DownThe18th News

We will be posting articles on here regularly about all things golf, mostly wacky stuff with the occasional serious piece too!

British Empire Medal award for Northamptonshire Golf Partnership Chairman

Chair of the Northamptonshire Golf Partnership has been recognised for his services to golf, after being awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours list.

Martin Izzard has been involved with the partnership since 2007 and helped bring hundreds of new players into the game.

Martin, who has overseen the county develop players such as recent LET rookie of the year, Charley Hull, was understandably delighted at the news.

“It’s great to get a pat on the back but this award is really for Northamptonshire golf and for the many people who have worked so hard to put us on the map.

“We are only a little county, but we like to think we are starting punch abov our weight.”

After 26 years on the county’s executive committee, he was rewarded with honorary life membership of the Northamptonshire County Golf Union and is currently a member of the England Golf tournament panel.

For Martin though, he just has a love for the game.

“I’m passionate about golf, it’s such a good game in so many ways. There’s the friendship and camaraderie, it’s good for you and gets you outside in the countryside and it teaches you about dealing with the ups and downs of life.”

Here here Martin, here here.

Sergio Garcia taking no risks ahead of US Open

World number 7 Sergio Garcia pulled out of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Thursday, after he shot a one over par 73.

The Spaniard originally suffered the injury in his homeland at the Open de Espana last week and he is adamant the decision to withdraw will help his recovery ahead of the US Open in June.

“With the US Open coming up, I don’t want it to get worse.

“I’ll go to the physio in Spain and see what he says, I’m sure I’m going to have to take some anti-inflammatories.

“Will probably have to do a little bit of work in it I’m guessing but I don’t know exactly”

Without only a major title missing from what has been an illustrious career, Garcia will want to be fully fit and raring to go when/if he tees up at Pinehurst.

Although, if he has a little niggle, then maybe his mental problems that have let him down in the past could be thinking about his knee rather than the 3-foot putt ahead of him…

BMW extends partnership with European Tour

German carmaker BMW has signed a 4-year extension to continue their partnership with the Tour up until the end of the 2018 season.

It means they will retain the naming rights and sponsorship of 3 tournaments in each calendar year – The PGA Championship at Wentworth, The International Masters in Germany and the Masters in China.

Basically, we are going to retain our confusion at the similar names each and every year.

Blind Golfers at the Mark Butler Golf Academy (West Midlands, UK)

After an inspirational day at the Mark Butler Golf Academy, we have created a video that encapsulates what the event was all about. People from the Beacon Centre for the Blind attended golf lessons run by both Mark Butler and Richard Challonor. The guys at the academy are incredible and deserve so much more exposure. They are building and expanding the academy month on month and have a huge future ahead.

Tiger Woods OUT OF THE MASTERS

Everything we feared has sadly come true.  Tiger Woods has pulled out The Masters.  Not since turning professional has the World number 1 missed the years first major and whilst it may not be a surprise, it is still a back-breaking disaster.

Tiger Woods struggled with back pains at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  He subsequently withdrew

Tiger Woods struggled with back pains at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He subsequently withdrew

Woods declared this on his website -He underwent surgery on his back, to try and overcome the pain that has been haunting him recently – a microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve to be more precise.

“After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done.

“I’d like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters.

“It’s a week that’s very special to me. It also looks like I’ll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy.”

It will be so saddening not see the master of Augusta tee it up this week, but it really does leave the door open for a select few not just to win the tournament, but also potentially overtake Woods in the rankings.

Fascinating.

Ryder Cup Teams take shape

With the 40th Ryder Cup now less than six months away, the provisional teams make for some very interesting viewing.

These four days have been highlighted with vigour in millions of diaries across the golfing globe. And it is held in such high regard that the 24 names read from messrs McGinley and Watson’s lips will feel like gladiators stepping into the Roman Colosseum. The members of the Miracle at Medinah are living proof of how a Ryder Cup can turn men into heroes. So who’s going to be part of the [insert hyperbolic word of your choice] at Gleneagles? Let us find out.

Team Europe (As of 24/03/14)

1)      Victor DubuissonEurope

2)      Jamie Donaldson

3)      Thomas Bjorn   

4)      Ian Poulter

5)      Henrik Stenson

6)      Sergio Garcia

7)      Rory McIlroy

8)      Luke Donald

9)      Stephen Gallacher

Plus 3 Captain’s Picks

Team USA (As of 24/03/14)

1)      Jimmy WalkerUSA

2)      Dustin Johnson

3)      Patrick Reed

4)      Bubba Watson

5)      Jason Dufner

6)      Harris English

7)      Phil Mickelson

8)      Zach Johnson

9)      Webb Simpson

Plus 3 Captain’s Picks

With three Ryder Cup rookies currently present on either side, there could be more than a few nerves jangling around on the first tee. Walker and Reed in particular, with 5 wins and over $5,000,000 between them, look like fearsome competitors who would relish the battle on Scottish soil. The over-confident Patrick Reed already boasts an impressive match play record on the American college scene. But with the winds picking up and the European conditions bedding in, it could be the iron merchants Dubuisson, Donaldson and Gallacher that prevail.

Courtesy of BBC

Courtesy of BBC

Throw a few captain’s picks into the melting pot – Woods, McDowell and the like – we have an almighty clash on our hands. 2014 still has a lot of twists, turns and missed putts in store but if we were to take to Gleneagles now, nobody would complain. Well except maybe Bradley, Speith, Furyk, Mahan, Woods, Kuchar, Snedeker, Haas, Stricker, Rose, McDowell, Molinari, Kaymer, Westwood, Jimenez, Hanson, Lawrie and Montgomerie (he’s never happy).

Not just Bubbba’s Hovercraft out there

How on earth we haven’t put this video up yet is beyond us, but we have decided the time is now right to let people know our opinions on Bubba’s invention.

There has been some varied feedback and response to say the least with social media and YouTube’s comments section going a little bit mental.  But we honestly feel it is something that would be a major attraction for youngsters to get into the game.  You cannot argue that people would come to the course just to drive one of them and then you are going to end up playing golf, so isn’t that a win-win?

Obviously there are obstacles against anything like this happening anytime soon, but we need people like Bubba in the sport, to help push the game forward and take it out of the dark ages we still seem to be in throughout snobbish clubs around the world.

But it’s not just Bubba ladies and gentleman.  What we are finding pretty mental is the fact that it isn’t the only crazy invention to get round the golf course.  Check this video out and see what you think.  Which one is better?!!! Whose name is more ridiculous, Bubba or Laird?!!! Which one would be more fun?!!! Oh how many questions and how we wish the future would come quicker…

This dad’s got game

Many of us golfing wannabees would have started the game through a family member or friend whose persuasion to come for a round finally wound us up too much to not give it a go.

For most though (like us here at Downthe18th), it will be the convincing tones of fathers who drag us along to the 1st tee, until you’re so engrossed, that there’s no looking back.  However, we can certainly promise you that we have never seen any dad with juggling skills like this man.

Just imagine if your old man could do this, it wouldn’t have taken anywhere near as much persuasion…

Staffordshire golf club helping people with diabetes

1977651_10152096932279678_420627824_oThe Three Hammers Golf Complex, based near Wolverhampton, has been helping a group of diabetes sufferers lead a healthier lifestyle as part of their treatment programme.

The X-PERT diabetes course is a leading programme of education for people with or at risk of diabetes. It tries to improve health and the quality of life, whilst managing the condition.

Director of golf at the Three Hammers, Rob Bluck, realised that golf can help run alongside the programme, to build the sport into the lives of people who didn’t realise its potential to help and comfort.

Introduction to golf lessons included how to build a swing, long and short game coaching and on-course experience.

One participant in these maiden sessions was Sally Davies, who was diagnosed with diabetes in December 2011.

“Even though I had never been interested in golf I decided to give it a try. I attended the first session and I really enjoyed myself.” She stated.

“As the course progressed I also felt the benefits in my physical fitness as I was getting an all-round work out! As well as learning a new sport, I have really enjoyed the social side to it as I made some new friends.

“As well as physically and socially benefiting from the golf session, I also feel that it really helped me mentally – I am enjoying the feel good factor and it is giving me an interest to focus on – I can even pass my new skills on to my friends and family!”Get Into Golf

These highly intuitive golf sessions are part of the national Get Into Golf initiative and Gareth Shaw, development officer for the Staffordshire CGP is aware how golf can really help everyone and anyone.

“We are keen to develop links with local health partners and community groups who feel that the people they work with would benefit from trying a new sport which provides exercise and fresh air, such as golf.”

Here at Downthe18th, we are huge advocates for people getting into this wonderful sport and when the public realise how it can help millions of people and the likes of Sally, then maybe, just maybe, the perception is changing

Staffordshire teenager wins British College Golf Championship.

image00616-year old Gian-Marco Petrozzi won the singles competition at the British Colleges Sport National Open Golf Championship last week.  Held at St Andrew’s Park, the youngster carded an outstanding 74 and 69 over 2 rounds.

Petrozzi, from Burslem, attends Newcastle-under-Lyme College and alongside fellow students, Lewis Clewlow, Dan Bourne and Jack Longley, finished 2nd in the team competition after they all ended the event in respectable positions.

The 4 teenagers will be part of the first group to join the new Ian Woosnam Golf Academy, which will be based at the NULC’s Academy of Sport.

Petrozzi at the English Boys County Championship 2013

Petrozzi at the English Boys County Championship 2013

‘Woosie’, the 1991 Masters champion, was over the moon with the result and will certainly be keeping a close eye on the promising futures of his first recruits.

“This is a fantastic achievement for NULC. We’re on a mission to find the best young golfers in Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire and offer them a fantastic education, which combines top golfing and sports tuition with higher-level qualifications.

“Clearly we are already attracting some of the best golfers in the country when they hold their own against the likes of Hartpury, Myerscough and Derby Colleges.”

We will hopefully be speaking to some of the lads later this week at the new academy, so do check back to find out more!

DownThe18th behind the scenes at the inaugural University Golf Challenge 2014

DownThe18th went along to the Norwood Park Golf Centre in Nottingham, England to film how golf was progressing at University level. It was a superb day out and we’ve put together a video for our viewers. We will hopefully be doing many more similar productions over the coming months with our partners Staffordshire Golf. Golf for the younger generation is a real passion of ours. It is very exciting times at DownThe18th.

McGinley Names Ryder Cup Vice-Captains

Paul McGinley has named his first, two vice captains for the Ryder Cup in September.

Who can forget this moment when McGinley jumped for joy back in 2002, after holing the winning putt...

Sam Torrence and Des Smyth have been given the honour of standing by the side of the Northern Irishman’s maiden captaincy.

In all honesty, this is not a major surprise because of the affiliations and experience the trio have with each other and the tournament.

Torrence is a former winning captain in 2002, whilst being a 4-time winner as a player and could quite possibly be the only Scot in the wholeteam at Gleneagles. As for Smyth, he has alread been assistant for Ian Woosnam in 2006.

More importantly though, McGinley was pretty much chaperoned during the early stages of his career on Tour by Smyth, so their friendship goes a long way back.

For European supporters, you cannot help but feel a sense of pride and passion bubbling under the surface after these initial ‘picks’ get made.

It makes it seem all the more real that once the summer comes to a miserable end, we will ALL be jumping on our feet for one of the greatest sporting events of the year.

Seve Trophy Captains Announced

Jose Maria Olazabal and Sam Torrence have been announced as the team captains for the Seve Trophy in October this year.  As is the tradition in this matchplay tournament between Continental Europe and Great Britain & Ireland, Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley selected the 2 European stalwarts to take centre stage at the St-Nom-La-Breteche venue in Paris, France.

Olazabal kissing the Ryder Cup trophy after the remarkable comeback last year

Olazabal kissing the Ryder Cup trophy after the remarkable comeback last year

Olazabal captained Europe to that famous victory in the Ryder Cup last year but did lose out to Colin Montgomerie’s GB & Ireland in the Seve Trophy in 2005.

Torrence will be making his first appearance as captain and could be leading out a team full of some of the best talent in the world.

Most years, players do pull out even though they qualified to represent their team (Top 5 in the World Rankings and following Top 5 in the Race To Dubai Rankings)

But IF the teams were to be selected tomorrow (as of the 15th August) and no one backed out, they would currently look like this.

Great Britain & Ireland                                             Continental Europe

1. Rory McIlroy (3rd in the world)                              1. Henrik Stenson (10th OWGR)

2. Justin Rose (5th OWGR)                                            2. Sergio Garcia (19th OWGR)

3. Graeme McDowell (5th OWGR)                              3. Matteo Manassero (28th OWGR)

4. Luke Donald (11th OWGR)                                       4. Peter Hanson (30th OWGR)

5. Lee Westwood (14th OWGR)                                   5. Martin Kaymer (36th OWGR)

6. Ian Poulter (9th Race To Dubai)                              6. Mikko Ilonen (13th Race To Dubai)

7. Jamie Donaldson (14th Race To Dubai)                 7. Thorbjørn Olesen (16th Race To Dubai)

8. Marc Warren (18th Race To Dubai)                        8. Thomas Bjørn (21st Race To Dubai)

9. Stephen Gallacher (19th Race To Dubai)              9. M. Á Jiménez (24th Race To Dubai)

10. Chris Wood (20th Race To Dubai)                        10. Francesco Molinari (15th Race To Dubai)

As we said though, the top, top players will be unlikely to exert more energy on this tournament, so the following names are on the periphery and they are just as exciting!

GB & Ireland

David Lynn, Martin Laird, Paul Lawrie, Paul Casey, Scott Jamieson, Simon Khan.

Continental Europe

Jonas Blixt, Nicolas Colsaerts, Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño, Carl Petterson, Joost Luiten, Alexander Noren, Marcel Siem.

Family First For Hunter Mahan

{1F9F9E94-E44E-4E76-AD87-F98A3D7F4598}142296432_10So picture this, you are in the final pairing on day 3 of the RBC Canadian Open 2013. You are 2 shots clear and haven’t won since April of last year – a $1,000,000 payout and significant rise up the Fed Ex rankings awaits.

But for Hunter Mahan, this meant nothing as his wife Kandi went into labour just as the American was loosening up on the practice range.  We all just have to admire the way Hunter put golf into perspective and headed towards the airport without any thought of another two days at Glen Abbey. We take our hat off to you Hunter!

You just have to wonder now, is it written for 31-year-old to return in a couple of weeks at the PGA Championship and claim his maiden major win?

 

Rory Mcilroy vs The Robot

A good friend of ours is a comedian on the circuit and he sent us this video when his friend, Geoff Norcott (@GeoffNorcott) got the chance to voice a robot playing McIlroy in a washing machine golf challenge.  It is heart-warming and shows McIlroy in a fantastic light, whilst the silly jokes actually made us laugh out loud.

Enjoy this one.

The Crazy 3 Days for Brooks Koepka

The young American may have a very odd name and made the odd decision to play on the less lucrative European circuit, but what Brooks has been through this past week is nothing short of extraordinary.

He won his FOURTH Challenge Tour event at the Scottish Hydro Challenge on Sunday, which has now earned him a place on the European  Tour.  Exciting.  Then he travels to Edinburgh airport for a flight to Sunningdale Golf Club where qualifying for the Open was taking place.  What did he do? He went on to win, shooting a 65 on the second day.  This is a youngster with dedication and an abundance of natural ability – sadly we are very sure that within a year or two he will be lost to the PGA circuit because there is simply way more money involved.  One for the future!

Brooks Koepka is a man on a mission.  What a future this lad has

Brooks Koepka is a man on a mission. What a future this lad has

Bubba Watson Losing His Head at Caddy

Now, we love Bubba but his antics on the last day of the Travelers Championship were slightly outrageous.  Many of us will never have had a caddy but if we did, whatever they do we would all be so thankful they have carried our clubs round for us.  We would certainly not tell them “Just no reason for you to show up.”  Without wanting to contradict ourselves, it is absolutely hilarious, if we did not have people like Bubba in the game then it would be a much duller place.  People are obviously giving him stick, but please, the man is a hotheaded, magical, talented, controversial and religious genius. Love him.

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