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JACK NICKLAUS By Tony Matthews

In January 2020, American legend Jack Nicklaus will be 80 years ‘young’.

Perhaps the greatest golfer ever, during his professional career, Jack competed in 164 Majors, more than any other player, winning a record 18 while also claiming 73 US PGA tour wins.
As an amateur, he played in the Walker Cup and was runner-up in the 1960 US Open, two shots behind Arnold Palmer.

But Jack’s golfing career will be defined by his 18 Major triumphs, and they are:

  • Six US Masters: 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986.
  • Five US PGA Championships: 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980.
  • Four US Opens: 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980.
  • Three British Opens: 1966, 1970, 1978.

His first British Open win came at Muirfield in 1966 and last two at St. Andrew’s, where in 1970, he beat Doug Sanders in a play-off and in 1978 became the first player to win all three Majors on three separate occasions.

Jack, the ‘Golden Bear’, ended his ‘pro’ career at St. Andrew’s in 2005, and he received a ten-minute ovation from the crowd after hitting his final tee-shot 200 yards down the fairway towards the 18th green which saw him sink a 15-foot birdie.

Born in Colombus, Ohio on 21 January 1940, Jack played American football, tennis, basketball and baseball at school and was only ten when he got the ‘golfing bug’. Indeed, while still at school, he carded a 51 for the first nine holes at his father’s course, the Scioto Country Club.

Club professional, Jack Groat, was so impressed with ‘young’ Jack that he became his life-long coach.

His 17th game of golf, saw Jack win the 1962 US Open at Oakmount, collecting $17,500 (€15.600/£14,500). The 2019 Open winner won $2.2m (€1.96m/£1.88m).

Jack won practically every honour in the game, including the Ryder Cup, and when he retired, he joined the Senior PGA Tour, going on to win ten competitions, including eight Majors.

Today, Jack heads one of the world’s largest golf course design companies; he’s also a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and organizes the PGA Memorial Tournament.

The author of several ‘golf-orientated’ books, his autobiography, ‘Golf My Way’ is one of best instructional golf publications of all time.

Jack also owns the Nicklaus Golf Computer Games franchise and his charity work is legendary. Indeed, he received the USA ‘Congressional Gold medal’ in 2014 in recognition of his service to the nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship.

Happy birthday Jack, champion golfer, the best the sport has ever seen.

Image: Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village Golf Club. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

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Celebrating 10 years of LET and Hero’s involvement in Hero Women’s Indian Open

This week, the Ladies European Tour is thrilled to be celebrating 10 years of involvement in the Hero Women’s Indian Open, alongside title sponsor Hero MotoCorp Ltd and the Women’s Golf Association of India.

The LET first sanctioned the 54-hole tournament in 2010, with a purse of $300,000.

Now in its 13th year overall, the purse for the 72-hole event has grown to US$500,000 – a rise of 500% from its inaugural year in 2007 – the ultimate proof of the rapid strides made by Women’s Professional Golf in India. There is now four days’ of live international television coverage and it attracts the very best of talent from across the globe with an equal split of players from Europe and India.

The tournament offers an opportunity for talented young Indian women golfers to test their skills against some of their overseas counterparts and has already played a part in the development of home grown talents such as Olympian Aditi Ashok, who was the first Indian to win on the Ladies European Tour when she claimed the title in 2016 and also Diksha Dagar, the leading amateur that year who went on to win this year’s Investec South African Women’s Open as a rookie professional.

In terms of the golf course, the Gary Player-designed DLF Golf and Country Club offers a venue to match the event’s status as one of the finest and most challenging in the world.

The work of the team at the Women’s Golf Association of India, guided by President, Mrs Kavita Singh, cannot be underestimated and nor can the long-term support of Dr Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Managing Director & CEO of Hero MotoCorp Ltd, who has been the driving force behind the development of women’s golf in the country.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Mr J Narain, Hero MotoCorp, welcomed the players to India and commented: “This is the 10th year of Hero’s association as title sponsor and the 10th year of the LET’s association with this tournament. Hero has been at the forefront of sports sponsorship in India and we are all very proud of where Indian golf stands today. We have players in all corners of the globe.”

The biggest professional women’s golf event in the country welcomes 120 women golfers from 29 countries and Mr Narain and Mrs Singh were joined in a press conference by a number of marquee names.

Mr Narain added: “It is my pleasure to welcome a special guest, the architect of the sensational Solheim Cup win at Gleneagles: Catriona Matthew, who is here in India for the first time. We also have two past champions, Camille Chevalier and Becky Morgan, who will defend the wonderful trophy. They won’t have it easy, because we have some very good Indian players. Diksha Dagar has been performing very well on the LET circuit, then we have Vani Kapoor and a few more players who will give them a tough time.”

Mrs Kavita Singh commented: “I want all the players to appreciate that this would not have been possible without Dr Munjal’s total dedication to women’s golf. To raise the prize fund from $300,000 to $500,000: that’s a huge amount in this country. Golf has always been seen as a rich man’s sport so it’s at the bottom of the ladder in terms of funding and very rare that it will get any government funding. It is through the hard work of all the team.

“The journey has been long over the last 13 years and a tough ride, but believe me, I always believed and I do this for the passion and pure satisfaction of seeing the Indian girls doing well. I hope we do well in the Olympics and come in the top three, if not next year (in Tokyo) then after that. I do have faith. Also, I can see the tour has grown now to 33-34 girls from 3-4 and we are just 13 years old, so I think we have taken great steps.

“It’s an expensive game for a country like India and unfortunately we do not have courses all over the country which are available for the girls to play. In Japan and America, they are hitting into nets off buildings. In tier 2 cities we do not have that, but probably in five years, or if not earlier, there will be 100 (female) pros.”

The tournament plays a societal role in inspiring local players to pursue their talents and the WGAI order of merit leader, Gaurika Bishnoi and LET rookie Tvesa Malik, explained how they both came to work as scorers, before they played in the tournament.

“Laura Davies used to come and give the clinics and it was great to see our idols,” said Bishnoi. “It’s been a long journey from walking the course and putting in the scores to playing in it,” she added.

“To see the journey from volunteering to playing in the tournament has been amazing,” commented Malik.

A strong commitment to the development of young players is also visible through the variety of off-course activities and a third annual achievers’ camp has been organised by the LET this year, in tandem with the WGAI and The R&A.

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In The Bunker With Mick The Grip

THERE ARE ONE OR TWO risks associated with playing at Greg Norman’s El Camaleón Golf Course at the Mayakoba Resort, Mexico.  Like the chameleon from which it takes it’s name, the 7,024 yd. course is ever-changing.

Designed to enhance the area’s unique natural features, it has three distinct eco systems, Mangrove forest, Caribbean beach and Mayan jungle (don’t look for your ball.)  The bunker on the 7th leads into a subterranean cavern from which golfballs (and possibly players) never return!

Golfers can step out of their rooms and into a boat, which will ferry them directly across the lagoons to the clubhouse or the first tee  (don’t fall overboard, there are alligators.)   I’ll stick to La Serena.

RYDER CUP STARS from both sides of the Atlantic can tee up and snarl at each other in the BMW PGA Championship to be held 19th-22nd September on Wentworth’s West Course.  Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood will be joined by Patrick Reed, Billy Horschel and Tony Finau, who are fully paid up members of the European Tour and will be making their debut in the 4th event of the 2019 Rolex Series Race to Dubai.

A host of celebrities will join them for the Pro Am on Wednesday.  Shane Lowry is the current leader of the Race.   Francesco Molinari is this year’s defending champion.

In 2000 Colin Montgomerie became the first player to win three years in a row.  They were probably the only times Colin didn’t complain about the marshalls, the weather or the course.

CATRIONA MATTHEW will be hoping her European Womens team will trounce the USA in the 16th Solheim Cup on the Centenary Course at Gleneagles from 13th-15th September.  The USA have won 10 of the previous 15 Solheim Cups, and are probably going to win this time as well.

AT THE ROYAL LIVERPOOL Golf Club, Hoylake, Merseyside from 7th-9th September.  Captain Craig Watson will be hoping his amateur team can lift the Walker Cup, reversing the 2017 result when the USA   won by 19 points to 7.  The USA has won 36 out of 47 Walker Cups and are favourites to win again.

Never say die.  Remember the England cricket team!

ON “PHIRESIDE WITH PHIL,”  Mickelson’s weekly social media golfing chat, Padraig Harrington recounted the time at the Singapore Open when he lost what he thought was a simple loser-buys-dinner wager to the five-time major champ.   Padraig ended up paying for a five-figure meal – plus drinks – for Phil and his friends  “and even some random kid who was celebrating his 18th birthday.”

JUSTIN THOMAS WON the 2019 USA PGA Championship with a final round 68, 25 under par.  92% of players finished under par at 7,504 yd. Medinah.  Interviewed afterwards Adam Scott commented:  “We need smarter courses, not longer.  Adding length to courses isn’t working, they haven’t figured out yet that ‘long’ means nothing to us. They can’t build them long enough.

The driver is the most forgiving club in the bag now, It doesn’t matter what course it is, if you give us soft greens, soft fairways and no wind, we’re going to tear it apart.”   It’s not quite the game Old Tom Morris would recognize now.

THE 2019 BRITISH Open Speedgolf Championships took place again last month on the  Longcross  Course at Foxhills, Surrey.  Players competing individually were set off at 6 minute intervals with the customary running start and finish, to complete 18 holes with the lowest score.   Winner was Jamie Reid from New Zealand who shot 81 in a blistering 40 minutes and 57 seconds.   I’d like to see him do it out here in August.

PATRICK REED has been given the nickname “Captain America” by fans.   They must be kidding.  If Thor suddenly appeared on the course, what would Reed the Avenger do?  Put his finger to his lips and say “Shhhh?”

WELL DONE RORY for winning the Tour Championship and Fedex Cup.  Unfortunately, they pay the prize money out in instalments, he was hoping to pay off his mortgage.

Until next time: Happy Golfing.

Contact Mick for regripping and repairs. 638 859 475.

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Magnificent Miguel reaches the 700 mark on the European Tour

• The charismatic Spaniard reached 700 European Tour events when he teed it up at The 148th Open Championship
• Jimenez earned his place at Royal Portrush after winning last year’s Senior Open

Miguel Ángel Jiménez became just the second man in the history of the European Tour to reach 700 events when he teed it up at The 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club.

The charismatic Spaniard, who turned professional in 1982 and became a full Member of the European Tour when he won his card at Qualifying School in 1988, is no stranger to record-breaking feats and fittingly reached yet another milestone in his 32nd consecutive season on Tour at this year’s final Major.

The 21-time European Tour winner holds the record as the oldest winner in European Tour history after his victory at the Spanish Open in 2014 aged 50 years and 133 days, and the record for the most holes-in-one following his tenth professional ace at the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

The 55-year-old earned his place at Royal Portrush after winning last year’s Senior Open Presented by Rolex, which he will defend at Royal Lytham & St Annes. He is now fast closing in on another significant moment in his career as he approaches Sam Torrance’s all-time record of 706 European Tour appearances.

Jiménez said: “This is a very proud moment for myself and my family and to reach the milestone of 700 events on the European Tour at the Open Championship makes it even more enjoyable.

“I have had many great moments over the past 32 years including winning 21 times. Winning any tournament is memorable but I particularly cherished the four tournaments I won in Spain where my friends and family were there – those were very special.

“Of course I am now only six tournaments away from tying, and seven away from beating the all-time record held by my great friend Sam Torrance. I don’t know exactly when that will happen but the record is definitely in my sights! ”

One of seven brothers, Jiménez took up golf as a 15-year-old while picking up balls at the range and caddying. Inspired by watching the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle and Torrance when he was caddying at the 1979 Spanish Open, he decided to take up the game seriously.

His maiden win came at the 1992 Piaget Belgian Open, yet since turning 40 in January 2004, he has turned a great career into a tremendous one, claiming another European Tour record for the most wins by a player aged 40 and over, with 12 victories to his name.

I represented Europe as a player on four occasions at The Ryder Cup in 1999, 2004, 2008, and 2010, as well as captaining the European Team at the inaugural EurAsia Cup in 2014.

A Ryder Cup vice-captain on two occasions, he helped Seve Ballesteros steer Europe to an emotional victory on Spanish soil at Valderrama in 1997 before playing a vital role behind the scenes once again in Medinah in 2012, where he helped another lifelong friend, José María Olazábal, invoke the spirit of Seve and inspire that miraculous Ryder Cup comeback on American soil.

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, added: “Miguel has been a trailblazer not just on the European Tour but also on the Senior circuit, with two Senior Majors to his name to date, and I am sure they sit proudly alongside his 21 European Tour titles and the many records already associated with his tremendous career.

“Sport is all about entertainment and Miguel has always delivered on that front. From his now world famous warm-up routine to his swashbuckling celebrations after a hole in one or a scintillating approach shot, he always leaves the fans smiling with his wonderful personality and passion for the game.

“On behalf of the European Tour we congratulate Miguel on his 700th appearance – a phenomenal achievement – and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for one of Spain’s favorite golfing sons.”

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, said: “ The Open is always very special and this week we are making history by staging the championship at Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951. In many ways that sense of history is added to by Miguel’s remarkable achievement.

“I was always a huge admirer of Seve Ballesteros and the magic of the way the Spanish players play the game is exemplified by Miguel. It is a great privilege for us that the 148th Open Championship is Miguel’s 700th European Tour event and everyone at The R&A wishes him will for this week and for the future.

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Spanish Golfer’s murderer sentenced to life imprisonment

American citizen Colin Richards has pleaded guilty to the murder of the Spanish golfer Celia Barquin, and has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Having previously been found innocent, 22 year old Richards has since confessed to the murder according to prosecutor Jessica Reynolds of Story County, Iowa, and on August 23rd he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“My heart is with Celia’s family today with the hope that this result will provide them with a certain level of comfort,” said prosecutor Reynolds in a statement, “this tragic crime is something that has touched and saddened us all.”

Barquín’s body was found on the golf course at Coldwater Links, in Amed (State of Iowa) where she studied Civil Engineering.

The young Cantabrian was considered one of the greatest talents in the world of golf. Born in Torrelavega, she was the reigning European champion, after winning the Women’s Individual Championship 2018.

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García returns to Valderrama as defending champion and host

Major winner Sergio García will return to the Andalucía Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio García Foundation to defend his title, as the tournament is once again held at Real Club Valderrama.

The 2017 Masters Tournament Champion rounded off a special year at his favourite course as he lifted the trophy in his first tournament on home soil following his triumph at Augusta National, and the victory was event sweeter as it came in an event supported by his own charitable foundation.

This year’s tournament on October 18-21 will once again be sponsored by the Autonomous Government of Andalusia with the support of the Sergio García Foundation. The Spaniard set up his charitable foundation in 2002 for the purpose of contributing to the social inclusion of economically-deprived children through social assistance benefits and the practice of sport as free-time activity.

García delighted Spanish fans with an emotional victory in Sotogrande last year, as he sealed his third win of the season to add to his maiden Major title at Augusta National as well as the Omega Dubai Desert Classic trophy.

The home hero continued his love affair with the venue – where he became the first Spaniard to win a European Tour stroke play event in 2011 –  as he lifted the trophy at the end of a week in which he was awarded Honorary Life Membership of both the European Tour and Real Club Valderrama.

The Sergio García Foundation donated all the funds raised at the 2017 Andalucía Valderrama Masters to Madrid’s Hospital Universitario La Paz to help support a makeover of the children’s x-ray unit. The money will be spent redesigning the unit into a welcoming, bright and relaxing environment for the children who receive treatment there.

García said: “It was an amazing experience to be able to win in Spain, and in my first tournament back in Spain as the Masters Champion. To win at my favourite golf course, Valderrama, and at our own event that we do with our Foundation, it was the perfect mix. I’m really excited to go back there this year.

“The tournament is really important and it brings a lot to our Foundation so that we can help out as many people as we can. Last year we helped with building a new x-ray room in a hospital in Madrid. It’s really important to us to and we’re excited to hopefully raise as much as possible and help out again.”

García returns to Valderrama as defending champion and host

It is 21 years since Garcia’s countryman and hero Seve Ballesteros captained Europe to a 14 ½ – 13 ½ win over the USA at Real Club Valderrama, and as the biennial tournament returns to Continental Europe for the first time since that memorable victory in 1997, the eight-time Ryder Cup star is excited about the prospect of bringing more glory to his favourite golf course.

He said: “There are a lot of great tournaments coming up ahead of our tournament in Valderrama, so I’m very excited to hopefully play well going in to it.

“There are a lot of Majors to come and obviously The Ryder Cup. It would be nice to get our hands on it again and bring it back to Valderrama where Seve was the Ryder Cup captain.”

Early bird tickets for the 2018 Andalucía Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation are just €8 for the Pro-Am on Wednesday October 17, €12 on Thursday and Friday of the tournament and €20 on Saturday and Sunday. Children aged under 14 are admitted to the event free of charge when accompanied by a ticket holding adult. Tickets are available now HERE – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/andalucia-valderrama-masters-2018-tickets-43648157815

 

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Ladies European Tour extends broadcast deal with Sky Sports

  • The Ladies European Tour agrees extension to broadcast partnership with Sky Sports, taking it into a landmark 20th year
  • New deal includes The 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland

The Ladies European Tour (LET) has extended its partnership with Sky Sports until the end of 2019. The agreement, which takes the partnership into its 20th year, will mean Sky Sports is the home of the Ladies European Tour in the UK and Ireland for a further two years.

The deal will also mean that Sky Sports will broadcast The 2019 Solheim Cup from Gleneagles, having broadcast every Solheim Cup since 1996, with the global coverage of the event to be produced by European Tour Productions. The contest is guaranteed to be a tense affair as Team Europe hope to make amends for their 2017 loss to the Americans in Des Moines.

Mark Lichtenhein, Chairman of the Ladies European Tour, said: “We are thrilled to continue working with Sky to keep the spotlight on women’s golf over the coming months, especially as we build towards next year’s exciting Solheim Cup at Gleneagles.  This announcement underlines their position as the home of women’s golf and demonstrates a clear commitment to women in sport.”  

Sky already broadcasts all five women’s golf Majors and the new agreement will add coverage of every LET tournament, either live or via highlights programmes. The Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open will be the first event broadcast on Sky Sports as part of the new deal. Running from July 26-29, the competition is one of the Tour’s premier events and viewers can look forward to a strong British contingent competing for the title including, Charley Hull, Mel Reid, Georgia Hall and Solheim Cup Captain, Catriona Matthew.

Jason Wessely, Head of Sky Sports Golf, commented: “The depth of women’s sport on Sky is stronger than ever and our partnership with the Ladies European Tour adds to it. Last year we saw a huge increase in viewing of women’s golf and Sky Sports Golf is committed to shining the spotlight on the women’s game. Our broadcast schedule is packed with some great tournaments and with so many young, female golfers coming through and with such fierce competition at the top of the game – hopefully the public can really get behind women’s golf.”

The Solheim Cup is the jewel in the crown of European women’s golf and VisitScotland, on behalf of the Scottish Government, has stated the ambition to ensure that the next edition of the event on September 13-15, 2019, will serve to both grow golf and contribute to a lasting legacy of increased participation. The Ladies European Tour is working to secure additional programming of the event through television and digital distribution.

Aileen Campbell MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Public Health and Sport, said: “The 2019 Solheim Cup is a great opportunity to inspire more people, particularly youngsters, to get involved in golf and in sport more generally, and to showcase Scotland and its stunning landscape. The completion of this deal means this prestigious event will be broadcast to a maximum number of households throughout Scotland and the UK by one of the world’s leading broadcasters, which has a wealth of experience at major sports events.”

The announcement comes during this weekend’s GolfSixes event which sees some of Europe’s most talented female golfers competing as part of a field which includes men’s, women’s and mixed teams for the first time. Sky Sports will provide live coverage of the event on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Mix (available to all Sky customers).

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Early bird tickets on sale now for Andalucía Valderrama Masters

John Rahm secured the 182nd European Tour win by a player from Spain at the Open de España last week, and with just 182 days until the second European Tour event of the year on Spanish soil gets under way, early bird tickets for the Andalucía Valderrama Masters are on sale now at europeantour.com/tickets.

Home fans gathered in their thousands in Madrid on Sunday to see Rahm become the second successive Spanish player to win a European Tour event on home soil, after Sergio Garcia capped off a stunning year with victory at the 2017 Andalucía Valderrama Masters. Now all eyes turn once again to the famous Real Club Valderrama, which will host the event on October 18-21, 2018.

Sergio García0©RC Valderrama

Garcia delighted Spanish fans with an emotional victory in Sotogrande last year, as he sealed his third win of the season to add to his maiden Major title at the Masters Tournament as well as the Omega Dubai Desert Classic trophy.

The home hero continued his love affair with the venue – where he became the first Spaniard to win a European Tour stroke play event in 2011 –  as he lifted the trophy at the end of a week in which he was awarded Honorary Life Membership of both the European Tour and Real Club Valderrama.

“Winning in Valderrama was very special. It’s difficult to describe what it meant to win at home, at one of my favourite golf courses and in front of my family and the Spanish fans,” said Garcia, speaking after his victory in 2017.

“It was a great week, I was happy with my game and particularly with my attitude. I kept patient and made sure that the bad shots didn’t affect me too much. To win in Valderrama you have to be very patient, you have to love the place. And I love Valderrama.

“The spectators were unbelievable all week, many came out and enjoyed it not only because I won, but because they saw some great golf thanks to Joost’s Luiten and all the players.

“2017 was an amazing year both for me and for Spanish golf. As for me, it was probably the best year in my career.”

Early bird tickets for the 2018 Andalucía Valderrama Masters are just €8 for the Pro-Am on Wednesday October 17, €12 on Thursday and Friday of the tournament and €20 on Saturday and Sunday. Children aged under 14 are admitted to event free of charge when accompanied by a ticket holding adult. Tickets are available now at europeantour.com/tickets

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