independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Change of date for Irish Open in 2014

NEXT year's Irish Open will be played the week following the US Open at Pinehurst from June 19 to 22 and already US-based Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell have pledged their support and will be in the field wherever the venue is likely to be.

It is also likely that the European Tour are going to introduce a new rule for 2014, obliging players to tee it up in their "Home Open" to help boost fields.

This idea was first mooted by Colin Montgomerie at the end of 2012 after the Ryder Cup when 10 of the 12 members of the European team committed to the US PGA Tour for 2013.

Personally speaking I think it is a great idea as sponsors are getting harder and harder to find and it's pointless pumping millions of euro into a golf event in Europe when the best European players are chasing the dollars over on the PGA tour.

It is not yet known where the 2014 Irish Open will be played, but it is strongly rumored that it will switch from the Montgomerie course to the O'Meara course at Carton House.

Mind you the proposed new date see the event clash with the British Amateur Championship but then the European Tour isn't going to be too bothered about not having some of the country's top amateurs in the field.

THE ELUSIVE 59 CAN'T BE FAR OFF IN EUROPE, OR CAN IT?

On Saturday last, Scotland's Scott Jamieson missed a fifteen foot putt on the 18th green and became the latest player to shoot a 60 on the European Tour, following similar exploits from American Peter Uihlein at Kingsbarns at the recent Alfred Dunhill Championship. Surely it can't be much longer before somebody finally breaks the barrier and shoots a 59.

Jamieson became the 18th player to shoot a 60 in Europe joining a famous club that includes Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke who remains the only player to shoot the magical 60 twice on tour.

However, over in the USA where it has to be said the weather is better and so are the greens, there are 19 players who have broken the 60 barrier on tour, with three of them registering a 58.

Al Geigberger became the first player in the history of the game to shoot 59 when he did so in 1977 at the Memphis Classic and he was joined in the "59 Club" by such famous names as Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, David Duval, Martin Kaymer and Chip Beck.

Shigeki Maruyama went one better and fired a 58 in qualifying for the 2000 US Open, while 12 months later a little-known professional Jason Bohn also shot a 58 at the Bayer Classic in Canada and as recently as 2010 Japan's Rio Isikawa joined the "58 Club" at the Crown Invitational Tournament.

Anneka Sorenstam is the only woman to have broken the 60 barrier with a 59 at the PING Invitational on the LPGA Tour in 2001.

So how much longer will we have to wait for someone to do it in Europe?

It is becoming an obsession at this stage, especially with the commentators and spectators and, of course, there is also the psychological barrier to get through, but I have a feeling that if it is to happen it may well come from an unexpected source, as in a little-known professional.

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