Rory McIlroy ends season on a high

Rory McIlroy pipped Adam Scott to win the Australian Open and claim his first tournament victory of 2013, with the Northern Irishman clinching the victory on the final hole at Royal Sydney. After a season in which he has failed to produce anything like his best golf, McIlroy was delighted to have recorded a tournament win before the end of the year.

After starting the tournament as the strong favourite with, home-favourite Scott looked on course to win the Australian ‘Triple Crown’ by holding onto his lead during the final round. While McIlroy produced some impressive golf in Sydney, it was Scott who looked to be on his way to victory up until the dying moments of the tournament.

Despite a wobbly few moments on the back-nine that may have worried those who backed the Aussie with Betfair before the tournament, Scott managed to keep McIlroy at bay up until the 18th which he begun a shot clear of the former world number one. A club selection error on the final hole of the tournament saw Scott finish with a bogey while watching McIlroy notch up a birdie to steal the title from under the Aussie’s nose.

The Northern Irishman was obviously relieved to have secured the victory, admitting he had targeted winning a title before the end of a tough year.

“To be able to play your best golf when you need to, when you’re under pressure, you can’t ask for more. The perfect scenario was to achieve a win before the end of the season and thankfully I have done that,” admitted the world number six.

With the monkey now off his back before the end of the 2013, McIlroy will be able to head into the new season with some genuine belief that he can get himself back up the rankings and in the minds of Betfair customers ahead of the Masters.

Adam Scott and his Masters winning golf clubs

Adam Scott became the first Australian to win The Masters after beating Angel Cabrera in a play-off at Augusta National in April. Having posted eight top-ten finishes at majors, including three top-ten finishes at Augusta, it was a relief to see Scott finally realise his potential and win the Green Jacket.   Here are a few of the golf clubs in Adam Scott’s bag.

Driver: Titleist 913 D3

The 2013 Masters was the first time Scott used the 913 D3 (9.5 degree) in competition, although he continued to use his Graphite Design Tour AD DI-8 shaft which he has used for years now, one of its kind and only for him. Most players don’t tend to make too many equipment changes before a major, but clearly the switch to the new driver paid dividends.

The key difference between the 913 D3 and its predecessor, the Titleist 910, is the newly developed face insert. The insert is designed to give improved ball speeds on off-centre strikes. The 913 delivers an 11 per cent increase in the maximum ball speed area on the face, resulting in 2 mph more ball speed that will produce an additional 4 to 6 yards that would not be achieved in the older 910 model.

Fairways: Titleist 910Fd

Scott also played with the Titleist 910Fd (15 degrees) fairway metal. It has a larger volume head design for enhanced distance and control from the tee compared to a traditional fairway metal, maximising the chances of hitting the fairway more often. It’s patented, SureFit Tour, dual-angle hosel technology provides the ability to make precise loft and lie adjustments to fine tune ball flight for more distance and accuracy.

Irons: Titleist MB Forged Irons + Titleist 712U Utility Iron

They say you learn more in defeat than in victory; this certainly seemed to be the case for Adam Scott having blown a commanding lead at the 2012 Open Championship to finish tied for second behind Ernie Els. Scott certainly did not let his nerves show during the Masters, hitting 83 per cent of greens in regulation on both the third and fourth round, and averaged the highest of any player with 76 per cent.

The tools behind his success are the Titleist MB Forged Irons. MB irons feature a uniform muscle shape that provides more mass behind the impact area to achieve the quintessential soft, solid feel. This weighting also produces consistent launch angle, backspin and ball speed in order to provide precise distance and shot control demanded by better players.

In addition, Scott used a Titleist 712U Utility Iron. The forged utility iron is designed to deliver consistency and control to high-ball speed players.

From April 2013 Titleist’s 712U utility iron was officially introduced for retail, not just as a Tour-only prototype.

Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X

All four major championships have now been won using belly or broomstick putters. For many, the anchoring ban can’t come soon enough.

Scott has been using Scotty Cameron putters for over a decade but moved from a regular putter to a broomstick in 2011 after some inconsistent performances. Scott’s move to a long anchored belly putter has clearly had a positive effect, moving up from 145th on the PGA Tour putting statistics to 78th before the Masters this year.

Scott’s Futura X prototype is crafted for him specifically following several rounds of design at the Cameron Putter studio. The putter is milled from aluminium and includes a balance bar and four tungsten weights that are positioned under four adjustable stainless steel weights in the far four corners of the putter giving it an extremely high resistance to twist at impact.

Who will win the US Masters 2013?

The US Masters 2012 was won by Bubba Watson after an exciting play-off with South African Louis Oosthuizen following both golfers having an exceptional round on the final day and finsihing on -10.  The 33-year-old left-hander won at the second extra hole to claim his first major title. Peter Hanson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson finished in a three-way tie for third finishing on -8.  England’s Ian Poulter (69) finished seventh on -5, while Australian Adam Scott, last year’s runner-up, carded a 66 that included a hole in one on the 16th to finish -4.

England’s Justin Rose and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington finished in eighth with Adam Scott.

Pre-tournament favourites Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy ended a disappointing tournament tied on five over last year.  But that has no bearing on this year’s golf betting ahead of the US Masters 2013 where Tiger Woods is closing in on Rory McIlroy at the top of the official golf world ranking list; and after winning this year’s WGC Championship title for the seventh time, is now only one average point behind Rory McIlroy.  A victory at the US Masters would see Tiger Woods regaining the #1 world ranking he held for so long before injury and personal problems caused a meltdown in 2009.

The US Masters 2013
starts the week commencing Monday 8th April with the actual golf tournament beginning on Thursday 11th – Sunday 14th April at the famous Augusta Golf Course.

Is anyone prepared to bet against Tiger Woods (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005) winning his fifth US Masters Tournament next month?

I am expecting Tiger Woods to win but hope to enjoy a battle between Woods and Rory McIlroy all the way to the final pin. If both players have a good tournament and play to their potential, the US Masters could offer one of the most exciting final rounds in recent history.  But don’t forget three-time winner Phil Mickelson (2004, 2006, 2010) has his own private love affair with the tournament and US golf fans.

At the time of writing this article, bwin golf betting has Tiger Woods favourite at 5/1 from Rory McIlroy at 9/1 and Phil Mickelson at 11/1.  The big three are followed by Brandt SnedekerCharl Schwartzel & the highest place Englishmen Luke Donald at 21/1.


US Masters Golf Championship

Watching the US Masters Golf Championship last weekend was absolutely riveting. The final round had so many twists from the off with some spectacular golf shots.  Charl Scwartzel and Tiger Woods both made an early surge on Rory McIlroy’s overnight lead and they were followed by a group of others playing some exceptional golf.

Charl Schwartzel eventually won the Masters by two shots (14 under par) by playing some truly amazing shots but most of all by playing a steady, confident round.  He appeared to be unfazed by the pressure and said it was helpful playing with another steady player KJ Choi.  But from the off Schwartzel’s chance of slipping on the famous green jacket was given a kick start with a chip and run for a birdie on the first and an amazing eagle at the third.

By contrast, it was sad and rather distressing watching Rory McIlroy fall apart and eventually breakdown in front the cameras and capacity crowd at the famous Augusta Golf Course.

McIlroy had lead from day 1 and had previously played three great days of golf as he went into the final day with a four shot lead that had everyone convinced he was finally going to win his first major. The boy from Hollywood, Northern Ireland will turn 22 next month but for the past four years, since turning pro when anyone was asked they said it was only a matter of time until Rory McIlroy starting winning majors.  Over the past few years he has won plenty of championships, but like Britain’s young tennis star Andy Murray, has fallen shot when given the chance to win a major.

On Sunday McIlroy looked nervous, quickening his pace and from the off the lead began to shrink.  But as he went into the back nine he was still leading by one shot from the likes of Charl Schwartzel, K J Choi, Jason Day, Adam Scott and Tiger Woods who was playing some sublime shots and looked to have returned to his best.

As McIlroy fell apart at the 10th with a triple bogey that included hitting two trees and shot to pieces through Amen Corner, the chasing pack was joined by Luke Donald and Geoff Ogilvy.  Rory literally broke down on the 12th hole with a four putt, it was the reason I don’t watch reality TV.  I was watching a young person’s world shatter and it was uncomfortable viewing.  Rory McIlroy finished the day with a round of 80!

With three holes to go the young Australian, Adam Scott had edged into the lead from his playing partner and fellow Australian Jason Day, and Charl Schwartzel.  But it was Scwartzel who remained calm while playing some sensational shots who eventually won the US Masters by two shots.  A very worthy winner that seemed appropriate exactly 50 years after fellow South African, Gary Player became the first overseas golfer to win the Masters.

Charl Schwartzel won with 14 under from Adam Scott and Jason Day on 12 under.  While Luke Donald was the best placed Britain tied in fourth on 10 under par along with Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy.

It was good to see Rory McIlroy get a great reception as he walked towards the 18th hole.  He had started the final day on 12 under but finished on 4 under, and everyone felt his pain.  And though he was magnanimous in defeat and faced the media soon after, showing a maturity beyond his years, I wondered if this was just another experience that Rory McIlroy will place under his belt to win a major or would he follow in the golf shoes of Sergio Garcia, who also received global accolades and showed all the promise as a teenage golfer but choked on several occasions when it looked like he was about to win a major.  Sergio Garcia is now 31.