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MASTERS 2013 PREVIEW: Tiger Woods must wake up and smell the azaleas: he"ll need his driver to win

MASTERS PREVIEW: Tiger must wake up and smell the azaleas: he'll need his driver to win a fifth Green Jacket this week

-Picture-archive-Seve-Ballesteros-Jack-NIcklaus-Ben-Hogan-Tiger-Woods-Sandy-Lyle.html#ixzz2Q3O0jnsU” target=”_blank”>The Masters picture archive: Sandy dances a jig, Seve is a genius at work, Hogan eyes his prey, and more from the Augusta vaults…

Despite blowing away the opposition during his three wins this season, Woods has generally kept his driver in the bag where possible, and with good reason. Tiger ranks way down in 147th spot on the PGA Tour for driving accuracy this year, and has had to rely on his near-peerless shotmaking powers to recover from all sorts of bother – witness his stunning par save from water at the Honda Classic in March.

Whoever wins this week will need to shape his driver from right to left round Augusta's famous doglegs, and that opens the door for the world's best with the long stick – the likes of Westwood, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Keegan Bradley, Louis Oosthuizen and Dustin Johnson.

It also favours the left-handers, who are able to hit less risky fades off the tee – and explains why Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson have won in the last 10 years since the course was lengthened in the wake of Tiger's mauling in 1997. Expect three-time winner Mickelson and defending champion Watson to be in the mix down the stretch on Sunday once again.

It is often said that short-game expertise is the key to taming Augusta's notoriously tricky greens. But, while the winner will be no slouch with the wedge or putter, it is a power game that tames Bobby Jones' design these days.

Painful memories: Rory McIlroy has had two meltdowns in the last two years at Augusta

Painful memories: Rory McIlroy has had two meltdowns in the last two years at Augusta

Rory McIlroy

And there's one other chap who's pretty handy with a driver too. Rory McIlroy often looks like a kid in a candy shop at Augusta – make that a kid in a pro shop with his visit for souveneirs on Tuesday – and with good reason. On form, there's no better driver in all of golf than the world No 2. This course is made for him. He is destined to win here one day.

Masters masters…

Augusta's champions since Tiger's last triumph:

2012 Bubba Watson
2011 Charl Schwartzel
2010 Phil Mickelson
2009 ngel Cabrera
2008 Trevor Immelman
2007 Zach Johnson
2006 Phil Mickelson

But will this be his year Not if he plays like he has for most of the time since his controversial switch to Nike clubs. He'll have to stay on the course for the entire four days for starters, which he spectacularly failed to do at the Honda Classic, where he stormed off the course blaming his state of mind and then toothache.

The words 'McIlroy' and 'meltdown' sit together uncomfortably easily at Augusta too, after his final-round implosion in 2011 (remember that tee shot on 10 Not many golfers are synonymous with a cabin off a fairway, but he is), and again last year, when the Ulsterman and Sergio Garcia embraced on the 12th green after a third-round horror show.

But McIlroy's 11th hour decision to play in Texas last week led to a much-needed second-place finish and a huge boost to his confidence. Rory has a habit of turning his fortunes round quickly and on the grandest of stages – his two major wins have come immediately after periods of poor form and/or traumatic on-course experiences. So why not again here this week

England awaits: Justin Rose (left), Ian Poulter (right) and Lee Westwood (below) all have a good chance

England awaits: Justin Rose (left), Ian Poulter (right) and Lee Westwood (below) all have a good chance

England awaits: Justin Rose (left), Ian Poulter (right) and Lee Westwood (below) all have a good chance

McIlroy or anyone hailing from these shores will be battling history. 2013 marks 25 years since Sandy Lyle became the first UK golfer to win at Augusta but there has been no winner from these isles since Nick Faldo's comeback of all comebacks over Greg Norman in 1996.

Northern Irish players have taken the title at four of the last 11 majors, and McIlroy again looks most likely to triumph from the home nations.

No Tiger, no great champions

The list of Major winners since Woods won his 14th and last major at the 2008 US Open divides opinion.

Some have heralded a great and unpredictable period full of brilliant golfers, while others have suggested none have the class of Woods.

2012 Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els Rory McIlroy

2011 Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Keegan Bradley

2010 Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer

2009 Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, YE Yang

2008 Padraig Harrington (x2)

But Rose is in the form of his life, has a good record at Augusta and proved he can do it on the biggest stage of all when beating Mickelson at the Ryder Cup last year. Westwood is always in the mix here come Sunday, Ian Poulter reserves his best golf for when he can grab the most attention, and Graeme McDowell always seems to contend at majors these days.

So there is more than a little hope that the long wait will finally end this year. Just so long as none of them wins the traditional Par-Three Tournament on Wednesday. No-one has ever triumphed in that and gone on to win a Green Jacket four days later, as Luke Donald found to his cost two years ago.

Arguably though, the par threes are the least important holes at Augusta. The champion will have to take apart the par-fives – Watson went -8 on these holes last year – while the par-fours will separate the men from the boys (and that probably includes 14-year-old Guan Tianlang, the extraordinary Chinese who will become the youngest Masters competitor ever on Thursday, but whose tee shots will probably prove too short at 250 yards to compete.)

The two-shotters at the Cathedral of Pines ranked the second hardest of all courses on the PGA Tour last year, and collectively played at an average score of 0.2 strokes over par.

Dangermen: Keegan Bradley (above) and Phil Mickelson both boast power games that can tame the course

Dangermen: Keegan Bradley (above) and Phil Mickelson both boast power games that can tame the course

Dangermen: Keegan Bradley (above) and Phil Mickelson both boast power games that can tame the course
Shooting a number

3 – Number of players who have successfully defended their Masters title (Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods)

0 – Number of Australians who have won The Masters

63 – The course record for a single round, held by Nick Price and Greg Norman.

270 – Lowest winning score in history, shot by Tiger Woods, aged 21, in 1997.

23 – Number of holes-in-one at the Masters.

If the wind picks up, as is forecast for Thursday and Friday, more than a few of the favourites will be blown off course. But the sun is set to shine over the weekend, which usually means low scoring, roars echoing around the trees, and what is often the most nerve-shredding, adrenaline-rushing Sunday at any golf tournament in the world.

The good weather in Georgia this Spring has also provided a much-needed boost for those of us suffering in the chill winds this side of the pond. After last year's early bloom, August's galaxy of flowers have exploded into colour in perfect time for this year's Masters.

Woods will need to wake up and smell the azaleas: he needs his driver to win here this week.

THE 77TH MASTERS TOURNAMENT

Course: Augusta National Golf Club, par 72, 7435 yards.

Defending champion: Bubba Watson.

TV: All four days on Sky Sports. Par-three contest from 7.00pm on Wednesday.
COverage of rounds one, two and three start at 7pm, round four from 6pm on Sunday.
Day one and two highlights on BBC, plus round three from 8.30pm and round four from 7pm.

Bookies’ favourite: Tiger Woods.

Three to watch

RORY MCILROY – You bet he's the one to watch. This course is made for the Northern Irishman, but has he found his form again after a horrible start to 2013 And, perhaps even more importantly, has he got over his two meltdowns in the last two years at Augusta

ADAM SCOTT – Recent history suggests great drivers do well at Augusta, and there's few to rival the big Aussie with the big dog. Went close in 2011, went even closer at Lytham last summer… it's only a matter of time before he nails a major.

LEE WESTWOOD – His last three visits have yielded finishes of second (2010), 11th (2011) and and third (2012). Has improved on his short game in Florida this year, which could make the difference in his final major before he turns 40.

Bandit

MATT KUCHAR – Boasts a game that rarely breaks down and a Cheshire Cat smile whatever happens on the course. Has also developed a taste for winning big in the last year, as his PLAYERS and WGC-Accenture Match Play title prove. The American revival is gathering momentum after the Ryder Cup – watch out, Europe.

In bloom: Augusta National is looking its best ahead of the 77th edition of The Masters

In bloom: Augusta National is looking its best ahead of the 77th edition of The Masters

MASTERS GROUPINGS AND TEE-TIMES (BST)

1:00pm S Lyle (Sco), J Peterson (USA), N Smith (USA)

1:11pm L Mize (USA), B Gay (USA), R Henley (USA)

1:22pm I Woosnam (Wal), D Lynn (Eng), K Na (USA)

1:33pm D Toms (USA), R Sterne (Rsa), T Potter Jr (USA)

1:44pm T Watson (USA), R Moore (USA), K Streelman (USA)

1:55pm R Garrigus (USA), C Pettersson (Swe), T Clark (Rsa)

2:06pm M Weir (Can), L Westwood (Eng), J Furyk (USA)

2:17pm B Snedeker (USA), R Ishikawa (Jpn), J Rose (Eng)

2:28pm J Olazabal (Esp), M Leishman (Aus), T Vogel (USA)

2:39pm C Schwartzel (Rsa), W Simpson (USA), P Hanson (Swe)

2:50pm Z Johnson (USA), KJ Choi (Kor), G McDowell (NIr)

3:12pm M Thompson (USA), J Huh (USA), J Senden (Aus)

3:23pm S Cink (USA), N Colsaerts (Bel), T Wiratchant (Tha)

3:34pm B Watson (USA), I Poulter (Eng), S Fox (USA)

3:45pm T Woods (USA), L Donald (Eng), S Piercy (USA)

3:56pm J. Day (Aus), R Fowler (USA), P Harrington (Irl)

4:07pm J Merrick (USA), T Olesen (Den), DA Points (USA)

4:18pm C Stadler (USA), B Curtis (USA), M Weaver (USA)

4:29pm M O'Meara (USA), M Laird (Sco), J Donaldson (Wal)

4:40pm P Lawrie (Sco), T Bjorn (Den), G Fernandez-Castano (Esp)

4:51pm T Immelman (Rsa), G Coetzee (Rsa), A Dunbar (NIr)

5:13pm E Els (Rsa), S Stricker (USA), N Watney (USA)

5:24pm B Crenshaw (USA), M Manassero (Ita), T Guan (Chn)

5:35pm B Langer (Ger), L Glover (USA), H Stenson (Swe)

5:46pm V Singh (Fij), B Van Pelt (USA), YE Yang (Kor)

5:57pm A Cabrera (Arg), S Garcia (Esp), A Scott (Aus)

6:08pm F Couples (USA), D Johnson (USA), B Grace (Rsa)

6:19pm H Mahan (USA), H Fujita (Jpn), F Molinari (Ita)

6:30pm P Mickelson (USA), L Oosthuizen (Rsa), M Kaymer (Ger)

6:41pm R McIlroy (Nir), K Bradley (USA), F Jacobson (Swe)

6:52pm J Dufner (USA), M Kuchar (USA), B Haas (USA)

The Masters: Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus in our five of the best at Augusta National

The Masters: An old Golden Bear and a young Tiger plus Faldo, Mickelson and Crenshaw – five of the best at Augusta

PUBLISHED:

08:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

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UPDATED:

08:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

The Masters almost always produces dramatic golf worthy of the beautiful backdrop of Augusta National.

Here, Sportsmail picks out five of the most memorable tournaments starting with the legend that is Jack Nicklaus way back in 1986.

1) 1986 – Jack Nicklaus

Nicklaus was 46, had not won a tournament in two years or a major in six, and was being written off as a spent force. But the Golden Bear produced one more back-nine charge in the 50th Masters, coming home in 30 for a final round of 65 to beat Greg Norman and Tom Kite by a single shot.

Nicklaus went eagle-birdie-birdie on the 15th, 16th and 17th as Seve Ballesteros squandered the lead by hitting his approach to the 15th into the water short of the green.

Dry Spell: Jack Nicklaus' win in 1986 was his first victory in a major in six years

Dry Spell: Jack Nicklaus' win in 1986 was his first victory in a major in six years

Handing over: Bernhard Langer (left) hands Nickalus his sixth Green Jacket

Handing over: Bernhard Langer (left) hands Nickalus his sixth Green Jacket

2) 1997 – Tiger Woods

Kite was again the runner-up 11 years later, but this time by an incredible 12 shots as Woods tore up the record books to claim his first major title. That had looked distinctly unlikely as the 21-year-old played the front nine of his opening round in 40, but he came back in 30 to lie just three shots off the lead.

A second-round 66 took Woods three clear of Colin Montgomerie, a lead he extended to nine shots after round three and a record 12 after a closing 69 made him the youngest ever winner at Augusta.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Passing the torch: Tiger Woods tore up the record books to win his first title at just 21-years-old

3) 2004 – Phil Mickelson

'I don't think any Masters will ever compare to the '86 Masters but, for me, this one does.'

That was the verdict of an emotional Mickelson after he had broken his major duck at the 47th time of asking. Mickelson had shared the lead with Chris Di Marco heading into the final round, but struggled to a front-nine 38 before a brilliant back nine of 31, culminating in a decisive birdie on the 18th, was enough to beat Ernie Els by a shot after the South African's excellent 67.

Crowd Pleaser: Phil Mickelson broke his major duck at the 47th time of asking

Crowd pleaser: Phil Mickelson broke his major duck at the 47th time of asking

Only just: A decisive birdie on the 18th hole gave Mickelson the title by just a single shot

Only just: A decisive birdie on the 18th hole gave Mickelson the title by just a single shot

4) 1995 – Ben Crenshaw

At 43, Crenshaw was not quite as old as Nicklaus in 1986, but his second Masters title in 1995 was equally remarkable and emotional.

Harvey Penick, who was Crenshaw's golf coach since he was seven years old, had died the week before and Crenshaw spent the Tuesday of Masters week at Penick's funeral in Austin, Texas.

The image of Crenshaw doubled over in grief and happiness after his final putt dropped – he did not have a single three-putt in 72 holes – has become an iconic Augusta image.

Ben Crenshaw

Ben Crenshaw

Emotional: Ben Crenshaw is hugged by his caddy Carl Jackson after winning for the second time at AQugusta National. Harvey Penick, who had coached Crenshaw since he was seven, died a week before the tournament

5) 1996 – Nick Faldo

Greg Norman had finished third behind Crenshaw in 1995, but it was the manner of his second-place finish to Nick Faldo the following year which was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Norman led from the outset after an opening 63, the joint lowest score ever in a major championship and only the second 63 ever at Augusta, and after adding rounds of 69 and 71 he was six shots clear of Faldo heading into the final round.

However, his lead was down to two shots by the turn and a back nine of 40 – despite two birdies – meant a closing 78 to Faldo's 67 and a five-shot winning margin for the Englishman.

Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo

Picking up the pieces: Nick Faldo took advantage of an awful final round from Greg Norman to win in 1996

Rory McIlroy admits he was wrong to storm off at Honda Classic

It was the wrong thing to do, admits McIlroy after storming off at Honda Classic

By
Derek Lawrenson

PUBLISHED:

00:48 GMT, 5 March 2013

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UPDATED:

01:16 GMT, 5 March 2013

Rory McIlroy had barely made it back to his new home ten miles away on Jupiter Island on that fateful Friday last week when he knew he had done the wrong thing.

As Jack Nicklaus so wisely opined, if only he had thought for five minutes, he wouldn't have done it.

In an interview with American magazine Sports Illustrated last night, McIlroy held up his hand and admitted it was a terrible mistake to walk off the course after eight completed holes of his second round at the Honda Classic.

Backtracking: Rory McIlroy is now saying he was wrong to walk off

Backtracking: Rory McIlroy is now saying he was wrong to walk off

Whatever has been said in the aftermath
during the storm that has become McIl-gate, 'I have probably said to
myself,' he commented.

'It was the wrong thing to do,' added
McIlroy, and with those seven words he did what he's always done on the
few occasions he has made mistakes, and taken full responsibility for
his actions.

World No 1: But the defending champion insisted he wasn't in the right frame of mind to play on

World No 1: But the defending champion insisted he wasn't in the right frame of mind to play on

'It was a reactive decision. What I
should have done is take my drop, chip it on, try to make a five and
play my hardest on the back nine, even if I shot 85,' he said.

'What I
did was not good for the tournament, and not good for the kids and fans
who were watching me.' Mcilroy said at the time he was 'not in a good
place mentally,' and then a statement was issued on his behalf an hour
later blaming a sore wisdom tooth.

Concerning: There had been no signs that McIlroy was about to withdraw

Concerning: There had been no signs that McIlroy was about to withdraw

The latter is an ongoing problem –
his Belfast dentist Mark Conroy has faxed a letter to the PGA Tour
describing the problem – but McIlroy admitted it can be treated with
painkillers and did not constitute the sort of injury that would be a
mitigating reason for walking in.

This, after all, is the man who played
on with a badly strained tendon in his wrist after damaging it while
playing from off a tree root at the 2011 USPGA Championship.

McIlroy will learn from this, like he
always does. He will learn that it is always best to come clean, and not
seek to pull the wool over people's eyes. Here's betting he never walks
off a course again.

Miserable: The Northern Irishman did not appear to be enjoying himself

Miserable: The Northern Irishman did not appear to be enjoying himself

McIlroy breaks four-day Twitter silence

For every complex problem, there is a simple solution. #FTB

Now it's time to work on those damn
swing issues that are far more infuriating than a bad tooth.

McIlroy admitted to suffering teething problems since his switch from Mike. 'The driver and the ball took some time to get used to, but I had weeks at Nike before the start of the year, and I feel comfortable with all the equipment,' he said. 'The problem is, I’m bringing the club too upright on the backswing then dropping it in too much on the downswing.'

The next
time he will be seen in public is tomorrow at Doral and the WGC-Cadillac
Championship.

Caught in the act McIlroy had been pictured eating a sandwich, despite later claiming a tooth ache

Caught in the act McIlroy had been pictured eating a sandwich, despite later claiming a tooth ache

Regret: He has since withdrawn that as an excuse

Regret: He has since withdrawn that as an excuse

Turkish Airlines World Golf Final a delight as eight greats battle – Derek Lawrenson

It's a Turkish delight as eight greats battle it out for big bucks

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 8 October 2012

When Chubby Chandler was approached by the Turkish Golf Federation about starting a megabucks tournament, they envisaged one featuring 100 or so of the world's best players.

'But there are plenty of events like that already,' replied Chubby. 'Why not try something different Why not a tournament with just the best eight golfers'

That idea was not new either, of course. Chandler was thinking back to the glory days of the late Mark McCormack’s World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, when the likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus would gather each October for a glorious autumn festival.

Jet-setters: Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are in Turkey for the World Golf Final

Jet-setters: Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are in Turkey for the World Golf Final

Jet-setters: Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are in Turkey for the World Golf Final

It is the spirit of that much-missed spectacle that he has tried to recapture with the first Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, which begins on Tuesday.

Golf blog

True, the venue has shifted thousands of miles to the East, as is increasingly the way these days, and the players might even be seen wearing shorts rather than wrapped up to the nines.

But you might have to go back to the late Sixties or early Seventies to find the last time anyone tried to get the world’s top eight players together and seven of them actually accepted the invitation.

More from Derek Lawrenson…

Derek Lawrenson: Why we should be saying Yanks for the memories to gracious losers
01/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: McIlroy a victim of trash talk in American press ahead of Ryder Cup
24/09/12

Derek Lawrenson: Westwood at fever pitch to boost his holiday funds by $10million
17/09/12

Derek Lawrenson: Now Tiger has the chance to rewrite McIlroy's story
10/09/12

Derek Lawrenson: Old heads or long hitters Your wildcard call, Love
03/09/12

World of Golf: Coming good in the Nic of time for the Ryder Cup
27/08/12

Derek Lawrenson: Garcia's sprint for the line earns place in Jose's Ryder Cup plans
20/08/12

Derek Lawrenson: McIlroy wins by a mile after he remembers to smile
13/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

So it is that the event features not only Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy but Justin Rose and Lee Westwood. Rounding off the elite gang are Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan and Charl Schwartzel, with Matt Kuchar stepping in for Luke Donald, the only man to turn down the invitation.

The organisers have got lucky, with the game still on a high after the momentous events at Medinah, and no fewer than six of the eight are playing for the first time since the Ryder Cup. There’s clearly an appetite for more head-to-head, although the format needs explaining.

The eight are separated into two groups of four, with everyone playing each other in their group over the first two days at medal matchplay (ie. the player with the best score over 18 holes wins). The leading two in each group go forward to the semi-finals on Thursday, with the final on Friday.

Naturally, these eight don’t come cheap. Even last place is worth 200,000, while the winner will receive 1million.

And yes, we will see Tiger versus Rory. Funnily enough, they’ve been ‘drawn’ in the same group and will play one another on Wednesday afternoon. Having coughed up all that dough, you didn’t think the organisers would leave that match-up to the vagaries of chance now, did you

The action begins with McIlroy v Kuchar, Westwood v Simpson, Rose v Mahan and Woods against Schwartzel.

Amazing Grace

If you want to know how hard it is to win on the European Tour, consider that a player as good as the two-time Ryder Cup man Francesco Molinari has only three titles to his name in eight years of toil.

That puts the startling feat of the gifted South African Branden Grace, in winning four times in his rookie season, into its proper light.

Links king: Branden Grace with his prize on the Swilkan Bridge at The Old Course

Links king: Branden Grace with his prize on the Swilkan Bridge at The Old Course

One of those wins came in a play-off against his two idols, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. Another came on Sunday at the Dunhill Links played at the Home of Golf, where the 24-year-old became the first man on tour this year to lead from wire to wire.

‘The next South African major winner,’ declared the Open champion — and who would quibble with Els’s prediction

Tom is looking for a happy return

This time last year we were all getting rightly excited at the amazing sight of a young man winning a prestigious title in only his third start on tour. Now he returns to Portugal to defend his Masters crown this week as the forgotten man.

Glimpse of his best: Tom Lewis at St Andrews

Glimpse of his best: Tom Lewis at St Andrews

What on earth has happened to Tom Lewis This year, the Englishman has competed in 21 strokeplay tournaments without so much as a single top-10 finish. What a sad contrast to the fresh-faced amateur who led The Open after the first round last year.

Lewis has been talking with Justin Rose, who endured similar growing pains, and maybe he can follow his example. On Saturday at the Dunhill Links there was at least the hint of a corner being turned as the 21-year-old shot 65, his best round of this difficult season.

Now he returns to the place on the Algarve where all his memories are good ones. Let’s hope for more signs of recovery.

Quote of the week

‘I think I’ll take that bandage off now! How can all your good shots turn out bad Ugggh, this game!’

John Daly, after following up a 63 in Las Vegas last week with an 86. Painful, no doubt, but not his ‘personal best’ in Sin City. The colourful one once followed up winning $500,000 (312,000) at a tournament with losing three times that amount on the slot machines.

Ryder Cup 2012: Jack Nicklaus serves up painful reminder to Colin Montgomerie

Tee Room: Golden Bear serves up a painful reminder for Monty

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UPDATED:

23:43 GMT, 30 September 2012

As if watching Europe struggle to retain the trophy he led them to two years ago wasn’t bad enough, Colin Montgomerie had salt rubbed in the wound by Jack Nicklaus.

As the pair sat together in the commentary box, Nicklaus declared: ‘You’ve got to win some majors to be rated,’ before cheekily adding: ‘Oh, sorry Colin.’

Rubbing salt in the wound: 14-time major winner Nicklaus (centre)

Rubbing salt in the wound: 14-time major winner Nicklaus (centre)

Breakfast beers!

Hardly surprising there have been a few drunken oafs around considering the first outlet incoming spectators got at Medinah was a man selling bottles of the local brew from a box.

His sales pitch was a cheerful ‘Breakfast beers, breakfast beers! If you don’t start in the morning you can’t drink all day!’

Iron out whinges, Lee

Lee
Westwood was among those whingeing about the greens – a vested interest
after his feeble pairing performances perhaps – complaining that they
have speeded up unusually after lunch.

It is true, however, that the greens were ‘ironed’ on Friday between foursomes and fourballs, and nobody told the Europeans.

In the dark: Westwood was unhappy that the greens were ironed out

In the dark: Westwood was unhappy that the greens were ironed out

Check this lot out…

One of the most staggering sights of the Ryder Cup has been the merchandise tent.

As long as a football pitch and more than half one’s width, the norm has been a queue 100 yards long to get into the snaking lines of the paying area, where 85 assistants are on the check-out desks.

This temple of consumption dwarfs its equivalent at The Open.

Barack is Bushwhacked

Former US Presidents George Bush and George W Bush were supporting the Americans this weekend and gave a pep talk on Saturday night. Barack Obama was invited but despite deep local connections said he was otherwise engaged.

After taking flak for the amount of golf he plays he might not have wished to come too near anyway.

You'll never putt alone

Two things you never knew about Keegan Bradley, whose Ryder Cup exploits have made him a superstar in American golf – even if taking on world No 1 Rory McIlroy on the final day proved a step too far.

Up to the age of 13 Bradley was among the most outstanding ski racers in mountainous Vermont before turning to his talents to the game of golf instead. His Christian names are Keegan Hanson – but there is no Liverpool connection.

Ryder Cup video: Top moments – Seve Ballesteros, Darren Clarke, Jack Nicklaus

Darren's tears, Seve's miracle and the Battle of Brookline…. the best of the Ryder Cup

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UPDATED:

10:43 GMT, 25 September 2012

Ever since players from continental Europe were added to the British and Irish side in 1979, the Ryder Cup has lived up to its growing reputation as the biggest spectacle in golf.

The Ryder Cup is so hotly contested that even its humble beginning is the subject of debate.

One side has the president of
Inverness Club in Ohio as the first to raise the idea of a match between
professionals from America and Britain. Most historians lean toward
Samuel Ryder, the wealthy English seed merchant, as helping to organize
matches at Wentworth in 1926 at a time when Americans were coming over
for British Open qualifying. As the story goes, Ryder promised a cup to
the winner – even though a cup was never awarded.

The big one: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and US captain Davis Love (left) with the Ryder Cup by the clubhouse at Medinah Country Club

The big one: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and US captain Davis Love (left) with the Ryder Cup by the clubhouse at Medinah Country Club

The Ryder Cup began a year later in
1927, and the fact it was named after the Englishman would have to give
his side a 1-up lead.

The competition has barely let up since. Here, Sportsmail looks at some of the most memorable Ryder Cup matches in history.

THE CONCESSION (1969)

The United States owned the Ryder Cup in this era, winning the previous five matches by at least five points, so not much was expected of Britain & Ireland in 1969 at Royal Birkdale. It turned out to be as close as a match could be – and the tie resulted in a putt that was conceded.

The matches were tied going into the final day, which at the time included two sessions of eight singles matches. It came down to the last match of the day.

Gentlemen: Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus at Royal Birkdale in 1969

Gentlemen: Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus at Royal Birkdale in 1969

Tony Jacklin and Nicklaus came down the 18th with the Ryder Cup hanging in the balance. Nicklaus faced a five-footer, while Jacklin was just inside three feet. In his first Ryder Cup, Nicklaus made it for four. Jacklin now had to make his to halve the match.

Nicklaus instead picked up his coin and conceded the match, resulting in the first tie in Ryder Cup history – 16-16. The Americans still retained the cup, although captain Sam Snead was miffed that Nicklaus didn't make him putt. 'I don't think you would have missed that putt, but under these circumstances I would never give you the opportunity,' Nicklaus told him.

It is considered the greatest act of sportsmanship in the history of the Ryder Cup.

SEVE'S MIRACLE SHOT (1983)

It was Nicklaus who in 1977 made
the recommendation that all of continental Europe be included in the
Ryder Cup, and in his first year as captain, it almost came back to
haunt him. The opposing captain was Jacklin, and just like the time
Nicklaus and Jacklin first squared off as players in the Ryder Cup, the
matches were tied at 8 going into the Sunday singles.

The first singles match produced what
many consider to be the greatest shot ever hit in the Ryder Cup. Seve
Ballesteros played his first two shots so poorly on the par-five 18th at
PGA National that he was in the bunker, near a lip, and still had 245
yards to clear the water. Amazingly, he pulled out a three-wood and hit it
so flush that it narrowly cleared the lip and came just short of the
green, allowing him to halve the match. 'The greatest shot I ever saw,'
Nicklaus said, high praise coming from him.

The United States still won, 14-13, but it
was a sign that Europe finally was on equal footing with the Americans.
Two years later, Europe would win for the first time in 28 years.

Genius: Seve Ballesteros plays out of a bunker during the 1983 Ryder Cup

Genius: Seve Ballesteros plays out of a bunker during the 1983 Ryder Cup

THE SPANISH ARMADA (1987)

Europe had finally ended a losing streak that had lasted 13 matches dating to 1957 when it won at The Belfry in 1985. But it still had never won the Ryder Cup on American soil, and this looked to be a daunting task. The European team was in the midst of internal turmoil, and it faced a U.S. squad with Nicklaus as the captain, playing on the Muirfield Village course that Nicklaus built.

And it was no contest.

The European players and administrators cleared the air over drinks on the eve of the Ryder Cup, and they took it to the Americans like never before, particularly when needed. Fourteen of the 28 matches went to the final hole. Europe won seven of them and halved four others.

A newcomer to the European team was a young Spaniard named Jose Maria Olazabal, and thus began the fabled 'Spanish Armada'. They won three of their four matches as Europe built a 10-5 lead, and the Americans never caught up. The height of their frustration came from 'Gentle' Ben Crenshaw, who snapped his putter after six holes of his singles match with Eamonn Darcy and had to use a one-iron or the blade of his sand wedge to putt the rest of the round. Darcy won, 1 up.

The lasting image is the European team celebrating from the balcony of the clubhouse that Nicklaus had built. It was an overthrow in so many ways.

New order: Jose Maria Olazabal (left) and Seve Ballesteros

Armada: Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal hug on the 18th green at Muirfield Village

Great friends: Jose Maria Olazabal (left) and Seve Ballesteros at Muirfield Village

THE WAR ON THE SHORE (1991)

This was the first Ryder Cup when one could argue the Americans really cared.

They had lost the Ryder Cup before, but not three successive times. The bad memory of these matches at Kiawah Island is that they lost the spirit under which they were meant to be played, starting with the moniker this Ryder Cup was given – The War on the Shore.

It came down to the final hole of the final match between Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin. The Americans led 14-13. The match was all square. If Langer won the hole, the Ryder Cup would end in a tie and Europe would keep the cup. Irwin's approach hit a spectator, he chipped weakly and made bogey. Langer's 45-foot birdie attempt went some 6 feet past the hole. He settled in over his par putt, and leaned his head back and yelled when it narrowly missed. It was gut-wrenching.

VIDEO: It all came down to the last hole…

THE BATTLE OF BROOKLINE (1999)

The 1999 Ryder Cup began with a flap
over whether the American players should have any stake in the millions
of dollars the PGA of America made off the event. None of them looked to
be worth a dime against Europe.

Europe captain Mark James didn't
bother playing three players until Sunday singles, and seven of his
players never sat out. It appeared to work just fine with a 10-6 lead
after two days. Before heading off to the team room, US captain Ben Crenshaw wagged his
finger at the camera and said 'I'm a big believer in fate. I have a
good feeling about this'. And with that, he walked out of the room.

Crenshaw loaded the front of his
singles lineup, and the Americans won the first seven matches, none of
them even reaching the 18th hole. Players whipped up the crowd into a
flag-waving frenzy, and the emotions spilled over the top at the end.
Justin Leonard rallied from four down against Jose Maria Olazabal, and they
were all square playing the 17th hole. A halve would be enough to
complete the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history.

Leonard's 45-foot birdie putt rammed
into the back of the cup, and his teammates (and wives) stormed across
the green – even though Olazabal still had a 25-foot birdie putt to
halve the hole. When order was restored, Olazabal missed and the
Americans had won the cup.

VIDEO: Team America loses it on the 17th green

MONTY'S BIG MOMENT (2004)

Astutely captained by Sam Torrance, Europe clinched victory by 15 points to 12 at The Belfry in 2002, with Colin Montgomerie inspiring the home side with a haul of 4-1/2 points out of a possible five.

But it was two years later when Montgomerie, who has never won a major championship despite a string of near misses during an otherwise brilliant career, finally won his moment of glory.

Captain Langer led the Europeans to a crushing triumph by 18-9 at Oakland Hills in 2004, matching the competition's biggest winning margin set by the Americans 23 years earlier.

Montgomerie, for so long Europe's talisman, had never had the chance to win the trophy with single shot but Lady Luck left the Scot with a tricky five-footer to seal victory over David Toms on the 18th green.

Monty made no mistake and secured the Cup for Europe.

VIDEO: Montgomerie seals the Ryder Cup

DARREN'S TEARS (2006)

Darren Clarke had lost his wife, Heather, to cancer just months before but the Northern Irishman battled through his fragile emotions to join Europe's team at the first ever Ryder Cup held on Irish soil, at the K Club in 2006.

The roar that greeted Clarke's appearance on the first tee on the opening day of the competition was both ear-shattering and spine-tingling. Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco, who were Clarke and Lee Westwood's opponent that day, joined the applause.

Not a dry eye in the house: Darren Clarke (left) celebrates with Europe captain Ian Woosnam after beating Zach Johnson in the singles at the K Club

Not a dry eye in the house: Darren Clarke (left) celebrates with Europe captain Ian Woosnam after beating Zach Johnson in the singles at the K Club

And it inspired the Ulsterman to birdie the first hole on the way to a huge win, and Clarke went on to claim a point in all three of his matches in the tournament as Europe triumphed 18 to 9 points, equalling their record winning margin of 2 years earlier

When he beat Zach Johnson in the singles on Sunday, Clarke raised his arms and with tears running down his cheeks, looked to the sky in tribute to his late wife.

G-MAC LORD'S IT AT THE MANOR (2010)

Rain threatened to turn the big event into a washout, and the schedule was ripped apart after a huge deluge on Friday prevented play, forcing the first four-day Ryder Cup in history.

But when the singles eventually came round, Magic Monday was well worth the wait.

Europe had taken a three-point lead into the singles but the US mounted a storming comeback and levelled the contest at 13-13 with just one match to play, between Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan.

McDowell birdied the 16th hole to go dormie two and when Mahan duffed his chip under extreme pressure to the 17th green the writing was on the wall.

The recently-crowned US Open champion held his nerve and secured the win, sparking wild scenes of celebration among the thousands of European fans lining the green.

In amongst them was Colin Montgomerie, the captain, securing his status as one of the greatest figures in Ryder Cup history.

VIDEO: It all came down to this…

Ryder Cup 2012: Tiger Woods is a team player now

Europe beware: Whisper it, but Tiger looks like a team player at last

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 24 September 2012

How do you get the best out of Tiger Woods at the Ryder Cup Fourteen defeats over six appearances tells its own story. Six United States captains have attempted to answer the question and have been left haunted by the response.

Now it is the turn of Davis Love. So what is it, Davis Does he not care about the Ryder Cup If you want to see a man get animated, throw that one at the American skipper.

‘Let me tell you this about Tiger Woods and the Ryder Cup,’ he began. ‘If Tiger’s asked me 50 questions this year, then 48 of them have been about the Ryder Cup. It has been like a commentary on the rest of his life, a checklist where things have to be ticked off. Davis, where are we with the assistant captains Check. Believe me, he is focused on it, and winning is right there on his list of things to get done.’

Point taken: Tiger is now up for the Ryder Cup

Point taken: Tiger is now up for the Ryder Cup

Woods has only been on one winning team, in 1999, and it has taken a long time for the Ryder Cup to make his list of things to get done. In 2002, his apathy was all too apparent when, in the build-up, he was asked whether he would rather win a tournament held the week before the match at The Belfry offering a $1million first prize or the Ryder Cup. ‘I could give you a million reasons why I’d rather win the tournament,’ he said.

It sounded cold but if you’ve grown up targeting Jack Nicklaus’s majors total and the number of tournaments he won, it can’t be easy to change tack. ‘Anyone in golf could tell you how many majors Jack won, but who knows his Ryder Cup record’ argued Woods at the time.

Back in the day there was an almost complete lack of interaction with his team-mates. Woods the control freak struggled to cope with an environment that asked him to share. He would practise early, like it was just another strokeplay tournament, and was far too indulged by successive captains.

Old foes: Woods and Mickelson (left) have not always seen eye to eye

Old foes: Woods and Mickelson (left) have not always seen eye to eye

TIGER AT THE RYDER

Ryder Cups: 6 (1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010)
Total Matches: 29
Total Points Won: 14
Win percentage: 45%

CAREER RECORD

Won: 13
Lost: 14
Halved: 2

HOW IT BREAKS DOWN

Singles (W-L-H): 4-1-1
Foursomes (W-L-H): 4-7-1
Fourballs (W-L-H): 5-6-0

Woods’ only singles defeat came at Valderrama Golf Club in 1997 when he lost to Costantino Rocca (4&2).

In 2004 he was paired with Phil
Mickelson. The two rivals had little in common at the time. One of the
abiding memories of that contest came when Mickelson hit a terrible
drive on the 18th hole and the camera panned to Woods, who had a look of
disgust on his face. ‘He was trying to do it all by himself when he
first broke into the team,’ conceded Love.

‘He was the dominant player in the game and he was trying to give performances that reflected that. When you’re that good it takes time to learn that you have to be part of the team rather than be the team, that you have to win points with the help of your partners.

‘It is what Michael Jordan had to learn, that if someone gives you the ball, you give the ball back. I think Tiger has learned. That’s the Tiger we will see at this Ryder Cup.’

Love believes the changing dynamic of Woods’s relationship with Mickelson is illustrative. ‘Phil is a good example, for there’s a general perception that they still don’t get along,’ he said. ‘Yet we had a recent past champions’ dinner at the US PGA Championship where the pair were standing next to one another, chatting happily and laughing and joking. At Celtic Manor two years ago, they were partners at ping-pong, for heaven’s sake.

All smiles: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and US captain Davis Love III at the Medinah Country Club

All smiles: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and US captain Davis Love III at the Medinah Country Club

‘I mean, you’d never stand on the same side of the table at ping-pong if you don’t get along, would you

‘I think Phil at the Ryder Cup has been good for Tiger. Every time I have been at a Ryder Cup, Phil has been like a playing captain. He’s a great example of what it means to be a team player. I think some of that leadership has rubbed off on Tiger.’

A breakthrough of sorts on the road to
blending in came in 2006, when Woods teamed up with Jim Furyk to win two
out of four matches. But the real game-changer came in 2009 when he was
paired with Steve Stricker in the Presidents Cup, the match held in
non-Ryder Cup years against a Rest of the World side. Here, two men who
largely keep their own counsel in the team room proved kindred souls on
the golf course.

Double trouble: Stricker (right) and Woods have enjoyed success together in the past

Double trouble: Stricker (right) and Woods have enjoyed success together in the past

WHY HE HAS A POINT TO PROVE

While Tiger has struggled so badly to turn his talent into points and perform at the Ryder Cup, previous American legends had no such trouble.

ARNOLD PALMER
Ryder Cups: 6 (1961, 63, 65, 67, 71, 73)
In 32 matches Palmer accrued an impressive 23 points, averaging 0.72 points per match. One of the Ryder Cup’s finest team players, Palmer did not lose any of his 21 foursome or fourball matches.

JACK NICKLAUS
Ryder Cups: 6 (1969, 71, 73, 75, 77, 81)
The Golden Bear may have won 18 majors on his own, but he wasn’t half bad playing for America either. In 28 matches, he won 18.5 points, giving him an average of 0.66 points.

TOM WATSON
Ryder Cups: 4 (1977, 81, 83, 89)
The eight-time major winner played 15 matches in his four Ryder Cup tournaments and won 10.5 points. His points per match average of 0.70 puts him up there with Palmer as one of America’s most effective matchplay golfers.

What also helped was the presence of Fred Couples as US captain, who kept Woods loose. Stricker and Woods won their four matches. Two years ago they teamed up at the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and won two of three. In a smart move, Love has co-opted Couples into his backroom team for this match, and Stricker-Woods is an American banker for Friday morning.

Now 36, we have definitely seen a mellowing in Woods’s attitude towards the Ryder Cup. He’s always been good in the singles matches, as you would expect. He has won four and halved one of his six games in that series, with his only defeat coming on his debut in 1997.

But there are clear signs that Woods the ultimate individual golfer is evolving into Tiger the team player, and that can’t be good news for Europe this week.

‘We’ve got four rookies in our team and so I need him to be more than just a player, I need him to be a leader,’ said Love. ‘Sure he’s quiet like Stricker’s quiet but they are real leaders now, and I am happy to have Tiger. He and I go about things differently but the one thing we are united about is our passion for winning this Ryder Cup back. I am confident that both on and off the course Tiger will be a big part of that.’

Tony Pulis on pasta, Batman and office jobs

It's top secret: Tony Pulis on Batman, pasta and office jobs

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 14 September 2012

Stoke manager Tony Pulis talks to Sportsmail about his taste in music, forcing the Stoke squad and staff to watch Batman, and explains his signature dish, Pasta a la Pulis.

Who is your sporting hero

Muhammad Ali, the greatest athlete and the greatest entertainer who ever lived.

What would you be if you weren’t a sportsman

I don’t know… but I can tell you I wouldn’t have been stuck in an office. I had one constructed at this training ground and I spend three minutes a day in it. I hate being indoors. I would have done something active. A PE teacher, perhaps.

No way: Tony Pulis says he could not work an office job

No way: Tony Pulis says he could not work an office job

Which other sportsman would you like to be

Jack Nicklaus. Playing golf professionally into his seventies and still earning a crust out of it sounds good to me!

Career highlight

Signing my first professional contract with Bristol Rovers. A very proud moment.

…And the worst moment

Being beaten in the old Second Division play-off final by Manchester City in 1999 when I was managing Gillingham. We didn’t deserve to lose.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given

Be yourself. Don’t take too much notice of what other people think. Do what you think is right. The attitude was probably handed down by my parents.

Favourite karaoke song

Delilah! by Tom Jones (Stoke’s signature song). What else I’ve got to say that really, haven’t I

Three most-listened-to songs on your iPod

I listen to a lot in my car. A lot of Frank Sinatra. And a lot of opera.

Favourite: Frank Sinatra is one of Pulis' most listened to artists

Favourite: Frank Sinatra is one of Pulis' most listened to artists

Last film you saw

During the club’s pre-season tour of America, we went to see Batman. I demanded the coaches and players came. I had work to do and spent 90 minutes texting people. No-one spoke to me for the rest of that night. It wasn’t a popular choice.

Last book you read

It was a financial book. The Creature from Jekyll Island by G Edward Griffin. It’s about the American banking system.

Favourite pre-match meal

I vary. I’m superstitious. If I have porridge, I’ll have it until we lose. Or poached eggs.

Can you cook Best dish

Yes, Pasta a la Pulis, served with a side salad and a glass of wine. That’s pasta with whatever’s in the fridge.

Master chef: Pulis is a dab hand in the kitchen

Master chef: Pulis is a dab hand in the kitchen

Your favourite holiday destination

When the sun is shining there is no better place than Bournemouth beach.

In a film of your life, who would YOU like to play you

It would have to be a Welshman. Richard Burton No, he’s way too smooth for me. I’ll leave that one for you to decide.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought

A car for my wife Debbie on a, erm, significant birthday.

Tell us a secret…

I do a charity bike ride every year. But the first time I used clips on my bike, I fell off and broke my arm. I cycled the length of the country with it. I had to because they wouldn’t put it in plaster for health and safety reasons. It was b****y agony!

Tony Pulis supports the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice in Trentham, Stoke.

I"m desperate to finally end Major drought, insists Woods

I'm desperate to finally end Major drought, insists Woods

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UPDATED:

09:17 GMT, 8 August 2012

Tiger Woods has come a long way since this time last year – but not far enough, as far as he is concerned.

When the former world No 1 missed the cut by six shots at the US PGA Championship last August he looked a million miles away from the player who had won 14 majors.

He remains four behind Jack Nicklaus' record, but after finishes of 40th in the Masters, 21st in the US Open and third in the Open – plus three other tournament wins – things are certainly looking up again.

Getting ready: Tiger Woods hits a bunker shot during a practice round at Kiawah Island on Tuesday

Getting ready: Tiger Woods hits a bunker shot during a practice round at Kiawah Island on Tuesday

'I'm pleased at the way I was able to play at certain times and obviously disappointed that I did not win,' Woods said at Kiawah Island, where the 94th US PGA starts on Thursday.

'I've played in three major championships this year and I didn't win any of them. That's the goal.

'I was there at the US Open after two days [he was joint leader] and I was right there with a chance at the British Open.

'Things have progressed, but not winning a major championship doesn't feel very good.'

Not that the 36-year-old is fretting over a pursuit of Nicklaus that has stalled for four turbulent years in his life.

'I figure it's going to take a career – a long time,' he said. 'Jack didn't finish his until he was 46, so if you go by that timetable I've got 10 more years.
“Four more majors is a lot, but I've got plenty of time.'

Luke who's in contention: Donald in practice on Tuesday

Luke who's in contention: Donald in practice on Tuesday

Tom Watson nearly won the 2009 Open just short of his 60th birthday and the year before that Greg Norman was third at Birkdale aged 53.

'We can play late in our careers just because of our training and also just getting the right golf course,' he added.

Woods now finds himself on the longest course in major history – 7,676 yards if played from every back tee – and one made famous by its staging of the 'War on the Shore' Ryder Cup in 1991.

He also finds himself in the strongest field ever assembled for any event.
Barring any late withdrawals, it will be the first time since the rankings were launched in 1986 that the world's top 100 are all in the same place.

The last 16 majors have had 16 different winners. This season has seen Bubba Watson capture the Masters, Webb Simpson the US Open and then last month Ernie Els his second Open.

Lee Westwood

Rory McIlroy

Brit of all right: Lee Westwood (left) and Rory McIlroy (right) at Kiawah Island

It could easily become 17 – Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Woods are not on the list and nor, of course, is Adam Scott after he threw things away with four closing bogeys at Royal Lytham.

Watson is also celebrating something off the course this week – his adoption of a baby boy was finalised.

The American's victory at Augusta came just after he and wife Angie had welcomed month-old Caleb into their home, so perhaps the latest news will spur him onto more major glory.

'Monday was a great day for us, so that's the most important thing – and now we're on to trying to win this tournament,' he said.

Simpson, meanwhile, has become a father again since he triumphed in San Francisco, missing the Open while he waited for his wife Dowd to give birth.

The Open 2011: Luke Donald taps into Nick Faldo wisdom

Donald taps into wisdom of Faldo as world No 1 goes in search of first major

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 16 July 2012

It always did seem extraordinary that no Englishman had called upon Sir Nick Faldo for advice on how to win a major championship.

Now it can be revealed that Luke Donald has corrected the anomaly by seeking the counsel of the six-time major winner in a bid to break his duck at The Open at Royal Lytham this week.

‘I’ve no ego on these matters, I just want to win one,’ said Donald.

Far-sighted: Donald has also consulted Jack Nicklaus

Far-sighted: Donald has also consulted Jack Nicklaus

In an interview with Sportsmail in April, Faldo expressed his surprise that not one of the English aspirants had contacted him.

‘I know I have a reputation of looking through people at times but – are you kidding – I’d love to help out,’ said Faldo at the time. ‘I want to see them join the club as much as anybody.’

During the hour they spent together at Jack Nicklaus’s tournament in Ohio, Faldo spoke words which struck such a chord with world No 1 Donald that he intends to put them into practice on Thursday.

‘We spoke for a long time about preparation and being meticulous, but for me it is now all about getting into a relaxed attitude and letting it happen,’ said Donald. ‘Nick explained that the way he went about it was by playing only shots he was comfortable with and, in a way, I went against that rule at the US Open.

Six of the best: Faldo has experience of winning majors

Six of the best: Faldo has experience of winning majors

‘I don’t feel comfortable hitting cut shots but I thought I needed to hit some that week.

‘All I ended up doing was getting my swing into a bad position leading up to the event and playing poorly during it.

‘I suppose I was aware of Nick’s approach, but it was nice to hear it coming from one of the guys who has done it and I’ll certainly be doing that at Lytham.’

Donald’s efforts to get over the line have now led him to seek out the best players of all time on both sides of the Atlantic.

He is a member of Nicklaus’s Bear’s Club in Florida and has spoken to him a number of times.

‘Jack has always been very gracious to me with his time,’ said the 34-year-old.

Seeking out these two pillars is a wise course of action, given that it is clearly a mental problem holding Donald back rather than a technical one.

No 1: Donald enjoys a practice round with Lee Westwood

No 1: Donald enjoys a practice round with Lee Westwood

No 1: Donald enjoys a practice round with Lee Westwood

Who better to consult to unlock the secret than two men with 24 major championships between them

The first thing Donald needs help with is getting off to a good start. As you might expect, given his studiousness, it came as no surprise to Donald to learn that he has not broken 70 in the first round of a major since the 2006 US PGA at Medinah.

‘I’ve thought about it a lot,’ he confessed. ‘In the first round of majors it’s all about having the right focus and not being too anxious. While that is hard to control, you should be able to figure it out with experience.

‘This time I’m trying to treat The Open like it is just another event.

‘I need to have the same mentality on Thursday at Lytham that I had on the first tee in the opening round at the Scottish Open last week.

‘I’m just trying to simplify it and concentrate on nothing more than getting off to a better start than in recent majors.’

Eyes on the prize: Donald says he is concentrating on 'simplifying' things

Eyes on the prize: Donald says he is concentrating on 'simplifying' things

The first two Grand Slam events this year saw Donald play for place money at Augusta and miss the halfway cut by some distance at the US Open.

‘After a couple of days I did stew on that last one for a little while,’ he admitted.

‘But the bottom line is it doesn’t matter if you finish down the field or miss some cuts if you win one. Get your name on the trophy and you put everything right.’

It is hard not to admire the way Donald stands patiently before each major and answers a barrage of questions built mainly around a well-worn and negative theme: why hasn’t he won one and when is he going to put it right

Seeking out Faldo can surely only help and don’t be surprised if they talk again before Thursday. ‘I know Nick is coming to Lytham and I am sure we will bump into one another,’ said Donald.