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How To Prepare Yourself To Train For Playing Golf

Many expert golfers didn’t acquire their skills in one night. In particular, pro golfers buy and use the right gear and practice frequently. That way, these players can be at the top of their game for each casual or official match. Here are the four tips to help you prepare for playing golf:

Buy a Golf Bag

Perhaps you may already have a set of golf clubs and you’re thinking about buying a golf bag to bring all your golf gear with you. 

It’s safe to say that any person who plays golf regularly knows the importance of the ideal golf bag. However, the market sells various shapes, sizes, and designs of golf bags. When shopping for an excellent golf bag, consider essential factors like:

  • The number of pockets to hold necessities, such as golf balls, tees, and towels.
  • A comfortable golf bag strap. 
  • The existence of golf bag legs to act as a stand when you’re not carrying it. 

You can go through the internet to help you choose the right golf bag for your specific needs. Sites like CherryWoodGolfClub.com has lists that can help you choose the best golf bag according to your preferences. 

Find a Golf Mentor

Both beginners and veteran golfers may need help in improving their game. A golf mentor or a coach is an expert that also acts as policy enforcers, role models, cheerleaders, and friends to other golfers. These golf experts also know how to improve your skills. Here are the traits to look for in a mentor or a coach :

  • Has a sincere desire to spend time and effort to enhance your skills in the sport.
  • Good active listening and communicating skills.
  • Has the ability to see issues while seizing opportunities to give solutions.
  • Knows how to respect other people.
  • Empathetic
  • Flexible

Your chosen golf coach can make a significant improvement in how you play golf, especially if you’re planning to join tournaments. Invest in hiring an established coach, and you should see yourself hitting the ball more frequently than usual instead of making it fly out of bounds. 

Stay Fit

Many people make the mistake of seeing golf as a casual, low-impact sport. Although some sports require significant muscle movements, golf doesn’t require participants to run, jump, or sprint. However, proper health and fitness still play vital roles in helping golfers prepare for each game. 

Stay fit by incorporating exercise to your daily routine to help you maintain proper golfing form. Some activities that you need to integrate to your regular workout routine include:

  • Stretching

Stretching helps improve flexibility for golfers. A flexible golfer has a reduced risk of getting injured when doing swings. If a golfer has limited flexibility, chances are their upper body is rid of and it will be difficult to swing the club. 

  • Core Exercises

Maintaining core stability and strength will improve a golfer’s swinging performance. Try to incorporate exercises like planking and bent knee presses to help improve core strength. 

  • Cardiovascular Exercises

Golf requires a lot of walking, especially if you don’t plan on buying or renting a golf cart. Walking across nine or 18-hole courses can take a toll on your body, particularly if you get winded from walking to the first hole. 

Include cardiovascular exercises like jogging, running, or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to ensure you don’t get out of breath from walking long distances. 

Also, remember to warm up five to ten minutes before each golf game. Warming up will “awaken” the muscles and joints, thereby reducing injuries and improving your cardiovascular endurance as you golf. 

Practice Your Swing

You don’t need to go to a nearby golf course every day to practice your swings. All you need is a relatively ample space in your place to practice your golf swings. 

Start practicing by:

  • Optimizing Golf Techniques

Check your position in front of a mirror and then perform a stable swing five times in a row. If you can achieve swinging five times without an error, you can proceed to the next phase. 

  • Perfecting the Impact

Practice the experience of feeling the impact by draping a towel over your club and hitting some balls. Start in a set-up position, then make the backswing by pressing forward against the cloth. You should find that the more force you generate, the more your body needs to rotate. 

  • Master the Basics

Advanced techniques are nothing if you don’t master the basics. Ensure that your grip, posture, and alignment are good. Follow proper golfing posture, and you reduce the risk of falling into lousy swinging habits.

Remember to buy the right golf bag, hire a professional mentor, stay fit, and practice how you swing your club to prepare to play for golf matches. Let these tips help you become a better golfer, regardless of your current skill level. 

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Golfers back on course on the Orihuela Costa

As reported on last Monday’s Leader, golf courses in the area are once again open to the public.

Orihuela City Council has reported that 4 of the 5 golf courses located on the Orihuela Costa have reopened their facilities within the framework of “Phase 1” of the process of de-escalation with the agreement reached between the Secretary of State for Tourism and the different Autonomous Communities.

All of the courses must have material protection resources recommended by the health authorities in order to prevent the spread of the virus (masks, gloves, protective glasses or face masks) and limit their services to those that they can offer within the rules allowed in phase One.

The Spanish Golf Federation, Golf Directors Association and other key members of the golf industry have been in contact with the Spanish Government and have been issued to clubs regarding necessary protocols.

The standard security protocol is as follows:

1)            Golfers can only travel to and play golf courses in the province in which they live.

2)            Respect the measures in place at the course.

3)            Make reservation through an agent or on-line.

4)            Payment to be made on-line.

5)            Buggies will be single occupancy (some courses may allow spouses to share a buggy if the couple co-habit and have isolated together).

6)            If you use your own trolley disinfect it before and after the game.

7)            Arrive at the course ready to play as changing rooms will be closed.

8)            Don’t congregate in groups at the course.

9)            No hugs, high fives, kisses and handshakes.

10)          Maintain social distancing during the game

11)          Play will be permitted in four balls.

12)          Go direct to the tee 5 minutes before your start time.

13)          Play ready golf and keep your place on the courses as groups can’t be called through.

14)          Don’t touch fountains, benches, toilets and ball cleaners around the course.

15)          No rakes will be available but use feet to leave the bunker in the best condition for those following.

16)          Don’t touch the flag which must remain in the hole and allow gimmies within a standard putter grip length.

17)          Holes will be fitted with a device to stop the ball falling to the bottom of the hole.

18)          Don’t clean your clubs at the course.

19)          It is highly recommended that you go straight from the golf course to your car and then home.

It is recommended that golfers print off the above list and refer to it regularly as they are playing their round.

The golf courses to reopen locally are: Real Club de Golf Campoamor, Villamartín, Las Colinas, Vistabella.

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IN THE BUNKER WITH MICK THE GRIP

I DECIDED NOT TO SHOW a picture of a glorious golf course this time, you’re depressed enough.  Instead this is Augusta National before Bobby Jones and Dr. Alister McKenzie got to work on it.   A talent for design combined with unlimited dollars can work wonders.

Founded in 1932 on the 365-acre site of a former nursery called Fruitland.  Augusta National Golf Club  has hosted the Masters Tournament since 1934.  This April the 300 members had it’s perfect greens and fairways all to themselves, until last week when the course was pronounced closed until further notice.

It always closes from May to October anyway so the members can’t complain.  The chap who can complain will be the owner of the TBones restaurant in Augusta village.  He’s had to cancel his usual Masters Week order for 6,000 pounds of steak!

THE CHARITIES WHO BENEFIT from the The PGA Tour will lose out this year A record $204.3 million was raised in 2019 to bring the all-time total to $3.05 billion.  The Players Championship alone generated $9.25 million in 2019, most of which benefited local children’s charities.

Unlike other professional sports organizations, the PGA TOUR relies on more than 100,000 volunteers annually, and most of  it’s tournaments are structured as non-profit organizations donating 100 percent of net proceeds to charity.  Beneficiaries include hospitals and shelters; youth programmes; and groups that support the military and their families.

Re-scheduled events:The US Open, previously scheduled for 18-21 June at Winged Foot in New York, now 14-20 September.

The Open, due to be played at Royal St George’s from 16-19 July, will now be played in 2021 on the same course,  with the 150th Open to be played at St Andrews in 2022.

The  PGA Championship, scheduled for 14-17 May at Harding Park will now be played 6-9 August.

The Ryder Cup potentially still scheduled for 25-27 September at Whistling Straights, Wisconsin, though not sure how the players are going to qualify.

Augusta National has posted 9-15 November as the revised date for the 2020 Masters Tournament.  However the Augusta National Women’s Amateur has been cancelled.  I should sue for discrimination, girls.

The PGA Tour has outlined plans to financially assist players and caddies, including an advanced-payment based on projected FedExCup earnings.  What a relief for Woods, Mickelson et al.  However, Keith Pelley, European Tour CEO,  told his players that the European Tour is “simply not in a position to do that.”

Pelley also warned that because of the impact of Coronavirus  “The 2021 European Tour schedule  and infrastructure of tournaments could look radically different.  Many of the things you have become accustomed to, such as top-class players’ lounges or courtesy car services will probably assume a different appearance, if indeed they are present at all.”

Possible schedule:  Open played on Municipal Course, Southampton,  Scottish Open played on Bellahouston Pitch and Putt course, Glasgow.  Buses laid on for players from the nearest Travelodge.  Presentation dinner held at McDonalds.  Prizes: Amazon vouchers.

One thing is certain, trying to cram all the rescheduled events into this year and 2021 is going to give both tour organisers a prodigious headache.  Not to mention the Olympics.  I said not to mention the Olympics.

THE 2020 BBC SPORTS AWARDS may not be held this year.  Just as well, they don’t often reflect the actual achievements of Britain’s top sportsmen and women.  If they did Rory McIlroy would have won in 2014 after winning the US Open and PGA Tournament as well as being on the victorious Ryder Cup Team.  He was awarded an MBE, which must have thrilled him.  Still, better than poor Henrik Stenson; in Sweden’s 2017 top sports awards Henrik was voted 2nd to a  horse!

Here’s to Happy Golfing in the not-too-distant future.  Look out for end-of-lockdown special offers.

Contact Mick for re-gripping and repairs.  638 859 475.

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QUALIFYING FOR OLYMPIC GOLF IS EXTENDED TO ACCOUNT FOR 1-YEAR DELAY OF TOKYO2020 OLYMPIC GAMES

The International Golf Federation and International Olympic Committee have announced an adjustment to the qualifying system for the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games to accommodate the new dates of competition in 2021.

In light of the one-year delay, athletes now will accumulate Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR) points through a period ending on 21 June 2021 for the men and 28 June 2021 for the women. The field for both men and women will consist of 60 players.

The OGR is based on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) for men and the Women’s World Golf Rankings (WWGR). On March 20, the Governing Boards of the OWGR and WWGR determined the rankings would be suspended due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. An announcement about the resumption of each respective ranking will be made in due course.

The IGF’s announcement of the revision followed the IOC’s decision to postpone the Olympic Games and its subsequent release of the revised principles for Olympic qualification on 2 April 2020 that included the relaxation of the maximum two-year period and amendments to the qualification deadlines.

The IGF revised the dates within the current qualification system to reflect these new dates and submitted the revised version to the IOC Qualification taskforce for approval.

“Having received from the IOC confirmation of the dates for when the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be held and the qualification principles, the fairest and most equitable way to determine the qualifying athletes was to align the previous qualification system with these new dates,” said Antony Scanlon, IGF Executive Director. “We are pleased that the IOC swiftly approved these changes to provide clarity on this important area.

The IGF will continue to work closely with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 to address the other areas that the postponement of the Games affects our sport and our athletes, to develop the necessary plans to resolve these. We remain fully committed to providing safe and fair golf competitions and a memorable experience for our athletes when these Olympic Games are held in 2021.”

The OGR is calculated as follows: Each tournament earns a strength-of-field rating which determines how many ranking points will be awarded to top finishers.  Points are awarded to players based on their finish positions in each event, with performances in stronger-field events earning more points in accordance with a points distribution table approved by the IGF.

With the revision, ranking points for each player accumulate over a multi-year rolling period with the points awarded in the most recent 13-week period weighted at 100 percent of their original value. After the initial 13-week period, points are devalued by 1.1 percent for each of the next 91 weeks (during which the ranking was not suspended) before they drop entirely off the player’s record.

Each player is then ranked according to his/her average number of points, which is determined by dividing the total number of ranking points she/he has earned by the number of tournaments in which she/he has played during that period. There is a minimum divisor of 35 events for the Women’s OGR while for the Men’s OGR, there is a minimum divisor of 40 events and a maximum divisor of 52 events.

In the event of ties at any of the 60 starting positions, the ties will be broken by the following criteria, in order:

  • Total Official World Golf Ranking points earned in the most recent 52-week period, ending with the Olympic Golf Ranking as of Monday 21 June 2021 for the men and Monday 28 June 2021 for the women.
  • Total Official World Golf Ranking points earned in the most recent 13-week period, ending with the Olympic Golf Ranking as of Monday 21 June 2021 for the men and Monday 28 June 2021 for the women.

The top-15 players at the end of the qualifying period will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top-15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15.

The host country will be guaranteed a spot, as will each of the five continental regions.

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Rory McIlroy hopes the ‘new dynamics’ of the Masters could led to a career Grand Slam

There is no doubt that the US Masters, which should have been played over the Easter weekend but which is now rescheduled for 9-15 November, will have a very different feel to it on a long course that is going to play much longer, in the much cooler Augusta temperatures and on far slower greens because of the additional moisture.

According to RORY McILROY, the Northern Irishman believes that it could also aid his bid to complete the career Grand Slam. He needs just the US Masters to complete his set of Major Championships and he is hoping that he can gain the Green Jacket with victory at Augusta in September.

McIlroy did not add to his Major count in 2019. However, he ended his season by sealing the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour following success in the Tour Championship at East Lake.

The Northern Irishman has shown some good form around Augusta so it is a course he is very comfortable with.

It is the only major that he is yet to win and as a result of the rescheduled date he thinks that the new dynamics could possibly inspire a maiden Augusta victory.

Of course it is not only the Masters that has been affected by the coronavirus lockdown. On March 12, the tour’s main event, The Players Championship, was cancelled mid tournament. A number of other upcoming tournaments also bit the dust as the global pandemic had serious implications in golf, seriously affecting the calendars on both the European Tour and PGA Tour.

Eleven European Tour events were called off in addition to the Open being cancelled, while the other three majors have all been rescheduled for the second half of the year.

Social media can be a wonderful thing as the likes of Rory McIlroy are now able to get much closer to their supporters and to the golfing public. Such outlets can also enable many more live interviews and interactions and as the celebs are able to deal with approaches at times of their own choosing we can also get much more candid interviews and quotes.

Speaking to Michelle Wie on an Instagram with Nike Golf, McIlroy was able to share just why he feels the Masters is so special, saying: ‘The Masters means so much. Obviously it’s the last major for me to win but, putting that aside, it is such a unique place, so many great memories already. Any time you get to play at Augusta is a lot of fun.

‘November is going to be different, very cold, the course could play very long. It plays long already but it can play very long. The greens may not be as fast depending on the moisture.

‘I think it will be a different feel, it’s at the back end of the year. Two of the majors have already been played, hopefully the Ryder Cup’s already been played. People will be in their routine and in the flow a little bit more.

‘I always feel there’s this bit of anticipation going into Augusta, the first big event of the year. There’s all this hype.

‘I don’t think it will feel like that this year, it will feel different but it’s something I’m looking forward to. It’s going to be a different Masters this year but personally, maybe selfishly, that’s what I need to get the jacket.’

Michelle Wie, who at the age of 10, became the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur championship, also asked McIlroy about the Ryder Cup, which will be held at Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisconsin, 22-27 Sept.

‘You’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for your team-mates, you’re playing for your country, you’re playing for a lot of different people,’ McIlroy said.

‘The Ryder Cup is the biggest and most intense atmosphere you can play under. If you can handle it, you can handle being in contention at the majors.’

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IN THE BUNKER WITH MICK THE GRIP

As we can’t watch the Masters this month, just a reminder of what we’re missing.  Amen corner at Augusta.  Sigh!

THE PAR 3 12th AT AUGUST NATIONAL proved critical again last year, opening the door for Tiger Woods to claim his fifth green jacket.  Tiger’s par meant he tied  with Francesco Molinari who double-bogeyed the hole.  It was a turning point in the game. Many players in the last group found water off the tee, Molinari among them.

About the moment, Woods said: “You couldn’t have had more drama than we all had out there. Now I know why I’m balding.  This stuff is hard.”

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD THIS BEFORE:  In June, 1974, Bob Taylor, a Leicestershire County player made a hole-in-one at Hunstanton Golf Club 3 days in a row on the same hole.

Bob was playing in the Eastern Counties Foursomes with the Leicestershire and Rutland County golf team.  This was an annual meeting of nine counties to be played over the weekend in four sessions of sixsomes golf.  Each county pair played two foursome matches at the same time so were actually playing two counties at once in three balls.  Simples.

Anyway, on the Friday afternoon, on the 189 yd. 16th in a practice round, Bob Taylor got out his 2-iron that he had bent to a 1-iron and punched the ball into the stiff breeze.  The ball hit the apron and scampered up the green, unerringly hopping into the hole.  His delighted teammates held a celebration that evening.

In the match on the following afternoon Bob again teed it up on the 16th with his rusty 6 iron and the ball duly pitched onto the green and rolled into the hole.  His incredulous teammates held another celebration, and one bet Bob 25p at odds of a million to one that he wouldn’t do it again the following day.  He did.
On the same hole.  Probably the greatest hole-in-one feat of all time, and no mobile phones to record it!   His only memento was a dozen Titleist balls from the president of the Cambridge Golf Union, and the monument that has been erected on one of the tees.  He never received his  winnings, hope the club waived his  bar tab that weekend.

PETE COWEN:  “Improving at golf is not that big a deal. I can guarantee dramatic improvement from 15 minutes a day, without even using a club. But most people won’t make the commitment.   At a seminar attended recently by 500 Australian club pros. I said, “We  know that exercising 15 minutes every day adds several years to our lives.

Those of you who have spent 15 minutes a day exercising over the last 10 years, raise your hands.” Not a hand went up. I said, “If you won’t commit 15 minutes to lengthening your life, what’s going to make you devote 15 minutes to golf?” The problem comes down to actually doing it.”  There you are folks, nothing else to do at the moment, get those dumbbells out!

AFTER SURGERY ON HIS WRIST Tyrrell Hatton spent an enforced three month layoff drinking red wine and playing Xbox.  He then went straight out and won the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  Perhaps we don’t need to exercise after all.  Tell Tommy Fleetwood to ditch his coach, the secret of winning on the PGA Tour has been resolved.

INTERVIEWED ON US TELEVISION  Paul Azinger said Tommy Fleetwood had yet to prove himself, effectively claiming his European Tour victories counted for little.“You can win all you want on the European Tour but you have to win on the PGA Tour.”

Cue twitter meltdown from Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter among others.  Victorious 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn said:  “Bring on September.”   Let’s hope it’s back to normal by then but it could well be “High Noon”  at Whistling Straights.

No point putting any new gear or tips in this month,  you won’t be using them anyway.

The only really useful golf tip is one given to the starter to get you out ahead of the mixed foursome.

Until next time –  enjoy those re-runs on the box.

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Engström magic seals Women’s NSW Open crown

Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia – Sunday March 1, 2020:

Julia Engström saved her best for last as she made a fantastic birdie two to win her first Ladies European Tour title at the Women’s New South Wales Open at Dubbo Golf Club.

The 18-year-old from Halmstad in southern Sweden began the final round five strokes behind the overnight leader, Manon De Roey, but put up a strong challenge from the outset, eventually drawing level with the leader after the Belgian bogeyed the 17th hole.

Engstrom conjured a piece of magic when she rifled a 5-iron from 176 metres, or 193 yards, to about two feet on the par-3 18th and holed her birdie putt in front of an enormous gallery on a sun-drenched day in Dubbo, rural New South Wales, after De Roey missed the green and took a bogey, handing Engström a two stroke victory on 14-under-par.

The win is the first for the third year professional, who is still studying for two high school exams in Sweden and a sign of things to come from the exceptional talent, who last year was only second in driving distance to Anne Van Dam.

It was also redemption for her loss at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open in December, where she held a seven stroke lead going into the final round, but finished third after a final round of 74.

Engstrom conjured a piece of magic on the 18th
Engstrom conjured a piece of magic on the 18th

“It’s been a great week and I’m just thrilled,” said Engström, the LET Rookie of the Year in 2017. “I bogeyed 18 in all three previous rounds and I decided that this time, I was not going to bogey it and I hit a great shot and I didn’t realise how close it was until I heard the reaction from the crowd. It was amazing and a great finish to a great week.”

De Roey had a shaky start when she pushed her opening drive right into the trees, but she quickly steadied the nerves.

However, a birdie-bogey turnaround on the second hole followed by a second Engström birdie on the third, where she made an up and down from a bunker, cut De Roey’s lead to two strokes.

De Roey jumped back into a four shot lead with a 12 foot birdie putt on the fifth hole, just as Engström made her first mistake, after fluffing a shot from a cart path after a monster drive which almost reached the green.

De Roey bogeyed the sixth but then both she and Engström birdied the long ninth and De Roey was back at 15-under with a three-stroke lead through the turn.

Both players birdied the long 12th, but then De Roey dropped four shots in the last six holes for a 75, as Engström conjured a piece of magic on the last for a 68.

De Roey finished in second, with Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth in third on 11-under-par.

“I tried not to focus on what she was doing and I didn’t know what the others were at, so I was just out there trying to play as well as I could and I played very solid at the end and finished up with a birdie,” said Engström.

“I’ve been close a few times and I’ve been waiting for a win, but you never know if it is going to happen. It’s great to finally get that win and be on top of the leader board.”

With her victory in the Women’s New South Wales Open, following on from a tie for seventh in the Australian Ladies Classic Bonville, Engström moved to the top of the Race to Costa Del Sol leader board and will take extra confidence into the next LET event, the Investec South African Women’s Open, which will take place in Cape Town in a fortnight’s time.

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De Roey Flies into the Lead with Two Eagles

Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia – Friday February 28, 2020: Manon De Roey soared into the halfway lead with an eight-under 64 in the second round at the Women’s New South Wales Open.

At nine-under-par, the long-hitting Belgian golfer moved two strokes clear of her nearest rivals, Diksha Dagar, Camilla Lennarth and Agathe Sauzon, at Dubbo Golf Club in Australia.

“I made two eagles, which definitely helped,” said the 28-year-old from Schilde, in the province of Antwerp.

“Every putt I looked at, I felt like it went in, and it was pretty easy.”

The three-time winner on the LET Access Series started her round with an eagle three on the third hole and went out in 32 with birdies on the par-4 eighth and par-5 ninth holes.

It was a similar story on the back nine, as she then eagled the long 10th, birdied the 12th and bogeyed the 13th, but immediately recovered with a birdie on the short 14th and then made an incredible par save on the narrow and tree-lined 15th before adding another birdie at the 16th for an inward nine of 32.

“I hit my drive on 15 a bit right and had to punch it out and it went into the bunker, but I love bunkers and I don’t stress about bunkers and I made an up and down.

“The key is to hit fairways because the rough is pretty thick and if you miss it by one metre, it’s pretty hard to get it out. I’m not sure how many fairways I hit today, but I managed to get around and took advantage of the par fives.”

Long-hitting Indian golfer, Dagar, who will defend at the Investec South African Women’s Open in a fortnight, also eagled the 10th in a round of 68.

She said: “My approach shots were very good, and my putting. I had a birdie chance on every hole. My driving was slightly off and I missed left and right on a few holes, but my irons were great.”

Lennarth, who earned her sole LET title in the 2014 Slovak Open, was pleased with her 69 on a more difficult scoring day.

The popular Swede said: “It was quite windy when I teed off today and it was pretty tricky to determine if it was south-west or south-east and it was swirling up in the trees and it’s narrow. Sometimes the trees come out a bit and you want to start it into the middle of a tree and bring it in. If you have a good iron game and overall ball striking, I think you can keep expecting some low scores because the greens are quite receptive.

“It’s been a while for me since I’ve played well. I did have some good rounds in Spain at the end of last year, but it wasn’t a very good year for me. I haven’t been in this position for a while, so I’m expecting a few nerves, but I’m excited to be in this group and position and I’m going to do my absolute best tomorrow and then see where I am.”

Sauzon set the target earlier in the day, with a five-under-par 67.

The 28-year-old from Bourg-lès-Valence in south-eastern France, who studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said that her first bogey on 11 spurred her on to make three birdies in a row from the 13th.

“I’m really pleased with how I played. I hit some really good shots close to the pin and made the putts. Yesterday I didn’t make the putts. Today they went in, so it was a good round.”

Although this is her fourth time in Australia, it is her first visit to Dubbo and she said that the course is the narrowest she has ever played on.

“We had one tight course in Spain last year, but I think this one is a lot narrower.”

Julia Engstrom was also at seven-under but bogeyed the last hole to drop into a tie for fifth alongside Michele Thomson.

Thomson said: “My putting was great again today. I probably didn’t hit my irons as well as yesterday but when the putter is working it helps you to get up and down when you need to and the driving was good as well today. I probably missed a few fairways that I didn’t yesterday, but not by much. Overall, I’m playing solid.”

The 2018 and 2019 champion, Meghan MacLaren, finished just inside the projected cut line, on five-under-par after rounds of 75 and 74.

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Scottish pair lead at Women’s New South Wales Open

Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia – Thursday February 27, 2020: Aberdeen duo Gemma Dryburgh and Michele Thomson share a one-shot lead after a pair of five-under-par 67s in the first round of the Women’s New South Wales Open.

Thomson set the mark with six birdies – including five on the front nine – before finishing with a bogey on the short 18th hole at Dubbo Golf Club, a challenging course situated on the western banks of the Macquarie River.

Dryburgh, who went out in 34, came back in 33 with three birdies in her last six holes on a warm and sunny afternoon.

Thomson, whose best finish on the LET was second in the 2017 Hero Women’s Indian Open, said: “It was pretty steady. I hit a lot of fairways and greens and holed some really nice putts, so it was quite enjoyable.

Michele_Thomson

“It was nice to feel that the driver was going to go straight, because you’re looking around about you and there are a lot of people who are not finding the fairway. I just wanted to give myself chances and that’s what I did.

“The fairways are tough. You think you’re in the perfect spot but they will run out into the rough. I managed to find a few today, which definitely helped.

“I’d love another three five-unders. I’ve just got to keep going, keep my nose in front and let’s see what happens on Sunday.”

Thomson has her father, Graham, serving as her caddie in Australia and she enjoys having him on the bag.

“Like with any father daughter relationship, he can get on my nerves occasionally, but he’s doing really well and it’s really hot here and he’s carrying the tour bag, so he’s doing a great job,” she said.

Dryburgh, who won the Oatlands Pro-Am on the ALPG Tour in 2017, is second on the LET’s Race to Costa Del Sol after her career-best fourth place finish in the Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic Bonville last week and could move into pole position this week, as top-ranked Linnea Strom is not playing.

She said: “I hit my driver quite well. I only hit eight fairways, which is quite low usually, but the fairways are very narrow here, so it was a good day off the tee, and I made a lot of putts as well. I was seeing the breaks really well.

“My putting has been improving and that’s been the missing piece over the last couple of years, so it’s nice to see the putts going in and hopefully they continue to do so for the next three days.”

The Scottish pair lead ahead of Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth and Germany’s Olivia Cowan, with Swede Julia Engström, India’s Diksha Dagar and Australian Breanna Gill a stroke further back.

Last year’s LET order of merit winner Esther Henseleit from Germany, Beth Allen from the United States, England’s Holly Clyburn, Agathe Sauzon from France and Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul, making her first start on the LET as a professional, are tied for eighth place on two-under-par.

The tournament continues from 7.15am on Friday. Entrance is free for spectators and all are welcome to attend.

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Focus on legendary golf star Seve Ballesteros

  • In Part 2 of Spain late legendary golf star Seve Ballesteros’ career Andrew Atkinson returns to the 1979 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes and to where it all began in his hometown of Pedreña, in the northern coastal region of Cantabria.

“Severiano Ballesteros was like a racehorse; he loved to have the bit in his mouth and to take off and run.  Seve was a great frontrunner, because he played without fear, or so it seemed” – Hale Irwin.

Ballesteros, one of four boys, grew up in the hills above Pedreña, sleeping in a bedroom above livestock stables in a house built by his great-grandparents in the 1880s.

Seve played a role in looking after the family’s 14 milking cows, while his mother, Carmen, ran the household and tended gardens. His father Baldomero fished and worked the land. A simple life.

Pedreña was like the St Andrews of Spain during Seve’s youth. In Pedreña everyone played golf – a pastime in bars – and it became a way of life for him.

Pedreña is situated across the bay from Santander, in waters that evokes San Francisco, where the Spanish Royal family went on vacation at the Palacio de La Magdalena.

King Alfonso XIII was a keen golfer, and ordained a golf course to be designed – for his holidays – at a price. In Pedreña almost 300 small farms, including the one owned by Seve’s maternal grandfather, surrendered their land.

Real Golf Club de Pedreña opened in 1928, with the King serving as an Honorary President. Seve’s home was within driving range of the course, so much so, he hit balls from their sloping front yard down the hill and over a rock wall to the second green!

Seve, aged six, along with his brothers, caddied at the club where the head professional was their maternal uncle Ramón Sota, a player who tied sixth at the 1965 Masters.

Seve Ballesteros died, aged 54, in 2011, of a cancerous brain tumor
Seve Ballesteros died, aged 54, in 2011, of a cancerous brain tumor

In his youth Seve was handed down a 3-iron head and scavenged for sticks, jamming them into the head, prior to soaking the makeshift shaft to swell the wood, to fit tighter within the hosel. The shaft often lasted a couple of days – before snapping.

Caddies were allowed to play Real Pedreña once annually, and Seve took the opportunity with purloined balls, creating his own course. Seve even played in moonlight!

He tied handkerchiefs onto branches and planted them into the ground. Seve repeated the format, making holes in a meadow in the hills, and on the beach near the marina in Pedreña. Seve also ventured to nearby Somo beach, surrounded by scrubby dunes – similar to what he encountered at Royal Lytham.

Seve said: “It was a very strange experience to walk around a golf course at night, because all the reference points that help estimate distances vanished.

“I knew where the shot was heading from the way my hands felt the hit and from the sound the ball made when it hit the ground. By practicing at night I learned to feel the grass under my feet, to measure distances intuitively and adjust the power of the strokes I wanted to make.”

Aged 10, Seve finished second in his flight in Real Pedreña’s caddie tournament. Aged 12 he shot 79, to win.

Dubbed a ‘magician and a special talent’ club stewards allowed Seve unlimited playing privileges.

Seve joined his brother Manuel on the Euro tour in 1974, aged 16, sponsored by a wealthy Madrid physician. In 1976 Seve played in the Open Championship.

In 1979 Seve won the Open Championship – with commentary rallied to Pedreña, via phone. Their own village boy had won the biggest tournament in the world.

The headquarters of the Seve Ballesteros Foundation are in Santander, where the airport is named after him.

In situ in a park in Pedreña a faux-Swilcan Bridge and bronze statue captures Seve’s iconic fist-pump that followed his victorious birdie on the 72nd final hole of the 1984 Open Championship, at the Old Course.

Seve Ballesteros died, aged 54, in 2011, of a cancerous brain tumor. At the family home in Pedreña, Seve’s son Miguel, said: “When we are here it allows us to feel closer to my dad.”

At Real Pedreña’s annual Campeonato de Caddies, Seve, in all black, aged 13. COVER PHOTO: COURTESY THE BALLESTEROS FAMILY

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