Monday, July 25, 2011

Luke Donald wins the Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup

What are the chances of this being the headline on the 11th of December at the conclusion of the Race to Dubai, following the Dubai World Championship?  Given the performance of Luke Donald during 2011 there is a reasonably strong possibility of him winning both the Race to Dubai, previously known as the European Tour Order of Merit, and the FedEx Cup, the culmination of the PGA Tour.

As of the time of writing this article, Luke Donald was well ahead in the Race to Dubai rankings, with a lead of € 1.2 million over Charl Schwartzel (after the Nordea Masters in Sweden).  He is currently fifth in the race for the FedEx Cup (after the completion of the RBC Canadian Open).

Victory in the Race to Dubai is all but assured.  So Luke just needs a strong showing in the playoffs of the PGA Tour to capture the FedEx Cup.  That would make the first time in history that one player has captured both the Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup in one season.

What a remarkable achievement that would be.  I certainly hope that Luke Donald achieves this goal.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review – 2011 Open Championship

Well the Open Championship has come and gone for another year.  Despite the weather, the organizers pulled of yet another successful staging of golf’s third major of the year.  CONGRATULATIONS to Darren Clarke for a GREAT victory.  Who would have thought that there would be three different players from Northern Ireland as the five most recent major winners?  So my prediction was a little off in terms of the overall winner, but at least I got the country of origin of the winner correct. J  Also I was pleased to see yet another major winner from the European Tour, despite a strong showing from Phil Mickelson during the early stages of the round yesterday.

However, I was most disappointed to see most of the favored players eliminated by means of the cut.  I find it strange that the cut would come with a difference of just eight strokes between the leader and the first group of golfers eliminated.  As was shown by Phil Mickelson during the first 10 holes yesterday, it is very possible to make up four or five strokes (or even six in his case) in a day, yet the tournament organizers chose to eliminate most of the better known players by means of the cut.  I think specifically of Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Ross Fisher, Padraig Harrington and Peter Hanson who were all eliminated by the cut on +4.  Sure, everyone knows the rules when they enter the Championship but I fail to understand why players within 10 strokes of the leader/s are not included in the final field for the weekend.  Certainly in such a case there is a potential for a large field during the final rounds, but then why not have a second cut after the third round?

Congratulations go to South African golfer George Coetzee who finished in 15th position.  I am pleased to have picked him for my European Tour Fantasy Team this week.  But who would have picked George Coetzee to be the leading South African at the 140th Open Championship?  Very few people I am sure.  I for one will be watching with interest as his career progresses.

I am now looking forward to the 93rd PGA Championship in August, to be held at the Atlanta Athletic Club.  I was at the front entrance to the Atlanta Athletic Club’s Eastlake Golf Club (the permanent home of the Tour Championship that decides the FedEx Cup) on my drive from Atlanta to Augusta for the US Masters.  Unfortunately I could not get into the golf course to visit their ProShop and neither was there a sign at the entrance in front of which I could stand to at least have a photo at the location.  I am hoping that during the PGA Championship my Fantasy Team will not be obliterated like it was during the Open Championship J.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Predictions: The 2011 Open Championship

Well it’s that time of the year again – the Open Championship.  Having attended the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews I am excited to see yet another installment of this great event.  I suspect the spectators have already made a serious dent into the stock at the Merchandising Pavilion, having stocked up with hats, balls, ball markers, etc… (all the same items that I stocked up with at the 2010 Open Championship).  Perhaps they have even secured the autographs of a few of their favorite players, like I was able to do in 2010 with the autograph of Sir Nick Faldo on my 2010 Open Championship flag.

So what is my prediction for the Open Championship?  I, like many others, favor Rory McIlroy to be the winner.  At the beginning of 2011 I picked him to win a major this year, though did not record this anywhere.  So even though his win at the US Open fulfilled my prediction, that prediction is not recorded before the year’s majors.  It’s always possible to have 20 / 20 hindsight so now I record my predictions for the 2011 Open Championship.  So I say come Sunday evening it will be Rory that will be the 2011 Open Champion.

As part of my European Tour Fantasy Team for the Open Championship you may be surprised to hear that I have selected neither Louis Oosthuizen, the defending Open Champion, nor Charl Schwartzel, the US Masters Champion.  I do, however, have three other South Africans in my team for this week – Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and George Coetzee.  I have not included Louis – I have a feeling he will miss the cut this week.  He has nothing to prove having won the Open Championship in the past.  Also with Charl playing mainly on the US PGA Tour and not having played much links golf recently I have a feeling he will either miss the cut or be low down in the field.  Not that I would wish that to be the case – it’s just the way I chose to make my team selections this week.

However, George Coetzee, an up and coming South African golfer, has been playing really well over the past few weeks.  He was tied for third at the Barclays Scottish Open this past week, and had a good week before that as well.  Having had good practice on the links course at Castle Stuart, and being in good form recently, I chose to include him in my Fantasy Team this week.

For the record, my full Fantasy Team this week are:  Ernie Els (has won the Open Championship in the past and his weekly diary says he enjoys links golf), Retief Goosen (South African, played lots of links golf in the past and finished tied 10th in the previous Open Championship held at this course), Martin Kaymer (World Number 3), Rory McIlroy (mentioned above), Graeme McDowell (World Number 9, has played extensive links golf), Lee Westwood (World Number 2 – he is certainly due a major victory), Edoardo Molinari, Ross Fisher, Padraig Harrington (previous winner of the Open Championship, and he had a good week at Castle Stuart), Peter Hanson (generally a member of my Fantasy Team), Paul Casey (not usually in my Fantasy Team, but he played really well in the 2010 Open Championship so I believe he has a thing to prove), Luke Donald (who would be so brave as to omit the World Number 1 and the winner at Castle Stuart?), Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia (his form has improved a great deal recently) and George Coetzee (mentioned above).

GOOD LUCK to all European Tour Players – let’s hope this major will be the sixth major in a row won by a member of the European Tour (the last major won by a member of the US PGA Tour was the 2010 US Masters won by Phil Mickelson).  I look forward to seeing a member of the European Tour holding aloft the claret jug as winner of the 2011 Open Champion at Royal St Georges.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Huxley Associates Golf Days

I have been fortunate to attend all four of the Huxley Associates Golf days held to date.  Huxley Associates is an international recruitment consultancy operating in the Middle East, Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia.  From their Dubai office they provide bespoke recruitment services to the following sectors: I) Banking and Finance, II) Energy and Natural Resources, III) Engineering, IV) Human Resources, V) IT and VI) Legal.

The golf days provide an excellent networking opportunity for high-ranking business professionals based across the United Arab Emirates, not only on the golf course but at the lunch arranged afterwards.  The events are always well attended and I for one look forward to the events months in advance.  The golf days are expertly organized, with a smattering of professionals across industry lines in attendance.  Huxley Associates go out of their way to ensure that the weather always performs to its peak as well.  J

As they say, ‘a bad day on the golf course is always better than a good day in the office’.  I look forward to being invited to attend Huxley Associates golf days going forward, and to meeting my fellow golfing colleagues.  In addition, I look forward to working with Huxley Associates again in the future should the opportunity present itself.  If you are looking for a recruitment consulting firm operating in the above-mentioned areas of expertise, please feel free to contact Huxley Associates.

NOTE:  I work too with other recruiting firms, though have yet to partake in any of their golf days (not sure whether they even arrange golf days).

At the Huxley Associates Golf Day of 2 June 2011, held at the Jumeirah Golf Estates (Fire Course)