Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Predictions: The 2011 PGA Championship

After a great golfing year so far in 2011, the final major is upon us, the 93rd PGA Championship, taking place at the Atlanta Athletic Club.  Given that 98 of the top 100 players in the world are in the field, or so I heard on CNN the other night, it should be a fantastic tournament.  I was pleased to visit the Atlanta Athletic Club when I drove from Atlanta to Augusta for the US Masters (details here) earlier this year, though I was unable to gain access to the grounds.

I have really struggled to put together my Fantasy Team this week.  With there being so many quality players in the field, having to choose just 15 European golfers proved quite the challenge.  I finally settled on Donald, Fisher, Garcia, Hansen, Hanson, Karlsson, Kaymer, Manassero, McDowell, McIlroy, Molinari, Noren, Rose, Schwartzel, and Westwood.  Unfortunately I had to leave out Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuisen and Retief Goosen, three great South African golfers.  With there being so many other great players in the field this week, choices had to be made.  I am always reluctant to leave South African golfers out of my Fantasy Team, thereby creating a conflict between wanting all South Africans to do well, yet to the detriment of my Fantasy Team.

However, with that having been said, I would dearly like to see Ernie add a PGA Championship to his victories, leaving him just the US Masters to complete a career Grand Slam.  Or how about Louis adding to his 2010 Open Championship, or Retief adding to his 2001 and 2004 US Open Championships, or Trevor Immelman adding to his 2008 US Masters victory?  Even Thomas Aiken has had a good year so far and cannot be ruled out for a good performance this week.  My Fantasy Team for the week is here if you are interested (that this link updates each week as changes are made during the course of the season).

So who do I predict will win this week?  I have a good feeling for Robert Karlsson – he is the winner of the 2010 Race to Dubai and has been playing quite well recently.  Otherwise I am quite happy for another player on the European Tour to claim victory, and so much the better if they are part of my Fantasy Team.  Certainly Luke Donald and Lee Westwood deserve a major, and it would be no surprise if they finally achieved that during the final major of the year.  Ideally the winner will be a player from the ISM stable, allowing Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler to win all four majors in 2011.  I would like to see a member of European Tour claim a 7th consecutive major victory, allowing for a clean sweep of majors in 2011, and highlighting the powerful position in which European golf finds itself right now.

Here’s hoping for a most enjoyable 93rd PGA Championship.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tournament of Hope – South Africa


The Tournament of Hope is a golf tournament proposed to take place in South Africa.  It is planned to occur annually starting in 2012.  The Tournament of Hope will be the fifth World Golf Championship event with a planned purse of USD 10 million.  At its announcement in April 2011 it was richer than any other golf event in the world, even beating the Dubai World Championship in terms of prize money.  The initial contract for the tournament is five years.  This would be the second active World Golf Championships event outside the United States, with the only other one being the HSBC Champions is held in China.

The World Golf Championship events are currently I) The Accenture World Matchplay, II) The Cadillac Championship, III) The Bridgestone Invitational and IV) The HSBC Champions (held in China).

As it is currently planned, the Tournament of Hope will conflict with the Chevron World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods as well as the Nedbank Golf Challenge (previously the Million Dollar Golf Challenge) held at Sun City each year.

Source:  Wikipedia


Do I think the event will be a success?  Certainly the event will be the highlight of the South African golfing calendar.  It will definitely attract a great number of the world’s greatest golfers.  I have never quite figured out why the Nedbank Golf Challenge only has 12 players in the field.  Perhaps having another more prestigious tournament around the same time will encourage more golfers to visit South Africa around early December.

My comments with respect to the timing of the tournament are as follows:

ONE:  It is planned to be held in early December each year.  This is the time of the year when golfers would prefer to take a Christmas vacation with their families, especially since the PGA season will be well over by that time of the year and the FedEx Cup will have long been decided.  I strongly suspect that many golfers, particularly those based in the United States, will be unlikely to want to travel to South Africa for the tournament.  Sure, South Africa has some fantastic weather at that time of the year.  But why would golfers travel all the way from the United States, just for a four-day event, when they could spend time with their families after a long PGA tour season, and when they could be preparing for the season opening events in Hawaii?

TWO:  As of 2011, the Race to Dubai only wraps up on the 11th of December.  This may conflict with the Tournament of Hope from 2012 unless either the Race to Dubai or the Tournament of Hope changes its date.

THREE:  The first events of the European Tour season take place in South Africa, with the Alfred Dunhill Championship, the South African Open Championship, the Africa Open and the Jo’burg Open each taking place between early December and mid-January.  This should encourage more players from Europe to travel to South Africa.  But it seems that one of the tournaments may have to be moved or canceled depending on how the Tournament of Hope can be slotted in.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I suspect that the Tournament of Hope will mainly attract players from the European Tour.  I expect that players on the PGA Tour will be unwilling to travel to South Africa for the event.  With the amount of prize money of offer, I do, however, expect that the Tournament of Hope will be a success and a GREAT reflection on the ability of South Africa to host yet another world-class event.