Archive for the ‘Pro Golf’ Category

Murray stays in pole position

MANCHESTER’S Tom Murray finished day two of the Hauts de France Golf Open the way he began it — with a three-shot lead.

He showed no signs of tension as he opened with a string of pars before birdies on the fifth, sixth and ninth holes further increased his advantage over the field.

Turning in three under par 33, Murray (pictured, courtesy Getty Images) appeared to be in control of his golf ball following a birdie on the difficult par four 12th. However, a pair of dropped shots over

Tom Murray.jpgthe remaining holes would cut his sizable six-stroke lead in half.

Despite the hiccup down the stretch, the 28-year-old was happy with where he stood after his second consecutive sub-par round at the undulating Saint-Omer Golf Club.

“If you had given me eight under after two rounds on Thursday morning, especially with the weather we had, I definitely would have taken it,” said Murray. “I wasn’t brilliant today, but I just missed it in the right spots, stayed patient and putted nicely.”

“It’s not rocket science, really. You just hit the first tee shot where you want to hit it, then get the ball on the correct bit of the green and then just stay patient,” he said.

Hot on the trail are two players who will look to close the gap on Day Three. Stuart Manley, who sits in the sixth position on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah, is perhaps the most in-form player in the field. After advancing to a play-off last week, but failing to lift the trophy, the Welshman will be as determined as ever to hunt down the leading Murray and solidify his place inside the top 15 with a win.

Joining him in second place is Dutchman Daan Huizing, whose rounds of 69-68 have featured only three bogeys across two days of strong winds and difficult scoring conditions.

 

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Search for the Perfect Swing

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FROM LEFT: Dr Rob Neal, CEO of Golf BioDynamics, Steve Otto, the R&A’s Director of Equipment Standards and Chief Technology Officer, Dr Alastair Cochran, author of The Search for the Perfect Swing, Dr Sasho MacKenzie, professor at St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia,  and Prof  Eric Wallace, Professor of Biomechanics and Sports Technology at Ulster Uni.  Image courtesy of The PGA. 

THE author of what many have described as the “The Bible” for golf coaches returned to The PGA for a special event to mark the 50 years since the publication of “The Search for the Perfect Swing.”

Dr Alastair Cochran’s book remains one of the seminal pieces of work that has applied scientific methods to study the game of golf. It continues to be referenced today by scientists, educators and practitioners across the world of golf.

Cochran was the guest of honour at PGA headquarters inside The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, on May 21 and his book’s popularity was demonstrated with almost 100 people attending the sold out event inside the PGA National Training Academy.

“It’s been a life-changing thing for me,” said Cochran. I’ve always been an academic and a research physicist but this book as got me all round the world.

“I personally didn’t anticipate the sort of impact the book would have on golf. There’s a great cult following who think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. It was fun to do and it got a few other people starting to think about things like that.

“When I finished doing some work for The PGA on their manuals three to four years ago, I thought that was it. But meeting these guys got me excited about golf again and what they’re doing.”

A select group of world-leading experts who are involved in researching various elements of the game were also in attendance.

They included Dr Rob Neal, CEO of Golf BioDynamics, the R&A’s Director of Equipment Standards and Chief Technology Officer, Professor Steve Otto, and Professor Eric Wallace, Professor of Biomechanics and Sports Technology at Ulster University.

Dr Sasho MacKenzie, Professor at St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, Canada, also flew in especially for the event.

David Colclough, Head of Coaching & Sports Science at The PGA, added: “It was a great honour to recognise the considerable contribution that Alastair has made to the development of the game of golf through his original work with ‘The Search for the Perfect Swing.

“We were also delighted to get such a wonderful line-up of speakers, who so neatly related the most current research findings to Alistair’s work from 1968.

“I think it showed what an essential read the book still is for anyone serious about understanding the science behind the game.”

 

GolfSixes is a real knock-out

 

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THE home sides stole the show in a thrilling day of GolfSixes action as England’s men and women both advanced to today’s knockout stages at Centurion Club.

Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace defeated South Africa in their final match to top Group D, following Georgia Hall and Charley Hull who advanced on the holes won rule after a narrow defeat to Sweden just a few minutes earlier.

The England women, who began their first GolfSixes experience with a draw against Pepperell and Wallace, will face Group C winners Ireland at the quarter final stage on Sunday. Meanwhile, a clash against the French pair of Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Romain Wattel awaits the England men.

The European Tour broke new ground yet again at the innovative event, with men’s and women’s teams, and a mixed pairing of Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn and his Solheim Cup counterpart Catriona Matthew, all taking part in a format which saw 16 pairs take each other on in greensomes match play over six holes in a round robin, with the top two teams in each group advancing to Sunday’s quarter-finals.

The European Women team of Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid had earlier pulled off a memorable result, defeating defending champions Denmark in a play-off to finish second in Group A behind the Thai pairing of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee.

Australia’s Sam Brazel and Wade Ormsby won Group B to set up a quarter final clash with the European Women, while Thailand face an all-Asia clash against runners-up Soomin Lee and Jeunghun Wang of South Korea.

Eddie Pepperell said: “We had a good, tough match with the girls and were just relieved to not lose that.  Then the second game, we played a bit scrappy at the end.  But we really wanted to be here tomorrow, so now that we are, it’s going to be great.

“It’s been great.  Every time someone has been asked who is their favourite golfer, all I keep hearing is Georgia or Charley, so hopefully by the end of tomorrow, they will be saying Matt, because he’s my favourite golfer.”

Matt Wallace added: “Really happy to top the group and get through. It’s nice to play with this guy. Playing against the girls this morning, well, we hit some terrible golf shots on the first hole but then we slowly got into and started to realise everyone out there was having a lot of fun.

“What a fantastic day. Great fun. Nice to play alongside this chap here, it was a pleasure and it was really nice.  The crowds were great and the weather is fantastic.”

Georgia Hall said:  It’s been a great day, long day.  Me and Charley played really well and we got a bit unlucky in the last match, but we’re through and we’re excited for tomorrow. We’ll pretty much just do what we done today.  Enjoy it and take it one shot at a time.

Charley Hull agreed:  It’s been great fun.  I just feel good vibes from this event. It’s really good because you see so many children and women and everyone around and the weather is perfect.  I think it’s a really good event for golf.

Mel Reid added: “It’s huge for women’s golf. I have absolute faith in our partnership and we would have been disappointed not to get through to Sunday. My sister would have killed me because she only just arrived.

“A shame for Denmark to go out with a three putt on the last but we’re very, very happy.  It’s great for women’s golf. I think this is a huge opportunity to showcase women’s golf. We don’t get the coverage and we don’t get as supported as I feel like we should. An event like this is huge for us.  Hopefully a few more people will want to take up the game of golf now because they see how passionate we are about it. We have a lot of fun out there. I can’t stop having fun with this one. That’s what it’s all about.”

Download the final standings after day one here: GOLFSIXES – GROUP RESULTS

And the match schedule for day two can be found here: GOLFSIXES – KNOCK-OUT ROUNDS

 

Jason leads the way at Hesketh

JASON Shufflebottom completed a memorable start to the season by winning the PGA Assistants’ Championship North qualifying round at Hesketh Golf Club.
The Prestatyn-based Denbigh  man posted a one-under 68 to edge out Matthew Dunbabin (Sandiway), Calum Hey (Shipley) and Nick Tibbetts (Carlisle).
They will join 15 other qualifiers at the £32,000, Birdietime-supported, grand final at Farleigh Golf Club, Surrey, on  July 3-5.
But the victory came after the 29-year-old had been named as a junior ambassador for the Flintshire Golf Union.
“They approached me to work as an ambassador a few months ago and now it’s all been passed, so I’m looking forward to doing some work with the juniors and inspiring a bit more success in North Wales.
“I’m very fortunate to be in a positive environment with good coaching practices.”
Shufflebottom is a former Wales amateur International who studied in the USA before deciding to take the PGA route.
“It’s a big bad world out there, but I decided that if I couldn’t play for a living, I’d like to help others improve and my goal is to go for a coaching role. The PGA course gives me the chance to play as well.”
Shufflebottom said he was fortunate with the draw at Hesketh.
“I was first out and we played the first six holes with no wind, then it picked up a little bit,” he said.

Pantoja goes back to the future

OLIVER  Pantoja has gone back to his roots as he prepares for a second successive Titleist & FootJoy PGA Professional Championship final.

The Manchester-based professional has been with Ashton on Mersey b for 18 months and it is the place where he grew up learning his golf.

Pantoja is set to tee off in the North West qualifier at Delamere Forest Golf Club on May 8.

And he will be aiming to secure a spot in the £78,000 final which will be staged at Little Aston Golf Club in Sutton Coldfield between July 24-27.

“I was a junior member at Ashton for a number of years and it’s where I learnt the game – it’s also where I could be found when I was playing truant from school,” said Pantoja, whose father is from Portugal.

“It’s always been a place which has been close to my  heart. When I left my last job, I was welcomed with open arms here and it was fairly local to where I was.

“I’ve laying some roots down, I know a lot of people here and it’s good to see some friendly faces.”

Pantoja’s only attempt at qualifying for the final earned him a place at Luttrellstown Castle in Ireland last year.

But he hopes he will do better if he makes it to Little Aston 12 months on.

“I qualified for Ireland, but it just didn’t work out for me, the place suited me down to the earth, but my game wasn’t with me, I think I left it back in Manchester that week,” he added.

“It was a great venue which appealed to me – but I love the fact that it’s Delamere again for the qualifier this year. I won through from there last time and I feel like I can play well around there. I’d play there every week if I could, I’ll be playing a practice round there before the event so it’ll be good to get my fix in before the actual event.”

Other North West players at Delamere Forest include: Mark Smith (Stamford Golf Club); Craig Corrigan (Chili Dip Academy); Lee Rooke (Royal St. David’s Golf Club); Oliver Whiteley (Bramall Park Golf Club);   Tim Dykes  (Penrith Golf Club);  Simon Wilson (Lytham (Green Drive) Golf Club; and Ali Gray  (Ormskirk Golf Club).

Ford in PGA title drive

LIVERPOOL Driving Range’s Tim Ford is hoping to improve on last year’s top 10 finish when he plays in the PGA Assistants’ Championship North Qualifier at Hesketh Golf Club.

Ford will tee off at the Southport venue on Thursday looking to return to the Birdietime-supported showpiece final.

Last year, he secured 10th place at Coxmoor Golf Club in Nottinghamshire.

And this week he is hoping to book his spot at the £32,000 event at Farleigh Golf Club in Surrey between July 3-5.

But if he makes the final again, he will be hoping for a smoother tournament as it was a case of what might have been last year.

“I played pretty well over the whole three rounds at Coxmoor, but I had an eight on the 18th hole in the first round,” explained Ford.

“I was on course to be in the top 10 after the first round and that kind of had me struggling to make the cut.

“In the second round, my mindset was to make the cut and give myself a chance on the last day. In the third round I holed a few putts and was three under on the day.“I think I’d have tied second overall had it not been for that first day score!”

The 26-year-old second year assistant is hoping for better luck. But he says the qualifying event will not be easy.

“That’s the hard bit. Once you’re there, you can sort of let it happen,” he added.

“But I’ve had exams, combined with a knee injury so my game isn’t quite where I want it to be right now. I’ll give it my best shot though.”

“I took the PGA course because I really like the idea of coaching.”

 

Fleetwood plays alongside Tiger in Masters

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ACTION MAN: Tommy Fleetwood. Photo Getty Images

LANCASTRIAN Tommy Fleetwood is relishing the opportunity to tee up alongside the resurgent four-time Masters winner Tiger Woods after the Englishman was drawn with the American golfing legend for the first two rounds of the opening major of the season at Augusta National.

The 27 year old will join the 14-time major winner and Australian Marc Leishman with all eyes on Woods after his recent return to form following years of well-documented injury problems.

Fleetwood is in a fine run of form, having successfully defended his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA title in January while his worst European Tour finish in five starts this season is a share of 17th place.

With anticipation over Woods’ return to Augusta at fever pitch, Rory McIlroy incredibly comes into this week under the radar somewhat despite also finding form – returning to the winners’ circle last month following a winless 2017 season – as he chases an historic Grand Slam.

Fleetwood said:  “My game feels good at the moment. I feel like I’ve been preparing for quite a while. My first Masters was last year and I didn’t see too much sunshine so it’s nice to see the course without a cloud in the sky and with the shadows. It’s nice to have that buzz around it. It’s been lovely so far.

“The first real Masters I watched was 1997, when Tiger won his first. A few years on and I get to play with him and I don’t think you can get a better draw than Tiger at the Masters, especially with what’s going on in golf at the moment.

“All that said, I’m only bothered about me. Whatever he does is not my problem, I’ve got to get on with my own stuff. But it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s very cool.

“He was in his pomp when I was growing up. There was something about this week where I thought to myself, for some reason, I’m going to get Tiger Woods this week. I walked to the putting green at about 11 o’clock today and it was the biggest mass of people you could see imagine around here, just to see him and Phil walking off the 18th green so you get an idea of how busy it’s going to be.

“As well as concentrating on my stuff I’ll get to watch him up close and see what he does and there’s nothing better than that.”

Sergio Garcia, meanwhile, will defend his title following a life-changing 12 months which included marrying wife Angela before celebrating the birth of his first child Azalea – named after the famous 13th hole at Augusta in a nod to his maiden Major triumph this time last year.