Tag Archives: blubber

World of Golf: Such a shame that glory for Matt seems a bit flat

Such a shame that glory for Matt seems a bit flat

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UPDATED:

22:40 GMT, 14 May 2012

What's gone wrong with the Players Championship A few years ago it compared favourably with the Masters.

Successive wins for Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson brought with them an excitement that had been missing a month earlier during dull wins at Augusta for the likes of Trevor Immelman and Angel Cabrera.

Now the roars have returned every Sunday to the Masters while the Players has thrown up a hat-trick of winners all cut from the same mould.

Same same, but different: Matt Kuchar claimed victory in the Players Championship

Same same, but different: Matt Kuchar claimed victory in the Players Championship

Like Tim Clark and KJ Choi before him, this year’s winner Matt Kuchar is a fairways and greens man who gets the job done through consistency rather than flair.

Alongside Saturday’s pantomime villain Kevin Na, it made for perhaps the flattest weekend’s viewing we’ve seen all year. Why this has come about is a little course tweaking in both instances.

More from Derek Lawrenson…

Derek Lawrenson: Rickie's in tune with Golf Boys
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World of Golf: Americans in form, so it won't be an easy Ryder
30/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Former Open champion Curtis finds his salvation with a victory to savour
23/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Euro stars strike it rich as 130m Tour goes global
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Derek Lawrenson: The pride and passion of 'Blubber' Watson
09/04/12

Derek Lawrenson's Masters countdown: Jack's doing his bit for Luke and Rory
02/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Woods is back, but the UK's finest can defy his bid to be Master
26/03/12

World of Golf: Donald is back on top and enjoying the view
19/03/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

At Augusta they’ve made it a touch easier, thus loosening the reins for the adventurous players, allowing them to play their shots in the knowledge there’s an escape route if they just fail to pull them off.

That’s how you get winners like Bubba Watson.

At Sawgrass now, there’s no margin for error. You only have to miss a fairway by a couple of feet to be in trouble.

The greens are invariably protected by a thick lining of rough, thus nullifying the skill and imagination of the short game artists.

Maybe this is fair enough. Why should everything be set up in favour of the great flair players It just seems a shame given the passionate crowds the event attracts and the brilliant trinity of finishing holes.

This year they cut the rough down a little, and let’s hope they cut it down a little more next year.

Nobody wants to see the McIlroys and the Mickelsons having things all their own way. But neither do you want them feeling like they can’t deliver.

Don't miss it

The Big Miss has proved a huge hit with the book-buying public of America. The controversial tome written by Tiger Woods’ former coach

has been flying off the shelves, with more than 228,000 hardback sales.

Big booking: Hank Haney's tome on Tiger Woods has been flying off the shelves

Big booking: Hank Haney's tome on Tiger Woods has been flying off the shelves

‘A money-making exercise,’ raged Woods when it was published in March and he certainly got that right.

Offering an interesting insight into
the mind of the Tiger, there have been seven reprints already, netting
its author an estimated $1million.

Perhaps Haney could get Woods to have another dig before the paperback comes out and make him a further million.

Caddie Waite’s the Westwood pick

As you can imagine, Lee Westwood hasn’t been short of offers since it was confirmed he would be without his regular caddie Billy Foster for the rest of this season owing to the latter suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury.

The man he has chosen is experienced
Australian Mike Waite, who caddied for Kiwi Michael Campbell when he won
the US Open in 2005.

Leen on me: Lee Westwood has had a big decision o make about his caddy

Leen on me: Lee Westwood has had a big decision o make about his caddy

Westwood’s manager Chubby Chandler was sitting in the press centre on Friday when he took the call from Waite. Three days later, Waite was glad he rang, for based on current form, 10 per cent – the usual caddie quota – of what Westwood earns is a better rate of pay than the Prime Minister’s.

What happens to Foster if Westwood and Waite team up to win a major this summer ‘Billy will be back on the bag the moment he is fit again,’ said the loyal Westy.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

‘I actually think we might want to experiment with penalty shots for players who play slowly. But I don’t think it will make any difference.’

Is there anybody in the world who agrees with that comment from US Tour commissioner Tim Finchem No, didn’t think so.

Don’t experiment, Tim, implement it. Tiger Woods wants it, Luke Donald wants it, in fact everyone with half a brain wants it to speed the game up. Golf in threeballs on Thursdays and Fridays is so slow it’s all but unwatchable.

Uncertain future
Troubled waters: Ian Poulter won last year's Volvo World Match Play Championship

Troubled waters: Ian Poulter won last year's Volvo World Match Play Championship

Once a staple of the autumn calendar at Wentworth, the Volvo World Match Play Championship was relaunched last year in Spain, but it already faces an uncertain future following this week’s edition.

The first thing will be to persuade Volvo to carry on supporting it, which won’t be the easiest task given the tournament has failed to attract any of the world’s top eight players.

Assuming the sponsors can be persuaded to stay on board, the next thing will be to find the event another new home, for it won’t be held at this week’s troubled venue Finca Cortesin anymore.

‘I can see it moving around Europe,’ said Guy Kinnings, golfing supremo for IMG, who organise the event.

Let’s hope he sees another date as well. Being sandwiched between marquee events on both sides of the Atlantic just doesn’t work.

Derek Lawrenson: Americans in form, so it won"t be an easy Ryder

Americans in form, so it won’t be an easy Ryder

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 30 April 2012

When the UK’s finest were cutting a swathe through Florida in March, the golf correspondent of America’s best-selling newspaper turned in my direction and said: ‘This year’s Ryder Cup could get ugly for the US.'

What seemed a pessimistic viewpoint at the time bears no relation to reality come the first day of May. Make no mistake, the revival of American golf is in full swing.

Two years ago, the sport’s most powerful nation was in such a bad way that 11 out of 15 tournaments staged during the middle of the season were won by players from overseas. Only last year, a plaintive American voice asked Lee Westwood: ‘Do you think in our lifetime an American will win another major’ Now look at the transformation.

States of play: Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner are two of those leading America's resurgence on the Tour

States of play: Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner are two of those leading America's resurgence on the Tour

States of play: Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner are two of those leading America's resurgence on the Tour

More from Derek Lawrenson…

Derek Lawrenson: Former Open champion Curtis finds his salvation with a victory to savour
23/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Euro stars strike it rich as 130m Tour goes global
16/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: The pride and passion of 'Blubber' Watson
09/04/12

Derek Lawrenson's Masters countdown: Jack's doing his bit for Luke and Rory
02/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Woods is back, but the UK's finest can defy his bid to be Master
26/03/12

World of Golf: Donald is back on top and enjoying the view
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Derek Lawrenson: Rose can bloom into a Major winner like Nick
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Derek Lawrenson: Seve was special… but magnificent McIlroy is my No 1
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

In 19 events staged on the US Tour this year, the only non-Americans to get inside the winner’s circle were the trio of UK players — Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Luke Donald — who won in successive weeks in the Sunshine State, and the Swede Carl Pettersson, who just happens to be an American citizen.

On Sunday in New Orleans it was the turn of Jason Dufner to keep the internationals at bay, winning a play-off against South African Ernie Els for his first victory on tour.

Dufner is getting married on Saturday, so it is safe to say this week will go down as a life-changer. He and his wife are planning to take their honeymoon in the autumn but they might want to think about a further delay considering he seems a certainty to make America’s Ryder Cup team.

Masters champion Bubba Watson, US PGA champ Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Dufner, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods.

That’s not a bad core for captain Davis Love to work with, as he waits to see what the summer holds for Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler, plus the immensely promising Kyle Stanley and John Huh.

This American renaissance, together with home advantage, points towards a tense beauty in Chicago in September rather than an ugly one-sider.

Luke who is top of the tree again

Thanks to the grit and class of Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy’s second stay at the top of the world rankings lasted no longer than his first.

The Englishman’s third-place finish in New Orleans on Sunday was sufficient to limit the Ulsterman’s latest residency at the summit to just a fortnight. Don’t expect this to-ing and fro-ing between the pair to end any time soon, either.

Luke who's back: There is a familiar face at the top of the world rankings once again

Luke who's back: There is a familiar face at the top of the world rankings once again

McIlroy returns to action this week at the Quail Hollow Championship, the scene of his first American victory in 2010 and a course right up his alley.

Then both players will compete the following week at the Players Championship in Florida on a course that favours Donald’s strategic gifts over McIlroy’s naked aggression.

Then again, what price neither of them leading following the Players, with third-placed Lee Westwood bagging the biggest title of his career to leapfrog them both

Fascinating, isn’t it

Good enough

How good is the standard at amateur level these days For this weekend’s Lytham Trophy, those entrants playing off a handicap of plus 2.0 were balloted out of the original 144-man field.

'Makings of a great player': Javier Ballesteros

'Makings of a great player': Javier Ballesteros

Callum Shinkwin, 18, winner of the Hampshire Hog last week and a likely England international who plays off that mark, only got in as third reserve. Mind you, how many will play to their handicap around Lytham

I’ll certainly be impressed if the German Marcel Schneider — who plays off plus 5.2, would you believe — manages to do so.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

‘Javier has started very strongly. He is close to joining us very soon. He has the makings of a great player.’

Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal, after watching Seve Ballesteros’s son Javier notch a notable top-12 finish while competing as an amateur in a minor pro tournament in Barcelona last week. Javier, 21, is completing a law degree at Madrid University and has yet to decide whether to become a lawyer or a pro golfer.

Pain in Spain

‘There will be a reckoning,’ warned a Spanish journalist friend of mine after Spain was overlooked for the role of host for the 2018 Ryder Cup in favour of France.

As the European Tour sets down in Spain this week at the beginning of an extended stay on its home continent, it would appear to be already in place. Five events will take place in Spain this year, down from seven last year — and two of those scheduled to take place in the autumn currently have no venue listed or sponsor.

Indeed, the number of events to be staged in Europe as a whole is down from 27 last year to 23 at best. Meanwhile, another big event attracting all the stars was announced last week for Shanghai in October. Right now, watching Europe trying to compete against the Far East is a bit like watching the BBC taking on Sky.

Bubba Watson: The pride and passion – Derek Lawrenson

The pride and passion of 'Blubber' Watson

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 9 April 2012

Have you all been down to your local pro shop to enquire about a pink driver yet Or on to the internet to check out the new Masters champion's natty all-white outfit

No doubt the charitable causes Gerry 'Bubba' Watson espouses in both instances have received a huge boost following his stunning triumph at Augusta National but if both are too garish for your tastes, here is something he has got that every wannabe should copy: passion.

Cry your eyes out: Watson is consoled by his mum after winning the Masters

Tears of joy: Watson is consoled by his mum after winning the Masters

Has this game ever thrown up a purer example of what can be achieved with desire Maybe not since Lee Trevino.

If you think it just too fanciful a notion that Watson's never had a golf lesson in his life, never even watched his swing on video, here is what JJ Dunn, pro at the club where he played as a teenager in Bagdad, Florida, told the Augusta Chronicle: 'Bubba knows nothing about the golf swing. Not one thing. He grew up with Boo Weekley who was a keen student but Bubba just wasn't interested.

Green with envy: Last year's winner Charl Schwartzel presents Bubba with the green jacket

Green with envy: Last year's winner Charl Schwartzel presents Bubba with the green jacket

'There's no teaching what he has; no substitute for it. It's almost freakish what he does to create such clubhead speed.'

Watson went to the same school as Weekley, who grew up on a golf course in a house on the corner of a dog-leg. Typical Bubba. He could not play the hole conventionally but would curve the ball right over Weekley's house.

Through the eye of the needle: Watson plays his second shot at the 10th during the sudden death play-off

Through the eye of the needle: Watson plays his second shot at the 10th during the sudden death play-off

Such a skill came in handy on the second hole of his sudden-death play-off against the great South African stylist, Louis Oosthuizen. A rare inaccurate drive had left him deep in the woods, 160 yards from the hole.

Eclipsing Oosthuizen's remarkable achievement of only the fourth albatross in Masters history for shot of the day took some doing but Watson managed it.

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Needing to hook a wedge 40 yards in the air to find the green, Watson somehow pulled it off to clinch victory. Watching, his great friend Rickie Fowler chuckled to himself.

'He was probably better off having to play a shot no-one else could play rather than just having to hit it straight,' he said.

Watson has a reputation for dissolving into tears when he wins and here he convulsed great uncontrollable sobs on to the shoulders of his mum, Molly.

The emotion was heightened because he and his wife Angie adopted their first child, one- month-old Caleb, a fortnight ago.

'When we were on our first date she told me she had to adopt,' said Watson. For the past four years they have been going through what felt like a never-ending process.

'We finally heard on the Tuesday of the Arnold Palmer Invitational that we'd been successful and on the Wednesday we said yes,' he said.

'The following Monday we picked him up. Winning the Masters means everything right now but I know it's not real life and I'm looking forward to enjoying that again. I haven't even changed a diaper yet.'

There is a lot of John Daly in the way Watson, 33, plays golf, with his ability to hit the ball miles and his gossamer touch around the greens.

But off the course they could hardly be more different. Watson does not drink, smoke and would not dream of missing church on Sundays.

He almost caused a diplomatic incident in France last year at the French Open when he wrote off its various cultural attractions and said he could not wait to get home, but that is Bubba.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

'I have no idea what to say because I never got this far in my dreams.'

At the green jacket ceremony, Bubba Watson sums up what it means to win the Masters in his own inimitable way.

His genius lies in his hands, not his head, and then there is that enormous heart.

'This is what he worked for his whole life,' said mum. 'He didn't party when he was young, he played his golf. His dad always told us this would happen.'

Dad Gerry died of throat cancer two years ago and drawing attention to charities looking for cures is why Watson uses that unique driver he wields to such devastating effect.

And so a Masters that never relented for a minute in terms of pulsating excitement had delivered a winner who added up to another shining example of the American dream.

'The Masters champ, you think I'm done, right' Watson said, smiling. 'I know I can't beat this but hopefully I'll keep crying.'

His tears are welcome any time.

BBC taking the Michael

The vast number of critical emails I woke up to yesterday indicates that the BBC had another belter at the Masters. Didn't we predict in this column last week that Michael Vaughan would be a calamity That's the problem.

Under fire: Vaughan attracted criticism for his calamitous display at The Masters

Under fire: Vaughan attracted criticism for his calamitous display at The Masters

You can see the flaws in their celebrity-obsessed approach a mile off and yet still they blunder on. What is wrong with these people Why won't they ever listen to their audience

Lee's time will come

Lee Westwood's caddie Billy Foster described his man's tied-third finish at the Masters as the 'same old story' and it was hard to argue with that.

Tied first in birdies, first in greens in regulation but the nearly man of the major championship scene had 19 – yes, 19 – more putts than Phil Mickelson, one of the men who finished alongside him.

So close: Westwood was two shots away from making the play-off

So close: Westwood was two shots away from making the play-off

All right, Mickelson is always going to have fewer putts because he is always going to miss more greens, but almost five putts per round is a staggering number.

Still, an Easter Sunday finish seems the right occasion to insist we keep the faith.

Westwood missed one putt of 12 inches and another from two feet, but he was still there at the end, outplaying everyone from tee to green.

He is so mentally strong you do feel that somewhere along the line he is just going to have a week where they go in and he will win by six.

Given he will be 39 by the time the US Open takes place in June, let us just hope it is soon.

Masters 2012: Bubba Watson beats Louis Oosthuizen in play-off

Bubba swings into history… and busts into tears after thrilling sudden-death win over Oosthuizen makes him Masters champion

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UPDATED:

00:28 GMT, 9 April 2012

Bubba Watson versus Louis Oosthuizen in a sudden-death play-off for the Masters last night represented the homegrown hero with a swing all of his own against the groomed South African with a classic style.

In the end, following a gripping afternoon where the leading contenders showed us everything from an albatross to a full-blooded shank, it was Watson, the man who has never had a golf lesson in his life, who defied all the laws of logic to win with one of the great shots in golf history at the second extra hole. From out of the trees he deliberately hooked a wedge to set up a game-winning par.

Looking good in green: Bubba Watson dons the prized jacket

Looking good in green: Bubba Watson dons the prized jacket

Need a hand Prior champion Charl Schwartzel helps Watson put on the green jacket

Need a hand Prior champion Charl Schwartzel helps Watson put on the green jacket

Blubba: Watson bursts into tears after winning the Masters

Blubba: Watson bursts into tears after winning the Masters

Tears of joy: Watson with his mother Molly

Tears of joy: Watson with his mother Molly

bubba

bubba

Winner: Watson with his mother and caddy (left) and with sudden-death opponent Louis Oosthuizen (right)

Victory: Watson (right) hugs his caddie Ted Scott after winning his sudden death playoff

Victory: Watson (right) hugs his caddie Ted Scott after winning his sudden death playoff

Whoever thought there’d be a man in a
green jacket called Bubba Watson had missed from eight feet at the
first extra hole but was not to be denied. Welcome to the new John Daly
folks, without all the hang-ups about drink and countless marriages.
When it was over he duly became Blubber Watson, crying uncontrollably
while saluting the considerable number of Masters patrons who stayed
behind to salute his triumph.

Watson had shot 68 and Oosthuizen 69 to finish on 10-under-par totals of 278.

Another fabulous Sunday at the
Masters saw the luckless Lee Westwood shoot a final-round 68 to finish
tied third. On the 18th there was a characteristically majestic iron
shot and a typically defiant birdie but as ever the Englishman will look
back on a litany of missed putts.

Wonder shot: Watson heads into the rough to line up his miracle shot on the 10th in sudden death

Wonder shot: Watson heads into the rough to line up his miracle shot on the 10th in sudden death

Shake: Watson and Oosthuizen prepare for their play-off

Shake: Watson and Oosthuizen prepare for their play-off

Pleased: Oosthuizen celebrates his birdie putt on the 15th

Pleased: Oosthuizen celebrates his birdie putt on the 15th

Almost unbelievably after three
rounds he had taken 19 more putts than Mickelson and it didn’t get much
better in the final round either. At the 12th he missed from seven feet
for a birdie and again from 12 feet at the 16th but the killer miss was
at the par-five 15th, where a wondrous second shot finished just seven
feet from the hole.

Yes, he over-borrowed a touch, and that was all that
was needed to see the ball follow the contours of the hole and finish
right behind it, a quarter-inch from dropping. That’s the fractions
deciding majors these days.

This latest top three means he
becomes the first man in the history of the game to muster seven such
finishes without winning a major. He already was the only man to finish
in the top three in all four majors without winning one.

Any fears that this 76th edition
would struggle to maintain the breathless excitement of the first three
days were instantly dispelled when Oosthuizen began with a stroke of
genius that earned him a unique place in the tournament’s fabled
history.

Stroll: Watson and Oosthuizen walk over Hogan's Bridge

Stroll: Watson and Oosthuizen walk over Hogan's Bridge

Friendly: Paul Lawrie (left) and Lee Westwood shake hands after completing the final round

Friendly: Paul Lawrie (left) and Lee Westwood shake hands after completing the final round

An ideal drive down the par-five
second had left the 2010 Open champion with 260 yards to the flag. One
perfect swipe and a wonderful helping of good fortune later, and the
ball fell gently into the hole for the first albatross the tournament
has seen on that hole.

It is 77 years since Gene Sarazen
pulled off the first albatross at the Masters, at the 15th hole. It
helped him to victory and became known as the ‘shot heard around the
world’.

Oosthuizen’s magical blow was certainly heard all around Augusta
National. It was only the fourth albatross seen at the Masters, and the
first to be televised.

As if that wasn’t drama enough, we
then had Phil Mickelson making a jaw-droppingly bad decision at the
par-three fourth that saw the lefty play two right-handed shots in a row
and run up his second triple bogey of the tournament.

Deep: Phil Mickelson stayed close to the leaders

Deep: Phil Mickelson stayed close to the leaders

The three-time champion and
overwhelming favourite sliced his tee shot into the trees at this tough
short hole. Instead of going back to the tee and playing three, he tried
to hit it right-handed and almost missed it. He then tried again and
skewed it.

For two minutes the Masters had become the Hackers as
Mickelson’s madness threw the tournament wide open. He fought back to
finish alongside Westwood but you can’t win the Masters with two triple
bogeys.

On the fringes of contention were Ian
Poulter and Padraig Harrington, with both coming up short of making the
big play that would have entertained thoughts of a win.

Both however,
will be immensely encouraged going forward, with Poulter finishing on
five under after a 69 and the Irishman one worse after a gut-wrenching
double at the last. Justin Rose finished alongside him on four under
after a 68.

Wait: Oosthuizen stands on the 10th green

Wait: Oosthuizen stands on the 10th green

Good show: Matt Kuchar waves to his fans

Good show: Matt Kuchar waves to his fans

Not his day: Hunter Mahan lines up a putt on the tenth

Not his day: Hunter Mahan lines up a putt on the tenth

Oops: Westwood looks at a a shot in the rough

Oops: Westwood looks at a a shot in the rough

For his compatriot, Luke Donald, the
card in his back pocket might have said he shot the same last-round
score but to say the tournament as a whole wasn’t what the world No 1
envisaged would be a vast understatement.

There might have been a time
when he’d have sugar-coated the overall verdict but he’s become too good
a player to indulge in such hoodwinking and be happy with tied 32nd.

Not the one: Luke Donald did not enjoy a good Masters

Not the one: Luke Donald did not enjoy a good Masters

‘Regardless of how well I played
today I leave here disappointed,’ he said. ‘It’s not a nice feeling
waking up on Sunday morning at a major and knowing that no matter how
well you do it is not going to be good enough.’

Donald had a 10-minute conversation
with his performance coach Dave Alred – given the nature of both men,
you can be sure a tho-rough debriefing will follow – in which they
talked about the fine margins that make all the difference.

They will
look at the four three-putts Donald racked up, which is about the same
as he had for the whole of last year, never mind one event; two double
bogeys on par five holes.

Mess: Rory McIlroy endured a disappointing Masters

Mess: Rory McIlroy endured a disappointing Masters

Donald was the first in the
clubhouse of the trio of favourites who, if they had been horses, would
have pulled up lame.

Next up was Tiger Woods, turning in comfortably his
worst performance at the Masters as a professional. Here was yet more
evidence that Woods is now just another good golfer, who looks a
world-beater when he wins but plenty of frailties show up when he does
not.

Woods’s worst finish here had been tied 22nd but here he was tied
41st after a final-round 74.

Disappointment: Tiger Woods finished on the same score as McIlroy

Disappointment: Tiger Woods finished on the same score as McIlroy

Then came Rory McIlroy, who looked
every bit as deflated at the end of this event as he had when he closed
last year with an 80.

Who could have envisaged the Northern
Irishman shooting 77-76 over the weekend There are not many days when
he looks 22 but this, assuredly, was one of them.

He finished alongside Woods, just as
Sports Illustrated had predicted. So far down the pecking order,
however, was not quite what they had in mind.

Sand trouble: Oosthuizen hits from a sand trap on the 10th

Sand trouble: Oosthuizen hits from a sand trap on the 10th

Aiming high: Watson hits his tee shot on the 15th hole

Aiming high: Watson hits his tee shot on the 15th hole