Fall is here. The golf season is almost over – soon the weather will not allow us to do anything else but to walk on the rainy streets or sip on a good cup of tea by the fire. When there is no way to go out and play our favorite games we have to find an alternative to our outings in the green. Here are a few tips on how you can spend a few valuable hours inside while waiting for the golf season to begin.
One way to keep your spirits high when you can’t go out to play is by playing video games.
Electronic Arts is the game publisher with possibly the biggest coverage of sports. The publisher’s Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, available through the Xbox Live store or the PlayStation Store, takes its players to some of the most popular golf courses of the world. But those who have no desire to try out real life courses can also try their skill in fantasy settings that are unique. The game also boosts the fun of it by adding a series of challenges through its new Night Club feature.
But these games will not satisfy some of the truly passionate players. These players – I have some friends who are like this – consider video games to be just an unworthy substitute for the real thing, so when the golf season ends, they like to kill their time with other activities. A hobby preferred by a surprisingly high number of my golfer friends is playing the world class casino tournaments Royal Vegas has to offer.
The games available at the Royal Vegas offer something unique – you can play them on many platforms. In full season you can take them with you on the golf course, using your smartphone, and play on while your mates drive around in the golf cart getting to the next hole. You can engage in an exciting tournament while you wait for your turn. And you can kill time playing one of the hundreds of games the Royal Vegas has to offer while waiting for the weather to allow you to put on your golf shoes and go out playing once again.
Whichever your choice would be to fill the empty hours until late march, when you can once again take a swing outdoors, know this – fall passes quickly, winter goes by, and the new season will begin sooner than you can imagine. Keep your clubs tidy and your shoes in a good condition – you will need them once again, maybe sooner than you can imagine.
The Open is one of golf’s four major championship events and features some of the greatest professionals on the planet. Every year, the top players in the world descend on St Andrews as they compete in a three-day event for one of the sport’s most prestigious trophies. This year’s championship will begin on the 16th July and the 2015 Open event could see the winner’s prize money pass the £1 million total for the very first time. Last year’s champion Rory McIlroy – and current world number one – will be looking to defend his crown against some of the world’s best players, including England’s Justin Rose and Masters champion Jordan Spieth. The Northern Irishman will be quietly confident of his chances after an excellent start to the 2015 season but will remain level headed as he prepares for the upcoming event.
The second major of the golfing season, the US Open, is set to get under way this week and the 26-year-old will compete directly with defending champion Martin Kaymer after the two were paired together in the draw. Although this tournament may not give any clues towards Scotland’s event next month, McIlroy will be looking to land a huge psychological blow to Kaymer and the other competitors as he aims to remain clear as the best player in the world. At the time of writing, the Northern Irishman is priced at 4/1 with betfair to retain the Open Championship in July, while world number two Jordan Spieth is valued at 9/1. The tournament is one of the greatest competitions on the sporting calendar and golf fans from all over the world are set to attend the world famous event. We consider just a few of the contenders for the 144th Open Championship and provide our thoughts on their chances this year.
McIlroy will fancy his chances of retaining his title this year as he attempts to claim the fifth major championship of his career. The Northern Irishman won two professional tournaments last month – the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship and the Wells Fargo Championship – and will be looking to take that form into the summer months. In fact, McIlroy set a new record at the Wells Fargo Championship as he finished seven strokes ahead of his nearest competitor, completing four rounds of golf in just 267 shots. In 2014’s Open Championship, he earned a thrilling two shot victory over Spain’s Sergio Garcia and America’s Rickie Fowler to join Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three of golf’s major championships under the age of 25. If he can defend his crown and win a fifth major title, he will further stake his claim as one of the greatest golf players of all-time. McIlroy will be hoping to celebrate this year’s tournament in a similar style to last year.
However, new kid on the block Spieth is threatening McIlroy’s dominance in the sport and the youngster will fancy his chances of causing an upset in this year’s Open Championship. The newly crowned Masters champion – who broke a number of records at Augusta National this year – is full of confidence after a phenomenal start to the calendar year but has struggled in recent weeks. The 21-year-old missed the cut in May’s Players Championship while he finished joint-17th in the Match Play Championship. Despite these setbacks, Spieth has climbed up to second in the world rankings and will plan on displacing the Northern Irishman at the top of the standings in the near future. The American is extremely talented and is a future candidate for the number one player in the world. If he can improve his consistency in the build-up to this event, Spieth will stand a great chance of claiming his second major title of the season.
England’s Justin Rose is also having a sensational year and could feature among the leaders throughout the event. The world number six finished second to Jordan Spieth at Augusta, finishing with an incredible 14-under-par score. In fact, that total would have been good enough to win each of the previous three tournaments, but the young American was just too good. Since the Masters, Rose has gone on to perform well in a number of competitions. The Englishman won the Zurich Classic, finishing on 22-under-par, while he also finished ahead of Spieth in the Memorial Tournament as he claimed second place. Rose has struggled at the Open Championship throughout his illustrious career but, with a bit of luck, he is more than capable of making the cut and, at the very least, should be looking to equal his greatest ever finish of fourth at the iconic event.
The Open Championship is set to be competitive and there could be a number of shock performances that light up the tournament. American Phil Mickelson remains a top player and is capable of beating the very best on his day, while Tiger Woods has struggled for consistency and recently hit a career-worst round of 85 at the Memorial Tournament. McIlroy and Spieth are likely to be there or thereabouts and should climb up the leaderboard as the championship progresses. The newly crowned Masters champion will be hungry for a second major in 2015, but title holder McIlroy may be too strong as the Northern Irishman hunts a fifth major success.
Assoufid Golf Club nominated as ‘Best Golf Course in Morocco 2015’
Award-winning Assoufid Golf Club recently named ‘Africa’s Best New Golf Course 2014’, has reinforced its growing global reputation by being nominated on the shortlist for The World Golf Awards as ‘Morocco’s Best Golf Course 2015’.
The desert-style 18-hole golf course is situated close to the vibrant city of Marrakech –ranked No.1 in TripAdvisor’s ‘2015 Travellers’ Choice, Top 25 Destinations in the World’ – and is set against the backdrop of North Africa’s snow-capped Atlas Mountains.
Assoufid Golf Club, Morocco, Africa
Assoufid Golf Club officially opened for play in October last year and is a debut design for Scottish PGA professional and former European Tour player, Niall Cameron.
Additionally, the club is a 10-minute drive from the city’s international airport and forms part of an exquisite 222-hectare development, which will include a hospitality and residential component. The development offers golfers an excitingly diverse challenge across a rolling desert landscape featuring cacti, palm and olive trees.
The golf club’s design concept included integrating the development into the existing landscape, meanwhile encouraging the site’s indigenous flora and fauna to thrive, whilst minimizing water consumption.
Guy Maxwell, Golf Director at Assoufid Golf Club, said:
“Marrakech is rapidly emerging as one of the EMEA region’s must-visit golf destinations and the opening of Assoufid Golf Club continues to attract much interest. To illustrate this, since opening, we have welcomed over 40 representatives from international golf media and received over 50 ‘Excellent’, or ‘5-star’ reviews on Trip Advisor.
“We are proud to be nominated for the World Golf Awards’ ‘Best Golf Course in Morocco 2015’ as we are focused on delivering the country’s finest golfing experience through proper golf course maintenance and high levels of customer service.”
The 2015 World Golf Awards ceremony, hosted by Conrad Algarve, will take place in Portugal on November 7th. To learn more about the World Golf Awards, visit: www.worldgolfawards.com
Sophie Gustafson joins Annika Sörenstam & Maria McBride as Vice Captains for 2015 Solheim Cup
The 2015 European Solheim Cup Team Captain Carin Koch has announced that Sophie Gustafson and Maria McBride (formerly Hjorth) will join Annika Sörenstam as her Vice Captains when Europe targets victory over the United States at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Germany on 18-20 September.
Between them, Gustafson, McBride and Sörenstam have played in 21 Solheim Cups, with no fewer than six wins and 122 tournament titles to their credit.
“I am extremely proud to have assembled one of the most experienced and accomplished back room teams imaginable,” said Koch, who served as a Vice Captain to Liselotte Neumann in 2013.
Sophie Gustafson, an eight-time Solheim Cup participant (1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011), was a member of three winning European teams in 2000, 2003 and 2011. She has earned 16 points for Team Europe, with an all-time record of 13-12-6, most recently posting four points from as many matches in 2011 at Killeen Castle in Ireland. A Life Member of the Ladies European Tour, Gustafson has been the LET’s order of merit winner four times and earned 26 international career titles.
“It’s a great honour to be named Vice Captain,” said Gustafson, a key helper at The 2013 Solheim Cup in Colorado, where Team Europe secured an historic first away victory. “The Solheim Cup to me is pure passion. You play with guts for glory and one way or another I was always going to be in St. Leon-Rot in September, even if it was just to fetch coffee for Carin. As a helper in Colorado last time around I feel I did some good and getting to step up from there to Vice Captain is going to be great fun.”
Maria McBride is a five-time European Solheim Cup Team participant (2002, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011) who also played on the victorious team in Ireland. With a 6-10-5 record, she has earned 8 ½ points for Team Europe, as well as seven career titles on the LPGA and Ladies European Tours combined. She is wife to golf coach Shaun McBride and mother to six year old daughter, Emily.
“I am very honoured and proud to be named a Vice Captain for The 2015 Solheim Cup team. I have been involved in five teams, all playing of course, but to have a chance to help Europe inside the ropes in a different way is wonderful. I am very excited about the job and can’t wait for September to come. I hope that I can bring experience, guidance, friendship and laughter.”
Carin Koch said:
“I am delighted that Sophie accepted to be one of my Vice Captains, she has shown such strength over the years in Solheim, her record and contribution speaks for itself. Mimmi has played a hugely important role in recent Solheims. It’s great with her being based in the U.S. as I have another set of eyes that can follow the European players based over there. She had a fantastic top five finish the other week in Texas.
“With my back room team complete and less than four months to go until the 14th staging of the event in Germany, we will now step up preparations to secure a win at Golf Club St Leon-Rot.”
The Solheim Cup
The Solheim Cup combines the tradition and prestige of the game of golf with passion for one’s country. This biennial, trans-Atlantic team match-play competition features the best U.S.-born players from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour and the best European members from the Ladies European Tour (LET). The Solheim Cup is named in honour of Karsten Solheim, the founder of Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, which makes PING golf equipment. In 1990, the Solheim family, in conjunction with the LPGA and the LET, developed the concept and became the title sponsor for the Solheim Cup, professional golf’s international match-play competition for women. Held every two years, the event has grown into the most prestigious international women’s professional golf team event.
The Solheim Cup is the most highly coveted trophy in women’s professional golf team competition; some of the most memorable moments in the sport have happened during past Solheim Cups, and berths on the European and U.S. teams are highly sought-after by players from both organisations.
The 2015 Solheim Cup will take place Sept. 18-20 at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club near Heidelberg, Germany. The European Team enters the competition holding the Cup and will need 14 points to retain it, with the U.S. Team needing 14½ points to regain the coveted Waterford Crystal prize.
The U.S. squad holds an 8-5 lead in the series, which began in 1990, and is coming oﬀ back-to-back losses (2011, 2013) for the ﬁrst time in history. Juli Inkster is captain of the U.S. Team, with Sweden’s Carin Koch leading the European squad.
For more information about the Solheim Cup and updated standings for each team, visit www.solheimcup.com.
Lauren Taylor at The Buckinghamshire qualifying for the US Women's Open
Holly Aitchison, Maria Balikoeva, Heather MacRae, Lauren Taylor and Kylie Walker earned their place in the 2015 US Women’s Open Championship after the second European Sectional Qualifier was played at Buckinghamshire Golf Club near London on Monday.
Russian Maria Balikoeva set the 36-hole clubhouse target with a total of 140, four under par, before England’s Holly Aitchison returned matching scores of 72 and 68. Heather MacRae of Scotland, who started with a 75 in the morning, then bettered that score by ten strokes in the afternoon with a second round of seven under par 65 to join the pair in qualifying for their first US Women’s Open, which will be played at Lancaster Country Club on July 9-12.
Five competitors tied on three under par and went to a sudden death play-off on the par-3 ninth hole to determine the final two spots in the championship.
Beth Allen of the USA, England’s Georgia Hall and Patricia Sanz Barrio from Spain joined Lauren Taylor and Kylie Walker in returning to the ninth tee. Sanz Barrio was eliminated with a bogey on the first extra hole, before Taylor secured her place with a birdie. Playing under intense pressure, Taylor hit a pure 5-iron from 179 yards and made a putt of four feet to secure her first appearance in the US Women’s Open.
“It couldn’t have gone better,” said Taylor, 21, from Woburn Golf Club. “I finished birdie, birdie and then to go into a play-off and birdie the hole was really fun.
“I tried to control my nerves and the tee shot was fine but when I realised this was to make the US Women’s Open I tried to get that shot out of my mind. It was a nice fist pump at the end and all of the adrenaline went out of my mind.”
On the second extra hole of sudden death, Allen hit her tee shot into the bunker behind the green and took a two-putt bogey while Walker and Hall both made threes.
At the third extra hole, Walker almost holed in one but her perfectly judged 5-iron tee shot ended a foot past the hole and she tapped-in for birdie, while Hall three putted. Walker seems to be somewhat of an expert in play-offs, having won both of her Ladies European Tour titles last year in similar circumstances.
“I’m really delighted to get through and excited about heading to America,” said the 28-year-old from Mar Hall Golf Club. “I actually birdied my last two holes in regulation play to get back to three under so I was really happy with that and even getting into the play-off. In the play-off I went par, par, birdie at the end. I hit a 5-iron and from back there you couldn’t really see the ball finish because we were losing daylight but the crowd roared and then I just tapped in.”
All five players will be heading for their first US Women’s Open, having had sensational finishes. Aitchison birdied the last three holes and commented: “Everyone wants to play in a major and this is going to be my first major outside of Britain, because I’ve only played in the British Open before. It’s going to be a really, really good experience and I’m very much looking forward to it.”
MacRae was six under par on the back nine, with five birdies in six holes from the 10th and another on the 18th. The tearful 31-year-old from Archerfield Links said: “It’s unbelievable. I’m so happy. I thought three under was going to be okay and when I got to 18 and saw that I needed to be four otherwise it was a play-off and I needed my putt to go in. Once I hit it from eight feet short of the hole I knew that it was in. It was one of those afternoons where I stood on the tee and knew that I was going to hit the fairway. I stood on the fairway and knew that I was going to hit the ball close on the green and I knew that I was going to make the putt.
“The last major I played in was when I was an amateur in 2005 and I’ve not played a tournament in the States since I was at university over there so I’m really excited to see what it’s like and I’m looking forward to playing here again in the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters in July, because I’ve not played in that either.”
Balikoeva said that she felt at home on the golf course where she spent a lot of time practising in 2014. She said:
“The first 18 I really struggled with my short putting and I missed four little putts so I knew I was playing good but I relaxed on the second round and played a little better and holed more putts. This is the first step to something bigger.”
The third of the five women’s major championships gets under way in Pennsylvania in seven weeks’ time.
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