ON August 15, 1983, the great Seve Ballesteros struck a magnificent tee shot at the 11th hole of Cork Golf Club which still resonates with all at Little Island.
It was the day after the Spanish maestro captured the first of his three Irish Opens at Royal Dublin. He was at the peak of his considerable powers and probably the most charismatic sportsman in the world at the time.
Seve, renowned for playing just about every shot in the book and some that never found their way into any golf manual, displayed his full array of talents to a fascinated audience on that memorable day.
Blindfold him? No problem. Play from a kneeling position? Chicken feed! And when he lined up against Liam Higgins, a Little Island native and at the time one of the longest hitters in the game, Seve performed as spectacularly as all expected, but most especially at the par five 11th where he lashed the ball a meticulously measured 332 metres down the fairway.
That mightn’t sound such a big deal today but it must be borne in mind that the equipment the players used three decades ago was light years behind the high tech apparatus that have revolutionised the game in recent times.
To ensure the achievement would never be forgotten, a Spanish chestnut tree was planted opposite the point where the ball came to rest and has flourished over the years. Incidentally, it is now proving a serious obstacle for those who stray from the straight and narrow.
Cork Golf Club are also celebrating their 125th anniversary this year and Seve’s famous shot will be one of four aspects to be highlighted during an exhibition of artefacts to go on show in the clubhouse next month (August 11th-26th).
It will feature a club history and will be opened by Roddy Carr, the former Walker Cup and European Tour professional, and Seve’s one-time manager.
The perfectly maintained scrapbooks of Jimmy Bruen displayed in a mounted cabinet promise to be one of the most interesting items on display while Alister MacKenzie’s presence at Little Island in 1926 will also capture the imagination of golfing enthusiasts.
Former captain, Robin Turnbull, has unearthed a considerable amount of new information concerning MacKenzie and the club history in general with the 125 year anniversary also set to be marked by the “125 Pro-Am” on August 12th, a members’ Am-Am on August 31st and gala evening with a mixed team event on the following day.
Even rankings will soon catch up with McIlroy’s fall
Rafa Nadal recently won the French Open and the world ranking system immediately pushed him out from fourth to fifth. But such bizarreness isn’t confined to tennis as anyone scratching their heads at Rory McIlroy’s status as second in the global golf ladder will agree.
You would need to be a mathematical genius to understand how the rankings are worked out. It is best to accept that they are largely based on a player’s average over a 12-month period. And as McIlroy won six times in 2012, including the US PGA Championship, he is up there just one spot behind Tiger Woods, a four-time tournament winner this year.
Apart from one runner-up spot in 2013, McIlroy has not been a factor in any of the other 12 tournaments he has contested, 10 on the US PGA circuit and three in Europe. The following stats provide a graphic illustration of the kind of season Rory has endured.
USA Accenture World Match Play: lost 1st round (to Shane Lowry); Honda Classic: withdrew; WGC Cadillac: tied eighth; Shell Houston Open: tied 45th; Texas Open: 2nd; Masters: tied 25th; Wells Fargo: tied 10th; Players Championship: tied 8th; Memorial tournament: tied 57th; US Open: tied 41st. Europe — Abu Dhabi: missed cut; BMW PGA: missed cut; Irish Open: missed cut.
It is a dismal record for a player of McIlroy’s ability and one can only wonder why things have come to this sorry state six months into a campaign which most believed would see him established as the game’s No 1.
The change from Titleist to Nike clubs and balls was considered a factor in the dip in form and that may still hold true. Rory is set to meet up shortly with Nike officials to discuss the situation, especially with regard to his driver. But there were other issues of concern ranging from the walk-off at the Honda citing a wisdom tooth problem; the decision to drop Horizon Sports as his management company; the club-throwing and bending of the shaft of his nine iron at the US Open and perhaps, just as tellingly as anything else, the slump of the shoulders when things are not going to plan.
This is deeply regrettable for he remains a very nice and pleasant young man, a point made graphically over the weekend at Carton House where he good-humouredly mingled with the crowds and willingly signed autographs and pressed the flesh despite suffering the ignominy of missing the cut the previous evening. Recent newspaper photographs of Rory stretched on the side of a tennis court yawning as his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki worked on her forehand may have enthralled the reader but hardly suggested he was working too hard on his golf game. Saturday night’s tweet that, “I can’t wait to get home to Monaco tomorrow with Caro Wozniacki sun, sea and practice”, only serves to make the point further. And even he himself admits that he has got his schedule all wrong.
He’s at it again this week, putting meetings with sponsors and the wedding of a cousin before the French Open, an event carrying a €3m prize fund and staged over Le Golf National course, the outstanding venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup. Just as mysteriously, he is also skipping the Scottish Open over the Castle Stuart links the following week, which means he will surely go undercooked into the British Open at Muirfield (July 18-21).
Even the world rankings will find him out by the end of the month unless something unforeseen, if entirely welcome, occurs very quickly.
Grumpy Lowry soon cheers up
What a difference 24 hours can make. Shane Lowry was so upset after a 74 in Saturday’s third round of the Irish Open that he later took some of his frustration out on journalists.
In fairness, that is not at all the affable Offaly man’s form. After Sunday’s 69 helped him into a share of fifth, Lowry apologised for any offence caused and then enthused: “What’s not to enjoy in a week like this?”
It might be going too far to describe him as the ‘people’s champion’ but the fine crowds at Carton House certainly took him to their hearts. He has improved four places in the world rankings to 83rd and is now looking forward to a week off followed by the Scottish and British Opens, another week off and then the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio and the USPGA Championship at Oak Hill, New York State.
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