Different Strokes

Tue, Feb 5, 2013, 00:00

Compiled by PHILIP REID

Going for fun at the Irish Open

Imitation, as we all know, is the greatest form of flattery. And, so, there shouldn’t be any inhibitions about the Irish Open – which takes place at Carton House’s Montgomerie course on June 27th-30th – taking a leaf out of the Phoenix Open’s book and doing a copycat of that tournament’s 16th hole.

The Monty course already has a short hole tailor-made for such imitation: the par three 17th, which brings players back towards the closing hole down by the river Rye.

The case for copycatting is a strong one, with the atmosphere at last year’s Irish Open in Royal Portrush providing one of the most fitting and fun memorials to the 2012 season.

Wouldn’t it be great to see a replica of the caddies’ race from tee to green a la Phoenix? Colin Byrne versus JP Fitzgerald. Billy Foster versus Ronan Flood.

Wouldn’t it be good to have the left side of the hole fitted with a grandstand from tee to green and players dispensing swag to the spectators?

And wouldn’t it be good for the good-natured boos to players who miss the green?

What the Phoenix Open, of course, has in its favour is that it returns to the same course year-in and year-out, with the consequence that the 16th hole – entirely surrounded by grandstands and raucous fans – has built an infamy of its own.

Still, if anywhere has the ability to recapture some of the fun associated with such a hole, surely it is an Irish Open which – in recent years at Portrush and Killarney – has rekindled the spirit of old.

The big question is, who could possibly replicate the Gangnam-style dance of Korean golfer James Hahn, a tribute to PSY from his homeland?

Perhaps an imitation of Riverdance might be more appropriate!

Whatever, the fun aspect generated by those – spectators and players alike – around the 16th is worth copying.

Harrington getting into the swing

The early-season omens are good for Pádraig Harrington, which is a good thing for golf. In his three outings on tour so far this season, the Dubliner clearly seems at ease with himself, what with wearing new glasses (and still purporting to have 20/20 vision) and also kicking American footballs into the crowds, a skill that wouldn’t have done his footballing cousin Joey any harm in his NFL days.

Harrington – who has moved on from the Arizona desert to more familiar terrain at Pebble Beach for this week’s stopover on the PGA Tour – seems remarkably comfortable in his own skin these days and his results so far (third in South Africa, 23rd in Abu Dhabi and ninth in Phoenix) indicate that many facets of his game are in good order. And, for sure, his name on the same page of the leaderboard as the Mickelsons and Snedekers seems perfectly in order.

It would seem likely it is only a matter of time before Harrington rejoins the winner’s circle on the US Tour. Whenever and wherever that might be, Harrington’s enthusiasm would appear to be unabated. As he remarked following his 63 in the third round on Saturday: “I saw Arnold Palmer when he was 70 years of age being interviewed after a Champions Tour event, and he came off the golf course (smiling) from one ear to the other, saying he’d found “the secret”. I want to be that man.

“I want to be 70, playing golf, and just loving it, just the excitement of it all. The possibility of it getting better is far more interesting to me than the realisation that it’s never going to get better than this.”

Lowry opts out

Shane Lowry has resisted the temptation to add this week’s European Tour stop in Johannesburg to his schedule, despite occupying the most perilous position on the official world rankings heading into the final week of competition before the cut-off point for the megabucks WGC-Accenture Matchplay championship.

Lowry is currently 64th in the world listings, with the top-64 after this week’s JoBurg Open and ATT Pebble Beach Pro-Am earning precious tickets into the matchplay. Lowry has a meagre 0.01 point average to spare over Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger – who is next in the rankings – but has a small safety net in that in-form Phil Mickelson is set to miss out in favour of a family holiday and also that 66th ranked Miguel Angel Jimenez is out of commission following a broken leg occurred in a skiing accident.

If Lowry manages to stay at 64th place in the rankings and earn a debut appearance in next month’s matchplay, his reward will be a first round encounter with world number one – and Horizon Sports stablemate – Rory McIlroy. A case of being careful what you wish for?

The rules . . .

Q In strokeplay, A and B both started with 14 clubs. They were using the same model of clubs and similar golf bags. At the 4th hole, B’s caddie inadvertently took one of A’s clubs from A’s bag and gave it to B, who made a stroke with it. B’s caddie placed the club in B’s bag. At the 6th hole, B’s caddie discovered the error. What is the ruling?

A Rule 4-4a states: “The player must not start a stipulated round with more than 14 clubs. He is limited to the clubs thus selected . . . ”. B complied with the first sentence of Rule 4-4a. However, when B made a stroke with A’s club, he did not comply with the second sentence and was subject to penalty under Rule 4-4a for using a club selected for play by another person playing on the course. Upon discovery of the breach, B was required immediately to declare the club out of play under Rule 4-4c. He incurs a penalty of two strokes for making a stroke with that club on the 4th hole. As B did not intend to add the club to the clubs he had selected for the round, he incurs no additional penalty for having carried it until the breach was discovered at the 6th hole. A may retrieve the club to use during the remainder of the round.

Quote of the Week

I change it every day. I changed my golf swing this week. That’s what I do: I get up in the morning, and I change. That’s who I am.” – Pádraig Harrington in starting a 1,800-word reply to a six-word question wondering if he had changed his golf swing.

Number of the week

525,821

The official attendance at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona, more than seven times the number that managed to get into the SuperDome in New Orleans for Superbowl XLVII.

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