Category Archives: golf

242. The secret of Sandwich – British Open 2011

the maiden 6th hole royal st georges sandwich england by roadsofstone

A major tournament – contested on the best links I’ve played, and won by the gutsiest golfer I know. There could scarcely have been a better result to this year’s Open Championship.

Amongst the courses on the British Open rota, Royal St George’s is the toughest and biggest one out there. And those are qualifications which could apply perfectly to Darren Clarke, as well.
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240. Rory McIlroy – US Open Champion and UNICEF Ambassador

rory mcilroy us open champion congressional 2011 rorymcilroy comGolf is a sport which can make you humble.

Yet the new US Open champion had already learnt humility the hard way.

In April, Rory McIlroy led a major championship for the third time in a row, starting the last day of the US Masters with a four-stroke lead. That was before a spectacular Amen Corner collapse raised doubts if Rory could ever win a major.

rory mcilroy range work TPC sawgrass florida usa 2009 by ltbeyer flickrAfter all, his final round at Augusta only matched the score he had made in a gale at St Andrews last July, after opening up with a 63.

Scoring 80 twice when leading majors seemed to ask serious questions about Rory’s appetite for the fight.

Yet really, his fortitude should never have been in doubt.
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229. Ryder Cup 2010 – the perfect blue day

ryder cup 2010 blue scoreboard celtic manor wales sunday c visitwales comClear skies may have been in short supply in Wales this week, but at least by Saturday night the Ryder Cup scoreboard was showing its first hint of blue.

As I left home on Sunday morning to find a TV showing the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, news came through on the radio. The start of play had been delayed until noon, and then 1.30 pm. I’ve watched the last day of the Ryder Cup many times, but this year the weather and the schedule were both out of kilter.

Instead of a full Sunday programme, play would be restricted to the last nine holes of six fourballs and foursomes which had begun the day before. The singles matches to conclude the event would be delayed until Monday.

For just a very few moments, I pondered turning around. But, meagre as it was, this was all the live golf I would see in this Ryder Cup.

rainbow sky ryder cup 2010 celtic manor wales day 3 visitwales comFor me, and for many others, the Ryder Cup is the highlight of my sporting calendar. The reasons that the event is so special?

In truth, there are many. It’s all about pride, about fear, and about the vagaries and unique demands of match play in golf.

The Ryder Cup is about individual performance in the heat of the battle, and about bringing a team together to outdo even its own expectations.

On this side of the pond, it’s about proving the worth of the European Tour against the PGA Tour in the US. It’s about showing who are the best golfers in the world — for many years it really was the Americans, which is why we tried so hard to foster the illusion that maybe they weren’t.

That’s the Ryder Cup. It encapsulates so many glories in this game of golf, and it celebrates all that divides us and unites us across the Atlantic Ocean as well.
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192. Ending the streak – America wins the 2008 Ryder Cup

valhalla-golf-club-hole-6-valhallgolfclub-comThe streak ends today.

So read a banner beside the fairway at Valhalla yesterday as the final day singles of the 2008 Ryder Cup were about to begin.

jb-holmes-kenny-perry-celebrate-ryder-cup-2008-valhalla-kentucky-usa.jpgThose words showed how much the Americans wanted to win it this time. And win it they did, as Paul Azinger and his players delivered the first USA victory since Brookline in 1999. The Kentucky twilight fell to wild scenes of jubilation and joy.

This was a true team achievement. Lining up as underdogs, without the best player in the world beside them, the Americans played wonderfully, and they putted even better.
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188. The eagle and The Shark: British Open 2008

padraig-harrington-british-open-champion-royal-birkdale-england-2008It was the greatest shot I have ever seen, in any major championship.

In telling you that Padraig Harrington’s second to the seventeeth hole in the final round of this year’s British Open at Royal Birkdale eclipsed even Tiger Woods’ remarkable chip-in on the sixteenth at Augusta in 2005, I’m setting the bar high, but there’s no doubt in my mind.
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186. Firth of stone and fire – North Berwick, Scotland

streets-of-north-berwick-scotland-by-paradasos-flickrThe afternoon has flown me here, all across a summer sky of grey. The evening beckons now, and outside the window the narrow streets are empty, the shops all shut up for the night.

Scotland. June. Long hours of daylight reaching out ahead.

I stretch my legs along the main street, past red sandstone houses, cafés, bistros and grey tile roofs. It’s a dull old Monday, and the North Berwick weekend bustle, if there ever is one, is hidden far from sight.

The town runs out on me with just the links ahead, and so I try the steps down to the beach. The tide is low and the shore is softly rippled, quiet. No traffic noise. No planes. Just grey sky, grey water, and the lonesome cawing of a gull.
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157. When Irish eyes are smiling – Harrington wins the British Open

padraig-harrington-british-open-champion-carnoustie-2007-rma-padraigharrington_com.jpgIt’s been a long wait, and so long overdue. In the eight years since Paul Lawrie’s victory, we’d almost forgotten that a European golfer could win a major championship.

Sixty years after the last Irishman won the British Open, yesterday evening Padraig Harrington became the first player from the Republic to lift the famous Claret Jug.

It was an immensely exciting championship, with the result facing as many twists as the Barrie Burn which winds its way across Carnoustie’s closing holes.

sergio-garcia-british-open-carnoustie-2007.jpgIn the week that Severiano Ballesteros retired from competitive golf, it would have been marvellous for another ‘young Spaniard’ to follow in his footsteps as an Open winner.

Sergio García’s day will surely come. A day when the cellophane bridge above the hole will be far kinder to his ball than yesterday.

But it just wasn’t to be. As Sergio found out, it’s desperately hard to lead a major, wire to wire, and bring it home.
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