Daly reveals apparent suspension

On January 7, 2009 by

It will come as no real surprise to golf fans that controversial player, John Daly, has created more drama by revealing that he is currently serving a ban from the PGA Tour for inappropriate behaviour.

Although the PGA Tour has remained firm in its policy not to talk about any sanctions or bans imposed upon individuals, the player himself has stated that he has been banned for a total of six months for behaving in a manner which brings the image of the sport into disrepute.

He revealed that he had chosen to speak about the ban in order to remain truthful to his fans and the tournament organisers who may be affected by his absence. The player has not been present on the Tour since October of last year and he has now revealed that he is feeling “the lowest” he has ever been.

It is thought that Daly’s suspension has resulted from four incidents which occurred during the latter stages of last year. One such incident saw police officers in North Carolina take the player into custody after he was found drunk outside a restaurant.

Daly is no stranger to controversy but Bud Martin, his agent, believes that he now has the potential to turn over a new leaf. Martin stated that Daly’s New Year’s resolution is to “make positive things happen on the golf course”.

John Daly has stated that he remains unsure as to when the suspension will end but he is hopeful that the end date will be around May.

Woods keen to play down caddie controversy

On January 5, 2009 by

Earlier this month, it seemed as if trouble was brewing in Tiger Woods’ world. After all, his caddie, Steve Williams, made negative remarks about Phil Mickelson and even implicated Woods in these controversial comments.

However, Woods has managed to play down the incident and avoid major controversy by taking no formal action against Williams. The incident started when Williams, who has been a reliable caddie for Woods for many years, stated that neither he nor Woods liked Mickelson.

This embarrassing episode was dealt with by Woods in a typically private fashion, with talks occurring behind closed doors between Woods and Mickelson, and Woods and Williams.

He was refreshingly honest about the incident, stating that the comments from his caddie were entirely “inappropriate” but was also keen to stress that the incident has been “discussed and dealt with”.

Woods continued to state that, despite the comments from Williams, he has always respected Mickelson, who is currently ranked at number three in the world, whilst Woods inhabits the top spot.

Woods believes that the issue has been dealt with but others are not so sure. Mickelson’s reaction to the incident was to praise his own caddie, Jim Mackay, implicitly criticising the services of Steve Williams in the process.

Furthermore, the former coach of the world number one, Butch Harmon, has spoken out in public against Williams, calling his comments “deplorable”. He also revealed that Mickelson is one of the most popular players in the world of golf and so could not understand why the comments had been made.

Pavin named Ryder Cup captain

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The former US Open champion, Corey Pavin, has been named as captain of the United States Ryder Cup team for the 2010 tournament, which will be held in Wales at Celtic Manor.

The player has some experience in the role of a leader, since he acted as Tom Lehman’s assistant two years ago at the K Club in Ireland. Pavin will be hoping to turn the fortunes of the American team in Europe around once he takes charge, since they have not won on the continent since 1993.

Pavin still remembers this victory, since he was an instrumental part of the successful team. The player, who has revealed that becoming captain of the Ryder Cup team is a “dream come true”, will hope to mirror the fortunes of Paul Azinger, who managed to lead the American team to victory over the European team in September.

Azinger could not be persuaded to continue his role as captain but Pavin is undoubtedly a sensible choice. The player, who is forty-nine years of age, was ecstatic at the news, since the tournament, which in his opinion is “the greatest event in the world”, is in his “blood”.

Pavin’s golfing career has been a long one but he still remembers his debut in the Ryder Cup in 1991. He reflected upon this clash in an emotional manner, stating that “listening to the national anthem, experiencing the pressure for the first time” reinforced his love for the competition and made him hungry for future success.

Harrington desperate for US Open success

On December 11, 2008 by

The Irish golfing legend, Padraig Harrington, has spoken of his ambition to win the US Masters next year. The tournament will be held in April and the golfer, who has won both the Open and the USPGA during an extremely successful year, has announced that he is going to alter his game slightly in order for his title bid to be as strong as possible.

These alterations will primarily be made to his swing, but he says he also has “some serious gym work to do” over the coming months.

Fans of Harrington, who is thirty-seven years of age, may be surprised that the successful Irishman has been so outspoken about needing to make changes to his game. However, the golfer explained that as soon as he thinks his game can no longer be improved, he will make the tough decision to retire from the sport.

Such a decision would be an extremely shocking one, particularly given the recent form of Harrington. He successfully defended his Open title earlier this year and followed this impressive victory with a USPGA win.

Harrington was the first European player to be awarded with the USPGA for over seventy years. He was handed the European Tour Golfer of the Year award for the second year in a row in recognition of these two achievements.

Nobody had any cause for complaint with regards to this award, despite serious competition from Robert Karlsson. The Swede humbly announced that “there is no doubt that Padraig is Golfer of the Year”.

Daly escapes action over camera tantrum

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John Daly will escape official action after throwing a camera belonging to a spectator at a tree after a frustrating start to the Australian Open. The player was making preparations for an important shot after hitting a poor shot on the ninth.

Whilst standing near some trees, a keen golfing fan, Brad Clegg, started to take photos of the two-time major winner. This did not go down too well with Daly to say the least. Whilst we are not surprised to see golf players mouthing off after a poor shot or interference from the crowd, Daly’s actions did prove to be fairly shocking.

He grabbed the camera away from Clegg and smashed it against a nearby tree. Verbal complaints were not absent either, with the player complaining about Clegg’s actions rather loudly.

The player was annoyed that the flash made his eyes burn and was irritated that a member of the viewing public felt it appropriate to invade his personal space by putting “a camera that close”. Whilst throwing the camera against the tree, the enraged golf player sarcastically stated that he would buy Clegg a new camera if he really wanted it back.

The day did not get much better for Daly, who stormed away from the golf course in a rather rude manner after signing his card. He bogeyed the ninth hole and finished with a six-over-par, whilst Clegg was left searching frantically for his camera.

Clegg took the action in good humour, revealing that he would not be asking for compensation from Daly, since he is “a big bloke”! Clegg did believe that his actions were not “unreasonable” but conceded that they were slightly “bold”.

Daly has been involved in similar incidents during his career. He was fined six years ago whilst in Australia after throwing his equipment in a lake and subsequently refusing to sign his scorecard.

Inside a Super Golf Ball

On December 8, 2008 by

The British government spends an average of £4,000 a year on golf balls, many of which are used as corporate gifts for Chinese ambassadors, American presidents, and Taiwanese business men.

Barack Obama might appreciate a new bucket of personalised white balls for his birthday but there isn’t a working class man alive who would condone the use of taxpayers’ money for a weekend frolic on the green.

Nevertheless, the giving of golf balls at corporate events only serves to highlight the true scale of the golf industry and the importance that governments and the general public alike attach to the game.

Nike, Titleist, Srixon, and dozens of other companies plough millions of pounds a year into research and design but many scientists agree that the construction of golf balls and the orientation of the dimples on the outer skin can attribute their existence to aesthetics rather than their technological prowess.

Scientists at the University of Maryland have commandeered several super-computers in an effort to create the perfect golf ball. Professor Elias Balaras, the head of the project, hopes to build an aerodynamic ‘ultra-long’ golf ball that could grant even the most club-fisted golfer the drive of Tiger Woods.

Dimples deflect air currents when the ball is in flight, and whilst the United States Golf Association (USGA) regulates the size and overall shape of a golf ball, the pattern of dimples is exempt from all administration. This means that scientists have room to experiment during both casual play and competition.

Golf balls can travel in excess of 160mph depending on the ability of the golfer. Much like javelins, stealth bombers, and footballs, aerodynamic design is all-important if a golf ball is to excel at its purpose.

Professor Balaras’ team is charged with determining the flow of air around a golf ball and the extent to which backspin affects flight speed.

“Gravity constantly pulls the ball towards the ground while the aerodynamic force in the direction of motion, or drag force, dictates the distance it travels”, the finished thesis explains, “dimpled golf balls experience about half the drag as those with no dimples.”

There are approximately 60 million golfers in the world, 4 million of which live in the United Kingdom. Boffins estimate that the golf ball industry alone – excluding clubs and kitschy coloured trousers – is worth over a billion pounds.

Figures aside, Professor Balaras’ new golf ball is set to revolutionise world golf. Amateurs who have struggled to hit the ball further than they can throw it will find themselves hitting for 150 or even 200 yards.

The thesis, entitled ‘Direct Numerical Simulations of the Flow around a Golf Ball: Effect of Rotation’, was presented at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics. Unfortunately, all of the scientists involved with the research have admitted that their super golf ball will not see the light of day for a good few years yet.

Swedes seal golfing World Cup victory

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Last weekend, Sweden managed to secure an exciting golfing World Cup win at Mission Hills in China, a tournament at which the English pair, Ross Fisher and Ian Poulter, only managed to finish in sixth place, a total of twelve shots off the pace.

The impressive Swedish pairing of Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson fought back from a deficit of three shots to beat the challenge posed by Spain’s team of Pablo Larrazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Karlsson and Stenson scored a nine-under 63 to secure their position ahead of the Spaniards, whilst Japan and Australia finished in joint third position.

Scotland, which was being represented by Colin Montgomerie, finished in an extremely disappointing nineteenth position. Even Ireland, who put on an awful performance at times during the tournament, managed to finish ahead of Scotland, in sixteenth place.

The final day of the tournament was extremely exciting and the conclusion was very tight. Sweden had arrived at Mission Hills as favourites and they started the final day four points behind the Spanish pair, who had been in impressive form. Several early birdies from Karlsson and Stenson saw them leap up the overall leader board and they finished on twenty-seven-under.

Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson were ecstatic after the victory, which was Sweden’s second World Cup success following the 1991 win in Rome. Stenson revealed his belief that it was the natural turn of the Swedes to triumph and it was “nice to win this one”. He was keen to recognise the heritage of the Swedish golfing scene and announced his pride at succeeding on behalf of his country.

LPGA feels impact of credit crunch

On November 20, 2008 by

It is not just the pockets of homeowners in the United Kingdom which have been affected by the current global financial crisis. Even the big names in the world of sport have been negatively impacted upon, with certain football clubs announcing that they will need to sell players before they can make any purchases in the January transfer window. Now, it seems as if the world of golf has been affected by the credit crunch.

The LPGA has announced that it has been forced to drop four tournaments previously planned for 2009. The tournaments which have been slashed are the ADT Championship, the Safeway International, the Fields Open, and the Ginn Tribute. Furthermore, the official prize money will have to be reduced as a result of financial constraints.

The Tour commissioner, Carolyn Bivens, believes that the golfing world will see a “slightly different tournament landscape” next year. This worrying news was simply compounded by the revelation that future tournaments may also be affected, as nobody is sure how the economy “will really perform in 2009, much less in 2010”.

Earlier this month, the Ladies’ European Tour revealed that it would have to cancel the Indian Masters as a result of the credit crunch. This event would have been held at the beginning of December but the Tour executive director, Alexandra Armas, stated that it was no longer viable after the global economic downturn.

The Tour next year is set to start in February in Hawaii with the SBS Open at Turtle Bay. The Tour will end in Texas with the Tour Championship.

Poulter and Kim in Club Fiasco

On November 17, 2008 by

US golfer, Anthony Kim, has been disqualified from the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, China, for attempting to play with a damaged driver.

The world number eight explained that the club clipped a sprinkler head whilst he was walking down the fairway: “I wasn’t angry or anything. The toe hit the sprinkler. It looked a little bit different but I wasn’t sure.”

The rules of golf (specifically rule 4-3b) state that clubs damaged outside the normal course of play must not be used or replaced, and that any player seen to be doing so will be immediately disqualified.

The HSBC Champions tournament is the first time that Kim has taken part in the European tour (the American is trying to broaden his horizons) and he is understandably disappointed with the ruling. Kim will still be eligible for the Dubai World Championships provided that he can continue to compete throughout the rest of the series.

Ian Poulter was also punished by the golfing gods. The Englishman had his Ryder Cup driver stolen from his bag during the early stages of the competition and has been forced to withdraw from the Singapore Open as a result. He is said to be "gutted" with the turn of events. A reward fund has been set up for the club but the thief has yet to be caught.

Ian Poulter was famously ‘body-checked’ by Anthony Kim at the Ryder Cup and will be disappointed at missing a chance to compete against the American when play resumes in Singapore on Thursday.

Perfect golf swing revealed

On November 13, 2008 by

Even the shortest game of golf can be incredibly frustrating for players of all abilities and levels of experience. If there is something just slightly wrong with your golf swing and general technique, the ball will not move in the intended manner or direction and you may end up chasing through woods and wading through lakes to locate your stray ball.

As with all sports, there is a very important scientific element to a game of golf. It is no good simply shutting your eyes, swinging the golf club wildly through the air, and hoping for the best. This week, news has emerged which will come as music to the ears of all golfers. Robin Sharp, an engineer at the University of Surrey, believes that he has found the secret behind the perfect golf swing.

This secret has been uncovered after many years of intense research. Sharp based his research on a model in which a golfer uses just three main points of rotation, located in the shoulders in relation to the spine, the arms in relation to the shoulders, and the wrists in relation to the arms.

The engineer’s work began by constructing a computer model which allowed an accurate study of the swing styles of three legends in the world of golf: Bernard Hunt, Geoffrey Hunt, and Guy Wolstenholme. Their swings were measured in 1968 using innovative high-speed photography.

The golfing world has long been aware of the importance of timing rotations in relation to one another. Timing the rotations to perfection will allow the golfer to achieve a long and accurate drive. However, until this week, nobody has been able to describe these timings in any detail or explain precisely how the power of a golf swing builds up during the movement.

Sharp’s reliance upon the rotation model has allowed him to discover that golfers should not use full power at the beginning of the golf swing. Rather, power should be built up quickly during a later stage of the movement. Furthermore, Sharp has found that the wrists do not play such an important part in the outcome of the swing as was first thought. Rather, maintaining strict control of the arms appears to be the fundamental feature of a successful swing.

Sharp’s model, constructed with the help of the three professional golfers from 1968, has shown that the club-head speed, and subsequent distance of the drive, could be improved by increasing the torque suddenly and maintaining this power through the resultant movement of the golf swing. The engineer found that “generating too much arm speed too soon” results in an “early release”. This early release leads to the club-head reaching its top speed prior to the point of contact with the ball.

Sharp has tried to put the results of his research into language that can be understood by casual golfers. He explains that the “optimal strategy” starts with hitting with the shoulders whilst holding back and maintaining control over the arms and wrists. After a short delay, golfers should hit through the swing with the arms. When the swing is released, the wrists should subsequently hit through.

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