Friday, November 18, 2011

How a round of golf cost £400,000

Thousands of people who enjoy a game of golf this weekend may unwittingly be putting their home at risk.

True, the risk is infinitely small, but a £400,000 damages award against a golfer and golf club after another golfer lost an eye in an accident demonstrates the extent of damage awards in an increasingly litigious society.

Where people used to say ‘accidents happen’ many are now more inclined to seek compensation. With the best will in the world, most golfers will admit to having sliced the ball on occasion. Very few, fortunately, result in serious injury.

Sadly, that was not the case when novice golfer Anthony Phee, 44, was struck by a golf ball and lost an eye during a round at Niddry Castle Golf Course in Winchburgh, West Lothian.

He sued James Gordon, the man who struck the bad shot, and the golf club at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, seeking damages for the injury he suffered.

He said it had been a “harrowing experience” to partially lose his sight. The judge who heard the case, Lord Brailsford, ruled that Mr Gordon was 70pc responsible for the accident. The remaining 30pc of liability rested with the golf club for its “failure” to erect proper warning signs on the course.

David Sandison, senior partner of Lawford Kidd Solicitors in Edinburgh, said: “We are delighted that, after a long struggle, Mr Phee has been awarded compensation for his injuries. Damages have been agreed at around £400,000.”

It remains to be seen how the award will be paid for. While many golf clubs have indemnity insurance to cover their liability, most individual golfers would struggle to meet such large unexpected costs without insurance.

Fortunately, because the risk of a claim is so low, so is the cost of cover. John Hayes of CCV Underwriting Sports & Leisure, and a member of the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA), said: “Individual golf players can have up to £5m indemnity cover at an annual cost of just £7.50, including all fees and taxes, from Golfsafe Insurance.

“In addition we offer a more comprehensive policy from Caddysure, with premiums starting at £27.26, which covers the same third party liabilties but also loss or damage to equipment and accidental damage to third party property.”

That raises the important point that golfers are far more likely to suffer financial loss because of the theft of their clubs and other equipment, or to be held liable for breaking windows in nearby homes or cars, than they are to cause the horrific injury suffered by Mr Phee.

So, one way to determine the level of cover golfers need is to look at the value of their equipment. Carrick Neill – the trading name of Giles Insurance Brokers – offers a specialist golfers’ policy where premiums start at £20 a year for equipment worth up to £500, rising to £55 a year to cover gear costing up to £2,500. Additional cover for a husband, wife or child can be obtained for an additional £15 a year at the lower level of equipment value, rising to £35 at the upper level.

Beware, though, that these costs only cover British golf courses; there is an additional annual charge of £5 per person to cover play elsewhere in Europe or £10 for a worldwide extension. In addition to £5m third party cover, this policy also includes £50,000 personal accident and £500 dental treatment cover for the policyholder him or herself.

But some BIBA brokers point out that good household cover can provide all the third party liability cover most golfers need. Dennis Veingard of Premier Insurance Brokers said: “Liability cover is automatically provided under most household contents policies and some insurers include reverse liability for unrecoverable courts awards.

“The injured party claims against the golfer and the golfer then notifies his insurer. If the golfer is uninsured and unable to pay any court award, under reverse liability cover an injured party could claim on his own policy.”

Similarly, Ian Smith of Bennett Gould & Partners said: “Many home contents insurance policies provide worldwide liability cover. They will usually exclude accidents involving motorised vehicles, watercraft and horsedrawn vehicles but will cover liability arising from golf or other sporting accidents.

"The increase in the number of these claims clearly mirrors the increasingly litigious nature of society and inevitably leads to increases in premium as both the number and size of claims increases.”

But serious injuries on the golf course remain very rare. Orthopedic surgeon Dr Larry Foster, author of ‘Dr. Divot’s Guide to Golf Injuries’ says the most common are back pain, elbow and shoulder inflammation, followed by carpal tunnel syndrome – a repetitive stress disorder that affects the nerves of the hands – and DeQuervain’s tendinitis, which causes pain in the wrist near the base of the thumb.

None of these conditions is likely to be covered by specialist golf policies – unless it can be proved that the injury was caused by playing the game and resulted in disability or redundancy, in which case one year’s golf club fees can be reimbursed.

On a brighter note, specialist golf policies can pay out £150 if the policyholder hits a hole in one during an official club, area or national competition.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tiger Woods not one of golf's top 50 players for first time in 15 years

Tiger Woods is no longer officially considered one of golf's top 50 players, ending a streak that extended back 15 years.

According to the official World Golf Ranking, the 35-year-old Woods entered the weekend as the sport's 50th best player. But he lost that standing when Louis Oosthuizen finished tied for fifth at this weekend's Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, earning him a place in the standings and ousting Woods.

The rankings are endorsed by Professional Golf Association tours in the United States, Europe, Australia, Asia and elsewhere, according to the World Golf Ranking website. An updated ranking comes out every Monday.

The last time Woods was not among the top 50 was on October 13, 1996. Since then, he won 14 major championships -- a distinction used for the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA championship -- and, for much of the next 778 weeks, ranked as the game's best player.

In recent years, Woods has been plagued by the fallout surrounding his infidelity and divorce from his wife as well as numerous injuries. His last tournament win was the Australian Masters in November 2009.

His next competition will be this week at the Open in Corde Valley, California. Despite his recent slump, American team captain Fred Couples chose Woods as one of his wild card picks for next month's Presidents Cup in Australia.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tiger Woods splits with caddy Williams

U.S. golfer Tiger Woods said Wednesday he is officially splitting with longtime caddie Steve Williams after 12 years together.

In a statement released on his Web site, the former world No. 1 thanked Williams and indicated a replacement has not yet been chosen.

"I want to express my deepest gratitude to Stevie for all his help, but I think it's time for a change," Woods said. "Stevie is an outstanding caddie and a friend and has been instrumental in many of my accomplishments. I wish him great success in the future."

The 35-year-old is ranked 20th in the world and hasn't won an event since a November 2009 car accident outside his Florida home led to widespread revelations of infidelity to his wife.

He hasn't competed since May at the Players Championship, when he withdrew with a leg injury before completing the first round.

The statement said Woods is continuing to rest and rehabilitate his left leg, which he injured while competing in the Masters, adding, "No decision has been made when he will return to competition on the PGA Tour."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

World #1 Uses Canadian Golf Shafts On The Way To Top

It seems an unlikely tale. A pro golfer from England uses the golf shafts from a company in Canada to become top-ranked player in the world. Well, it became true at the end of May when Luke Donald won the BMW PGA Championship on the EuropeanTour and ascended to the top of the world rankings.

It is quite a feat for any golfer to accomplish, and to have a small Canadian golf shaft company along for the ride is a nice touch, especially considering the fact that Canadian players are not exactly making a big dent in the world pro golf stage right about now.

Luke Donald has used wood shafts from ACCRA Golf in Kingston, Ontario for quite some time now, but unfortunately for the company they can't tell you that directly. You see they don't Donald to endorse their products so they can't use his name or likeness in their promotional materials. They can only hint at who the player is and let the reader fill in the blanks. That is why we can tell you that it is Donald who plays the shafts and the fact that he does not get paid to do so is even greater testament to ACCRA and their products.

Donald, who also won the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play earlier this year, uses ACCRA shafts in his driver and three wood, and despite other companies trying to sway him, he has remained loyal to the products in his run to the top ranking.

Donald, Northwestern University graduate who, incidentally, is married to a Canadian, has trusted ACCRA golf shafts in his 3 wood for more than five years. Even during several changes in equipment, he remained loyal to ACCRA golf shafts. It was in the fall of 2009 that he switched to a TaylorMade driver custom fit with an ACCRA premium golf shaft, that he truly began his climb up the world golf rankings. He currently uses a TaylorMade R11 driver and as always, with his ACCRA shaft.

"It is always thrilling to see your product help a great golfer achieve success at the highest level, but this is beyond our wildest expectations!" stated Gawain Robertson (ACCRA- Co-Founder). "We are honoured that the #1 golfer in the world has trusted ACCRA golf shafts during his ascent to the top of the world rankings," continued Mr. Robertson.

ACCRA recently introduced their Tour Z line of shafts that is also getting traction on the pro tours. Paul Goydos and Chez Reavie are among the players who have put them into play and had success. Versions of the shafts are now available through ACCRA certified dealers.

"This victory and overall outcome justifies what ACCRA is all about. Finding a shaft that is perfectly matched to your swing characteristics is what club fitting is all about." stated Dave Makarucha (ACCRA - Co-Founder) "When the new #1 golfer in the world chose ACCRA, he knew that these shafts were matched to his swing and that there was no reason to change. Mike Biviano, ACCRA's Tour representative, ensures PGA Tour players are fit properly. ACCRA certified club fitters offer the same fitting experience to all levels of golfers, ensuring that any golfer can benefit from properly fit equipment," continued Mr. Makarucha.

Nobody knows how long Donald can maintain his #1 ranking but even when that day comes a small golf shaft manufacture from Eastern Ontario will know that, at one time, they were part of his rise to the top.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our next Kiwi world golf pro?

Joshua Munn loves golf and there's no denying he has the talent that will see him reach his ambition of turning professional in the next three to four years.

Winning the Muriwai Open near Auckland last month by one shot with a 12-under-par total, in an event where the amateurs are there to make up the numbers, Munn said he wasn't perturbed about having to let the prize money of $5700 go to the runners-up.

He became only the fourth amateur to win a Charles Tour event. He set a new course record of 63.

Not bad for an amateur on a course he'd not seen before.

Munn is happy to leave his professional dreams on the three to four- year to-do list, while he focuses on winning some national order-of-merit events before making his move to qualify for the US PGA Tour.

In the meantime Munn has shorter term goals in play which, like all good projects, require the help and support of the community.

He has applied for the AMP people's choice scholarship, where the person with the most votes wins. Munn needs the help of scholarships to further his amateur golf experience overseas.

He was 13 when he was invited to join his father and uncles on their traditional Boxing Day golf day out. This was more of a social occasion than serious competition, but Munn developed a taste for the game and hasn't looked back since, although the family Boxing Day game has fizzled out.

"I enjoyed the game. I wasn't very good at it, but I started playing and I got better," he said.

Munn said he got his start playing regularly on Sundays, which led into tournaments.

Seven years on and there are not too many days when he won't be out on the fairway.

Starting work at 4.30pm at Feilding's Pizza Piazza means he can work with a daily practice schedule.

"I love practicing – golf is my addiction I guess," he said.

"I think it's the constant challenge – you're always going to be beaten by golf, but always striving for perfection means you always want to do better," he said.

Voting for Munn to win an AMP Scholarship can be done by visiting the site and entering Joshua Munn into the search field.

Voting closes on July 17.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bradley scores first PGA win

Keegan Bradley needed some cowbell.

As Bradley walked down the 18th fairway during a playoff at the Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday in Dallas, he began to realize he was about to get his first PGA Tour win. That’s when Bradley started getting emotional thinking about the cowbell.

The one that is in the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla. The one his grandmother rang after every win by his famous aunt, LPGA Tour great Pat Bradley, whose 31 victories included six majors.

“It was like, ‘Pull it together. Don’t start thinking about the cowbell,’ ” Keegan Bradley told reporters after the tournament. “The cowbell in my family is an iconic thing.”

Bradley settled himself and won the Byron Nelson Championship, parring the first hole of a playoff with Ryan Palmer on Sunday.

Bradley, son of Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club golf pro Mark Bradley, spent three summers living in the valley while he was a student at St. John’s University. In that time, he won the 2006 Wyoming State Amateur title and the 2007 Wyoming Match play title.

While Bradley was orchestrating a dramatic finish in Dallas on Sunday, father Mark was joined by friends at the Golf & Tennis Club watching on TV.

“It was very exciting. Everyone was going crazy,” Mark Bradley said. “Some people had tears in their eyes. It was so exciting. The whirlwind going on around the club, the phone ringing off the hook, text messages and emails. ... This is bigger than I thought.”

It’s big. Really big. Sunday’s win gives Bradley a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, and an automatic berth to the 2012 Masters.

“For me, it’s just amazing to think he’s going to play at the Masters, which is the ultimate event in the sport,” Mark Bradley said.

Bradley also pocketed $1.1 million with the win, boosting his 2011 earnings on the PGA Tour to $1.7 million. It was an early birthday present for Bradley, who turns 25 on June 7.

“I’m speechless,” he said. “I’m so proud of the way I played, and I’m so proud to win Byron Nelson’s tournament. That’s an amazing thing for me.”

Bradley sealed the win when he sank a 2-foot par putt at the 419-yard 18th hole in the playoff. Palmer, meanwhile, hit his approach into the water before he sank a 13-foot bogey putt.

The win was a breakout victory for Bradley, who never even won an event while on the Nationwide Tour. He looked forward to talking to his aunt.

“She is a lot calmer on the golf course than she is watching me. I’m sure she was by the TV going crazy,” Bradley said. “I talk to her regularly through text messages and phone calls about tournaments and what it’s like to come down near the end. ... This is the closest thing we ever had in common in terms of playing.”

About an hour before the playoff, Bradley finished his closing round of 2-under 68 with a par at No. 18, dropping into a squat and hopping a few times in frustration when his 10-foot birdie chance slid by the hole.

Palmer (72) and Bradley finished at 3-under 277, the highest winning score on the PGA Tour this year — and the highest in relation to par in a non-major since 1999. It was the fifth playoff in six weeks and 10th overall.

Players were buffeted by winds gusting to 40 miles per hour both Saturday and Sunday.

Palmer forced the extra hole with a 6-foot putt at No. 18 for only the second birdie there all day. When that putt dropped, Palmer punched his right fist in the air and then raised both arms over his head.

Bradley and Palmer then played No. 18 again, both going way right with their tee shots to start the playoff.

Tournament volunteers quickly dismantled and moved a temporary lemonade stand to give Bradley a line of sight to the green and to avoid the necessity for a drop.

Bradley’s approach was dangerously close to sliding off the side of the green into the water, but it stayed up. Palmer went in the same direction, but his ball didn’t stay dry.

“I had a clear punch shot, but it’s so easy to hit it left when I’m trying to hit a punch like that, and it squared left a little bit,” he told reporters. “Then my putt — just wanted to tease myself a little more, I guess — but I got into the position to win the golf tournament and that’s all I can ask for.”

On the 172-yard 17th hole, Bradley sank a 12-foot par-saving putt and responded with an emphatic fist pump.

After Bradley tapped in his par putt at No. 18, third-round leader Palmer was in one of the five groups still playing.

Bradley then sat for a few minutes before going to the practice range to prepare for a playoff that almost wasn’t necessary for him to become the PGA Tour’s sixth first-time winner this season.

“It was funny. I was really, really nervous, and then, when [Palmer] made the birdie, I calmed way down,” Bradley said. “I felt my heartbeat slow down. I calmed down.”

Bradley said the feeling of winning as an underdog was rewarding.

“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t,” he said. “It’s great to be the underdog and come out on top, for sure.”

Bradley said he set several goals for himself for his first year on the tour and one of them was winning an event. He knows that, now he has a win on his resume, his golfing career and his life will likely change.

“It only can change for the better now,” he said.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Westwood tightens grip on top spot in world rankings

Lee Westwood won for the second straight week and that helped him strengthen his grip atop the latest world golf rankings.

Westwood's lead over No. 2 Martin Kaymer moved from 0.13 average points to 0.67 average points. The top two were unchanged from last week as were the next three spots with No. 3 Luke Donald again followed by Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell.

Rory McIlroy, who will defend his title at Quail Hollow this week, and Tiger Woods exchanged places with McIlroy up to sixth. Paul Casey and Steve Stricker remained eighth and ninth.

Bubba Watson was a playoff winner at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and that helped him jump six spots to No. 10. He knocked Matt Kuchar, Charl Schwartzel, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Nick Watney and Ernie Els down one spot apiece.

Adam Scott and Ian Poulter flip-flopped spots with Scott inching up to 17th. Francesco Molinari and Hunter Mahan rounded out the top 20 again this week.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eli Jordan’s World Golf Rankings for 4-18-11

The results of the Valero Texas Open had little effect on the World Golf Rankings as of Monday. The majority of the well known participants faded on the weekend and opened the door for several lesser known competitors to make their way to the top of the leaderboard. In the end, Brendan Steele carded a final round 71 to win his first PGA tournament by one stroke over Kevin Chappell and Charlie Hoffman. Steele was the epitome of consistency making 11 consecutive pars in route to victory.

The real story in the world of golf this week was how Rory McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel would fare at the Maybank Malaysian Open one week after the Masters. Both men played solid golf with the green jacket winner Schwartzel finishing a respectable 11th after what was no doubt a whirlwind week for the South African. McIlroy once again found himself in contention on the weekend in Malaysia and finished the tournament in third place behind Gregory Bourdy and eventual winner, 17-year-old Matteo Manassero. For Manassero, it was his second victory on the European Tour before his 18th birthday.

As a result of his win Manassero moves up to 33rd in the World Golf Rankings and Brendan Steele cracks the World’s top 150, coming in at number 132. As for the top ten ranked golfers in the World this week, only a few minor changes with some of the best at home taking off after the Masters.

World Golf Rankings 4-18-11

1. Martin Kaymer (1), Deu, 7.65

2. Lee Westwood (2), Eng, 7.38

3. Luke Donald (3), Eng, 7.02

4. Phil Mickelson (4), USA, 6.63

5. Graeme McDowell (6), Nir, 5.93

6. Tiger Woods (5), USA, 5.89

7. Rory McIlroy (9),Nir, 5.74

8. Paul Casey (7), Eng, 5.68

9. Steve Stricker (9), USA, 5.47

10. Matt Kuchar (10), USA, 5.24

The number in parenthesis is the player’s World Golf Ranking from 4-11-11

Monday, April 4, 2011

Westwood gets a scare before the golf Masters

Lee Westwood can joke about it now, but the world golf number two had a bit of a scare when their private jet from Houston to the Masters made an emergency landing after a fire in the cockpit.

The Englishman, a runner-up at last year's Masters to Phil Mickelson, had played the PGA event and was flying to Augusta on Sunday with compatriot Ross Fisher when the airplane was forced to turn back and land.

"Do the fire engines normally follow you down the runway? Only when there's smoke in the cabin I guess!!!" Westwood posted on his Twitter microblogging website Sunday. "Thanks to the Houston airport firemen for the warm welcome!

"They're not here to put my putter out! That's not on fire!"

Westwood reached Augusta National on Monday and told reporters of his harrowing journey, which he said was caused by a wiring fire in an instrument panel.

"It was a bit scary," Westwood said. "It never looks good when you can smell smoke and you turn round and see the pilots have put the masks on.

"Smoke was coming from the cockpit and they told us later they couldn't drop our masks because they feed oxygen into the cabin. If there was a fire it would have fanned the flames.

"The plane came down in a bit of a nosedive because you obviously have to get down as quick as you can."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Homes by Deltona Participates in Reopening Festivities at Spa Laterra at World Golf Village

The Spa Laterra at World Golf Village recently held reopening festivities. Located adjacent to the King & Bear golf course, the destination day spa offers a full complement of massages, facials, body scrubs, wraps, makeup artistry, hair care and nail services.

Spa Laterra was purchased last summer by Laterra Spa Partners, which retained beauty and wellness visionary Juanita Wright of The Wright Touch Spa in Washington D.C. DC to makeover the spa and its services. She has developed a number of new signature treatments, including gold, diamond and caviar facials.

Karen Palmer, general sales manager at Homes by Deltona, won a spa treatment package at the recent Spa Laterra reopening event. “I love winning prizes – especially to such a beautiful and pampering spa. The new owners have given the spa a fresh appearance and the new treatments are magnificent,” said Palmer. “The spa is such a wonderful benefit for World Golf Village residents and visitors.”

The 9,000-square-foot spa facility was designed by renowned spa architect Robert D. Henry, noted for designing The Spa at Wynn Las Vegas, The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Waikoloa Spa and Beach Club, and Canyon Ranch Living in Chicago. In addition to premier facials, the full-service spa also offers a wide variety of massages, body services, hand and foot rituals, and customized treatments specifically designed for golfers.

Spa Laterra offers 11 treatment rooms, including two couple’s retreats; a complete beauty salon with hair, manicure and pedicure stations; women’s and men’s private waiting room, locker areas, changing facilities, showers and steam rooms; a circular relaxation lounge with a rain shower feature; and an outdoor garden sanctuary with a koi pond, Jacuzzi and floating cabana treatment rooms.

Spa Laterra is located at 955 Registry Blvd. in World Golf Village. For more information, visit.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The 2011 Masters: Augusta National Golf Club’s Early Years

In exactly one month from today (April 7, 2011), the 2011 Masters Tournament is set to tee-off at one of the most heralded and recognizable courses in the history of golf: Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA. Defending champion Phil Mickelson will join some of the best players in the world to once again compete for the ever-important Green Jacket... and not to mention a hefty share of the $7.5 million purse. Perhaps the only aspect of the Masters that can surpass the history of the event is the course itself, which will once again host this year's installment as it has since 1934.

Known as the "Augusta National Invitation" in that year, Horton Smith captured the first official Masters title at Augusta which earned him $1000 out of a $5000 total purse. In 1939 the name of the tournament was permanently changed to "The Masters". In the early years of the event, players at Augusta National began their round on the 10th hole and finished on the 9th. However, in 1935 the switch to the course's original layout was made permanent and continues to this day.

The history of the course itself, however, dates back to 1930 in the form of a vision dreamt by Bobby Jones just prior to his retirement from championship golf. As the story is reported on the Masters' website, Jones teamed up with Clifford Roberts, whom he had met many times throughout the 1920s and who shared Jones' vision of building a world-class golf course. After a few brief conversations between the two men, a mutual agreement was reached to construct the course in Augusta, Georgia.

Jones and Roberts decided that instead of littering the grounds of what would become Augusta National with bunkers and other hazards, they would make the most out of the property's natural landscape which includes a vast number of mounds, hills, and valleys. Jones wanted this concept of golf course architecture to "make a contribution to the game as well as give expression to his ideas about golf course design". Original plans for the golf club were to only have it open for play during the winter months.

The property itself was originally named Fruitland Nurseries and was purchased from owner Thomas Barrett, Jr. As the Masters website explains, this property was once an Indigo plantation purchased by a Belgian Baron named Louis Mathieu Edouard Berckmans in 1857. In 1858, Berckmans and his son formed a partnership that would eventually bring numerous trees and plants from all over the globe and placed them throughout the property while still a nursery. Included in this project were thousands of magnolia plants which would ultimately become a staple of the Augusta National history and one of the most recognizable aspects of the grounds in present-day.

At the selling price of $70,000, Jones and Roberts purchased the land and decided to begin construction with renowned Scottish course architect Dr. Alister Mackenzie, especially since he shared the views of Jones in regard to allowing the national landscape and contours define the shape and look of the course. Mackenzie had also sparked Jones' attention by already having two impressive course designs under his belt in California: Cypress Point and Pasatiempo. In 1933, the course was complete and opened for play.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How the FedExCup can explain disdain for the Official World Golf Ranking

Golf is not a sport for mathematicians. It doesn’t require a degree in rocket science to be able to add, despite the body of evidence with disqualifications of many players for not adding right.

At one time – a distant time – knowing the best player in the game at any one time was easy. It was a combination of the player who had the most wins and had made the most money.

Now, though, the golf world is bigger in terms of money and sheer geography. Tracking the best player in the world in a tougher exercise. Two systems – one domestic, one global – dominate the conversation: the Official World Golf Ranking and the FedExCup.

Frankly, it’s only in the last 18 months that anyone seemed to care about the Official World Golf Ranking. When Tiger Woods was far and away the best player in the world, the OWGR confirmed that time and again (though, even then, it was in a flawed way). By and large, there was little need for scrutiny.

But the FedExCup was a different animal. Started in 2007, the points system was crushed from the start. The criticisms were numerous:

* It’s too hard to figure out the permutations.
* It doesn’t offer enough volatility.
* It’s basically the money list without points.
* Dear God, what if Tiger doesn’t win?!
* …and so many more.

Unlike the OWGR, which had already long since crowned Woods as the unquestioned ruler of the golf universe, the FedExCup had yet to successfully do that in 2007. Even when Woods won the first FedExCup that fall, critics were still laying into the system for its flaws – some of which are still apparent.

As the system has been modified twice of the four years of its existence, the criticisms have been from one of two camps: to identify the best, most consistent player; or from a camp of people who feel the playoff moniker should imply more volatility in the rankings from week to week. In that sense, the dual purpose of the concept has really hurt in shaping its identity.

Now, though, the Official World Golf Ranking is the target of similar complaining. And, the system clearly has some flaws – which we have discussed at length – but the OWGR is a necessary device in today’s golfing world. That’s true not just because the best player in the world currently is not readily apparent to anyone, but because the depth of talent in the world is such that there must be a system to identify the pick of the various litters around the world.

The Official World Golf Ranking, though, is tricky. Computing it requires more than addition. It takes some multiplication and division and subtraction. Depending on who you ask, some calculus, too. (Actually, it could.) An accountant wouldn’t hurt to have on retainer because of the points depreciation. It makes criticizing it tougher because offering a viable alternative – or series of changes – a larger exercise.

The overarching problem with both systems – the regular season part of the FedExCup and the Official World Golf Ranking – is the same, though. Both reward consistency too much. Admittedly, that’s desirable for some. Having a world No. 1 who has two non-silly season wins in two years but a bevy of high finishes is a lightning rod for the concept. (It’s easier to attack the top than the margins, which is where the biggest issues with the OWGR lie.)

What the FedExCup had to do was walk a double-edge tight rope – favor the likes of Tiger, who was the best, but also offer some unpredictability. Once Tiger left room for an understudy to take center stage, it seems like Matt Kuchar was embraced by some for being so consistent in 2010. For others, he was the subject of complaints that the state of golf without Tiger is one filled with parity. It might work for team sports, but parity in individual sports is just too much to handle. (Then again, NASCAR fans might beg for some of that parity juice right now.)

As for the OWGR, it must identify a best player while facing myriad issues that get in its way – uneven money, various forms of payola and the proliferation of foreign golf tournaments run by talent management agencies. Critics, like me, want it to promote the best of the moment while maintaining a close eye on its place as the gateway into majors and big tournaments. It faces a task it can achieve, but simply isn’t equipped to fully handle right now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

John Devine, Just a thought: Celebrities are stars of AT&T

Watching Dwight Clark take part in Tuesday's Google Charity Shootout brought me back to 1982 when Clark was catching a memorable pass that helped the San Francisco 49ers reach the Super Bowl.

As a kid in college who still believed I was going to be an Olympic sprinter in 1982, I set foot on Pebble Beach for the first time as a reporter, catching a glimpse of Clark golfing with a large following that included Joe Montana.

While I have never had a passion to golf 18 holes, the celebrity portion of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am has lured me back 29 straight years.

This is Pebble Beach, a world renown golf course with some of the most spectacular views in the world, where the celebrities are the real attraction. And I'm standing on the 18th hole listening to Clark's conversation.

It never gets old.

Oh, the weather isn't always as charming as it was this weekend. I have stood in the rain with seagulls and avoided frost bite with the deer along the majestic course.

It could always be worse, such as walking the streets of Dallas during Super Bowl week in an ice and snow storm in 12 degree temperature, with a wind chill of two degrees.

I've crossed paths with a lot of stars hanging out on the famed links. It can be intimidating trying to convince them to give you five minutes. Let's be honest, my media badge doesn't say TMZ or ESPN.

It's funny how a brief conversation can change your entire perception of someone.

I'll never forget having a conversation with rock star Alice Cooper. It was the most intellectual interview I have ever done. Don't be misled by the raggedy hair or makeup.

When asked about the difference between playing golf and being on stage, Cooper said, "I can not see the audience on stage. But on the golf course, all eyes are on you."

I was not sure what to think when talking to Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith a few years back. My most vivid memory of "The Wizard" was cheap-shooting the Giants' Will Clark at second base in the 1987 playoffs.

Turns out Smith was humble and very polite. The fog had rolled in and it was cold. But Smith — with his wife by his side along the scoreboard on 18 — stood and answered each question.

One of my all-time favorite interviews was with NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving. Not only did Dr. J sit down with me after playing 18 awful holes, but he offered to buy lunch.

I found Dallas quarterback Tony Romo to be respectful and sharp with his answers. Yeah, he's got a little attitude. But it's more confidence than arrogance. He gets the fact that this is a celebrity tournament.

Trust me, there are exceptions. Former quarterback Bob Griese, who led Miami to a 17-0 season in 1972, got in a car after one question and bolted as if a charging lineman was headed in his direction.

Donald Trump had flair and was amusing. On the course, he had a temper, slamming his iron into the turf a time or two. Hey, the guy is competitive.

Singer Huey Lewis was entertaining. He made sure we both had fun, making the interview feel more like a casual conversation with your neighbor.

For the spectator, there are few places or events where you can get an actor, musician or jock to stop and sign an autograph or pose for a photo.

They're out of their realm when it comes to swinging a club on the links. Golf is a humbling sport. At the same time, they're still entertainers. Most of them realize the galleries are filled with star struck spectators.

Hey, who doesn't want to spend a week on the peninsula and say they played Pebble?

The environment along the Pacific is as peaceful as the sport, unless you're paired with Bill Murray.

John Devine can be reached at and 646-4405.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Golf World: Better stance, alignment leads to consistency

There are two types of fundamentals that a golfer must learn: (1) Pre-swing and (2) In-swing.

The pre-swing fundamentals are those things that happen before any movement occurs. These are static rather than dynamic fundamentals. Fortunately for us, these pre-swing fundamentals have a direct bearing on how we swing the club.

Some examples of these fundamentals are stance, alignment, posture, ball position, clubface aim, weight distribution, and tension level.

Let's focus on stance, alignment and ball position. No greater player than Jack Nicklaus said that the feet, knees and hips were one of the most important fundamentals in golf.

The golf swing is a ground-reaction game, so therefore, we need a correct stance in order to be consistent. The width of the stance is important for stability and freedom of movement. A stance that is too narrow will result in poor balance, while a stance that is too wide will restrict movement and cause unnecessary lateral movement with the body toward the target. Stances are also classified as open, closed or square.

Some players, mainly senior players, play out of a slightly closed stance. This stance is lined up slightly right of the target. This allows the player to make a better body turn on the backswing and, generally, will help the golfer hook the ball. Sam Snead played this way. He aimed to the right and "came over the top" on the downswing. His shot was a pull hook that was very consistent. Arnold Palmer also played out of a closed stance most of his career.

The other stance type is called the open stance. In this stance, the left foot is pulled off the target line. This stance will restrict the turning motion of the hips on the backswing, but will help the hips turn out of the way on the forward swing. Lee Trevino played this way. This stance is hard on the back, and not generally recommended for the average player. The open stance encourages a left-to-right fade.

The other stance type is the square stance. This stance is used by most golfers, and is a stance that is parallel to the target line. The thing that I see most golfers leaving out of their stance is what I call foot flare. Foot flare is simply flaring out the left foot about 15 to 20 degrees at the setup. This also helps the golfer turn his hips and body through the shot on the forward swing.

Body alignment or shoulder alignment is another pre-swing fundamental that should be addressed. The direction the shoulders are aimed has a direct bearing on the path of the clubhead through impact.

For example, if the shoulders are lined up too far to the left of the target at address, the golfer will cut across the ball and hit a pull hook or pull slice. On the other hand, if the shoulders are lined up to the right of the target at address, the golfer would probably swing too "inside out" and hook the ball.

You can work on your stance and your posture by putting two clubs down on the ground as you are practicing. One club is for the stance and shoulder line, and one club for the target line. A third club can be put in between your feet in order to keep your ball position consistent.

I use a training aid called the Practice Pod that works on all three of these pre-swing fundamentals. Sometimes the simplest fundamentals will make the biggest difference in your game.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Watson up to 18th in world

Bubba Watson's second PGA Tour win helped him improve 15 spots to No. 18 in this week's world golf rankings.

The top three remained the same with Lee Westwood first followed by Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods. Phil Mickelson took second place behind Watson and moved up two places to No. 4.

Graeme McDowell slid one spot to fifth, while Volvo Golf Champions winner Paul Casey jumped three to No. 6. Steve Stricker dipped a pair to seventh, while Rory McIlroy and Jim Furyk both slipped one to eighth and ninth, respectively.

Luke Donald held steady on No. 10 and was again followed by Ernie Els, Ian Poulter and Matt Kuchar.

Dustin Johnson improved two places to No. 14. Retief Goosen dipped a notch to 15th, Robert Karlsson inched up a spot to 16th, while Francesco Molinari fell two places to 17th.

Watson was followed by Louis Oosthuizen and Edoardo Molinari, who both dropped one to 19th and 20th.

Tim Clark, last week's No. 20, tumbled two to 22nd this week.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Look out golf world -- Woods has that eye of the Tiger again

Tiger Woods strolled into Torrey Pines on Wednesday, albeit without the famous limp

he used when he won the U.S. Open in thrilling fashion in 2008.

Woods and Rocco Mediate had a tantalizing duel in a 19-hole Monday playoff, but Woods is back for the first time since then.

We remember that Monday, an extra- ordinary round filled with vivid images

of a grimacing Woods doubled over in pain. Yet with each wrinkle of the face and gimp in his step, he still executed impeccable shots.

Woods remembers that Saturday.

"Saturday probably hurt more than any other days I played," Woods said Wednesday at a standing-room-only news conference for this week's Farmer's Insurance Open. "So to perform at that level while I was feeling that much pain was something I look back on. I'm very proud of."

Woods is feeling confident and pain-free despite a winless 2010 in which he took a hiatus from the scandal of numerous affairs that led to divorce.

Nothing about his gameplan has changed, except that wins seem more plausible now.

"My expectations are the same," Woods said. "Whatever event I enter is to win the event."

He might be a different man off the course, and even though he didn't win last year he still expects it will happen with every field he joins.

Woods had the smile going and a relaxed vibe about him. He seemed comfortable and confident heading into today's start to his 2011 PGA Tour season.

The previous day, Mediate said he figured Woods would win at least four events. Woods joked, "I think the commissioner (Tim Finchem) would like me to play more than four events."

The confidence that propelled Woods to win a major with a torn anterior cruciate ligament is back. It's just if his swing will cooperate.

Woods has had so much success at Torrey Pines, winning six times as a member of the tour and Junior Worlds as well.

Even if Woods didn't have that confidence, his colleagues feel it.

The roars might be back and reverberate around the North and South courses this weekend.

"I expect that he'll be the Tiger that we've known for over a decade," Phil Mickelson said. "Unfortunately."

Woods fell to No. 3 in the rankings last week while Martin Kaymer moved to No. 2. And if European pro Ian Poulter's playful nickname "No. 3" bothers Woods at all, he wouldn't let on.

Poulter and Lee Westwood, the top-ranked player in the world, tried to entice Woods into a friendly debate Tuesday on Twitter, but Woods didn't oblige.

"It's just Poults," Woods said. "He's probably just bored and has nothing to do. I was at home and working on my game and flying out here. That's just Poults being Poults, and that's fine."

The way Woods played in the Ryder Cup and at his Chevron World Challenge - he had a four-shot lead going into the final round but squandered it to Graeme McDowell - gives him glimpses of his star power. But it would take a victory to solidify his swing change and confidence are back in championship form.

Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman tweeted: "looking fwd to him winning again and watching most media talking heads hurt themselves jumping back on his bandwagon."

Fans surely will be hoping to be rooting for a Woods who's in contention. He's playing with Mediate and Anthony Kim for today's first round and Friday's second round.

"I don't know how the computer did that," Woods said laughing. "It's kind of a surprise, isn't it? Just randomly put us together."

Mediate, asked if he thought Woods would play better this year, was immediate in response.

"Absolutely. Because he's Tiger," Mediate said. "He's tired of seeing what he's seeing. He'll fix it. He'll definitely fix it. He's not going away. I still think he's the best player. I don't care what the rankings say.

"He's had a little bit off year. A lot of things happen, we all run into those weeks or months or years for that matter of not being able to get it done. Even him, he got to feel that."

Woods felt that gimpy knee here and still won the U.S. Open. He's got that confidence back, and this time there's no hiccup in his gait.

Monday, January 17, 2011

McDowell and Mickelson tied for 4th in world rankings

With Phil Mickelson making his season debut in Abu Dhabi this week, and Graeme McDowell already having come tantalizingly close to earning a playoff berth in Kapalua, a significant storyline for the week will be if McDowell can pass the Masters champion for 4th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

As of Monday, they are tied. With the release of the new rankings, McDowell and Mickelson each average 6.24 points per event.

Just like last time McDowell played in the United Arab Emirates, the Ulsterman can surpass a rival in a key ranking list. Last time he was there, McDowell had a chance to overtake Martin Kaymer for the Race to Dubai title in the Dubai World Championship.

Ultimately, number one is the ranking that matters, but as McDowell’s starts from this time in 2009 burn off – and he presumably retains form well enough to replace them with better finishes – he could easily hop into the top three, leaving Mickelson in his dust. Or, maybe more appropriately, sand.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Open spots on offer for Aussies at IFQ

Australia’s top golfers will be bringing their A-game to Kingston Heath Golf Club tomorrow with arguably the most sought after prize in world golf up for grabs- a spot in the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George’s.

A total of three spots in The Open field will be available on Tuesday when International Final Qualifying (IFQ) Australasia is contested over 36 holes.

The top three finishers will earn a place at the 2011 Open Championship to be played at Royal St George’s, which this year will host its 14th Open Championship.

The Open was last contested at Royal St George’s in 2003 when American Ben Curtis won by a stroke over Vijay Singh in what was his first ever Major appearance.

This year some of Australia’s best will again be vying for their chance to tee it up in The Open with Peter Senior and Peter O’Malley among those looking to qualify.

“The IFQ for the Open Championship in Australia is a great opportunity for all Australian players to play in what i believe is the best tournament in the world,” said Peter Senior who gained a spot in the 2010 Open Championship after qualifying at IFQ Australasia.

“Last year was great to have it at St Andrews where it is always exciting and full of atmosphere, but this year the players are in for a real treat as we head back to Royal St George’s which I'm sure will throw up its own unique challenges to all of the players lucky enough to get through the qualifying.”

“Of all The Open courses Royal St George’s is probably the most demanding off the tee and high rough awaits anything that is off line.”

O’Malley shares Senior’s sentiments.

“The Open is the best tournament in the golfing calendar. It is the one tournament I want to play every year. I would look forward to playing at Royal St George’s if I was to qualify,” O’Malley said.

“Royal St George’s is a great test of golf, very demanding off the tee which suits my style of golf.”

Also in the field will be yesterday's Victorian Open winner Paul Sheehan, Craig Parry, Matthew Griffin, Stephen Allan, Peter Fowler, Andre Stolz, Stephen Leaney, James Nitties and Alistair Presnell.

Young hopefuls Kieran Pratt and Rohan Blizard will also be teeing it up hoping to earn their first starts in a Major tournament.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

World Golf Glance

Site: Kapalua, Hawaii.

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday.

Course: Kapalua Resort, The Plantation Course (7,411 yards, 6,777 meters, par 73).

Purse: $5.6 million. Winner's share: $1.12 million.

Last year: Australia's Geoff Ogilvy successfully defended his title in the winners-only, season-opening event, closing with a 6-under 67 for a one-shot victory over South Africa's Rory Sabbatini.

Notes: Ogilvy won the Australian Open on Dec. 5, then lost a playoff to Peter Senior the following week in the Australian PGA. ... Ernie Els set the US PGA Tour record for relation to par in a 72-hole event in 2003, finishing at 31 under. He's coming off a victory on Dec. 19 in the South African Open. ... Stuart Abbleby (2004-06) and Gene Littler (1955-57) are the only players to win for three straight years. ... Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy and Louis Oosthuizen are skipping the tournament. Tiger Woods failed to qualify. ... Francesco Molinari earned a spot in the field with his HSBC Champions victory in China. ... Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore designed The Plantation Course on a pineapple plantation in the foothills of the West Maui Mountains. ... The Sony Open in Hawaii is next week at Waialae. ... Hyundai is the third title sponsor in three years.



Site: East London, South Africa.

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday.

Course: East London Golf Club (6,770 yards, 6,190 meters, par 73).

Purse: $1.3 million. Winner's share: $215,340.

Last year: South Africa's Charl Schwartzel beat countryman Thomas Aiken by a stroke.

Notes: British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen is in the field along with Schwartzel, 2009 winner Retief Goosen and Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke. ... The European Tour opened its "2011" schedule in December with two events also sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour. Pablo Martin won the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek and Ernie Els took the South African Open at Durban Country Club. The tours will team again next week for the Joburg Open.


Sunshine Tour site: