You can’t keep a good man down

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A belated online congratulations to my lifelong great friend Ian Keenan. Keeno, despite apparently retiring from professional golf earlier this year still managed to win the first stage of US Open qualifying last week at Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club with a great score of 67. I wish him well in the next stage of qualifying later this month and can’t wait to see him splitting the fairways at this years US Open to be held at The Olympic Club in California.

After last years record setting tournament where Rory McIlroy destroyed the course and field expect the USGA to bite back like a pissed-off pit bull with what is reported to be the “the most difficult set up in US Open history!” Gulp! If there was ever a man to hit it into the narrowest of fairways my fellow Arrowe Park Junior Section member is him. Go on Keeno, write another chapter in that incredible book of your golfing life.

Good luck buddy ;-)

Belated A’Famosa report & putter swap

As usually happens when I have a bad tournament it takes me a few days to get round to writing my blog report of an unsuccessful week. It’s not because I’ve been sulking or miserable, the disappointment wears off pretty quickly after a poor round of golf. It’s more that I like to take stock of events and asses what went wrong before putting together a plan on how to learn from and improve on the result. And if I’m honest it’s not much fun writing about bad weeks so I do tend to put it off for a few days!

A’Famosa was a great venue for last weeks ADT event and despite my scoring I really enjoyed playing there for the first time. In fact if it wasn’t for a lousy finish to both rounds of golf I may have enjoyed playing there for a couple more rounds. On day 1 & 2 I managed to fritter away strokes over my closing holes, dropping 4 in the last 5 on both occasions. On Friday this was more down to pushing too hard trying to squeeze the much needed birdies out of the finish.

My game was almost there again last week. Over two days I didn’t manage to hole many putts without really putting too badly if that makes sense. A lot of putts just missing the hole or catching the lip or more frustratingly stopping short in the jaws of the hole. I hit plenty of good shots from which I didn’t capitalize and a few loose ones that I failed to recover from. A couple of swing blips that I’m currently ironing out with my coach Andrew Argus at Impact Elite Golf Academy. Nothing major, just some bad habits that I’d slipped into after being on the road for a few weeks.

More often than not it’s old habits that creep back in and the knack is to catch yourself doing it but that’s much easier said than done. I have also been trying out another new putter over the last couple of weeks. My switch to the TaylorMade Manta is the second putter change in just a few months. Maybe I’m making up for using the same old putter for so many years but this one really does feel like it’ll be a keeper for a while. Having used a demo model during the last two tournaments it was nice to collect mine from the TaylorMade HQ this week. Thanks to Sher Rene and Leonard at TaylorMade for sorting it out.

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Me being the tinkerer that I am, my new putter was modified almost immediately after collecting it. Chopping it down in length to 33″ and fitting a lovely leather Master Grip (thanks to Alistair Guthrie from The Old Clubhouse) in my favourite shade of Jägerbug orange of course :-)

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Congratulations have to go to my fellow Englishman Peter Richardson who flew in from the UK to take the title in A’Famosa by a whopping 8 stroke margin. His victory also takes him to the top of the order of merit after 3 events. Another top ten for my fellow Impact Elite Golf Academy student Nachi who was also joined by my good friend Greg Moss at the right end of the leader board. I’m hoping hanging around these guys enough may mean some of their good golf rubs off on me. Until then I’ll keep working hard to improve so that I can start writing blog posts straight after tournaments on a more positive note!

PGM ADT Masters @ A’Famosa

I played the front 9 at A’Famosa on Tuesday and the back 9 today followed by some short game practice and a light session on the range. It’s more a case of getting a good look at the course and staying fresh before tournaments here in Malaysia as the heat and humidity is such its easy to wear yourself out before the event even starts. Obviously the plan is to play a further four rounds of golf this week so after feeling a bit below par (in health) it was important to conserve some energy over the last couple of days.

As usual I’ve been rubbish at actually taking any pictures to document the course or our time out playing it in practice. It’s in pretty nice shape with a surprisingly firm feel to it despite quite a lot of rain recently. The fairways are running and the greens are undulating and tricky. I start off from the 1st tee tomorrow afternoon at 1.10pm

On a completely unrelated note we spent the evening tonight watching a different kind of sport. My good Friend Tom Sarginson of CityGolf invited us down to watch the KL Dragons Basketball team take on the Singapore Slingers. Whilst the home team took a bit of a beating tonight it was great fun to watch a game for the first time and some live sport which I’ve desperately missed since leaving the UK. Hopefully it won’t be the last time we get to see them in action.

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New balls please!

Yes, I admit, a phrase more often heard in tennis rather than golf but this week sees another change in the golf bag. Having finally used up my stock of the old TaylorMade Penta golf balls its time to put the new Penta TP5 to the test. The ball has been out for a while already but I’m yet to try it out. Hopefully it will play pretty similar to the old one although an extra yard or two from the tee would be a welcome bonus! A full report will follow from me but have any of you guys tried them yet? I’d love to hear your feedback too. Please comment by clicking on the little speech bubble up there in the right hand corner.

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Back last year sometime I blogged about how I marked my then Titleist golf ball, to this day it’s still the most frequent phrase that golfers enter into search engines and find my blog. So, it’s only right having changed ball manufacturer some time ago that I show how I mark my Penta!

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Nothing’s changed there you’ll see. Still plastering my ball with the blog address in shameless self promotion. It works by the way. Last week in Laos after posing for a photo with a couple of junior golfers from the Luang Prabang golf club I handed one of the budding young golfers the ball I had used during the practice round. He ran straight to his parents and showed them, boom, one more country on the map of the world ticked off for blog views! :-)

Now if I could just stop advertising in the trees and water hazards….

Lao Open Report, shortened version

Sorry folks, due to my iPad running out of battery just now as I was finishing typing my full, elaborate write up of last weeks adventure in the Lao Open I lost all the info and frankly can’t be bothered writing it all again! One of these days I’ll learn my lesson and actually save stuff as i’m writing. So, to summarize…

First trip to Lao. It’s lovely! My golf not so. Hit it wayward on a few holes day one and got severely punished as deserved.

Played much better on day 2 bar a couple of shots and a lousy finish.

Lao Open Report in picture form instead :-)

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Onwards and upwards. A few more lessons learnt again this week. Some promising signs towards the end to take back to Malaysia for next weeks ADT tournament.

Congratulations to Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant who seemingly played a different golf course to most of the field finishing -21 for an emphatic 8 stroke victory. Congratulations also to Malaysia’s Nicholas Pua for bagging himself 20,000,000 Lao Kip for a hole in one on the 17th hole on Saturday!

Practice distraction

I’m usually pretty good at ignoring what’s going on around me when I’m practicing and just immersing myself in whatever I’m working on that particular day. Today was tough to do that though. Alongside the driving range at The Mines Resort, where Impact Elite Golf Academy is based is a short, straight bit of road. Perfect it seems to set up a 100m drag race track for local scooter riders! So for the last 2 days solid, there have been riders thrashing it up and down the road at breakneck speeds.

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Now, for those of you that don’t know me that well, I’m a bit of a petrol head at heart. That’s a bit of an understatement. Infact, for years, my classic Volkswagen obsession over shadowed my golf playing career. I couldn’t resist popping over to watch the guys racing their pride and joys for a while after lunch today. It got the juices flowing and reminded me of the fun I had back in Europe racing our club built VW Beetle, the Jägerbug. I won’t go into too much detail on that at risk of staying up all night typing about it as I used to back then. Here are a couple of pics of it for those that are remotely interested.

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Needless to say I sat and watched a few videos from www.jagerbug.com after that to remind me of what we used to get up to before I made the move out to Malaysia. I miss the thrill of racing, the camaraderie between the guys and girls involved and the friendships I left behind. I keep in touch with some but not nearly enough or often enough. My thoughts went out to all the V-dubbed who were trudging their way home from the soggy, abandoned Big Bang festival at Santa Pod Raceway in England.

Tomorrow I’m flying to Bangkok and then on to Laos on Tuesday for another ASEAN Tour adventure. I think I’ll wear orange on day one to remind me of friends back in the UK.

Team Jägerbug – creating life long memories since 2007 ;-)

Look out Laos Open!

Well, it’s been a really busy week which contained playing lots of rounds of golf (Saujana, KLGCC, The Mines) with ex Manchester United and other Premiership footballers (David May, Andy Cole, Paul Jones, Andy Ritchie, Clayton Blackmore, Lee Martin) and hosting another ‘Beat the Pro’ event, this time at Kota Permai during a Visa card tournament on behalf of Adidias TaylorMade. As usual I have been predictably rubbish at snapping any pics but there were a couple floating around on Facebook (Thanks Dave Kelly.)

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To round the week off nicely an unexpected call on Thursday from Ozi at the ASEAN Tour to say I’d managed to secure an invite to next weeks Laos Open being held at Luang Prabang Golf Club. This is the first tournament on the tour this year and I’ll be flying into Bangkok first to meet up with my bro Dean Gultula who I’ll be traveling and rooming with along with generally trying to annoy.

Apologies for the lack of updates this week, it’s been hectic! I’ll make sure I post more next week with lots of news and pictures from Laos :-)

Calling golfers in Greenland?

Yes, it’s a random blog entry! But one of the cool things about blogging with WordPress is there is a statistics page showing where people have viewed your blog from. Now, I realise that last sentence just made me sound like the worlds biggest geek but I confess, I have my moments. Anyhow, the map you see below shows countries where my blog has been viewed recently. As you can see there are clicks from some very random corners of the globe, some quite surprising.

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Now, this is where it gets a bit childish. My good friend Tommy Mansuwan also writes a blog about his golf travels and exploits on the Asian Development Tour Tommy’s Blog. It has been known for us both to be sat in the same hotel lobby, using the wifi, typing simultaneous blog posts. With boys being boys there is of course an element of competition that creeps in occasionally with a “who’s had the most views today” or “who’s had a blog view from Kazakstan today” conversation.

So, as you can see. Thanks to my one view from the Russian Federation my map is looking quiet healthy and colourful but if I could just get a hit from someone in Greenland or several African Countries….

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In other news I’m back from holiday and nothing much to report on the golf front so far. Got back to Impact Elite Golf Academy yesterday to see if I could remember how to swing the golf club. I could. I also took a couple of pictures for an upcoming magazine interview I did whilst away in Thailand. Photogenic? Me?

I’ll stick to beating golf balls ;)

Bubba Masters Augusta

So another U.S. Masters at the awe inspiring Augusta National Golf Club comes to an end. As usual, the back 9 on Sunday signaled the start of the real action and what a finale it was again this year. I was awake early in my hotel room in Vietnam to watch the last couple of hours of coverage. The playoff between Louis “Mr Conventional” Oosthuizen and Bubba “self taught, every swing is completely different” Watson was just about to kick off as I agonisingly had to leave the hotel to catch a cab to the airport so I didn’t get to hear the result until I landed in Phu Quoc, a small island in the gulf of Thailand.

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If ever there was an example of how there’s definitely more than one way to play this crazy game, the playoff at this years Masters tournament highlighted it once more. Whilst most golfers undoubtably admire the seemingly bullet proof rhythm, tempo and steely nerve of the sweet swinging South African, Bubba’s flamboyant, free swinging nature allows him more appeal to the general golfing public. Who else would dare turn up to the first tee with a neon pink driver? It helps of course that the long limbed lefty can wield his driver like no other in the game. Removing the head cover and hitting a soft fade down the fairway 250 yards wouldn’t have quite the same effect. Instead Watson has been known to hit 350 yard + bombs with more shape and slice than the average weekend hacker. The difference being that this years triumphant green jacket wearer manages to, in the main, control these incrediblely shaped shots.

I couldn’t help but notice the incredible focus Bubba shows when in contention at a golf tournament. Undoubtably a pretty laid back, fun guy off the course as he showed when he joined up with Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler & Hunter Mahan to record the Golf Boys hit(?) single Oh Oh Oh, he seems able to flip a switch when it really matters and get into what golf psychologists will call, the zone. It’s something I’ve noticed a lot of the top players do. Their ‘game face’ signals that they really mean business and are 100% absorbed in what they are doing at that exact moment in time. It’s something I need to work on for sure.

Bubba’s recovery from the trees on the second play off hole was incredible. As impressive as his length from the tee is at times, his ability to shape his golf shots on demand is a skill every golfer should spend time practicing on the driving range instead of trying to continually perfect the straight shots. I pride myself in being able to extract my golf ball from some pretty stinky situations out on the course at times so I really enjoyed watching this piece of skill at a time when it was needed the most. Whilst dressing like a caddy for four days wasn’t exactly my cup of tea I think this win may well be the start of things to come for the newly jacketed champ. I’m even going to re follow him on Twitter, I bet he’ll sleep easy tonight knowing that!

Right, I’ve got some relaxing on a beach to do…

Johor Masters continued

With birdies needed I started round 2 much more positively than the previous day. My approach to 4 feet on the first wasn’t converted but after a second unsuccessful birdie try on # 2 I managed to hole a putt on the short, downhill par 3 third hole. Under par for the day and stood in the middle of the 4th hole with a pitching wedge in my hand I missed another of Johor Country Clubs small greens, this time in the wrong place.

Short siding yourself is a term us pros use to describe missing the green on the wrong side, usually when a pin is cut tight to one side of the green. Is there a right side to miss a green? Well, yes. If you have more space between the edge of the green and the flag it becomes a lot easier to advance your ball towards the hole and gives you a few more options with club selection.

Anyway, well and truly short sided in the green side bunker I didn’t manage to negotiate the next couple of shots too well and walked off the green after some less than impressive short game execution with a double bogey 7. Ouch. Back to square one. Nothing much happened over the next few holes but as we walked off the 8th green the rumbles of thunder edged closer and the temperature dropped a few degrees. Sure sign here in Malaysia that rain is imminent.

I bogeyed the 9th as the heavy rain began to fall and the lightening struck. Sure enough the siren sounded and the short walk to the clubhouse was followed by a few more hours of waiting around for the weather to clear. 20120407-105904.jpg

So what happens during a lengthy rain delay? Well, pretty much what you’d expect. Guys sit around, eat, drink and chat. We had regular updates from the Asian Tour and PGM officials but as the day dragged on it became clear we’d struggle to finish the round as the hours rolled by. Over in Singapore the Asian Tour Handa Classic was experiencing the same problems. Eventually word was given that play would resume at 5.30pm giving me just enough time to hit a few balls before heading to the 10th tee.

With no chance of finishing the round in daylight I clawed back a shot on the par 5 11th hole after a wonderful bunker shot. Unfortunately that was cancelled out by a bogey on the next and a further dropped shot on 15 after another visit to the jungle from the tee. On the 16th tee the siren sounded in the gloom of the evening signaling there was not enough light to continue play. The gloom was only matched by my mood as I felt the little chance I had of making the halfway cut slip away with that final bogey.

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The 7.30am restart the following day gave me my final throw of the dice. I arrived at the club early and warmed up on the range in the darkness. I had 3 holes left and would need 3 birdies to even stand a chance of playing anymore golf. The 16th hole played a little longer in the early morning temperature and my 7 iron approach came up just short of the green. Desperate to make a birdie I was a little too aggressive with the chip and it rolled some 8 feet by. 3 putts later and it was clear that the 3 hole last ditch effort wasn’t going to be successful. A bogey up the tough 18th rounded off a miserable couple of days where I didn’t have my best golf with me. A combination of not hitting it as well off the tee as I had been and too many shots missing the small greens left me with too much to do with my short game.

It was a rain delay filled, action packed week with several strange happenings. Getting lost in Johor Bahru and ending up in Singapore was one! My caddie from day one quitting after winning the lottery was another! You can’t write a script for some of the things that go on out here playing professional golf in Asia but I’ll try and keep updating with some of the crazy stuff that happens.

I’m looking forward to watching the finish to the U.S. Masters tonight then it’s a week off for me, I’m flying to Vietnam with my wife for a much needed holiday :-)