Product Review – IJP Design

Getting ready for the start of the golf season you begin looking at your golf gear – clubs, balls, gloves and the like. Of course a golfing wardrobe upgrade is always considered as well! When an IJP Design outfit came in the post then a big part of this upgrade had started!

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In terms of what I was wearing courtesy of IJP Design (last time I sound like I’m on the red carpet at The Oscars I swear!), I was kitted out with their Classic Trousers, Raglan Golf Shirt in White, Winston Jumper in Thistle (a particular favourite of mine) and their Luxe Leather Belt with the Hero Buckle!

I like everything about the IJP Design golf attire, belts and accessories. It’s safe to say they were designed by a golfer and it definitely shows! I was an owner of some of the IJP Tartan pants already but was very much looking forward to whether their Golf Trousers range would be similar in terms of that quality. Their Classic Trousers are just that, classic and quality. They are ideal for golf, comfortable and breathable (especially under a pair of wet gear pants!). Their Raglan Golf Shirt is again very comfortable albeit sometimes a snugger fit for the huskier gentleman, of course that’s not the fault of Ian Poulter and his team!

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My personal favourite in this outfit is the Winston Jumper! It’s really comfortable, which seems to be a feature of the IJP gear and for winter or off-season golf it is superb as well. On a blustery day in March I was warm enough in just the Raglan Golf Shirt and my Winston Jumper without the need for an extra layer which definitely helps the golf swing too! I’m a big fan of leather golf belts and the Luxe Leather Belt is really cool, set off superbly with the Hero Buckle as well! I’ll be getting a few more belts and buckles from the IJP range very soon.

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I have got to say that I am a big fan of the IJP Design range, especially their new stuff. I’ll be checking it all out on their website and I suggest to you do too! You can shop for your own look and also browse the new IJP arrivals for the 2016 Golf season. Poults is also giving away some of his gear from the EurAsia Cup as well – enter the competition here.

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US Open Preview

The golfing world focuses on Pinehurst for the next 2 weeks with The US Open and The US Women’s Open being hosted on the world renowned Pinehurst No.2 course, just 1 of 8 superb courses at this absolutely amazing spot. I had the privilege of visiting the resort in October of 2007 and couldn’t get over the place – nearly as close to Golfer’s Heaven as there could be.

Having looked at the field it will obviously take a superb player to win around the recently revamped course and I feel those with the better short games should end up at the top of leaderboard while fighting it out for the US Open Trophy. These are my 4 picks for the 2nd Major of 2014, form an orderly queue at the bookies please………

Pinehurst No2  US Open 2014 Logo

Phil Mickleson

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The short game genius returns to Pinehurst and has been talking up his chances this week, along with his confidence in going back to the pencil grip with the putter. Phil has previous Pinehurst form, finishing 2nd to Payne Stewart in 1999, and is one of the few people in the field to have performed well at Pinehurst No.2 before. After six 2nd place finishes in this Major alone that seems to mean the most to him, can he complete the career Grand Slam this week? I, for one, think he can. He’s around 4th favourite with those in the know, BetVictor giving best price at 20/1.

Henrik Stenson

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The super Swede Stenson has yet to hit the heights of last year, it would be hard to replicate all those performances really, but when he is in the mood there are few better in the world. His recent form has improved and if he keeps the driver in the bag the majority of the 72 holes this week, one of the few players that can around any course, he can definitely contend for his 1st Major title. Best price is currently with BetFred and Totesport who are both offering 28/1 but with 7 places.

Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter

The Poultergeist is one of the best pitchers, chippers and bunker players in the world and when the putter is hot he can simply putt the lights out – this doesn’t always happen of course but I think IJP will be up for it this week as he needs to up his game to either qualify for the Ryder Cup or impress Captain McGinley enough to pick him as a Wild Card. A 1st Major would help on both counts of course, over to you Poults! He’s best price 66/1 with those boys offering 7 places, BetFred and Totesport. Most of the others including Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and BetVictor are offering 66/1 as well but 6 places.

Luke Donald

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Luke Donald is fast becoming the “Best Player in the World Not to Win a Major“, a very much unwanted title! He has been undertaking some swing changes of late to most of all improve his performances in the Majors and it is debatable whether this transformation is complete yet, having said that his short game remains superb and that is what you need around Pinehurst No.2. If he can find the fairways then expect Luuuuke to contend come the Back 9 this Father’s Day. Donald is 50/1 best price with Ladbrokes while most of the rest are offering 40s or less.

So, those are my picks for this week at Pinehurst. Having visited the resort, and for anybody there this week, the Ryder Cup Bar at the Pinehurst Resort and the Sports Page just down the road would come highly recommended for a few after golf tipples!! Enjoy the golf wherever you will be watching it from and fingers crossed 1 of my 4 might prevail, either that or an Irish winner will do!

Tournament Preview – WGC Accenture Matchplay

So we’re back at Dove Mountain for the Matchplay, perhaps for the last time and definitely with probably the worse field to tee it up there but hopefully without last year’s snow! I still very much enjoy the format though and Matchplay is always a great watch.

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It’s always tough to pick the winner of a Matchplay match, nevermind the overall winner of a Matchplay tournament but we’re going to give it a go! First up is the Bobby Jones bracket. Henrik Stenson is our pick here, the Swede was the best player in the World for the last 6 months of 2013 and he also has form at Dove Mountain in the past. Expect him to come through his bracket and at 22/1 with totesport, SpreadEx, BetFred and sportingbet it’s a decent pay-out even if the Double Money List winner from last year gets to the Semi Finals.

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We like Matt Kuchar to make it through in the Gary Player bracket. He may well end up playing Jordan Speith on his way through the matches but Kuchar knows his way around Dove Mountain and is a solid matchplayer. With a price of 28/1 to win overall with Paddy Power, bet365 and CORAL he could be worth a few quid, that’s working out as 7/1 to win the bracket too if you back him each way.

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The Ben Hogan bracket isn’t an easy one so I’m going for 2 players – Ian Poulter and Jimmy Walker. Poults is a superb matchplayer and if his putting hits any form in this format then he’s near to unbeatable. You can get the “Postman” at 35s best price with bet365 and Boylesports this week. Walker is the form player in the World at the moment and it is tough not to consider him this week, of course Matchplay is a very different game but if you play well you will of course have the chance to win. 50/1 best price with CORAL is worth at least a second look!

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The toughest bracket this week could well be the Sam Snead, it could very well be the case that our pick to win the bracket could go out first round but we hope not! We are going for Zach Johnson here, superb putter and wedge player along with being one of the most competitive players head-to-head – he is very well suited to Matchplay. Zach is available at 35/1 with Stan James if you fancy a flutter here!

Zach Johnson

So that’s what we think will happen this week, summary as follows:

Bobby Jones bracket – Stenson; Gary Player bracket – Matt Kuchar; Ben Hogan bracket – Ian Poulter or Jimmy Walker; Sam Snead bracket – Zach Johnson. Stenson hasn’t played too much this year or overly well but he is truly World class when in the mood and expect him to be so this week. Another WGC title for the Swede, well at least we think so!! Enjoy the golf this week!

McGinley quite rightly gets the Ryder Cup nod!

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Paul McGinley made history this week when he was appointed the first ever Irish Captain of the European Ryder Cup Team. Irish golfers have had an amazing record as part of the Ryder Cup teams, from Eamonn D’Arcy beating Ben Crenshaw in 1987 at Muirfield; Christy O’Connor’s 2-iron in 1989 at the Belfy vs Couples; Phil Walton’s great victory again Jay Haas to bring the Cup home in 1995; Paul McGinley’s putt in 2002 at the Belfry to win the Cup; Harrington defeating Tiger & Phil alongside Monty in 2004 and beating Tiger again with McGinners the next day at Oaklands Hills; Darren Clarke’s amazing performances at The K Club in 2006………..the list just goes on and on!

It has taken a long time in coming to finally see an Irish golfer as Ryder Cup Captain after such a significant contribution to the competition over the years. We could potentially see another 2 Irish golfers as Ryder Cup captain soon too with Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington definitely in the running for future captaincy roles, although the fact that Darren was strongly considered this time around maybe counting against him for subsequent Ryder Cups.

Paul McGinley is a true gent of the game, very similar to his more illustrious colleague, Tom Watson, of Team USA. His behaviour during the run-up to the announcement of Team Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain was a credit to him, staying in the background and just letting things unfold while others very much let themselves down, not wanting to name any names of course…………Monty does spring to mind though! McGinley has served as Assistant Captain twice so his Ryder Cup pedigree is without question, both teams winning, in 2010 and quite miraculously in 2012, and, of course, he held the winning putt in 2002 at the Belfry along with delivering significant contributions in 2004 at Oaklands Hills (the highlight probably being his 4&3 victory over Davis Love III & Tiger Woods while in tandem with fellow Irishman, Padraig Harrington) and of course who can forget his amazing show of sportsmanship to JJ Henry in conceding his putt for a half on the 18th green at The K Club even though victory for Europe had been secured. His unbeaten record in Ryder Cups, as player and Assistant Captain so far, will definitely be put to the test when Tom Watson returns to Scotland, his second golfing home, in 2014 at Gleneagles. His captaincy credentials were already copper-fastened of course, performing with much credit in the Seve (Vivendi) Trophy in 2009 & 2011.

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The main questions raised in the build-up to the European Team Captain announcement this week was would Paul be the big enough name needed to stand up to Watson in the captaincy stakes, and also maybe whether he would be able to command the respect of 12 of the best golfers in the world for a week. His grit and determination shown as a player in Ryder Cups would answer a resounding yes to the first question and the fantastic support shown for him by players such as World No.1 Rory McIlroy and the name called “Mr Ryder Cup” in certain quarters, Ian Poulter, among others definitely points to the other issue not being an issue at all.

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Paul McGinley is quite simply a Ryder Cup legend, having won 3 out of 3 as a player and 2 out of 2 as an Assistant Captain. He has served his Ryder Cup apprenticeship by captaining GB&I in the Vivendi Seve Trohpy twice so the next logical step and much deserved appointment was to make him Captain of Team Europe for the matches at Gleneagles, Scotland, in September 2014. I’m already looking forward to September, those of you who read my blog piece on Tom Watson’s captaincy will already know this!  How about an all-Irish backroom team of McGinley, Harrington & Clarke facing up to Watson, Palmer & Nicklaus in 20 months’ time?!!? The proverbial golfing mouth waters!!

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