Jordan Spieth: our new Masters champion

We have a new Masters champion!

Jordan Spieth, the 21-year old kid from Texas took the lead at the Masters and wouldn’t let go till the very end. In an interesting Sunday battle he played like from another planet and managed to maintain his 5-shot lead till the 18th green.

While Spieth played so many birdies in this week than never before and at some point stood at 19-under which hasn’t been achieved yet it has been the other players who struggled and really failed to close the gap between them and Spieth.

Phil Mickelson had a great Sunday but even his brilliant short game didn’t help him out. Spieth’s was excellent as well. Dustin Jordan at least on Saturday seemed to be in a position to get closer to the top spot, but at some point it was obvious that he wouldn’t manage to stop the kid’s walk of fame. Tiger Woods’ game seemed to be completely out of control. On Sunday the first fairway he managed to hit was the 13th! Seriously: one—three! He was excellent in recovery shots though and he might even got his feeling back to get back into contention at a major. This was interrupted on the 9th when he injured himself hitting some hard ground under a tree (because he missed the fairways…). Justin Rose was very close but lost track on the second half. And Rory, yes Rory wasn’t in the best form either. He played well, had some fantastic shots but didn’t manage to bring down the numbers.

So it was Jordan Spieth who eventually dropped the last putt on the 18, hugged family and friends and was provided with the one and only piece of attire that every golfer is longing for: the green jacket at Augusta National.

Fun fact: watching the price giving ceremony later, you realised that Spieth so far very rarely put on proper jackets apparently. He had some troubles getting into the jacket with his arms all over the place and ended up not very gentleman-like saying “a little sweaty”, and smiled. What can you say… 21 years!

You have to really like this guy though. He played finest golf, tamed the beast Augusta National which seemed to be a bit easier this year but still is a heck of a golf course. And I don’t know why but this year I somehow realised the huge elevation changes on TV for the first time. That absolutely impressed me, it doesn’t even seem easy to walk the course, not talking about placing balls one metre next to the hole.

Really a very interesting Masters tournament this year! I’m ready for the other majors this year and I’m sure Jordan Spieth won’t be a one hit wonder!

Career Slam in sight! Can Rory make it happen?

Rory McIlroy is a golf phenomenon, no doubt about it. Just like Tiger Woods, Rory is a young gun and already dominates golf and rightly is one of the hot picks for a Masters win this year. There have been years when he struggled, sometimes he even struggled very much but currently he seems in shape, and that’s not only referring to his fitness but more to his recent ball striking.

If Rory could turn that around and win the Masters he would achieve what commonly is referred to as a “Career Slam”, winning all four majors during the golfing career. Winning all in one year would be the “Grand Slam” and I’m pretty sure he will go out and try exactly that this year. 15 years ago Tiger Woods managed to win four consecutive majors, not in one calendar year though: three tournaments in 2000 and the Masters in 2001. This achievement was later called “Tiger Slam”.

Rory McIlroy won the US Open in 2011, the PGA Championship in 2012 and in 2014 he won both the Open and the PGA Championship. So he’s only short the Masters win to write another chapter in golf history.

We keep our fingers crossed, young man!

Nike’s new commercial for Vapor drivers

Nike has the money, Nike has the staff players and Nike knows how to press quite a number of stars into a 30sec commercial, advertising the new Vapor driver family.

Basic idea of the short film: Why should everybody change drivers? Why should top players like Tiger, Rory or Michelle Wie change drivers, they are doing quite well with the “old” one already. So why change one could asks. “Because there’s always better” is the easy answer. 

I haven’t tested the Vapor yet and therefore cannot comment on club characteristics. But what I can see, like everybody else, it’s a crazy looking club!

Any thoughts on the club (or the commercial)? Post below!

Green heaven on earth at The Els Club Dubai

Golf day 2 in Dubai. On day 1 I was playing The Address Montgomerie and in order to keep me excited I figured The Els Club Dubai would do the trick. So I made my way to the Dubai Sports City, a district in south Dubai in which you find football and rugby stadiums, hockey clubs and tennis courts. A complete part of the city dedicated to sports. It offers some residential areas also and in the middle of it, exactly, you have a golf course.

To be honest, when you drive to The Els Club, and I’m still not sure whether we took the correct route, you don’t see much at all. It’s like leaving the city for the desert and you see sand wherever you look. This part of Dubai is under construction big time. And then suddenly you’ll find the entrance to the property, the gated community Victory Heights, lush green, trimmed and manicured gardens present themselves. You drive along a driveway and suddenly you reach the impressive club house, which is even more impressive than The Address.

The staff is very friendly and charming, taking care of your tee time, your bag and your belongings. There was not one single person of staff in bad mood the whole day. Very impressive. So I entered the open terrace of the club house and I started to realise and visualise how this course was basically set out. Standing on the back of the clubhouse, overlooking the putting green and greens no 9 and 18, you’ll immediately see that there are perfectly maintained and treasured fairways bending between lines of houses. A view you wouldn’t expect from the outside of the estate.

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Before I headed outside, I went in again to change in the locker room. Again, very thoughtfully decorated, offering full service, from toiletries to fresh fruit drinks, jacuzzis, saunas, steam rooms. Basically everything you would wish for was to find here. A locker room paradise, with a reading corner and some flat TVs with golf coverage. I started to love this place.

But then it was about time to hit the course, or better the driving range before that. So I took the cart to the training facilities area, just to realise that this place is home to the Butch Harmon Golf School and later I was told that Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Ernie Els himself been there two weeks earlier to work on their game in preparation for the desert swing on the European Tour. And now it was me, hitting white balls down the range… quite a feeling.

The course itself is run by Troon Golf, but in contrast to day 1 at The Address the grass looked so much greener, just more taken care of. The starter was overwhelmingly nice and friendly and we had a good chat before I teed off. The course seemed not to be busy and tee 1 was very empty. I was told I’d play on my own, the 2-ball in front of me was already on hole 3 and that day they measured a green speed of a 10 on the stimpmeter. Ehm, excuse me, did you say “ten”? He did say ten, so I knew what I could expect—freaking quick greens!

After he took some pictures of me pretending taking a shot off the tee, I packed away my driver (which I got out just for the photo) and grabbed my beloved 2-iron. Topped the first ball and lost it in the wasteland area. “Mulligan” the starter screamed with a huge grin from behind. The second shot (well third with the penalty) was a real stunner, easily 200 metres down the middle of the fairway. Much better. I was pumped, jumped on the cart and off I went.

The cart was, quite similar to the Montgomerie course, equipped with tees, towels, ice cold water and a scorecard. Plus it had one of these on-board GPS systems, and this time even the really good one, with which you can contact the Marshal, the front desk or the halfway house for refreshments.

I loved this course the minute I stepped out of the car and these holes gave it the rest: an immaculate course condition, beautiful, lush, dark green fairways and greens, perfect bunkers and interesting wasteland areas.

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There were many (and I mean many) green staff on-site, taking care of golfers and the course. So many people working hard to create a green masterpiece within a desert environment. Strange obviously, but well executed! All the maintenance people were very friendly and secretly acted without disturbance. And you felt they tried everything to make this place look like in a calendar. I even saw one guy with a very long flexible stick sweeping away foot prints on a green! Can you imagine? A person removing sand on a green because it doesn’t look good enough! I was even more impressed!

The course is a long 18 hole, par 72 layout and has a mix of a links style design combined with a desert style setting. You will see large sand waste areas, undulating fairways and greens and massive bunkering. All this set on undulating slopes of native desert vegetation. And when I say desert, I mean desert. This course offers proper sand areas, much more than others in the region I suppose. Fairways are narrower than normal and it features quite impressive elevation changes. Some bunkers are probably 3 metres deep, so you might want to leave it short…

It is said that all holes constitute Els’ favourite characteristics from around the world: bunkering from Royal Melbourne, greens resembling Pinehurst No. 2 and wide, rolling fairways. A true masterpiece in golf course design. And although the location is in a fairly remote part of the city (compared to areas such as Dubai Marina or Downtown) the course at the Els Club is a pure treasure in the golf world map–and made it to my favourite Top 5 immediately.

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Where do I start describing the course? There are so many fantastic holes that it’s really tough to go for some favourites. The first holes are quite easy to play, nothing too fancy, not too difficult. The 4 is a nice par 3, playing down into a small valley. And you start to realise what a 10 on a stimpmeter is when you constantly putt towards the flag and the ball keeps rolling and rolling and ends up the bunker on the other side of the green. Then you realise what tour players have to putt on…

The next hole 5, a dogleg left with quite a vast wasteland area to carry. The par 4 7 with its carry over water and a lake all the way to the left was a first very interesting hole featuring water. Hole no 8, the next one is a par 4 with an interrupted fairway by huge wasteland again. And then there is the 9, a fantastic hole, elevated tees, huge wasteland to carry, a tree right in the middle of the fairway and a difficult second shot. The green is beautifully set in front of the club house terrace. What a great hole! I was in love with the course and had just seen half of it, which made me smile.

The 11 is a lovely long par 3 and no 12 is a dogleg right with well-guarded green behind a sand dune. Two holes later you find yourself at the same lake which was in play on the 7, but now you play along the other side of it. I was brave, tried the Tiger-line and lost two balls… That was the last time I acted brave that day I guess.

Notable holes number 17 and 18: The 17 being a par 3 towards a huge sand dune. All you see is sand, but the green you try to land the ball on is tricky, quick and unforgiving. The 18 is a long par 5 with a forced carry over wasteland from an elevated tee box. I hit the ball 2 metres next to the pin with my third, putted for yet another birdie—and three-putted.

What a round! It was hot and I was exhausted but if I could, I would have started over again, 1-18. Definitely a great course in a great setting. Just like the Montgomerie course the day before, you won’t find a place with free vista, just dunes or fairway. That’s just not possible because the houses along the course are so close and the holes really meander through these multi-millionaires’ backyards.

When you are around and after a good round of golf, you have to come and play The Els Club. It’s definitely worth the effort. It’s quite an expensive undertaking though: 895 AED (215 EUR) for a midweek round is very expensive if you ask me. So bring some cash and enjoy one heck of a golfing destination.

I bought one sleeve of Titleist logo balls and couldn’t leave without a Els Club polo shirt. I was in golfer’s heaven.

A European Tour’s look back at 2014

Awesome shots, hole-in-ones, unbelievable recoveries on the one hand and hacks, shanks and bad putts on the other. Every look back at year’s end both shows the sheer unthinkable shotmaking skills of modern professionals but at the same time that all of them are mortal after all and that even these guys fail from time to time. And you know what, that’s good to see too!

This nice video looks back at some of the most memorable incidents through 2014, a year with four majors, the Ryder Cup, numerous great tournaments, uncounted great shots and then there was this blonde in the blue dress too who hit the news…

By the way, the blonde, Ashley Bongiovanni, who (tried to) hit on Rory confirmed that she’s not dating a golfer currently, but as Rory started following her on Twitter and she’s mentioned that there has been some sort of contact between both, one might think of some interesting DMs going back and forth.

Meet the Golfer of the Year 2014: Rory McIlroy

Rory had a great golfing year. It was absolutely astonishing watching him play such a great season and without a doubt he claimed the trophy to become the Golfer of the Year 2014 of the European Tour, and rightly so!

Fingers crossed for another great year in 2015 and now watch some of his signature shots of the last 12 months!

Rory takes the glory

What a season for this guy! We all know that he’s good, but that good..? Rory, the 25-year old kid from Holywood in Northern Ireland strikes back as the 2014 golf phenomenon after winning The Open at Royal Liverpool, the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and the last major of the year, the PGA Championship at Valhalla!

The winner takes it all. After great rounds of golf and constant play Rory deservedly crowns himself with two major titles in 2014. This makes it four majors in his books and we all know there will be loads more to come.

It seems that Rory is sort of on a roll, knocking everybody else down with straight drives, intelligent course management and great putting skills. No sight of fatigue, inappetency or elevatedness – just a young man totally enjoying the game and making the most of his current performance.

Even Nick Faldo acknowledges the recent triumphs after he once said that after Rory’s switch to Nike Golf, he might never be as good as before. Well, I guess the opposite is the case. Probably nothing to do with the equipment, but after struggling in the transition phase for a while, he came back with a big bang! It’s not easy to interpret his form back in the days and how much the personal life had influence to that – as well it’s not easy to dig deep on whether the break up with his fiancee made him free up his head, creating a mindset which has led to the fact that he was able to play in such strong physical and mental condition.

Rory, you seriously got a new fan. Really impressive to see what you accomplished this year! Absolutely keeping my fingers crossed for the next tournaments and years to come!

Continue reading Rory takes the glory

Rory McIlroy is the 2014 Open Champion!

Congratulations!! Rory McIlroy wins this year’s Open at Royal Liverpool. Surprisingly good weather on the final day accompanied great golf, great course management and an overall successful week to lead to a well deserved major win.

A great tournament in which Sergio Garcia as well showed his huge qualities, but in the end it was Rory’s professional attitude to the game which made the difference.

Continue reading Rory McIlroy is the 2014 Open Champion!

Rory wins first tournament after two years

Rory McIlroy, the young Northern Irishman, has won his first tournament after two years. On the weekend he came up first at the prestigious BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, outside of London.

Last year I was on-site to see Matteo Manassero win, this year I was able to follow the TV coverage a bit. I have to say I was cheering for Martin Kaymer or Luke Donald, the latter who really had a chance to win but missed it on the very last hole to Rory.

What a pressure this young fellow must have been under the whole time! He changed his equipment from Titleist to Nike, undoubtedly just for the money… fair enough, but he lost his swing somehow, he forgot to be able to win. Some experts like Nick Faldo said he’ll never be as good as before.

Then he dated Caroline Wozniacki, the tennis player, and he seemed to be really happy. Not with his game, but his private life apparently came to order. Now just last week he called off the wedding to the young lady and left her in tears I’m sure, as he felt he’s not ready for a marriage yet. That was after they posted their wedding invitations of course… bad timing!

However, he must have had his mind full of different (frustrating) things – and then out of nothing – he wins a tournament, probably the best and toughest tournament of the European Tour, the flagship event: the BMW PGA Championship! What a story!

I wish him every luck, private and professional, and I do hope to see him win again to join the European Ryder Cup team later this year! Fingers crossed.

Congratulations Rory McIlroy!!

Following Rory, Scotty and Jason round the course at the 2013 Australian Open in Sydney

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What a great month that was in Australia! A lot of sunshine, beaching, sailing, snorkeling, relaxing, hanging loose and experiencing so many new down under sides of things. It was an excellent time I had there and I really can’t wait to come back at some point.

Golf-wise I had some nice moments as well; I missed however the action at the Australian PGA Championship in Gold Coast but instead (or way better) played some Queensland beauties on my own on Hamilton Island and up north in Port Douglas. Unfortunately. I didn’t manage to play a round in Sydney but I did get to do some other cool stuff: during my stay in Australia there were some very interesting tournaments played: the already mentioned Australian PGA Championship in Gold Coast, the Australian Masters in Melbourne and last but not least the Australian Open in Sydney.

My schedule had room for watching a round so in Sydney I took my girlfriend on the event’s Sunday to see the action at Royal Sydney Golf Club in Rose Bay, Sydney. I also tried to watch some golf TV broadcasting during the days before, but apparently the majority of Aussies is mainly interested in cricket rather than in golf these days of the year – although golf is of much more interest than in most other parts of the world. So the sports channels either showed the Ashes (the famous cricket battle between Australia and England) or, very surprisingly, the European Tour’s Dunhill Championship in South Africa. I figured the Aussie tourneys were broadcasted in Pay TV which I unfortunately had no access to.

On the tournament’s Sunday we jumped on a ferry to cross Sydney Harbour, passed the Sydney Opera House in direction to Rose Bay. From this sophisticated neighbourhood it’s just a short walk to the private and exclusive RSGC, which hosted the event quite often already. After a short but expensive shopping frenzy in the merchandise tent we headed towards the course, followed Robert Allenby and some others before we decided to walk on strategically. It was not over-crowded by the time but would most likely be later on when Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott would make their appearance in the last group. And yes it became much more packed around the fairways but it was still possible to get some nice places to see the action.

First we saw the guys on the 5th with a nice elevated green and had good views on the following holes, too. Most amazingly to mention the approach shots on the 8, a par 5, which both reached in two shots. Rory scored an eagle whereas Scotty three-putted. On the next hole both impressively drove the reachable par 4 (275m) and again Scotty carded one putt more than Rory – and gone was his three stroke lead. Bad luck for Adam Scott. In the course of the next holes he lost his cool and you probably have already seen the results – Rory won the Australian Open with one shot over Adam. I really like the Aussie, he’s one of my favourite golf players and I was keeping fingers crossed for him to win this event as this would have made him only the second person winning the three Aussie tournaments in one stretch. Unfortunately he has to try again next year, but hats off for his committment and the strong will to win important tournaments – as he is obviously a very strong player currently.

So Rory won the pot in the end, his first title in 2013 which is good for him. His form shows potential again after his big switch to NIKE clubs and the resulted fallback in the world ranking – and I’m sure a very famous female tennis player was kind of partly responsible for the lack of winning skills, too… It was a very nice golf day which was perfected by the fact that we went for a rest to Bondi Beach afterwards and then strolled along the beautiful coastal beach walk from Bondi via Tamarama to Bronte.

Really a very nice piece of land over there… my heart is broken I had to leave Australia in the end.

Continue reading Following Rory, Scotty and Jason round the course at the 2013 Australian Open in Sydney