The Irish Golf Expo 2017

Ireland’s largest Golf Show comes to CityWest in Dublin on Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th February 2017 when the Irish Golf Expo rolls into town! There are over 10,000 fanatical golfers expected to attend and based on previous Expos there could be even more than that at CityWest on the last weekend of February next year. Ticket Sales are available HERE and includes a Free Round of Golf as well!

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The move to Dublin from up North has been welcomed as approximately half of the 410 golf courses in Ireland (yes, that many!) are based in and around the greater Dublin area. This gives your golf club, resort or business the ideal opportunity to connect with and showcase your products & services to a very captive audience indeed! I would recommend booking early to make sure you get your exhibition space and to also take advantage of the robust marketing campaign for the Event, both online and in print!

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Some highlights to look forward to during The 2017 Irish Golf Expo include:

  • Q&A with Shane Lowry!
  • Trickshot Show
  • Free PGA Professional tuition
  • Indoor driving range
  • Custom club & ball fitting
  • Exhibition stands from golf industry leaders
  • Educational workshops from Ireland’s leading golf experts
  • Rory “Washing Machine Challenge“!
  • Golf Simulators – Long Drive & Closest to the Pin competitions

The Marketing & PR Campaign for The 2017 Irish Golf Expo will include a mix of TV, Radio, Print & Digital along with extensive PR activities in the run up to the event. A focus around the “Ultimate Fourball Prize Package“, worth over €10,000, will ensure a very high attendance at the event itself. There are also Partnership Opportunities, including Naming Rights, available on a number of different levels to suit your marketing budgets and company objectives. Some benefits of Irish Golf Expo Partnership include branding, database content, product placement, advertisement in the event programme, involvement in the Marketing & PR campaign including launch, social media and web content.

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The standard Exhibitor Package costs just €250 plus VAT per square metre, with a minimum 3m x 2m shell scheme as standard. Bespoke or Larger stands are of course available on request along with electrical & furniture packages, including a double wall socket, lights, table & chairs. Any queries on Exhibitor Packages please contact Tom Kennedy on +353-87-6453537 or email tom@tomkennedygolf.com.

For further information visit the Irish Golf Expo Website, you can also check them out on Twitter and Facebook. We look forward to seeing you at The Irish Golf Expo 2017 in February in Dublin! Get your Tickets online HERE!!

Irish Open Week 2016 at The Heritage

The Irish Open is always a great golfing week on the calendar and while you can watch some of the best players in the world at The K Club from 19th-22nd May you can always get some great value at The Heritage Golf Club! Play in any of their Open competitions during Irish Open Week and if we have an Irish winner of The Irish Open The Heritage GC will give you a green fee voucher for a FREE ROUND OF GOLF!!

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Schedule of Events

Monday 16th May – Irish Open Week Singles, €30 per person

Wednesday 18th May – Irish Open Week Singles, €30 per person

Thursday 19th May – Irish Open Week Singles, €30 per person

Friday 20th May – Irish Open Week Singles, €30 per person

Saturday 21st May – Irish Open Week Singles, €40 per person

Sunday 22nd May – Back Tees Challenge, €30 per person

For online bookings CLICK HERE, you can also book by emailing info@heritageresort.ie or by calling the Golf Shop on 057-8642321. Don’t forget to visit The Heritage Golf Club at the Fáilte Ireland stand at The Irish Open on Thursday 19th May to check out some great offers and giveaways on the day!!

Remember €1 from every Green Fee in 2016 will also be donated between Temple Street Children’s Hospital, The Cuisle Centre & Billy’s World!

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US Open Week at The Heritage GC

The Heritage Golf Club will be running a number of Open Competitions over US Open week, from Monday 15th – Sunday 21st June. As an added incentive to enjoy one of the best parkland courses in Ireland, which is also in fantastic condition, The Heritage GC will give everybody playing in the Open Competitions during US Open Week a green fee voucher for a FREE ROUND OF GOLF if Rory McIlroy wins The US Open !!

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Their Schedule of Events is as follows:

Monday 15th June – Seve Series Open Singles, €30 per person

Tuesday 16th June – Afternoon Team of 4 Competition, €120 per Team

Wednesday 17th June – Seniors Scramble (Team of 3), €90 per Team

Thursday 18th June – Ladies Open Singles, €30 entry fee

Friday 19th June – US Open Singles, €40 per person

Sunday 21st June – Back Tees Challenge, €40 per person

Each entry fee also includes a Warm Up Bucket of Balls at the Golf School. Online bookings are available by clicking HERE, you can also book by emailing Tom Kennedy or by calling the Golf Shop on 057-8642321.

Remember €1 from every Green Fee in 2015 and beyond will be donated between Temple Street Childrens’ Hospital & The Cuisle Centre!TempleLogoCuisle Centre Logo

 

WGC Cadillac Tournament Preview

So we’re still in Florida and off to the revamped and re-toothed Blue Monster course at Doral. It will hopefully be a week where great golf makes the headlines rather than the course itself which has been redeveloped by designers Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner under the guidance of the man himself, Donald Trump. Doral has given us some amazing finishes down the years and this year promises the very same entertainment, especially as the new layout could well see the previous local knowledge going right out the window! If the finish on Sunday at the Blue Monster is anything like the 2 previous weeks at the WGC Matchplay and at the Honda then we are in for a treat.

Doral1   Donald Trump

John has run the rule on the possible winners this week and his picks are as follows:

Adam Scott
Adam Scott

There’s a lot on the line this week for Scott. With a win and a Woods finish outside the top 7, the Aussie would move to No. 1 in the World. That ranking is a driving force for many golfers and Scott would become only the second Australian to be top dog in golf, joining Greg Norman. That’s the motivation for the Aussie and Scott’s previous form at Doral has been strong, which comes on the heels of four top-10s this season and a T-12 at the Honda Classic. Scott finished T3 last year, T13 in ’12 and T6 in ’11. He also has a top-10 from 2008. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t contend all week. He has SW on the bag to drive him into the winners enclosure. Scotty is 12/1 pretty much across the board, a decent price for somebody who tends to finish in the places at the Blue Monster.
Rory McIlroy
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Aside from his struggles in the final round of the Honda Classic, McIlroy has been shooting the lights out on most courses he’s walked this year. He knows his game is in good shape so I doubt one bad Sunday round in which nearly everyone struggled will be enough to derail him. He’ll be hungry. Even with all the struggles he had last year including THAT withdrawal from the Honda, he walked in and grabbed a Tied 8th finish. The year before was solo third, and he has a top-10 and top-20 previously. Rors is favourite at the WGC Cadillac with best price being 15/2 with Paddy Power and CORAL.
Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson
It’s easy to be fairly envious of Dustin Johnson, I don’t think we need to go into specifics here!! DJ’s season started with a win and before being bumped in the WGC Accenture Matchplay and he has also put together two second-place results at Pebble and the Northern Trust Open. He was just off the pace last year, shooting 9-under par to finish T-12. He was solo second in ’11. With his length off the tee, he’s going to reach a lot of par-5s in two and give himself easy irons into the redesigned greens. And since he leads the Tour in greens in regulation, he’ll be putting a lot for birdies. Johnson is available at 18s best price with Bet365, totesport, BetFred and BetVictor.
So that’s John two cents on the WGC Cadillac! As usual you can give John feedback via Twitter on @johnalandeasy ! Prices accurate as of 1pm on 05/03/2014 via Oddschecker.com

Irish Open finds Fota home for 2014

The Irish Open will return to Fota Island Resort this year after being played there last in 2002. This will provide great news for the people of Cork and also Fota’s recent Chinese investors, The Kang Group Worldwide, who will be looking to showcase their new venue to golfers around Ireland, Europe and the World. There is no specific news on the future venues for the Irish Open but with many sponsors already committed to supporting the tournament, including The Kang Group itself, it promises to be a great few days at Fota! The date straight after the US Open is not particularly ideal still especially with it being followed by the BMW International, French Open, Scottish Open and The Open Championship as some players will take at least 1 week off between the US Open and Open Championship. The August Bank Holiday date that Killarney enjoyed was fantastic for fans although it would now clash with the WGC Bridgestone Invitational now, it’s tough to fit all these tournaments in to maximise the best fields but I think the Irish Open should start getting a better slot on the calendar with the event getting some security in the coming years.

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The news has been heralded by many Irish tour professionals, including World no.7 Rory McIlroy who stated: “I think it is great news that the Irish Open will be played at Fota Island……..The country’s National Open should be moved around to give everyone an opportunity to see the event, and it also gives us the chance to show the world just how many amazing courses there are in Ireland. Fota Island will be an exciting venue for the Irish Open, and exactly the kind of place to showcase what Ireland has to offer as a golf destination.”

Monty 2001    Soren Hansen

There have been quite a few changes to Fota since they last hosted the Irish Open in 2002, with significant investment in the Resort facilities itself along with much real estate being built and also an additional 9 holes to add to the Championship 18-hole course that hosted the 2001 and 2002 Irish Opens. It has always been a course kept in great condition and I’m sure this will be no different when June comes around.

It is also great to see the tournament supported locally by Cork City and County Councils as well as from the private sector in the form of BAM Contractors. Having such support on board already will take a lot of pressure off courting sponsors over the coming months, will this give the European Tour and/or Fáilte Ireland the opportunity to secure the future of the Irish Open with venues and also sponsors? I definitely hope so!

Advance tickets for the 2014 Irish Open are on sale now at a special promotional price of €25 for Adult Day Tickets and €50 for Adult Season Tickets (concessions €15 and €30). A limited number of tickets at those promotional prices – saving up to €10 for a day pass and €20 for a season – on the gate prices are currently available on a first come first served basis. Golf fans are encouraged to apply now for tickets on www.europeantour.com/tickets or www.irishopen.ie

When the sun shines at the Irish Open there are few better places to be and Cork is also greatcraic” at tournament time as well………just don’t tell those langers that, they know that already!!

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The Irish Open 2013 – Preview

The Irish Open Golf Championship returns to Carton House this week after last being played there back in 2006 when it was won on that occasions by Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn. It also returns to the Montgomerie Course, having initially been pencilled in for the O’Meara Course at Carton. A field of the very best Irish golfers, from North and South, along with some of the top European stars will fight it out over 4 days for what is still one of the most coveted titles in European golf – Padraig Harrington considers it his “Fifth Major” so that just shows the grá he has for the tournament. There have been 2 Irish winners since the last Irish Open was hosted at Carton, Harrington and Lowry while he was still an amateur, and a large home crowd are hoping again to cheer on an Irish champion!

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Golf Ireland have been putting in a lot of work behind the scenes, and much credit should go to them for this. I particularly like their grandstand on 17, where I’m sure the Irish crowd will be looking to rival a similar, but much larger, amphitheatre at the PGA Tour stop at Phoenix. The the craic should be mighty at 17 over the 4 days of the tournament though…..they don’t get that in the States! Fans can reserve their seat for the 17th hole grandstand for just €10 per day, ensuring that in the year of The Irish Gathering they are part of this exhilarating crowd experience. Big screens will also be erected at the 17th hole allowing spectators to watch all of the action from elsewhere on the course. Anyone who has already purchased reserved seating for the 18th green grandstand will also receive automatic entrance to the 17th stand. All reserved grandstand seating for the 18th on Saturday and Sunday is now sold out. Information about the 17th hole grandstand at the 2013 Irish Open can be found on www.europeantour.com/tickets, where special advanced tickets offers for the tournament can also be located.

An advance season ticket for all four days of The Irish Open can be bought for €70. Adult day tickets are priced at €30 pre-event, and €35 on the gate. Concessions are available at €50 for a season (€60 on the gate) and €20 for any one day (€25 on the gate). Under-16s accompanied by an adult are admitted free of charge and all car parking is also free.

Here are the guys who I think will contend this week, I’ll try to run the rule over the most of the Irish in the field as well.

RORY McILROY (17/2 best price with Sportingbet)

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It’s tough to consider Rory the favourite with his recent form although from what I have heard coming out of the practice rounds so far the course this year, with decent weather, will suit the bombers and McIlroy is right up there with all the biggest hitters in the game. Rors has not really contended much this year however and it will be interesting to see how his indifferent form may hold up to this down the stretch on Sunday. I think better value can be had with some of the other Irish players.

THOMAS BJORN (16/1 best price with BETFRED)

The Dane triumphed here when the Irish Open was last played at Carton and in very tough conditions too. He could well be coming in here as the BMW champ, only a double bogey late on in Germany derailing his hopes on the final day. Expect Thomas to be in with a chance here, he is playing well and obviously has previous course form too.

GRAEME McDOWELL (16/1 best price with Paddy Power)

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G-Mac is simply the best Irish golfer on form at the moment, 2 wins this year already and plenty fine play in between that as well should make him one of the leading contenders to hoist aloft the Irish Open trophy come Sunday evening in Kildare. His US Open performance was obviously not up to his high standards of late but I would not let that blip put you off. He’s also 7/2 (Ladbrokes) to be top Irish player so that might be worth looking at as well

PADRAIG HARRINGTON (20/1 best price with Stan James & Paddy Power)

Harrington Irish Open

Two superb rounds followed by one poor round and then one terrible round sum up Padraig’s week at the Travelers Championship in the States, I hope he has gotten over that and the jetlag to make a proper attempt at winning his 2nd Irish Open. Paddy finished 11th here back in 2006 and if he gets into contention there are few players around that fight as hard as he does. I don’t think this will be his week, Muirfield could well provide this in a few weeks time, but with the home crowd cheering him on it would not surprise me. He considers the Irish Open as the Fifth Major, and rightly so as an Irish golfer, so the motivation is always there for him and he’ll be trying his hardest to win again.

ROSS FISHER (25/1 best price with Ladbrokes)

Ross finished tied 5th back in 2006 and his form has been better of late than in recent years. 25/1 is a bit shorter than I thought he would be however so he is more included here because of his previous course form rather than his overall form coming into the tournament. He does love the Irish Open though and it obviously has memories for him for certain reasons, being the 2010 Irish Open champion is of course one of these.

SHANE LOWRY (25/1 with Stan James)

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One of Offaly’s favourite sons tees it up at Carton with a lot of expectation on his shoulders. He is their Touring Professional and lives on-site so he should know the course better than anybody in the field really. He is playing good golf, his win over friend Rory McIlroy in the Accenture Matchplay being one of the highlights I suppose where his amazing touch around the greens was evident. He will need this short game to be razor sharp once more with the tricky greens on the Monty course and, of course, with those bunkers! Has a big chance this week.

A few for the maybe pile are PAUL CASEY (50/1 with sportingbet), PETER UIHLEIN (45s with Stan James) and ROMAIN WATTEL (70/1 with Stan James). Now for the rest of the Irish!

I think in terms of a good performance, comfortably making it to the weekend and going from there could well be seen as the target for the likes of David Ryan, John Kelly, Damian Mooney, Brendan McGovern, Reeve Whitson, Gavin Moynihan, Donal Gleeson, Cian McNamara, Gareth Shaw and Kevin Phelan while Barrie Trainor (with Limerickman Andrew Kiely on the bag for the week!), Seamus Power, Mark Murphy, David Higgins, Alan Dunbar, Simon Thornton, Michael Hoey, Gareth Maybin, Damien McGrane and Peter Lawrie may well have loftier goals. Mark Murphy was one of the last into the field and he has been coming on leaps and bounds since winning the Big Break Ireland a few years back. He made a fantastic eagle on his 36th hole at Portrush last year to make the cut so he is no stranger to coming up with the goods when it is least expected, I’m sure some cute Kerrymen may well have a few euro on at 80/1 ! The prospects this week of Ryder Cup Captain, Paul McGinley, and 2011 Open Champ, Darren Clarke, are uncertain as they are not playing as much as a few years back. McGinley, of course, has plenty on his mind with Ryder Cup duties along with his link to the Golf Development Project in Ghana as well. Clarke has really never found the same form that brought another Irish Major win at The Open Championship. Apart from the leading Irish contenders like Rors, G Mac, Harrington and Lowry, it may prove surprising if the lads above contended at the top of the leaderboard – they are all fine players however and with the home support there may be something special to happen yet, we all remember 2009 at Baltray!

Here’s to a wonderful week of golf at Carton House for the 2013 Irish Open, not sure what the weather will be like but let us hope it will be fitting for the biggest tournament in Irish golf and one that should be a flagship event on the European Tour calendar. There will be a few events going on during the week that are not to be missed, namely the ‘Open House @ 17’ Challenge. Anyone visiting the Tented Village at Carton House can register to compete in the challenge at the GUI National Academy stand. Spectators can then use the shuttle service provided by The European Tour to access the challenge which takes place at the GUI National Golf Academy adjacent to the championship course itself.  The challenge involves a 170-yard tee shot to a green in the short game area of the Academy – replicating the testing challenge that the world’s top professionals will face during the Irish Open tournament itself. The six players closest to the flag each day will be invited to play the actual 17th hole in front of packed grandstands and galleries with prizes on offer for the winners including vouchers for the National Golf Academy and discounts on insurance from the GUI’s main sponsor AIG.

Carton Grandstand

Other initiatives include the ‘Irish Double’ ticket to enjoy the third round of the Irish Open and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Day for a combined price of €50. It will hopefully prove to be a fantastic week of golf in Ireland, I just wish I could make it!

Golf Ireland

Justin’s Major future looks Rosey after US Open win!

At marvellous Merion another thrilling US Open Championship came to a conclusion on Sunday 16th June with virtually the winning of the second Major of the year coming down to the last shots. No player was under par, nevermind that, all players were over par! Merion was setup superbly and albeit a relatively short US Open layout in terms of previous venues, the course which has not hosted America’s premier golfing tournament since 1981 tested the World’s best golfers admirably.

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On the course from early on it looked like it could well by Phil’s week, putting to bed those previous 5 second place finishes with most of them being agonising runner up placings! He played conservatively and hit the driver very rarely, a tactic he promised his coach Butch Harmon that he would not waiver from. As the field jostled for position over the first two days it became apparent that Mickelson would be one of the leading contenders along with former World No.1, Luke Donald, his compatriot Justin Rose, Australian Jason Day (looking to emulate his fellow countryman David Graham), 2011 Masters Champ Charl Schwartzel, veteran Steve Stricker and relatively new to contending in the final rounds of a Major – Hunter Mahan and Billy Horschel. By the close of play on Saturday the above players were those considered the only players still in with a shout, players like Tiger, Rory, Sergio and Harrington well out of the contention at the close of play after 54 holes.

The early holes for the leaders was quite something to see – Schwartzel was solid and looked the man to beat early on with birdies and a general calm. Phil narrowly missed birdies and 1 and 2 but posted a double bogey on 3. Luke Donald had a horror start and probably never recovered properly from hitting a standard bearer to the left of the green on 3. The third hole did cause problems all day – playing between a fairway wood and driver for most players in the field! Stricker had a shocker on 2, with a treble-bogey 8 including 2 shots out of bounds. Mahan started solidly with many pars while Horschel appeared as the golfer in the Octopus pants which got more attention than his poor start! Day and Rose did nothing to harm their chances early on, this start giving them the impetus to push on as the Final Round reached the pivotal moments.

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The start at Merion includes 2 par-5s in the first 4 holes but this does not mean you can ease into the round and pick up some easy birdies. The first hole should be at worst a par but with the pin position it meant the good miss was short which left a difficult uphill putt but this was better than a devilishly difficult chip or pitch downhill with little green to work with should you be long with your approach. The 3rd hole was not one of the more popular ones during the week and the final round did not do much to improve this either, 260 yards plus which wasn’t far short of the 10th hole, par-4! As the players got through the tough par-4s in the shape of 5 and 6 the leaderboard had taken the shape that it would pretty much continue in for the remainder of the round, it was more or less down to 4 men – Rose, Mickelson, Mahan and Day.

Phil, who had not held a putt on much consequence on the front 9, continued this trend on the 10th but which a fantastic hole out from the rough for an eagle 2 to take the lead at that stage. More solid golf followed but an errant wedge shot cost him dearly on 13, carrying the green which resulted in a bogey for what was considered one of the last genuine birdie holes on the back 9. Another poor wedge approach resulted in a bogey on 14, lead back with Rose at this stage. Day was hanging in there but a few bogeys at the wrong time on probably the toughest closing stretch in Major Championship golf eventually meant he would finish at 3-over par for the tournament. Rose hit a superb tee shot to 17 to give him a chance of a chip-in birdie from just on the back right fringe but he left this stone dead rather than having a run at it, again pars being priceless over the last few holes. An immaculate tee shot on 18 left Rose in the middle of the fairway, some say he was beside the Hogan plaque (fittingly if so) and some a sprinker head, but his approach to 18 underlined his solid play all day and all week with an arrow-like long iron seeking out the pin and unlucky to run through to the back edge of the green. An expertly played greenside shot with a fairway wood gave him a tap in, unlucky not to post an Even Par total of 280 for the 4 rounds with what could have been a birdie at the last.

phil us open 2013

Mahan had been hanging around the lead for a while but a terrible double bogey late on scuppered his chances, he wasn’t the only one struggling over the final holes at Merion though and the closing holes bared their teeth. Phil was now the only golfer left to threaten Rose’s Major hopes coming up 18 after making par on 17 to stay 1 behind. A drive into the left rough looked to have ended Lefty’s opportunity to finally put claim to a first US Open triumph but with his second shot finishing up short of the green it still gave him the chance to pitch in – something that he has been known to do from time to time! Mickelson stalked the pitch for quite a while and eventually played a decent shot, aggressively punched towards the hole but as it raced past the right edge as did his chances and Rose became the first English golfer since 1970 to win the US Open and since 1996 to win a Major!

Everything was indeed Rosey in the garden for Justin at Merion on US Open Sunday!

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2013 Majors Preview – The US Open

The second Major of the year takes place at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania, USA, in June and this is the focus of Part 2 of my Majors 2013 Previews. Their East Course has hosted more USGA Championships than any other in America so expect the usual layout, plenty rough and ultra-fast greens come to mind. Bobby Jones won the 1930 US Amateur title there, considered a Major at the time, while the most iconic shot probably played there was Ben Hogan’s 1-iron on the last hole of the 1950 US Open. Merion’s pedigree as a US Open venue is not in question and anybody around that Level Par mark will be likely contenders down the stretch on Sunday in the Final Round.

THE US OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Merion Golf Club, Thursday 13th – Sunday 16th June

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The last US Open held at Merion was 1981, won by David Graham, so not much course form will come into who may win probably the toughest Major in golf this year. Edoardo Molinari has most recent course form, having won the US Amateur there back in 2005 but his form has well and truly eluded him since his Ryder Cup bow in 2010 when he was superb in the final qualification tournaments. As usual at the US Open, expect contenders to come from those who are solid from tee to green, also great grafters and those with a good short game, most importantly clutch putters. My early picks to contend in the US Open are Northern Irish pair Rory McIlroy & Graeme McDowell, Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker. They all pretty much fit the bill and hopefully I will explain why………

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G Mac is very much a US Open type golfer, gets it in play off the tee, without being overly long, and is one of the best putt clutch putters on the planet. His ability shown to hold his head while others were losing theirs (sorry Dustin Johnson!) was very much on display at Pebble Beach in 2010 and his performance last year at Olympic Club showed his battling qualities as he attempted to catch Webb Simpson down the stretch. His came so so close last year to adding to his Major haul and I expect another fine showing in Pennsylvania in June.

gmac1

Jason Dufner is one of the finest ball strikers out there and his seemingly relaxed way of going about things is the sort of mentality you need to win a US Open. His only time in real contention for a Major so far did end up with him losing a playoff to Keegan Bradley when it did look like he was cruising to victory so this would provide the doubters with plenty ammunition but it did takes to likes of Phil, Jim Furyk and even Rory a few attempts while contending for a Major before they eventually claimed one of Golf’s big titles. I would not be surprised in the slightest should “The Duff” be in the final pairings when the final round of the US Open tees off at Merion.

dufner

Brandt Snedeker is the latest tour star to claim the crazy bonus on offer for winning the FedEx Cup, and according to the affable Southerner in a recent interview with David Feherty at the Farmers Insurance Open, he has not managed to spend much of that but rather use some of the funds for a charity foundation he is involved in. That is neither here nor there when discussing the potential winner of The US Open Championship but good things usually happen to good people all the same, and Snedeker is definitely in this bracket – his golf isn’t half bad either! One of the final proponents of the old odyssey mallet putter, he is one of the best putters from long and short and his long game is generally spot on albeit a poor showing over the final two rounds at The Open Championship last July does point to maybe a slight weakness when contending at the very top of the game. He has been a superb player for a few years now so well worth looking at for at least a top-5 finish in June.

snedeker

World No.1 Rory McIlroy has got the perfect game to win a US Open, he has won the championship already so no need to offer any particular proof here. Whether he can keep up his record of only winning Majors by 8 shots is, of course, probably not up for discussion and I’m sure he’ll take a win no matter by what margin. Once Rors get into contention in a Major now he does seem to have the knack of closing them out, I know he has only won 2 but he has probably only genuinely contended in 4 so a 50% conversion rate from those he has had a chance to win going into the latter stages is pretty damn good. I can look to many contenders for the US Open Championship, and I’m sure due to form and other issues these will change over the next 5 months, but my man for Merion is McIlroy.

rory us open

The US Open always throws up something that little bit different due to the difficulty of the layouts presented to the best players in the world, and I expect the second Major of 2013 not to vary here at all. The best of the best at the moment is Rory though and I fully expect him to keep up his record of winning 1 Major a year from 2011.

Another big event in June will be in Ireland as the Mount Juliet Junior Scratch Cup takes place on Sunday 2nd June. Interest is also already high for this amateur event which is also a fixture on the Top Golfer Tour 2013, the winner of the Mount Juliet Junior Scratch Cup will take their place in the Top Golfer Tour Championship later this year. The entry fee is €60 per person, online bookings can be taken via http://www.brsgolf.com/mountjuliet/opens_day.php while you can book by phone on 056-7773012 or email golfreservations@mountjuliet.ie.

2013 Majors – a Look at the US Masters

Well the regular season is well and truly underway and already the proverbial knives are out and being sharpened for Messrs McIlroy and Woods after their poor season debuts. Without much early tour form to base this on, these are my picks for the Golf Majors this year……….hopefully I will be able to tell ye all “I told you so” towards the end of the season with my chosen golfers picking up the Green Jacket, US Open Trophy, The Claret Jug and the Wannamaker Trophy. First up is the Masters at Augusta.

THE MASTERS TOURNAMENT, Augusta National, Thursday 11th – Sunday 14th April

the masters

If there is one golfer that will be motivated to win the Masters and get the Augusta golfing monkey off his back, it is Rory McIlroy. With the memories of the Back 9 collapse of 2011 still fresh in his mind I’m sure he will be chomping at the bit to claim his first Green Jacket, some of my fellow tweeps (collective noun for people that tweet!!) have been adding the hashtag #GreenJacketComingHome in recent times so there is definitely an expectation that Rors may well become the first Irish golfer to claim the Masters and, by virtue of this win, complete an Irish Grand Slam of sorts in the Majors. I would personally love to see the current World No.1 win at Augusta but I’m not sure he will have enough form behind him, and maybe enough confidence in his new clubs by then, to conquer the layout at Augusta National this time around. The ditching of his new Nike putter after only 1 round in Abu Dhabi can’t point to him being happy with this club or his putting for that matter, a bad putter does not win at Augusta but that does not mean Rory is a bad putter but I just do not think it is his time yet at Augusta.

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My picks for Augusta, as they have been in recent years, are Luke Donald and Phil Mickelson. No earth shattering choices there I hear you say, well you are right they are not controversial or unexpected but these guys are always there or thereabouts when the final round nears the final 9 holes on Masters Sunday. Phil is quite simply an Augusta expert and few courses have been designed that suit a professional golfer better, he loves to hit a cut off the tee (right-to-left shape for a leftie) and that suits probably 16 holes at Augusta. His golf at the Ryder Cup at Medinah last September in particular was more like the Phil of a few years back and he is also at his best when playing his attacking style of golf, it is great to watch and always entertaining – I’m sure we all remember THAT SHOT on the par-5 13th Hole in the Final Round which led him to victory in 2010, Nick Faldo calling it “the shot of his life” which says it all. Another Augusta top-5 awaits for Phil and few are better in contention on the Back 9 on Sunday at the Masters.

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Luuuuuke is one of the most consistent performers in world golf at the moment and his Masters performances recently have resulted in him getting close but without the cigar so far. He does not make him score on the par-5s  like many potential Masters champions do as he tends to plot his way around the course but I’m sure plenty of us remember Zach Johnson laying up on every par-5 and claiming the Masters back in 2007 on what was one of the longest versions of the Augusta National layout, Luke could well fit the same billing here. Donald has one of the best wedge games in golf and is also lethal around the greens too, and that is what you need around those undulating greens during the Masters. He will be in contention again and if his putter finally works like it should in the final round and particular during the Back 9 on Sunday then I fully expect Donald to live up to expectations and land his first Major title.

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That’s my “two cents” on the Masters, might be worth a small few quid/euro/dollars on good auld Tom Watson for first round leader presuming that he will be teeing it up of course which I’m sure he will to keep an eye on potential Ryder Cuppers. I would welcome any comments, feedback and the like and I’m sure everybody has their opinion on who will claim the First Major of 2013.

Another “Major” Golf Tournament on during Masters week is, of course, the Social Media Open (www.facebook.com/SocialMediaOpen, www.twitter.com/SMOpen) which runs from Wednesday 10th to Sunday 14th April at some of the finest courses in Ireland – Mount Juliet, Castlemartyr, Adare & Old Head. Based on the trash talk and banter at present it is likely to be hotly contested. Main contenders, mainly due to their unashamed self-promotion, include Ross & David Starkey; Maurice Ryan & John Kelly; James English & Kieran Aherne and Kevin Connolly & his playing partner Ryan. Other teams, who have remained quiet(ish) compared to other more outspoken competitors include Tony Regazolli & Tom Kennedy, Allan Farrelly & Glen Holmes and John Deasy & AN Other.  There are 3 teams who all entered together from Dublin, spearheaded by Fergus McGrath and Denis Murphy, who could be dark horses while a few local Cork teams cannot be discounted especially due to the unfamiliarity of most of the other teams with the “People’s Republic” and, most importantly, pints of Murphy’s,  Kinsale Lager and the White Lady Night Club on a Saturday night!

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It promises to be a great week’s golf but I think the Masters Tournament could be slightly more straightforward to predict than the Social Media Open, only time will tell.

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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