2012
IN-DEPTH US OPEN PREVIEW
The best players who have yet to win one of golf’s biggest events
DISPLAY UNTIL 15 JULY
INTERVIEW: IAN POULTER
HK Golfer Issue 65
38 On the Cover:
With his victory at last month’s Wells Fargo Championship, Rickie Fowler will have his sights set firmly on the US Open. Photo by AFP
30 | Kuchar Cleans Up
10 | In Focus
American Matt Kuchar smiled his way to the biggest win of his career – and a cool US$1.7 million – at the PLAYERS Championship By The Editors
46 | Where Magic Can Happen
Our watch editor discovers the magic formula behind Michel Parmigiani’s rise to success By Evan Rast
54 | Off the Rails at Olympic
A review of the new Atlantic from American start-up Fisker By Ben Oliver
24 | Tee Time – Special Feature
62 | Time to Shine
26 | Golf & Investment Academy
Daniel Wong (Chung); AFP (Kuchar)
Who of these six players can follow in the footsteps of the last three US Open champions and make the tournament their breakthrough major success? By Alex Jenkins
66 | Travel: A Modern Marvel
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20 | Driving Range
56 | International Rally
For a major that has traditionally favoured homegrown players, recent editions of the US Open have been highlighted by the ascent of the internationals By Lewine Mair
15 | Tee Time
After some tweaking by the USGA, the venerable Lake Course at San Francisco’s Olympic Club appears primed to host yet another classic US Open By The Editors How a contributor’s quest to tame this year’s US Open venue turned into a nightmare of epic proportions By Scott Resch
A pictorial review of the past 30 days – locally and globally By The Editors
The magnificent Kingsbarns Golf Links is one of those rare breeds – a relatively new course that can stand comfortably alongside the greatest linkslands in the world By The Editors
Thanks to American watchmaker Kobold, the US Navy SEALs are always in the right place at the right time By The Editors For those investors out there, you might find that golf and investing share a lot of similar attributes By The Editors
70 | Historical Golf
The unearthing of two dozen photos of the legendary ‘Old’ Tom Morris and his peers has wowed the historical golfing historians By The Editors HKGOLFER.COM
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION JUNE 2012 • Issue 65
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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66 D E PA R T M E N T S 08
HK Golfer Mailbag
14 Divots 34
Around the HKGA
MacGregor Hong Kong Seniors Close
EFG Young Golfers Foundation
Ageas Hong Kong PGA Championship
Education & Golf: Loretto
Publisher: Charles McLaughlin Art Director: Derek Hannah Assistant Designer: Mimi Cheng Office Manager: Moira Moran Advertising: For advertising information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org For purchasing information contact: email@example.com For subscription information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Hong Kong Golf Association Suite 2003, Olympic House 1 Stadium Path, So Kon Po Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Phone (General): +852 2504-8659 Fax: +852 2845-1553 Phone (Handicaps): +852 2504-8197 Fax: +852 2504-8198 Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org In association with: www.thymedesign.hk
74 Property Courtesy of Iain Lowe/Kingsbarns Golf Links
Final Shot: Ian Poulter
HK GOLFER is published by Times International Creation, 10A Lockhart Centre, 301-307 Lockhart Road, Hong Kong. HK GOLFER is published monthly © 2012 by Times International Creation. Published in Hong Kong. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is strictly prohibited. PRINTED IN HONG KONG. 6
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HK Golfer Mailbag Congratulations Tiffany My apologies for being rather slow on the uptake – I read back issues of HK Golfer in my doctor’s surgery – but I think it’s fantastic that Tiffany Chan will be attending Arizona State University on a golf scholarship later this year. I no longer play the game – unfortunately I’m too old and decrepit to do so – but it strikes me as a fine achievement for a young golfer like Tiffany from a place like Hong Kong to impress on the international amateur circuit and subsequently join such a prestigious golfing college. I am originally from the USA, which as everyone knows has thousands of golf courses, and in my experience only the very best young players ever get a shot of getting into such an educational institution by such means. Not only do I congratulate Tiffany, who is clearly a very fine player indeed, but also the folks at the Hong Kong Golf Association and her coach in particular who have helped guide her along the way. She must be something special. Hong Kong, as we all know, isn’t blessed with a huge number of places to play the game, so for a young player from these shores to do so well is very good news indeed. Good luck Tiffany! James Dukes Via email
course in your magazine and made it something of a priority to play it. Sadly it took a while to get down there, but my goodness, what a great golf course! It was everything I expected but more. The links-like feel to the place, the wonderful setting and fine service made this one course I hope to enjoy over and over again. Mark Clowes Mid Levels
So Tiger Woods would like long putters banned? I find that somewhat preposterous. I don’t think he has a clue what he is proposing and what effect such a ban would have on the many amateur golfers who wield such clubs. Many of the players who have taken to using long putters are older players who have developed the ‘yips’ and can no longer putt with both hands close together. The only reason why they have gone to the longer putter – in the majority of cases – is in order to continue playing golf, not because they suddenly start holing putts from all over the place. The point is that long putters have been in use for many years already – and their effect on the amateur side of golf, I would say, is negligible. OK, Keegan Bradley won the US PGA with a longer than normal putter – but he’s a professional. If the powers that be must ban the club then ban it for the professionals and leave amateurs exempt. It really is two different games – the amateur side and the professional side – and we amateurs should be left alone. Frank Lee Vancouver
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.
Danang Delight I have just returned from a short trip to Danang, where I played the wonderful Greg Norman-designed course at Danang Golf Club. All I can say is ‘thank you’. I first read about the 8
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Local Focus Picture Perfect Park Unho Park hits his tee shot at the 14th hole on the North Course at the Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course on his way to winning the Ageas Hong Kong PGA Championship last month. Park, a Koreanborn Australian who has played on the Asian Tour for over a decade, finished with a three-round total of 216 to pip Guido van der Walk of the Netherlands by a shot. Hong Kongâ€™s Wong Woon-man finished a further shot back in third place. Turn to page 42 for a full report. Photo by Daniel Wong
Global Focus Luke Donaldâ€™s Double Record galleries were on hand to watch Luke Donald (inset) collect his second BMW PGA Championship in a row at the sumptuous Wentworth Club outside of London last month. Donald, who returned to the top of the world rankings thanks to the win, fired a final round of 68 for a four-shot cushion over second placed Paul Lawrie of Scotland and Donaldâ€™s fellow countryman Justin Rose. The 34-year-old Englishman, who now has six titles in 15 months, became only the third player after Sir Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie to claim back-to-back PGA Championship titles. Photo by AFP
Singapore Open Hit by Sponsor Pull-Out
Price and Couples to Lead 2013 Presidents Cup Teams
AFP (Price and Singapore Open); Charles McLaughlin (Shanghai Cup)
Zimbabwe’s Nick Price, a three-time major champion, and Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters winner, were named team captains for the 2013 Presidents Cup, the PGA Tour announced last month. Price will guide the International team of non-European talent against the American squad of Couples in the biennial team golf matches, to be staged 3-6 October at the Muirfield Village Golf Club built by legend Jack Nicklaus. “This is a huge honor. I’m very excited,” Price said. “It’s probably the most excited I’ve been about anything in the last five or six years. This has been a moment that I’ve been waiting for an awful long time.” Muirfield Village will become the first course to host the US-Europe Ryder Cup matches, the US-Europe Solheim Cup women’s matches and the Presidents Cup. Couples served as captain of the triumphant US Presidents Cup teams in 2009 and 2011. The 15-time PGA event winner played in four Presidents Cups, one fewer than Price, an 18-time US PGA winner who makes his captaincy debut. “It’s an amazing honor,” Couples said. “The Presidents Cup has been a huge part of my career and my life. Those memories are unforgettable, and I feel extremely fortunate to get another chance when we go for a third straight victory.
Officials said this November’s US$6 million tournament, which is one of the region’s richest golf events, was not in doubt after British bank Barclays decided not to extend its current contract. “The Barclays Singapore Open will go ahead this year as scheduled,” said a spokesman for the Asian Tour, which cosanctions the Singapore Open along with the European Tour. But with no sponsor lined up for next year, golf fans will be mindful of 2002, 2003 and 2004 when the Singapore Open, which dates back to 1961, fell off the calendar due to a lack of corporate backing. No reason was given for Barclays’ decision to end its sevenyear association with the Singapore tournament, which made it Asia’s most lucrative national open and the region’s fourthrichest event this year. Media and analysts speculated the move was linked to a renewed problems among European economies and fears the banking system could again come under severe pressure.
Wales Win Shanghai Cup Jim Wardell (far right) presents the Shanghai Cup to St David's Society members Chad Parker, Stephen Gore and Justin Davies after the Welshmen's victory in the inter-society event at the Jockey Club Kai Sai Chau last month. The quartet finished on 13 points, enough for a three and a half point margin of victory over the St Andrew's Society (Scotland) in second place. The St George's Society (England) placed third, with the St Patrick's Society (Ireland) taking home the wooden spoon. 14
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CLUBHOUSE Away from the Fairways TEE TIME
Of Divine Proportions
Evan Rast discovers the magic formula behind Michel Parmigiani’s rise to success CONTINUED OVERLEAF
HK Golfer・JUN 2012
“Our designs are rooted in observations of nature. One finds symmetry and complete harmony in nature, and in nature everything is in a state of equilibrium.”—Michel Parmigiani
Swiss heritage: the Parmigiani Fleurier manufacture (top) in the heart of Val-de-Travers; the Kalpagraph from the exquisite Kalpa collection (opposite) 16
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ix collections, 27 in-house calibres and four world firsts later, Michel Parmigiani, CEO of Swiss brand Parmigiani Fleurier, is proof that in watchmaking, one doesn’t need a century-old lineage to succeed. One only needs a special equation. At a time when the Swiss watch industry was in its dark age because of the quartz revolution, Parmigiani chose the unbeaten path. He was among the few of his peers that decided to stick with mechanical watchmaking, even while the future looked bleak. In 1976, he started taking restoration work from various collectors. He reveals of his passion, “Restoration is not repair. Repair is just changing parts to make the object function again. Restoration is learning about the object, doing your research before you even make the first move. A restored object must not make a lie of its past.”
Through learning about the intricacies of historical masterpieces, Parmigiani began making his own movements. He caught the eye of several watchmaking brands, who started commissioning him for projects, including Breguet, for which he produced the Calibre 90, an automatic pocket watch movement, and Chopard, for which he developed the iconic L.U.C. 1.96 automatic calibre. Parmigiani’s dedication, passion, and respect for restoration work also started a friendship between himself and the Sandoz Family Foundation, a group started by artist Edouard-Marcel Sandoz (heir to pharmaceutical giant Novartis) that invests in companies that showcase innovation and entrepreneurship. The foundation had an extensive collection which Parmigiani became sole restorer of in the 1980s. T h is pa r t nersh ip created t he bra nd , Parmigiani Fleurier, in 1997. Shortly thereafter a series of collections were launched for men and women: the Tonda, Kalpa, Pershing, and the Bugatti, the legendary watch co-developed with the car manufacturer of the same name, whose cylindrical movement was a world’s first. Parmigiani recalls, “When you see the shape of the [Bugatti] Veyron’s very prominent engine, HKGOLFER.COM
you will instantly recognise where the Type 370’s case comes from. It took us five years to create the watch, from development to final prototype. It’s one of our best accomplishments.” And all these collections still exist today, a testament to Parmigiani Fleurier’s enduring aesthetic.
The Golden Ratio Parmigiani reveals his inspirations: “Our designs are rooted in observations of nature. One finds symmetry and complete harmony in nature, and in nature everything is in a state of equilibrium. This is the essence of Fibonacci’s law. This Italian mathematician in the 13th century succeeded in seeing harmony and proportion in everything. It was a revelation to me. In his theory, a flower, a leaf, a crystal, the structure of all these things, are governed by the Golden Ratio, an algorithm that when followed creates beauty and harmony.” The golden ratio, approximately equal to 1.618033, is believed to be a divine proportion that when used in design makes the creation more aesthetically pleasing. The Greeks
employed it when building the Parthenon, and it is widely observed in great architecture. It is also seen in the works of Salvador Dali, Da Vinci and hundreds of other painters, and even the music of Chopin. This interesting focus on harmony and proportion has made Parmigiani Fleurier watches easily identifiable, not only because of the designs of their dials, but because of the exceptional construction of the cases and the parts. Parmigiani explains further, “In our watches, you will notice that all the curves are natural. The hands, the numerals, and other details, everything is in perfect symmetry with the rest of the parts.” A prime example of this can be seen in the lugs, which come in a distinct leaf-like shape that to many may seem like a random design, but is a result of study based on the Fibonacci’s golden ratio.
Expanding Creativity Since the brand was created, Parmigiani Fleurier has extended the range to include the Tondagraph, a combination of chronograph and tourbillon, which underlines Parmigiani’s
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This interesting focus on harmony and proportion has made Parmigiani Fleurier watches easily identifiable, not only because of the designs of their dials, but because of the exceptional construction of the cases and the parts.
Broadening horizons: the brand's sumptuous Beijing atelier; a master watchmaker inspects a timepiece from the wildly successful Bugatti collection 18
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quest for perfection: “What’s different about the Tondagraph is the case, and the grand complication never before seen since the creation of the Fleurier brand. The entire mechanism is visible from the back, and one look at the components and you will see that it is a work of precision. Technically, it is a masterpiece. The finishing of the bridge alone took 20 hours, while the cage required 40 hours.” The Bugatti Atalante, an extension of the Bugatti series, comes in a round case, and fitted with the in-house PF335 movement, Parmigiani Fleurier’s first flyback chronograph. Inspired by the Bugatti Atalante 57S Sport, one of the only private passenger cars of the 1930s, the watch profile sees the bezel and the caseback joining to form a satin-finished area which evokes the air intakes found on the side wings of the sports car, while the dial is inspired by the radiator grille. Aside from these, Parmigiani has also worked on unique pieces, including another world first, the Hijiri continuous lunar calendar, which was presented to the Middle East last year. It is the world’s first 30-year mechanical clock based on the Hegirian Calendar, or the Islamic lunar calendar, which displays the mean time in hours and minutes and also the phases of the moon. It took Parmigiani 20 years to perfect the algorithm for the clock’s movement, and the clock itself took four years to create. So what makes up the equation for success? A love of watchmaking, the pursuit of perfection, hard work, plus inspiration from a fellow great mind. Add these to the fact that Parmigiani has remained true to his values, and faithful to the mastery of mechanical construction, and the results are truly golden. HKGOLFER.COM
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.
Official HK Agent: Times International Creation ltd. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +852-3590-4153
The new Atlantic from American start-up Fisker is just as stunning as its bigger Karma sibling, but more practical and more affordable, writes Ben Oliver
he gorgeous Audi A5-sized Fisker Atlantic was one of the stars of the recent New York Auto Show, and the start-up American carmaker used its launch to reassure buyers and investors that the wheels are still firmly on its plans to build America’s first new, independent volume car brand since the war. Previously codenamed Project Nina, the Atlantic is an extended-range electric vehicle, or ER-EV, like the bigger Karma launched last year. It uses an expensive but lightweight laptop-style lithium-ion battery charged from a socket to power itself electrically for the first 80km. After that, its small BMW petrol engine doesn’t drive the wheels but acts as generator to charge the battery on the move, eliminating the range restrictions of electric-only cars. The Karma has found favour with A-list celebrities such as Leonardo di Caprio and Justin Bieber, who won’t have been deterred by its US$100,000 price tag. The Atlantic will halve that when it goes on sale, but maintains the stunning lines of its sibling and actually improves on the boot space and rear headroom of the bigger car; in the latter case by using a thin glass roof supported by a ‘spider’ structure. It’s unique and, again, stunning. Henrik Fisker is the charismatic Danish former Aston Martin designer who 20
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took the bold decision to put his own name on the nose of a car, founding the firm in the teeth of the global downturn. Responsible for design classics such as the BMW Z8 and Aston Martin DB9, it’s no surprise that his own-brand cars look sensational. The technology that underpins them is just as exciting. By limiting the electriconly range to around 80km, the battery costs are kept low. The petrol engine means the car’s overall range is unlimited. But how many of us actually drive more than 80km between charging opportunities at home, the office, or the car parks that will increasingly offer plugin points? In Hong Kong, Fisker owners might never hear that petrol engine cut in, saving cost and emissions. But good looks and hi-tech alone aren’t enough. The Atlantic was planned to be the HKGOLFER.COM
Henrik Fisker is the charismatic Danish former Aston Martin designer who took the bold decision to put his own name on the nose of a car, founding the firm in the teeth of the global downturn. the Atlantic into production from investors. Fisker raised another US$130m in March, bringing the total raised from private equity to over US$1bn. The firm has also been caught up in the US Republican primary debates. Mitt Romney labelled the loans to Fisker and Tesla ‘crony capitalism’ and has called for a House investigation into President Obama’s scheme, of which Ford and Nissan were also beneficiaries. To add to Fisker’s difficulties, an independently-purchased Karma broke down during testing by US magazine Consumer Reports. A battery problem was diagnosed which has forced Fisker’s supplier A123 Systems to offer to replace the packs in all 700 Karmas delivered. The firestorm surrounding Fisker contrasts with the situation at fellow ‘New Detroit’ carmaker Tesla, which is further advanced with its Atlantic-rivalling, allelectric Model S. Tesla’s share price hit an all-time high in the run-up to the New York show. But analysts back Fisker to establish itself as a premium American car brand. And nobody every said it would be easy. American dream: The gorgeous lines of the Fisker Atlantic. Financial uncertainly however means the release date of the US$50,000 car has yet to be announced
first car from Fisker’s new factory in Delaware, a former GM plant closed during the financial crisis. But its introduction will be delayed by financial uncertainty. The US Department of Energy has suspended Fisker’s access to the US$25bn Advanced Technology Manufacturing Loan Program, announced by the Obama administration in November 2008 in an attempt to resuscitate the then-dying US car industry. Fisker won approval for a US$529m loan but has only drawn $193m, of which $169m was spent on the Karma. The DoE says Fisker missed some of the milestones it set for bringing the car to market, and won’t release any further cash until it has set new targets and completed further due diligence on the California-based business. Fisker says he now wants to repay the loan and instead raise the capital needed to put HKGOLFER.COM
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Sunshine in a Bottle Robin Lynam raises his glass to two Shiraz offerings from the highly regarded Two Hands winery in the Barossa Valley
outh Australia is pre-eminently Shiraz country. The grape originated in the Northern Rhone, but it was in this highly successful wine region of the southern hemisphere that it began its ascent to its present status as the seventh most extensively cultivated varietal in the world. It was in the Barossa Valley, about an hour’s drive northeast of Adelaide, that Penfolds’ chief winemaker Max Schubert created the first Australian red wine made with the intention that it should mature over decades in the bottle – Grange Hermitage, now called simply Grange. Bordeaux inspired, Grange contains some Cabernet Sauvignon, but is predominantly made from the Syrah Grape. In the 1950s, when Schubert’s first pioneering vintages were made Syrah was associated mostly with the Northern Rhone region called Hermitage, and was accordingly known in some parts of Australia – which for decades to come was to make highly cavalier use of now legally protected French appellation names – as Hermitage. It is now much better known in Australia and around the world as Shiraz – a corruption of the French grape name which has become so internationally recognizable that some French wineries now use the Australian spelling. Many of Australia’s greatest reds are Shiraz based, and the grape is particularly suited to the Barossa Valley, where it was first planted in around 1860, and to McLaren Vale, south of Adelaide. Two Hands wines, founded in 1999, is a relative newcomer to the region, but in a little over a decade has built up an impressive reputation. The enterprise appears to have been founded on an obsession with Shiraz. The original partners Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz started out with the stated intention “to make the best possible Shiraz-based wines from prized Shiraz growing regions throughout Australia”. They have since built up a portfolio of wines which express the terroir characteristics of particular regions through the medium of that single grape variety. Twelftree and fellow winemaker Matt Wenk work with grapes from six Australian regions – The Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Langhorne Creek, McClaren Vale, Padthaway and Heathcote – each of which has its own distinct regional character. Two Hands has also diversified into other red varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Malbec and Mourvedre (which they call Mataro) as well as a range of whites – but Shiraz remains the heart and soul of its core range. The wines are made at Two Hands’ own winery in the Barossa Valley (pictured) . It opened in 2004 and was purpose built to handle relatively small batches of fruit. The individuality and territorial integrity of each of their wines is protected by separate handling at all stages of the winemaking process, from crushing through to oak maturation. These wines are difficult to obtain in Hong Kong, but there are a number of cases in the HK Golfer cellars, and at the end of a recent working day – the necessary range of cheeses to accompany them having been requisitioned – the corks were pulled on a bottle of Two Hands 2007 Zippy’s Block and Two Hands 2007 Barney’s Block, both of which are from the winery’s Single Vineyard Series. Zippy’s Block comes from a vineyard in Marananga in the Barossa Valley, and the 2007 vintage packs a punch at 14.7 per cent alcohol by volume. The
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wine maker reckons it has about 15 years worth of cellaring potential, and that might be a conservative estimate. Dense and complex, with overtones of chocolate and berry fruits it is drinking very acceptably now but properly cared for would certainly benefit from more time in the bottle. A well structured wine with harmoniously resolved tannins, this matched an assortment of fairly assertive cheeses very well, and would be a suitable partner for beef or lamb. The Barney’s Block vineyard is in McLaren Vale, and the wine is even more powerful at 15.5 per cent alcohol by volume. Tasted side by side with Zippy’s Block, the extra alcohol was hard to miss. This is a wine for sipping and needs food to accompany it. Again it went well with the cheese, but its spicy cedary character suggested that it might also be a suitable partner for a number of spicy Asian dishes. A good wine to take to a Szechuan restaurant. Elegant and powerful, winemaker Matt Wenk recommends drinking this vintage anytime between now and 2030, and it will probably continue to improve for some years to come.
Special Reader Offer HK Golfer is pleased to offer these exceptional wines for sale to wine connoisseur readers at HK$850 per bottle for the Zippy’s Block and HK$850 per bottle for the Barney’s Block – two excellent and satisfyingly individualistic examples of fine South Australian Shiraz – sunshine in a bottle. No minimum order and professional storage available if required. Delivery at cost. Please order by email to email@example.com or call (852) 3590 4153
Greenock Creek Winery
The Open... "If I had to select the number one Australian winery, it would be hard not to choose the Greenock Creek Winery... the quality that emerges from this estate is extraordinary." - Robert Parker
Exclusive HK Golfer Offer* Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call on: (852) 3590 4153 Please quote code: GreenockHKG 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (WA 94) HK$400 2001 Alices Shiraz (RP 98) HK$900 2004 Alices Shiraz (WA 98) HK$500 SOLD OUT 2006 Alices Shiraz (WA 91+) HK$500 2006 Apricot Block Shiraz (WA 91+) HK$500 2006 Seven Acre Shiraz (RP 93) HK$550 2004 Creek Block Shiraz (RP 99) HK$1,450 2001 Roennfeldt Road Shiraz (WA 99) HK3,000
...and pour HKGOLFER.COM
*Subject unsold. Terms & Conditions apply HK GolferăƒťJUN 2012 23
TEE TIME - SPECIAL FEATURE
Thanks to American watchmaker Kobold, the US Navy SEALs are always in the right place at the right time
he United States Navy SEALs are the most elite military outf it in the world. Their selection course, called BUD/ S, is the toughest known to man and has an attrition rate of over 80 per cent. The SEALs’ primary objective is to conduct clandestine operations in a wide range of environments. SEAL is an acronym that stands for Sea, Air and Land, which are the three areas of expertise of these adaptable amphibious warriors. These small, nimble assault teams operate mainly at night and are dubbed “the silent professionals” because they never so much as whisper, using hand signals to communicate with one another. Often, their enemies don’t even know what hit them by the time the Navy SEALs strike. Adding to their mystique is the fact that individual Navy SEALs are low-key and rarely identify themselves as being one of the elite warriors – bragging is considered unbecoming of a Navy SEAL. Nevertheless the SEALs have been heralded in the media as heroes for a long list of successful, high-tension missions. Their rescue of a kidnapped American captain from the hands of three pirates in 2009 made world headlines. Then, in 2011, an elite Navy SEAL team stormed a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing terrorist leader Osama bin Laden during a carefully rehearsed night raid. Accurate timekeeping is an extremely important aspect of their lives and as such a reliable watch is considered an essential piece of equipment. Many SEALs rely on Kobold watches for their timing needs. That’s with good reason 24
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because the US-based manufacturer counts among its collection of so-called tool watches the Phantom Chronograph and the Phantom Black Ops, two watches actually designed by Navy SEALs. The Phantom Black Ops features a surgical-grade stainless steel case that has been DLC-coated, turning its outer layer black, while the Phantom Chronograph lacks this DLC coating and instead features a matte-finished steel case. Each case is US-made, and the watches are assembled in Kobold’s Pittsburgh facilities using Swiss mechanical movements. To ensure a high degree of reliability and accuracy, the movements are carefully timed, adjusted, and then tested for 1,000 hours. The matte-finish black dial of the Phantom features green luminous hour markers and green print for the minute and seconds track. This colour is easier to read when wearing night vision goggles during night raids. A uni-directional rotating bezel with an engraved minute scale gives the wearer the option of timing multiple events in conjunction with the chronograph’s stopwatch feature. Yet the Phantom and Phantom Black Ops are ideal for nonmilitary use, too. Shock-proof, water-resistant and antimagnetic to the stringent benchmarks of the German industrial standards office, these watches are ideal for sportsmen who prefer to chase golf balls around the course rather than hunting terrorists around the globe. Kobold promises never to produce more than 2,500 of its wristwatches annually, making them not only more exclusive but also allowing the small, family-owned outfit to ensure a higher degree of quality than its mass-product competitors. KOBOLD is represented in Hong Kong by SinoGo. For more information, contact info@sinogo; www.sinogo.com HKGOLFER.COM
Clandestine cool: Kobold’s Phantom Black Ops (opposite) features a surgical-grade stainless steel case, making it rugged enough for the demands of the US Navy SEAL’s (above)
Kobold’s Golfing Anecdotes While Kobold have yet to make a watch exclusively for the ardent golfer, the company does have links with the game, as founder Michael Kobold explains: “One day, a man called my office from Beijing and placed an unusual order. ‘I want the watch Bill Clinton wears,’ he said. ‘I just played golf with him yesterday and I want the watch he wore. He told me to call you.’ After explaining that the president owns four Kobolds, the caller ordered all of the models and rang off.” A few years ago,” continued Kobold, “we asked the bad boy of golf, John Daly, if we could auction his Kobold for a children’s charity. He agreed and so we asked him to send along a picture of him and his watch. When we received it, we discovered that the picture was taken in the poor light of a Las Vegas casino, a row of slot machines standing in the background. John was holding a half-empty glass of Scotch and a lit cigar in one hand and the watch in the other. All that was missing was a scantily-clad stripper and we would have censored the picture and called off the auction. Instead, his watch fetched bids that were far higher than is list price.”
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Golf & Investment
For those investors out there, you might find golf and investing share a lot of similar attributes. Both require careful planning, patience, and discipline, to site a few examples. Charles Schwab, Hong Kong, Ltd., a financial services firm serving investors in Asia certainly believes so.
Schwab Investing Tip
h a rle s S c hwab C or p or at ion ’s Founder and Chairman, Mr. Charles Schwab, is an avid golfer himself. Over the years, he has found both golf and investing are tough games and that there’s no short term fixes. His firm strives to guide investors along their investing journey, formulate plans, and provide resources to help investors be successful. While investing might bring its ups and downs, it’s a pursuit where you can keep improving if you do your research, and plan well. When Schwab first opened its doors in 1971, the company knew that the key to success would be getting the fundamentals right. By focusing on the fundamentals, the firm managed to take an early market lead, offering a combination of low prices with fast, efficient order executions, and soon became the United States’ largest discount broker. Today, the company is one of the U.S.’s leading financial services firms with around US$1.83 trillion in client assets. Schwab believes that sometimes getting the fundamentals right means getting the perspective of a professional to help you get started and to maximize your objective. At Schwab, the team goes to work every day focused on their purpose “to help everyone be financially fit”. It might seem simple, but this has a powerful impact on how the company builds trust with its clients and takes care of their needs. Schwab employees are driven to understand what investors are looking for and ensuring they provide advice that is based on strong investing fundamentals.
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“When Schwab first opened its doors in 1971, the company knew that the key to success would be getting the fundamentals right.”
Haney Golf Tip Hank Haney, a Charles Schwab client, is another who believes in the importance of fundamentals. The world-famous golf instructor, who has given over 40,000 lessons to both amateurs and pros throughout his illustrious career, is determined that all his pupils get the very best out of their games – and says that success begins with a solid foundation.
In golf, the most important fundamental is the grip, Haney says. Every good golf shot starts with a good grip. First of all, Haney says, you want to make sure your thumbs and forefingers are pressed together (see inset). For a neutral grip, fit your hands on the golf club so that the ‘v’ that’s formed by your thumb and forefinger point toward your right ear – with both hands.
For more on the connection between golf and investing, please visit: www.schwab.com.hk/golf
Feel the Pressure Another thing you need to consider when it comes to your grip, continues Haney, is your grip pressure. If you have a tendency to slice the ball, favour a lighter grip pressure; this will make your hands more active and make it easier for you to square the clubface as you come through the shot. Conversely, if you have a tendency to hook the ball, hold on just a little firmer. That will slow down the closing of the clubface and help eliminate those shots to the left.
Getting a good grip is your first step to hitting a good golf shot.
Hank Haney, PGA Teaching Pro HKGOLFER.COM
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Winning smile: Kuchar’s TPC Sawgrass success was only the fourth PGA Tour win of his career – and his first since the 2010 Barclays Championship 30
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Cleans Up American smiles his way to the biggest win of his career – and a cool US$1.7 million – at the PLAYERS Championship
att Kuchar avoided the big mistakes that slowed so many other contenders – starting with Kevin Na – and kept it out of the water on the Stadium Course to eliminate the kind of drama he didn’t need. He closed with a 2-under 70 for a two-shot victory. That famous smile, which he first showed the golf world as an amateur in 1998 competing on the biggest stages, was brighter than ever as Kuchar tapped in for par. He celebrated on the 18th green with his wife and two sons, and shared a hug and a high-five with his mother. His parents moved to Ponte Vedra Beach and Kuchar stayed with them all week. Coming off the green, he said he was “about to buckle” after such a week. Just like his golf at the dangerous TPC Sawgrass, he kept it together. “It’s such an amazing feeling – playing amongst the game’s best, to come out on top, to do it on Mother’s Day ... it really is magical,” Kuchar said. Along with the pressure of trying to win, Na had to put up with some heckling. Already considered a slow player, he struggles to take the club back without practice swings and waggles, and over the ball he could hear fans saying, “Pull the trigger” or “Hit it.” “I backed off and they’re booing me,” Na said. “I said, ‘Look, guys, I backed off because of you guys.’ ... But it is what it is. I also felt that a lot of people were turning towards me and pulling for me, which I really appreciate.” Kuchar won for only the fourth time in his career, and the first time since the 2010 Barclays when Martin Laird three-putted the last hole and lost in a play-off. Laird made the strongest run on a cloudy, breezy afternoon, tying for the lead with this third straight birdie on the 12th. Laird nearly went in the water on the 18th, missed a six-foot par putt for a 67 and wound up in a four-way tie for second. Rickie Fowler, going for his second straight win, tried to make it interesting with a birdie on the island-green 17th to get within two shots. Kuchar watched from across the water on the 16th green, and then rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt to give him a three-shot lead going to the par-three 17th. Every shot matters standing on a tee and looking at an island. Kuchar found land, three-putted for bogey and made a regulation par at the end. Fowler missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th and shot 70. Ben Curtis made a 10-foot birdie on the 18th for a 68, while Zach Johnson shot 68 to join the tie for second. Luke Donald finished alone in sixth after a 66, not quite enough to replace Rory McIlroy at No 1 in the world. HKGOLFER.COM
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“It’s such an amazing feeling – playing amongst the game’s best, to come out on top, to do it on Mother’s Day ... it really is magical.” —Matt Kuchar
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Tiger Woods shot 40 on his front nine and rallied for a 73, at least finishing The Players Championship under par. That was the smallest of consolations. Far more alarming was that he tied for 40th, the first time in his career that he has finished no better than 40th in three straight tournaments. The streak began after a five-shot win at Bay Hill for his first PGA Tour title in 30 months. “Just keep working. Keep working,” Woods said when asked what he could take out of the week. Na had a three-shot lead early in the final round with a birdie on the second, but he fell apart quickly. There were waggles and a few whiffs as part of his painful pre-shot routine, but there were far too many shots in the wrong spot for him to have a chance. He made four bogeys in five holes to close out the front nine in 39, and his hopes ended with a tee shot into the water on the par-three13th. Na closed with a 76 to tie for seventh, five shots behind. I n t h e s i x y e a r s s i n c e T h e Pl ay e r s Championship moved from March to May and featured faster conditions, the 54-hole leader has never won and has never shot better than 74 in the final round. The average score for the thirdround leader since 2007 is now 76.3. Few of the others faced a week like Na, especially hearing it from the fans. “I deserve it,” he said. “I mean, I’m being honest. But is it fair? No. You put an average guy in between those ropes, trust me, they won’t even pull it back.” HKGOLFER.COM
“I backed off and they’re booing me. I said, ‘Look, guys, I backed off because of you guys.’ ... But it is what it is. I also felt that a lot of people were turning towards me and pulling for me, which I really appreciate.”—Kevin Na Kuchar finished on 13-under 275 and earned US $1.71 million, the largest pay day in golf. He goes to career-best No 5 in the world ranking, and more importantly, to No 3 in the United States Ryder Cup standings. Curtis, who started the season without a full PGA Tour card, now has three top 5s in the last month, including a win at the Texas Open. He was slowed by a double bogey on the par-three eighth, and simply couldn’t catch up. Even though Laird is the only player who actually tied for the lead at one point, Fowler generated the biggest buzz in his all-orange attire and free swinging ways. He got in the mix with two birdies in the opening four holes, only to take a double bogey on the 5th and a bogey on the 7th. Even so, he ran off four birdies after that never went away until missing the short birdie at the end. “The last few holes were a lot of fun,” Fowler said. “It’s a rush out there. Get yourself in contention Sunday at The Players, it’s a lot of fun.”
The PLAYERS Championship Final Standings 1 Matt Kuchar 2= Ben Curtis Rickie Fowler Zach Johnson Martin Laird 6 Luke Donald 7= Bo Van Pelt Kevin Na Jhonattan Vegas 10= Carl Pettersson David Toms 12= Blake Adams Jonathan Byrd Geoff Ogilvy
68 68 69 70 68 71 70 68 72 69 66 70 70 66 73 68 65 73 72 67 72 69 72 66 71 70 70 69 67 69 68 76 68 74 68 70 71 72 69 69 69 74 73 65 66 73 72 71 68 70 72 72 70 73 70 69
275 277 277 277 277 279 280 280 280 281 281 282 282 282
US$1,710,000 US$627,000 US$627,000 US$627,000 US$627,000 US$342,000 US$296,083 US$296,083 US$296,083 US$247,000 US$247,000 US$199,500 US$199,500 US$199,500
Top tenners (clockwise from top): Rickie Fowler, Kevin Na, Martin Laird and Ben Curtis HKGOLFER.COM
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Hak Confirms Georgia Tech Enrolment
Jason Hak has signed a letter-of-intent to play his college golf at Georgia Tech, one of America’s standout golfing universities.
H Daniel Wong
ak, who was born in Hong Kong and who currently resides in Florida, is the No 1-ranked junior golfer in the United States and the 29th-ranked player in the world. The 18-year-old, who represents Hong Kong internationally, first rose to attention in 2008 when he became the youngest golfer in European Tour history to make a tournament cut after achieving the feat at that year’s Hong Kong Open. “He’s played at a level the last two or three years that is as impressive as anyone we’ve ever had in the programme,” said Georgia Tech head coach Bruce Heppler of Hak, who will enrol in classes for the college’s second summer session and be eligible to play this fall. “He’s a great kid. He loves playing, loves practicing, and he really wants to go to school at Georgia Tech.” Hak will be following in the footsteps of major winners David Duval, Larry Mize and Stewart Cink, who all played golf at Georgia Tech. The most famous alumnus of the golf programme however remains legendary amateur Bobby Jones, winner of the Grand Slam in 1930 and the founder of Augusta National Golf Club.
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An intelligent filter The judgement to spot talent early; the expertise to nurture it. Blending the finest solutions for clients.
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Chung Powers to Maiden Title Former HKGA president overhauls three-time winner Nagatomi with a solid final-round display at Discovery Bay to claim the MacGregor Hong Kong Seniors Amateur Close Championship PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL WONG
Final-day charge: William Chung drives off en route to his first MacGregor Hong Kong Seniors Amateur Close Championship title William Chung shed his ‘nearly man’ tag by putting in a rock-solid display to claim his first MacGregor Hong Kong Seniors Amateur Close Championship at Discovery Bay Golf Club last month. Chung, who started the final round five shots behind in second place, overhauled overnight leader and three-time champion Matajiro Nagatomi with a closing two-over par 73to take the title. Chung’s three-round total of 229 was enough to pip a fading Nagatomi, who 36
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struggled to a 79, by a shot. Akiyoshi Kubota, another Discovery Bay member placed third, four shots back on 233, to make it a clean sweep of the top three spots for the Lantau club. “I’ve been working on my game – I made a swing change at the beginning of the year – and I’ve been swinging and putting well since,” said Chung, a former Hong Kong Golf Association president, who has recorded two second place finishes and a tie for fourth in this event since becoming eligible to compete at senior level in 2009. “I was perhaps a little surprised [to win], given I was starting the day so far back, but if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.” Chung got off to the very best of starts by nearly holing his approach to the first hole. A tap-in birdie putt after a brilliant 7-iron approach to within an inch HKGOLFER.COM
“I was perhaps a little surprised [to win], given I was starting the day so far back, but if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”– William Chung
of the hole helped narrow the gap and after nine holes – a stretch Chung played in level par – he had reduced the margin significantly. The fourth hole on the Jade Course – played as the 13th of the round – proved pivotal. Just one shot behind a fading Nagatomi, Chung came up trumps with a birdie to take the lead for the first time after his opponent could only make a double bogey. It was a lead he was never to relinquish. 2011 champion Chu Koon-ching finished in a tie for sixth, while multiple winner Joseph Pethes placed one spot higher in fifth. Meanwhile Roderic Sage continued his recent run of good form by finishing in solo fourth. Chung, a regular Hong Kong representative, will next play international golf at the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation’s Senior Amateur Championship, which will be held at Discovery Bay Golf Club at the end of November.
Seniors Close Final Standings Senior standouts: William Chung is flanked by division winners and runnersup and staff of title sponsors MacGregor (top); Matajiro Nagatomi (right), who was looking for a fourth victory in this event, had to settle for second place 38
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1 2 3 4 5 6= 9 10
William Chung Matajiro Nagatomi Akiyoshi Kubota Roderic Sage Joseph Pethes Edwin Lam Anthony Taylor Chu Koon-ching Chin Young-hawk Kim Suk-gul
78 78 73 75 76 79 81 77 75 78 80 78 79 80 78 81 77 77 77 80 82 80 75 84 79 80 82 88 81 79
229 230 233 236 237 239 239 239 241 248
Charity Drive Late April saw the staging of the EFG Bank Young Golfers Foundation HKGA Charity Golf Day at the ever-spectacular Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club
C Daniel Wong
oming weeks after EFG, the renowned Swiss private bank, had announced that it will continue its sponsorship of the HKGA’s junior development programme to the tune of HK$3 million over the next three years, the event was attended by a select group including the charity’s sponsors, Hong Kong Golf Association executive committee members and the main beneficiaries of the charity – the Hong Kong junior squad. All the money raised from the day will go towards the activities of the foundation. “At EFG Bank, we believe in identifying and investing in talent early,” said Albert Chiu, chief executive of EFG Bank Asia. “Since 2008, we have forged a partnership with the HKGA to foster young golfing talent. In support of this, we have also formally launched the EFG Bank Young Golfers Foundation in 2010.” The EFG Bank Young Golfers Foundation aims to promote and support the development of young golfers in Hong Kong up to the age of 21. It will support young players competing overseas, provide scholarship schemes, and enable new tournaments to strengthen the base of Hong Kong’s younger players. In addition, funding will be available to other organisations active in supporting young golfers in Hong Kong.
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“We strongly believe in the EFG Bank Young Golfers Foundation and will make a significant contribution to it.”– Albert Chiu, EFG Bank
Charity Golf Day Prizes Longest Drive: Nearest the Pin: Best Gross: Best Nett: Team (Charity Award):
Eugene Pak Ricky Chan Terrence Ng Tony Lai Bob Chiu, David Hui, Albert Lee and Steven Lam HKGOLFER.COM
“We believe strongly in this initiative, and will also make a significant contribution to it,” continued Chiu, an avid golfer himself. “Indeed, we also ask you to make contributions directly to the Foundation. Every donation will go in its entirety to supporting junior golf, and will be added to the commitment of EFG Bank. Furthermore, the Hong Kong Inland Revenue Department has granted charitable status to the Foundation, meaning that donations are exempt from tax under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance.” Added Iain Valentine, chief executive of the HKGA: “EFG’s support of the development of golf in Hong Kong has been nothing short of superb and it has been exciting to witness the fruits of their sponsorship. Hong Kong junior golf has never been stronger and initiatives like the EFG Bank Young Golfers Foundation promise a very bright future for the game in this city.”
Solid foundation (clockwise from top): Albert Chiu, chief executive of EFG Bank Asia; Terrence Ng receives his trophy from EFG’s Bob and Albert Chiu; Tiffany Chan is all smiles; guests of the day; Mimi Ho in action
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Champion elect: Unho Park on his way to a narrow one-shot victory over Guido Van der Walk (right) in second place 42
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Last-Gasp Park Asian Tour regular had a red-hot putter to thank after claiming his first Ageas Hong Kong PGA Championship title, writes Mathew Scott
Photography by Daniel Wong
gamble on a borrowed putter paid rich dividends for Australia’s Unho Park as he drained an 18-foot birdie putt on the last to seal a one-stroke victory at the HK$400,000 Ageas Hong Kong PGA Championship last month. The Singapore-based 38-year-old had come to the par-four 18th at the Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau’s North Course locked in the lead at three-over par with Guido van der Valk, but showed no nerves as he rattled home the putt to put all the pressure on his playing partner. The Dutchman had left his own approach on the last about 16 feet above the hole and then hit his birdie chance wide to hand Park his maiden Hong Kong title and the HK$72,000 first prize. “For the first two days my putting had really let me down,” explained a delighted Park. “I thought coming here today I had nothing to lose so I just borrowed a putter from my friend, who is also my caddie, and the putts just fell for me all day.” It was the Asian Tour veteran’s first attempt at the Ageas Hong Kong PGA Championship and he left the course singing the praises of the event’s unique format, which takes players to three different courses over three days’ play. “Mentally it is a really challenge, especially coming in here blind having not played the event before,” said Park who turned pro back in 1997 and had 10 titles to his name coming into the Hong Kong event. “From the Hong Kong Golf Club, to Discovery Bay and then to here today you really have to be on your game as the conditions change so it tests you every inch of the way. Winning today has given me a real lift and now I hope I can continue with confidence for the rest of the year.” It was the second year running that Van der Valk had to make do with the runners-up cheque but the Manila-based 32-year-old, who finished second behind Jean Van de Velde 12 months ago, said he had left nothing out on the course after finishing at three-over 217. “I knew Park had been putting well and he was in the perfect spot on the last,” said Van der Walk, who shot a brilliant 67 – the low round of the HKGOLFER.COM
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“I thought coming here today I had nothing to lose so I just borrowed a putter from my friend, who is also my caddie, and the putts just fell for me all day.”– Unho Park Ageas Hong Kong PGA Championship Final Standings 1 Unho Park 2 Guido Van der Walk 3 Wong Woon-man 4= Chris Tang Lam Chih-bing 6= Wayne Grady Wilson Choy 8= Terrence Ng* Timothy Tang 10 David Freeman 11 Jimmy Ko 12= Jovick Lee Tang Man-kee CJ Gatto Dominique Boulet * Denotes amateur
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71 73 72 67 76 74 71 73 74 75 69 75 71 71 77 74 72 75 70 75 76 72 72 79 76 73 74 71 76 77 76 74 75 77 76 74 75 73 79 74 72 81 73 73 81
216 217 218 219 219 221 221 223 223 224 225 227 227 227 227
HK$72,000 HK$49,000 HK$27,700 HK$20,600 HK$20,600 HK$14,400 HK$14,400 N/A HK$11,500 HK$10,100 HK$9,100 HK$7,540 HK$7,540 HK$7,540 HK$7,540
tournament – on day one at Fanling. “In those situations there is nothing you can doubt; make your own putt and I didn’t, simple as that. I just hit it a little too hard and away the ball went. But it’s been a good few days for me – to finish second on my own is good enough.” Third place when to local golfer Wong Woonman at four-over 218 while Australia’s 1990 US PGA Championship winner and tournament drawcard Wayne Grady had to leave the course content with a share of sixth place after finishing on seven-over 221. Hong Kong international Terrence Ng, the only amateur in the field, put in an impressive opening two rounds before slipping back on the final day with a 79. Nevertheless, the 18-yearold, a member of the Putra Cup side that finished second last September, can take heart from his tie for eighth in this elite field. It wasn’t such a sweet homecoming for former amateur champion Konstantin Liu Lok-tin however. Liu, 18, who turned pro last September, struggled on his return to Hong Kong after time spent in Europe, fading to an 81 on the first day. Steadier efforts in the latter rounds resulted in a tie for 20th for the longhitting Liu. HKGOLFER.COM
Men in contention (clockwise from top): Singapore's Lam Chihbing; Dominique Boulet and Wayne Grady; 18th green congratulations; amateur Terrence Ng and his caddie Marcus Lam; Jimmy Ko tees off; Wong Woon-man finished as the top local player; 2010 champion CJ Gatto in action
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After some minor tweaking by the USGA, the venerable Lake Course at San Francisco’s Olympic Club appears primed to host yet another classic US Open
Photography courtesy of Nicole Ciaramella/USGA
o borrow the words of former United States Golf Association Executive Director Frank Hannigan, something magical always seems to happen at Olympic. From June 14-17, the strictly private Olympic Club in San Mateo County just south of the City of San Francisco will host the national championship of the United States for the fifth time over its Lake Course – 14 years since the last Open staged there in 1998. The US Open’s four previous ventures to Olympic have certainly been memorable. But perhaps more tellingly they have also seen a handful of the game’s legends endure some of the most heartbreaking defeats ever on the major championship stage.
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Olympic hurdle: after an unusually receptive test at Congressional last year, the US Open returns to the challenging Olympic Club's East Course, here at the 8th hole HKGOLFER.COM
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San Francisco stalwart: the luxurious clubhouse at Olympic Club (top); the course's glorious 7th hole 48
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There was the seemingly impossible victory by Billy Casper in 1966, where he defeated Arnold Palmer in a play-off after the King held a seven-shot lead with only nine holes to play. And then was there was the classic ‘David and Goliath’ story of unheralded club professional Jack Fleck who caught and then beat the genius that was Ben Hogan in an 18-hole play-off in 1955. These stories have been recounted so many times that the stories have been etched into folklore. In a similar vein, Tom Watson – already an eight-time Major winner – was thwarted over the final holes for a second US Open crown at Olympic in 1987 by journeyman Scott Simpson. Watson’s fellow luminary Seve Ballesteros finished close behind in a tie for third. Current USGA Executive Director Mike Davis echoed his predecessor’s thoughts about the US Open’s return to California for a third time in the past five years. “I know I love coming to coastal California, there is something magical about it. First of all, in June it’s great weather but coming to San Francisco is great. To travel (here) to the US Open, whether it’s domestic or international,
people love coming to this city; the hotels, restaurants, it’s just great to be here,” said the highly regarded Davis said. The Olympic Club, which offers plenty more than just golf and whose total membership currently exceeds 5,000, has seen a number of course changes since opening for play in 1919 with a design by Sam Whiting. Prior to hosting its first Open in 1955, Robert Trent Jones Sr was hired to work on the course over a twoyear period and in preparation for the 2012 Open, some substantial alterations have been carried out by course architect Bill Love, in close association with the USGA. Mike Davis, perhaps not surprisingly, thinks Love has done a marvelous job. “I’ve yet to hear anybody that’s even remotely neutral on his work,” said Davis. The USGA will set up the course to play to 7,154 yards for the Open to a par of 70, which is approximately 357 yards longer than the 1998 championship when Lee Janzen overcame a faltering Payne Stewart by a single shot. Davis notes that playing an Open at under 7,200 yards is short by modern day standards but points out that the course won’t ‘play’ short. “We’re at sea level here, and with the cold, HKGOLFER.COM
The US Open’s four previous ventures to Olympic have certainly been memorable. But perhaps more tellingly they have also seen a handful of the game’s legends endure some of the most heartbreaking defeats ever on the major championship stage. moist air that you’ve got, the ball just doesn’t go as far. So I think that is a very deceiving yardage and a yardage that I don’t think, in fact, I know we’ll not be playing that full yardage on any given day.’ said Davis The golf course itself will also play differently to most other US Open venues and is regarded by the USGA supremo as one of the best shot making venues on the rota. A feature unique of Olympic, Davis pointed out, is that at least four holes have a dogleg going in one direction but the cant of the fairway goes in the other, citing the 4th, 5th, 9th and 17th holes as examples. “In those cases, you really do need to be able to work your golf ball. It’s something you don’t see on tour much anymore, guys purposely trying to work it one way or actually both ways,” said Davis.
“I think here when you get firm conditions, and we are almost guaranteed we will have firm conditions here in June, if you’re trying to play a left to right shot on the 4th hole, it’s never going to work. Or if you’re trying to play a left right shot on the 5th hole, it’s not going to work, and I can keep going on and on. So I think being able to maneuver your ball is really a great advantage for this Open,” Davis continued. “We can get it firm enough where the players have to think about what happens when the ball lands, and that is not just on the greens, but on the fairways and when you miss a green. So it certainly adds an element and dimension that makes it tougher.” The Olympic Club’s close proximity to the coast also guarantees that a degree of wind will play a role in the Open. The fact that the course
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“The first six holes are going to just be brutal. However on the back nine, we potentially could see a US Open where the last five holes are finished with somebody hitting wedge on every hole.” – Mike Davis
Tantalizing trio (clockwise from opposite): the front nine presents no easy start, here at the 3rd, 9th and 2nd holes
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is heavily tree-lined makes life tougher still; stand on the foliage-enclosed tee boxes and you’ll have a tough time gauging the breeze, if you can feel it at all. But it’s almost certainly there. The notoriously slick greens will be a much anticipated prospect for spectators and a worldwide viewing audience, who in the main appreciate the chance to see the world’s best tested more than they might be used to at a regular tour event. The challenge this year of a USGA setup of ‘firm and fast’ putting surfaces will be exacerbated by the natural slopes and undulations of the fairways and green complexes at Olympic, where razor sharp short game skills and patience will be absolute pre-requisites for success. The USGA plan to have the greens running at between 11.5 to 12.5 on the Stimpmeter, which they feel is optimum. They will also shave some of the green surrounds on more holes than players will be used to at other US Open venues
to bring more short game options into play. Other changes to the course setup or the design changes made by Love include a change to the par for the 1st and 17th holes (turning these short par fives into long par fours), a new 8th hole and a new tee on the par-five 16th – allowing the USGA to set the tees back to play at an astonishing 670 yards on some days of the championship. “The first six holes are going to just be brutal. I would contend if you play the first six holes in two over, I don’t think you’re giving up anything to the field,” said Davis. “However on the back nine, we potentially could see a US Open where the last five holes are finished with somebody hitting a wedge on every hole. That may not happen on 17, because they may go for it in two so they’re not really hitting a wedge approach, but if you think about this US Open, it’s unique. “You’ve got a new tee at 16, the par five, the big dogleg that we’re going to play on Sunday at 670 yards. The reason we did that is we really felt that that would make it a true ‘three shotter’. The wonderful thing about that hole is that from the back, if you miss any one of your shots, it’s awful hard to catch up. We won’t play it back there every day but it will certainly play like it did, I think in my opinion, when Hogan and Palmer played it back in 1955 and ‘66. It will be
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Fitting finale: the 18th (top) – an exciting home hole – will ensure drama a plenty come Sunday; Rory McIlroy poses with the US Open trophy after romping to victory at Congressional last year
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a big, big par-five for them.” Rory’s McIlroy’s record breaking win at an unusually placid Congressional last year has not been a primary catalyst for any change in thinking by the USGA in their plans for the golf course, although it’s safe to assume that the reigning Hong Kong Open champion’s historic scoring will not come anywhere close to being bettered at Olympic. “One hundred and eleven US Opens have been played and he [McIlroy] not only broke the record, but he broke it by a good bit,” Davis pointed out. But how does the USGA feel about that? “We have a great, great champion in Rory McIlroy,” said Davis. “I don’t care what the conditions were, Rory would have lapped the field whether it was firm and fast or soft the way it ended up being all four rounds at Congressional. So I think we were very, very pleased about Rory as our champion but I think the one aspect we weren’t overly happy with was it was so soft. No blame directed at Congressional, we just got rain every single night ... that’s how much Mother Nature can affect things.” If the rain stays away, Olympic should provide another classic US Open test. But with its track record of creating heroes out of underdogs, don’t be surprised by anything. Spencer Levin to beat Phil Mickelson in a play-off, anyone?
Distinctly Icelandic Professor Ă rni BjĂśrnsson director of the ethnological department of the National Museum of Iceland and a well-known authority on Icelandic folklore and traditions www.jswatch.com
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Off the Rails at Olympic How a contributor’s quest to tame this year’s US Open venue turned into a nightmare of epic proportions
aybe I was too jetlagged f rom f ly i n g h a l f way around the world the night before. Maybe I spent too much t i me fiddling with my swing on the driving range. Maybe I put too much pressure on myself to do well – in front of my brother, his friend and his colleague. Or maybe the course, in its current state, set up for this month’s US Open, is meant to do this – beat the club sandwiches out of golfers of any caliber. Whatever the reason for my monumental collapse at Olympic Club last month, it happened. Three weeks on, it continues to gnaw at me like an over-caffeinated rat. I don’t know whether to give up the game for a while, go back to the drawing board or just accept it for what it was – 18 headscratching holes. Golf is a cruel sport. Especially when it’s got a kung-fu grip on you, and you experience “one of those days.” Going into the round, I thought my chances of breaking 90 were, well, decent. After all, I’d recently managed to whittle my USGA index down to an all-time low of 5.4. And just two years earlier at Pebble Beach, another course the USGA was prepping for “the toughest test in golf,” I’d carded an 81 — a score that came before I received my first set of proper lessons, before I had an understanding of correct mechanics, before I trusted what I was doing. So there was hope. A lot of hope, in fact. But almost immediately on that fateful Monday, I got a case of the Mondays. We started on hole 14, a gentle dogleg left par four. I smacked a drive up the right side of the fairway, but the shot stayed straighter than Charles Howell III’s personality. It sailed through the dogleg and landed in the rough. Not ideal, but not unfamiliar territory, either. Still 185 yards from the front edge, I pulled a hybrid and tried to punch my approach toward 54
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the throat, hopeful I could get it to run up between the greenside bunkers. Only the rough strangled my club like a boa constrictor. The ball dribbled about 20 yards. Still in the rough, but sitting up, I flushed a 6-iron that smacked into the lip of the right bunker. I blasted out to the middle of the green, but this putting surface – firmer than a hardwood floor – didn’t take the spin. The ball rolled off the back edge. I chipped up to 10 feet and made the putt for a double-bogey. I was flustered but not demoralized. I’d hit some good shots. And I knew that, on this course, good shots weren’t going to guarantee much. But then I hit the worst of shots. On the 140-yard, par-three 15th, I chose an 8-iron, stepped onto the tee box, got into a comfortable stance and visualized a high draw sweeping in from the right, toward the front left pin location. Instead, I produced what all golfers fear more than anything: a shank. The ball whizzed between two tall Cypresses and straight toward a TV crew standing next to another tee box. We all got a good laugh out of it, but inside I was weeping. A shank will do that to you – shatter your confidence, cause you to question what you believe to be true, get into the Reality check: depths of your head. the author at And so I did it again on the next Olympic hole, the 609-yard 16th. After another drive up the right side and into the rough, I shanked a 6-iron. Lying 2 from in the rough and more than 350 yards away, I bent over, clutched my knees, and stared blankly at the thick turf between my feet. Now I really was demoralized. And embarrassed. Despite all the time I’d put into becoming a respectable player, I didn’t know how to right the ship in this moment. Past accomplishments didn’t matter. They were irretrievable. I was in a place no golfer ever wants to be: Cluelessville. Somehow, I didn’t shank one the rest of the day, but the path to a 103 – an unthinkable 26 strokes over my handicap – was set. I drop-kicked a pair of drives, the second of which ricocheted off a grandstand railing and disappeared. And on the rare occasion when I did find the sweet spot, the canted fairways acted like windshield wipers, in one instance sending my ball a good 20 yards into the high stuff. At the end of the day, I took solace in just two things: Olympic Club’s legendary cheeseburger on a hot dog bun, which was indeed as good as advertised; and the fact that, upon reflection, even had I had all parts of my game in order, I’d have taken a beating. I’ve played all over the world, but never somewhere so punishing and merciless. Which is why I can’t wait to see what Bubba and the boys do come June 14. Having walked what awaits them, I’m convinced there will be train wrecks. And perversely, I look forward to the carnage. Because as they say, misery loves company.—Scott Resch HKGOLFER.COM
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Game changer: Ernie Els, seen here at Pebble Beach, broke the American dominance of the US Open with victory at the 1994 event at Oakmont 56
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International Rally For a major that has traditionally favoured home-grown players, recent editions of the US Open have been highlighted the ascent of the internationals. Lewine Mair examines the reasons why
n the US Open’s first hundred years, there were so few overseas winners that anyone scanning the list of champions could very easily be left with the impression that the event was closed as opposed to open. Take, for example, the period from 1970 to 1994.
Tony Jacklin won at the beginning of the 1970s, but until Ernie Els changed the course of US Open history by seizing the title at Oakmont in 1994, there was only one outside winner – Australia’s David Graham in ’81 – sandwiched between 22 Americans.
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“You would be called to the media centre as the tournament leader and, within a matter of minutes, the writers and TV people would be reminding you that no British player had won since Jacklin. It was almost as if they were saying that it wasn’t possible for you to win, that it wasn’t going to happen.” – Colin Montgomerie
The ecstasy and the agony: Englishman Tony Jacklin (top) claimed the US Open in 1970 for his second major triumph; Colin Montgomerie (opposite) has suffered as much heartache in the tournament's history as anyone 58
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Hardly surprisingly, the home players felt pretty much invincible for most of that stretch, and not least because they were rightly able to remind themselves that they had the upper hand when it came to the fickle US Open rough. Yet there is no question that they would have been keeping an ever more of a wary eye on what was happening elsewhere. At Augusta, for instance, Seve Ballesteros had opened the floodgates for outsiders with his 1980 Masters win. He enjoyed a repeat victory in 1983 and, by the end of the 1994 championship, all of Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam and José María Olazábal had their names etched beneath his on the trophy. Meantime, results in the Ryder Cup were mirroring those at Augusta, with Europe bringing their barren spell to an end by winning in 1985 and 1987 and retaining the trophy in 1989. Amid such goings-on, Ken Schofield, the then CEO of the European Tour, had seized the moment to apply pressures of his own on his colleagues across the pond. He had good reason to press for his players to be allowed better access to their events and, finally, he made his breakthrough. “In terms of real opportunity for European Tour members to play in majors,” remembers Schofield, “the single biggest moment came in 1994 when the USGA agreed to exempt the top 15 from our Order of Merit into the US Open.” European Tour members were desperate to make the most of their new chances in a US Open context but that was easier said than done. Allow Colin Montgomerie, who won seven European Tour Order of Merits in a row from 1993, explain why: “The fact that no-one other than David Graham had won since Jacklin in 1970 was a big pressure, firstly on Nick Faldo and then on me,” explains the 2010 Ryder Cup captain. “What would happen is that you would be called to the media centre as the tournament leader and, within a matter of minutes, the writers and TV people would be reminding you that no British player had won since Jacklin. It was almost as if they were saying that it wasn’t possible for you to win, that it wasn’t going to happen. “By the time you walked away, you felt 10 times the amount of pressure on your shoulders than when you went in.” Montgomerie experienced that scenario for a first time in 1992, the year when Jack Nicklaus actually congratulated him on winning – both to his face and on TV – before Tom Kite and Jeff Sluman upped their games in the worst of the weather at Pebble Beach to sneak in ahead of him. And it was the same all over again in 1994 when he and Loren Roberts lost out in a play-off to Ernie Els. HKGOLFER.COM
In recalling those occasions, Montgomerie digressed to take a wider look at the situation; at how sportsmen everywhere mostly suffer some kind of mental block. He cited Bjorn Borg, who won all the other tennis majors but never a US Open; Ivan Lendl who, try as he might, could not win on the grass of Wimbledon. “My ‘block’,” he continued, “applied at all the majors but it definitely had its origins in what happened at those early US Opens. When Els addressed the press following his first win in 1994, he put down his success to his youth. He, like Montgomerie, had been well and truly briefed on how the odds were stacked against the overseas players but, at 24, he was six years younger than Monty and was not about to be spooked by such things. “When you’re in your early 20s,” he explained, “there’s not too much fear around you. You haven’t had too many disappointments. I felt it was my time and, when you’ve got that kind of confidence, you know you can do it.” Els’ words struck a chord with Laura Davies who captured her US Women’s Open title at Plainfield in 1987. Like Els, she had to come through a three-way play-off. HKGOLFER.COM
“It’s definitely an advantage to be new or relatively new to the scene,” says Davies, as she looks back to that gloriously carefree stage of her career. “The first couple of times you go over to a US Open, you just play. But every year after that it gets tougher as you take more negative thoughts on board. Your fellow players will be talking about the length of the rough and the toughness of the course in general and, try as you might, you can’t close your ears to such things. They get to you.” Davies was not remotely surprised that Els should have been the player to break America’s stranglehold on the US Open: “Apart from the fact that he was young, he was South African – and South Africans have a wonderful calm about them.” In addition to Els, Davies was thinking of Retief Goosen who, after Els had triumphed in 1994 and again in 1997, matched his compatriot’s twin wins with victories in 2001 and 2004. So cool was Goosen when it came to putting on the impossibly slick greens at Shinnecock Hills that a member of the media was moved to ask, lightly, if he had a pulse. It goes without saying that Goosen’s triumphs were also down to the “If Ernie can do it, I can do it” syndrome. New Zealand’s Michael Campbell was the player to follow Els and Goosen in being the next overseas winner. Campbell, who had played his way through international qualifying at Walton Heath, has always talked of how he was able to stay nicely under the radar as the media concerned themselves with whether or not Goosen might win for a third time. Next up was Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy, who stood firm while Montgomerie and Phil Mickelson made their 11th-hour mistakes at Winged Foot in 2006. And after Ogilvy came Angela Cabrera. Cabrera was not young – he was 37 at the HK Golfer・JUN 2012
“In terms of the balance of power the key is that both in the Ryder Cup and in the majors, our European Tour players have become truly competitive on an on-going basis ... I don’t believe anyone today would want to argue with that.” – Ken Schofield
Sweet success (clockwise from top): Reteief Goosen putted his way to his second US Open victory at Shinnecock Hills in 2004; Ernie Els celebrates his first; Graeme McDowell became the first Northern Irishman to lift the title in 2010 at Pebble Beach; Angel Cabrera held off the challenge of Tiger Woods to win at Oakmont in 2007 60
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time – but he is the last man on earth to worry about such things as to whether he was going to be the first winner from the Argentine. Plenty were waiting for the wheels to come off for this charging bull of a golfer but that never happened. He finished two clear of Tiger Woods at a brutally uncompromising Oakmont and his life changed overnight. When Graeme McDowell was heading for victory in 2010, the British press were able to return to the, “No British player has ever won since Jacklin’ theme. McDowell, though, had more recent history on his mind. Ireland’s golfing spring had started when Padraig Harrington won three successive majors – two Opens and a US PGA – across 2007 and 2008. Harrington’s results had their effect on everyone in the Emerald Isle. “It’s watching colleagues and friends and guys you play with week in week out doing things like that,” said McDowell. “It gives you belief.” There was another interesting thread to all this overseas activity. Just as Els had watched Larry Nelson winning at Oakmont in 1983, so McDowell had seen everything of Els’ maiden major victory. “I was only 14 or 15 at the time but I was a big Ernie Els fan when he won at Oakmont. I wanted the same Lynx clubs as he was using and the same Ashworth shirt that he was wearing.” Intriguingly, Davies advanced the increased televising of the majors as something which would have helped the non-Americans’ cause. “I think Ernie probably did more than Gary Player in that regard,” she hazarded. “Great player that HKGOLFER.COM
Gary was, golf fans couldn’t follow his progress in the majors as they could Ernie’s.” When, in 2011, Rory McIlroy followed on from his friend McDowell, there were several good reasons why people should have rushed out to put their money on him. Firstly, he was less consumed with the stature of the championship than the need to hit back after what had happened to him at the Masters. Secondly, there was that old knock-on effect kicking in once again. He had always believed that anything McDowell could do, he could do better. Looking back across this extraordinarily successful period in the annals of the European Tour, the aforementioned Schofield suggested that the final piece of the jigsaw came with the start of the World Golf Championships at the end of the 1990s. “At that point,” he recalled, “American and European Tour players started to compete regularly each with each other and the hitherto ‘myth’ – if that is the right word – of American superiority started to be fully addressed. (Save, of course for the “Woods factor” because there was that considerable period when he dominated everyone and everything.) “In terms of the balance of power,” concluded the former CEO, “the key is that both in the Ryder Cup and in the majors, our European Tour players have become truly competitive on an on-going basis ... I don’t believe anyone today would want to argue with that.” HKGOLFER.COM
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Great expectations: With his win at the Wells Fargo Championship last month, Rickie Fowler enters the US Open in a rich vein of form 62
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They’re six of the best active players to have never won a major. Who of these can follow in the footsteps of the last three US Open champions – Lucas Glover, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy – and make the tournament their breakthrough success, asks Alex Jenkins Rickie Fowler It has taken a while but Rickie Fowler is now living up to the hype that greeted his arrival on the PGA Tour a little over two years ago. A first tour win came in fine style at the Wells Fargo Championship just last month when he birdied the first hole of a sudden-death play-off to edge out reigning US Open champion Rory McIlroy and DA Points. Now that he’s crossed the line, they’ll surely be many more to come for t he 23 -ye a r- old w it h t he re f re sh i n g ly unorthodox swing. What we like: In terms of sheer talent, Fowler is catching – if not yet overtaking – Rory McIlroy as the best 20-something player in the world. Exciting to watch, he showed he can tough it out with a fine showing at last year’s Open Championship, where he finished fifth in truly gruesome conditions. What’s stopping him: Aside from that Open, Fowler has been disappointing in the majors, particularly at the US Open where he has a best finish of tied 60th. Nevertheless, he’s in a rich vein of form and his Ian Poulter-like self belief should stand him in good stead.
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Luke Donald The most consistent player on the planet for the past two years, world No 1 Luke Donald has transformed himself from a good player who picked up a hatful of top 10s into a winning machine. With two victories already this season – including a successful title defence at the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth – Donald appears poised to break his major duck. What we like: Pretty much everything. Donald makes up for his relative lack of length with a laserlike iron game and he is arguably one of the best par putters in the sport. Perhaps his greatest strength is the fact he makes so few mistakes; in 2011 he went an incredible 449 holes without three-putting. What’s stopping him: The weight of expectation. He’s received unwarranted grief for being a majorless world No 1, which he has handled admirably, but you have to wonder if he has the mental fortitude to close the deal when he next gets in contention.
Lee Westwood Despite not winning a major, few players around the world can come close to the career résumé of Lee Westwood. He’s been ranked No 1 in the world on two separate occasions. He’s won 21 times on the European Tour and 38 times worldwide. He’s finished in the top 10 a staggering 13 times in majors, and in six of his past 10 major starts, the Englishman finished tied third or better. Surely the time has come? What we like: The best driver of a golf ball since Greg Norman – he’s as long and straight as they come – Westwood’s iron play is stellar too; finding the greens in regulation will be crucial at Olympic. What’s stopping him: Despite what he says, Westwood’s pitching and general short game is as lacklustre as it has ever been. He holes his fair share of putts but his lack of creativity with a wedge in hand has held him back from winning at the very highest level.
Sergio Garcia With 17 career top-10 f inishes in major championships, can Garcia finally shed his ‘nearly man’ status at the US Open? His recent form would suggest it’s a possibility – the world No 22 enjoyed a good run at the Masters – but that’s the frustrating thing about the sometimes petulant Spaniard: he’s so unpredictable. Garcia has been tied for third or better entering the final round of a major on six occasions; but in five of those he has scored over par. 64
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What we like: One of the best shot-makers of the modern game, Garcia’s imagination alone should have been enough for him to capture at least a couple of the big ones. What’s stopping him: A notoriously streaky putter, the Spaniard doesn’t exactly excel in the face of adversity – and make no mistake, he, like everyone else, will be confronted with plenty of that in San Francisco.
Adam Scott Say what you like about the long putter, the club has undoubtedly helped rejuvenate Adam Scott’s career, one that promised so much in his early years as a pro. A supremely talented ball-striker, the Australian is finally starting to see some form in the majors – a tie for eighth at the Masters made it back-to-back top 10s in the big events following a seventh place at last year’s US PGA. This, of course, followed his oh-so-near performance at Augusta in 2011 when he finished tied for second behind Charles Schwartzel. What we like: With his almost technically perfect swing, it remains a mystery as to why he has yet to cross the major hurdle. If he can get putt like he does at Augusta then he’ll be in the mix. What’s stopping him: He won’t admit as much but Scott surely hates the US Open. A career-best tie for 21st in 2006 – and just as worryingly, six missed cuts – is all he has to show from 10 appearances
For a man with as much PGA Tour success as Steve Stricker has had (eight wins since 2009), breaking through in majors has been incredibly difficult. At the US Open, he has two topfive finishes in 16 career starts, but those were back in the late 1990s. Stricker’s lone lead after 54 holes in a major came at the 1998 PGA Championship, when he was tied with eventual winner Vijay Singh. What we like: Striker is a brilliant grinder, thanks largely to his fabulous putting talents; you don’t expect him to slip away too often when he’s in or around the lead. Olympic has yielded more underdog US Open winners than any other venue: a Stricker win over the club’s fearsome Lake Course sounds about right. What’s stopping him: At the age of 45, he’d be the oldest winner of the tournament in its 127-year history. Not an impossible scenario, certainly, but that fact alone doesn’t exactly make you want to rush out and back him with your own money. HKGOLFER.COM
Who else? Ignore Jason Dufner at your peril. Two wins, a second place and a marriage to his childhood sweetheart all in the space of four weeks has resulted in a leap up the rankings to world No 8 and one very happy wife. As laid back as they come, Dufner could avenge his play-off loss to Keegan Bradley at last year’s US PGA if he can somehow maintain his staggering pace ... Justin Rose, the world No 6, has enjoyed a standout 18 months and heads to San Francisco in a rich vein of form following a second place at the BMW PGA Championship and a tie for eighth at the Masters. His US Open history is somewhat checkered however; two top 10s and four missed cuts in six outings doesn’t scream consistency. Major ambitions (clockwise from top): Adam Scott, seen here with caddie Steve Williams, will need to overcome his terrible US Open record if he's to capture his first major; Steve Stricker would become the tournament's oldest winner if he was to triumph at Olympic; Sergio Garcia is showing major form; can Lee Westwood finally come up trumps in golf's biggest events?; the major-less world No 1 Luke Donald will surely be the man to beat HK Golfer・JUN 2012
GOLF ATRAVEL Player’s Guide
Seaside sublime: the mammoth 12th at Kingsbarns is one of the greatest par-fives in linksland golf
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A Modern Marvel
The magnificent Kingsbarns Golf Links, which opened in 2000, is one of those rare breeds – a relatively new course that can stand comfortably alongside the greatest linkslands in the world Photography courtesy of Iain Lowe/Kingsbarns Golf Links
urning off the coastal road that links St Andrews to the fishing town of Crail on Fife’s eastern shoreline, visitors to Kingsbarns Golf Links drive a short distance up a narrow track before suddenly emerging at the clubhouse – a relatively small, comfortable building made from local stone. From here, atop the highpoint of the property, a panorama of the golf course unfolds, sweeping along a mile and a half of craggy beach with the North Sea as its backdrop. It takes just a fraction of a second to realise that you have arrived at somewhere very special indeed. In the 1990s, the American course designer Kyle Phillips laid eyes on the dormant golfing property overlooking the sea and immediately understood its potential. “Being familiar with some of the new courses in the St Andrews area, I had confidence that
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It takes just a fraction of a second to realise that you have arrived at somewhere very special indeed.
Northern delights (clockwise from top): thick gorse flanks the left side of the 17th hole; golfers are confronted with a long, well guarded green at the par-four 7th; the standout parthree 15th requires a long iron over an inlet if the green is to be reached in regulation
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something greater could be achieved,” said Phillips. “At that point in my career as a golf course designer, I was up for a challenge.” Phillips realised that with vision, hard work and patience he could turn what was essentially featureless farmland into a winning combination of rolling dunes, crumpled fairways and unparalleled sea views. His foresight and passion was shared by Californian real-estate developers Mark Parsinen and Art Dunkley, who financed much of the project and who have gone on to support other notable successes like Castle Stuart in Inverness. Kingsbarns was a great opportunity for Phillips to make his name as an architect, the moment having come shortly after he left Robert Trent Jones II’s practice to strike it out on his own. Parsinen was consulted on every
aspect of the design and his input garnered at every stage. A huge amount of earthmoving was undertaken in order to create the large sand dunes that run in a series of ridges parallel to the shoreline, and which now spectacularly frame many of the fairways and greens. Phillips stabilised unruly hillocks with native marram and fescue grasses, growing them rugged and wispy to make it look as if the site had been sculpted by wind and sea over aeons. The next stage in the creation was to carve beautifully twisted fairways into the dunes like tiered steps rising from the sea, ensuring the water views could be clearly appreciated from every hole. The result is the most authentic-looking modern links course ever made. When playing the courses there is not only the spectacular scenery to reflect on, but also 18 holes where strategy is at the heart of the design. Much like the fabled Old Course down the road in St Andrews, a braver line off the tee rewards an easier approach and for every flag position on Kingsbarns’ huge greens there is an optimum place to attack it from. Make no mistake, there is not a weak hole on the course; indeed, this is about as perfect a collection of holes as you can possibly imagine. Although like any world-class layout, there are a handful that garner slightly more attention than the rest. The opening hole star ts high by t he clubhouse, running 400 yards from the back tees, curving right and downhill to the sea. The way is strewn with deeply revetted bunkers, introducing golfers to the links’ gnarled, windswept characteristics. This is followed by four extremely attractive holes that run out alongside the sea and back in a narrow loop. HKGOLFER.COM
When playing the courses there is not only the spectacular scenery to reflect on, but also 18 holes where strategy is at the heart of the design. Much like the fabled Old Course down the road in St Andrews, a braver line off the tee rewards an easier approach.
TRAVEL PLANNER Kingsbarns Golf Links Yardage: 7,181 Par: 72 Designed by: Kyle Phillips (2000) Green Fees: £195 (May-November) Caddie Fees: £45 plus gratuity Closure: 29 September – 7 October 2012 Contact: kingsbarns.com
At the par-four 6th a real sense of the plateau nature introduced by Phillips to the land is noticeable as the round enters what was the location of the original course played over by Kingsbarns Society in the 18th century. The hole is not a long one at 337 yards, but the green is angled so that it favours approaches from the right-hand side of the fairway. For those brave enough to attempt it, a good drive must carry over to fairway bunkers. Any bailing out short and left leaves a tricky blind shot to the green. After the long and testing par-four 7th comes some respite at the pretty par-three 8th. Of all the course’s short holes – the others being 2, 13 and 15 – this is probably the last dramatic. However, the back nine more than makes up for it with a number of standout holes. The monster 600-yard 12th hugs the adjoining beach, its fairway arching around to the left and demanding three carefully considered shots if
the green is to be reached in regulation. The most famous hole at Kingsbarns – at least the one shown the most often on television when the annual pro-celebrity bash, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, visits – is the 15th, a jaw-droppingly beautiful par-three, which plays across the corner of a small sea inlet to a green set atop a jutting promontory. Often played into the prevailing wind, this hole measures every inch of its 185 yards. As the round draws to a close the final three holes provide a very strong finish, especially the 18th where the green sits perched on a ledge that is skirted all around its front by a sheer drop into a waiting burn. Pars here are something to be cherished. “When I first presented the Kingsbarns site to the eventual developers, I was able to convey to them my vision of transforming the fields into a course that would look and feel like a natural seaside links,” said Kyle Phillips about his creation. Just a year after opening, Kingsbarns was chosen by the European Tour to complete the trinity of courses that co-host the aforementioned Dunhill Links, alongside two ancient and colossal links: the Old Course and Carnoustie. This fact alone reflects the great esteem in which Kingsbarns is held and the success of what Phillips has managed to achieve – a modern layout that can stand comfortably alongside the greatest linkslands in the world.
HK Golfer・JUN 2012
The Rarest of Finds The unearthing of two dozen photos of the legendary ‘Old’ Tom Morris and his peers, which are set to go on sale for over HK$4 million, has wowed golf historians
or decades, these images gathered dust in a shed while their owner gave pride of place to a set of hickory golf clubs she felt sure were more valuable. It was only when she attempted to sell the clubs that she learned how wildly off course she was. While the clubs were virtually worthless, the rare pictures of Open winner ‘Old’ Tom Morris have been described as the golfing version of Tutankhamen’s tomb. The 24 pictures feature both Old Tom – four-time Open winner in the 1860s – and his son, Young Tom, the game’s first true prodigy, who won the title four times on the trot before dying in tragic circumstances, aged 24. The images were bequeathed to the woman owner’s family, friends of Old Tom, after his death in 1908. By the early 1990s, they lay forgotten in her potting shed at her home outside St Andrews. Then, in 1991, she asked a well-known English collector to look at the clubs with a view to selling them. When he and an American collector friend, who was in Scotland on holiday, visited her home weeks later, they informed her the clubs were of little value. Disappointed, she remembered the black and white snaps in the shed. Heading down the garden, they pulled open the wooden door which hadn’t been open for years. In one corner they found a group of framed photos sat among a bunch of 19th century terracotta pots and gardening items. The glass on the frames was so dark with dirt and dust they had to wipe it away with a wet rag just to see the image below. The first image was a head and shoulders portrait of Old Tom himself. Hiding any excitement they felt the collectors carefully wiped each one with the rag and each one was more exciting than the last. Not only were the photos of
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The collection has been described as the golfing version of Tutankhamen's tom Old Tom and his son but images of his greatest rivals from the mid-1800s, like first Open champion Willie Park and Allan Robertson, the famous clubmaker who is considered the world’s first professional golfer. Then it got better. Returning to the house, there were even more photos in her attic. All but forgotten, some of the photographs were still in the black funeral frames they had been placed in after his death. Months of negotiations followed but the two collectors finally bought the collection between them. Over the next decade they were studied and restored. In 2006 the American collector died and his part of the collection returned to the English collector as per their longstanding agreement. The collection, which first went on public exhibition at the inaugural St Andrews Golf Festival in May, is now on tour for six months – including New York and the Open Championship at Royal Lytham in July – before going on the market. They are expected to garner a price tag of at least £350,000 (HK$4.2 million). For more information visit www.oldgolfimages.com
Canny collection (clockwise from top): taken from the 1850s this image shows Morris accompanied by the likes of Cathcart, Anderson, Robertson and Sutherland; 'Old ' and ' Young' Tom Morris before the latter's tragic death at the age of only 24; an image dating the 1880s showing Old Tom wearing his trademark deerstalker HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・JUN 2012
education and golf
Nurturing Excellence Loretto School in Edinburgh offers students an outstanding opportunity to develop their golfing talents in tandem with a first-class education
olf is as integral a part of Scotland today as it was as far back as the 15th century when, the game of ‘gowf’, as it was known in those days, was banned by Parliament under King James II as a distraction from military training. Fortunately the ban was lifted when the Treaty of Glasgow came into effect in 1502 and the game has gone from strength to strength ever since. Scotland is the birthplace of the modern game and Loretto School in Edinburgh, perhaps because of its superb location next to the world’s oldest playing course, has a strong tradition of top level golf, dating back to its founding in 1827. The surrounding area of East Lothian offers a choice of magnificent links courses. Loretto School certainly has a long and distinguished history in UK educational excellence. Founded in 1827, Loretto is Scotland’s extant boarding school. This coeducational boarding and day school occupies 85 acres to the east of Scotland’s capital city and is a gateway to some of the world’s finest links courses. Perhaps appropriately, Loretto is situated next to the world’s oldest course, Musselburgh Links, with records showing golf being played as early as 1672. Over the years former pupils of Loret to have capta ined many of the best known clubs throughout Scotland and the U K. No fewer t ha n seven former pupils have captained The Royal & A ncient Golf Club, St Andrews, whilst 11have been captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the world’s oldest golf club and at least 10 have been Captains at Prestwick. Is it any wonder, then that Loretto boasts its own highly successful Golf Academy? 2012 sees the Loretto Golf Academy celebrate its 10th anniversary and what a meteoric rise it has been. As the late Alex Hay, one of the most respected golf commentators of his time, explained, “Loretto’s ties with golf go back a long way and the Golf Academy is a most exciting initiative.” From a humble beginning of six golfers back in 2002, to a current capacity of 50 young golfers, places in Loretto’s Golf Academy are keenly prized. Loretto is the most decorated Golf School in Europe. Rick Valentine, Loretto ‘s Director of Golf, has overseen the Golf Academy’s spectacular success. Rick’s golfing pedigree is impressive too; he was born in Dubai and raised in England where he completed a Sports Science Degree. After university he moved to the USA to attend the San Diego Golf Academy to work on his own game, as well 72
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as achieving an Associate degree in Golf Complex Management and Golf Professional. Rick moved to Hong Kong and pursued his amateur career for three years. He represented Hong Kong in the Eisenhower Trophy (World Amateur Team Championships), Nomura Cup (Asia Pacific Team Championships) and Putra Cup (South East Asia Team Championships), as well as many other international events; he won the China Amateur in 2000 as well as being the leading amateur in the Hong Kong Open in 2001 and 2002. Having returned to the UK in 2003, Rick competed in the Qualifying School for the Euro Pro Tour; he won a card and turned professional. Since joining L ore t to R ick ha s also completed the Foundation Degree through the University of Birmingham and is now an AA PGA Professional. R ick has also completed his Level 1 and Level 2 A SQ coach ing certificates for golf. R ick shares t he same passion and love for the game as his father, Iain Valentine, who is Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association. His grandmother was none other than Jessie Valentine MBE, one of the dominant figures in women’s golf for a period which spanned two decades from the mid 1930’s to the mid 1950’s and who notched up a staggering three British Ladies Championships between 1937 and 1958 in addition to six Scottish Ladies Championship titles. The Loretto Golf Academy attracts boy and girls aged 10-18 from all over the world and offers them an outstanding opportunity to develop their golfing talents in tandem with a first-class education. The school boasts its own ‘on campus’ practice facilities with a ‘Huxley’ nine-hole HKGOLFER.COM
artificial putting green, driving bays and bunker and chipping areas. There are also remarkable indoor facilities offering innovative practice programmes for both beginners and advanced players. Working closely with the Scottish Golf Union and in partnership with championship courses at Craigielaw and Archerfield, the Loretto Golf Academy ensures that it remains at the cutting edge of schools’ golf. It has continued to develop an unrivalled programme for aspiring golfers including one-to-one tutoring sessions, professional coaching in strength and conditioning using the Golf BioDynamics system, short game and sports psychology. The goal for many Loretto golfers is to attend an American university when they leave. Loretto has worked closely with ProdreamUSA since 2005 to ensure their players get the best possible advice during this important transition. “Our ultimate aim is to produce an Open winner. However, most golfers do not reach their peak until they reach their 30’s. Loretto’s day will come!” says Rick.
Working closely with the Scottish Golf Union and in partnership with championship courses at Craigielaw and Archerfield, the Loretto Golf Academy ensures that it remains at the cutting edge of schools’ golf
Champions in the making: Loretto has attracted young golfers from all over the world since the successful introduction of its acclaimed golf academy
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Castle, Anyone? The renowned Dornoch Castle Hotel, on the doorstep of the famous Dornoch links in northern Scotland, is now on the market
or HK$30 million – about what you’d pay for a three-bedroom apartment in the Mid-Levels – you can own a Scottish castle. I nt e r n at io n a l l y f a m ou s Dor noch C a st le Hotel , i n the heart of the beautiful Sutherland town of Dornoch 40 minutes north of Inverness, has gone on the market for sale for precisely that sum. Dornoch Castle Hotel occupies a stunning building dating from 1480 when the original building was built as a palace to the Bishop of Sutherland. The hotel sits directly opposite the inspiring 12th century Dornoch Cathedral. The beauty of the place, from a golfing point of view at least, is that right on its doorstep lies Royal Dornoch Golf Club, one of the world’s most loved links courses, one which attracts golfers from all four corners of the globe throughout the year. Access is good, too – Inverness airport is served by regular flights from London, Amsterdam, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow. An added incentive for potential buyers is the fact the region is witnessing unprecedented growth, with new businesses moving into the new energy park at nearby Nigg, thereby creating demand for more rooms and business trade for the foreseeable future. Dornoch Castle itself has proven to be extremely popular with whisky aficionados using the Castle as a base to tour the northern Distilleries. Whisky tasting breaks now help fill the hotel during the quieter months. David Reid of Knight Frank, who are handling the deal, said: “I have sold Royal Dornoch Hotel which attracted huge levels of interest and sold within a matter of a couple of weeks of coming on the market. With its amazing history dating from the 15th century there is no question that Dornoch Castle Hotel will receive similar international interest and, the fact that it is trading very well with exceptional profits will appeal to a huge variety of buyers.” Knight Frank are selling Dornoch Castle
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An added incentive for potential buyers is the fact that the region is witnessing unprecedented growth; demand for rooms in the area is high Hotel on behalf of well known hoteliers Colin and Roselyn Thompson who have decided with their involvement in other family business interests that now could be the right time to sell the hotel allowing new owners the opportunity to take the hotel even further. Colin Thompson commented: “With 25 rooms, restaurant, bar and lovely gardens we have considered a major extension development ourselves but realistically Roselyn and myself are so involved in other projects and have absolutely loved developing Dornoch Castle into exactly what it is today perhaps now is the time to move on.” Reid finalised by saying: “Our asking price of £2.5 million (approximately HK$30 million) for this charming hotel with huge amounts of historical interest is already attracting interest and I have received a few calls from America and London within only days of going on the market.” Perhaps there will be interest from this side of the world, too? For more information contact David Reid, a partner at Knight Frank on +44 (0) 7917 559335 / +44 (0)141 2219191 / email@example.com HKGOLFER.COM
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“In certain situations you really do get to see people’s personalities and people’s characters. I think that’s fun to see ... to see who they really are.” CONTINUED FROM PAGE 78
Overnight someone had trampled down the ground where his ball was lying, so therefore he had a much better lie. Now Darren being Darren knew the situation that [without the ground having been trampled down] he’d have had to chip it out sideways and then play his third onto the green. So, although his lie was improved overnight he hit the shot that he’d have had to hit the day before. That just shows you what kind of a character Darren really is. Courtesy of the Ballantine’s Championship
Style and substance: Poulter finished in a tie for 15th place at the Ballantine's Championship (top), 11 shots behind champion Bernd Wiesberger; joining Miguel Àngel Jimènez in a spot of cocktail making prior to the event 76
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Does a player’s character influence the way they play? I think so. I think character in the game of golf influences exactly how a golfer plays golf. There are lots of different types of players and there are lots of different types of characters within those players; generally you can kind of pick up how someone’s personality and how someone’s character is with the way they deal with certain situations and play certain shots.
Does a golfer need to play the game “true to himself”? Absolutely, I mean you have to be yourself. I think if you are being honest and being yourself and excited to play golf then your character will come out. I believe the player does need to be true to himself and true to the game for his character to actually come through. Whether it’s playing a shot, winning or whether it’s coming down the back nine, he does have to be to be himself to show his true character. Does a golfer only show his true character in moments of high pressure? Sure, I think under pressure, in certain situations, you really do get to see people’s personalities and people’s characters. And I think that’s fun to see people under that pressure and who they really are. Of the players that you admire, what is it about their personality that has made their mark on you? As I said, you find out a lot about people’s character when they are under pressure. When you think of the great moments involving the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Seve [Ballesteros], [Nick] Faldo or Payne Stewart – so many players that you’ve seen win big tournaments – they’ve been HKGOLFER.COM
able to deal with certain situations on the back nine to be able to win those majors. Who in golf did you look up to when first starting the game? Every time I’ve stepped on the golf course and played with someone that I’ve always looked up to and watched play golf is a special moment. From watching a player, fast forward the clock, and all of a sudden I’m standing on the first tee with Seve – it’s kind of an eerie moment I guess, watching somebody that you admire for so long and then you’re out there playing golf with them. For me every shot he [Seve] hit was a memory. It’s not just one shot; I think it’s every shot. Do you think that in the modern game, true character is not seen enough on the golf course? For me personally, to be able to show my character on the golf course is how I like to play golf. Looking at other people and how they react to certain situations: are they the same on the golf course as off the golf course? Sometimes that changes from time to time. I like to wear my heart on my sleeve – dead simple. I think whenever you step on the golf course you have to show passion and you should care about what it is you do. I’m a passionate guy that really takes care of what it is that he does.
“I like to wear my heart on my sleeve – dead simple ... I’m a passionate guy that really takes care of what it is that he does. Some people are quite the opposite.” Some people are quite the opposite but that is just other people’s personalities and character and how they express that on a golf course. What are your goals for the 2012 season? The goal for me is obviously to win as many tournaments as I can. I’ve won two tournaments in a year but I haven’t won three so I’d like to go out there and play well enough to win at least three tournaments. I’ve won a WGC event; I’d like to be able to go one step further. That one step further is obviously a major championship. We’ve got four of those and I’m going to try and peak around those four majors. What type of golfer would you like to be remembered as? Tough question because I haven’t won the tournaments I feel like I could win. I would like to think people will remember me as a great golfer, someone that enjoyed playing golf, someone that showed a lot of passion on the golf course and someone that had a great dress sense as well! I’ve won a few tournaments but there are still a few out there that I’d like to win so hopefully I can be remembered for the tournaments I haven’t quite won yet. The Ballantine’s Championship took place from April 26 to 29 at the Blackstone Resort, Icheon, Korea. For more information on the event and more analysis of the role that true character plays in golf visit www.ballantineschampionship.com
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As part of Ballantine’s campaign about the importance of character in golf, we interviewed some of the biggest names in the game about the moments when true character has been revealed on the golf course Poulter the prankster: the Englishman pokes fun at rival Rory McIlroy during the third round of the 2010 Hong Kong Open after holing a long putt for birdie. Poulter wound up winning the event.
What did it say about Tom Watson’s character the way he handled the press conference after coming so close to winning the Open at the age of 59 in 2009? I think everybody who followed golf, anybody that was a golf fan, was very touched with how Tom was able to roll back the years from the 1970s and ’80s and actually put himself in a position to win again. And I think as impressive was the way he handled himself in that position. Unfortunately he didn’t win, and I think most people in golf would have loved to have seen him win, but the way he controlled his emotion as he went through the play off, and how he acted as a gentleman in defeat was very impressive. Did that give you a different impression of Tom Watson than maybe you had before? Well, I wasn’t around to see Tom Watson play his best golf, but in 2009 he kind of rolled back the years and played his best golf again, so it was refreshing for me to be able to see the Tom Watson of old.
How impressed were you by the way Rory McIlroy bounced back to win the US Open? Yeah, for Rory to have that disappointment at Augusta last year would have been a tough one to take for him. But to see how he dealt with that, how he 78
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managed to take it within himself to prepare properly for the next major, and to come out as strong as he did to win the US Open, for me shows how good a player he is. I mean, he’s in his early 20s and he was able to deal with that disappointment. He was able to walk away, sit back and reflect upon it and actually come out and win in an incredible fashion at the US Open. Was there an element of surprise involved in that, that someone so young could show such depth of character? We all know how good a player Rory is; he’s going to be at the top of the world rankings for a long time. It [the Masters] was a tough thing for him to take but to see him turn that round in such a short space of time and actually deliver to win a major Championship was very impressive. What did the 2006 Irish Open say about Darren Clarke’s true character? Sure, I think that you can go back to the Irish Open in 2006 to show Darren’s character. He drove it in the rough and there was a delay so therefore he had to come back the following day [to play the shot]. CONTINUED ON PAGE 76 HKGOLFER.COM
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