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From the stands: Dessie still not a man to miss an Open goal

DESSIE BAKER was a 'Pocket Rocket' as a striker for Manchester United, Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers, and now he is putting all his power into golf – with great success.

When he retired a couple of years ago, he joined Portarlington Golf Club and was playing off 14. He is now down to nine, hits the ball a mile, and has progressed to the Barton Cup team.

At the recent Golf Digest Volvo Open qualifier in Carton House, playing the Montgomerie Course, he won the Category One prize with 37 points, earning himself a place in November's final on the O'Meara Course.

Dessie appears to be showing the same dedication to golf as he applied to football for all those years.

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MANY television viewers of The Masters were struck by the almost uniform use of green and white umbrellas by the rain-soaked final-day galleries.

It got us thinking about what it's like to be a spectator at one of the great events on the sporting calendar and it's refreshing to learn that in these days of hyper-commercialism, the Augusta National Golf Club treats its patrons (as it likes to refer to the spectators) with respect.

So from the time you buy your ticket, if you can get one, at a very reasonable $250 for the four days, you are guaranteed a great experience without feeling ripped off.

Augusta National is a brand-free zone, so when you buy a beer you are offered a choice of domestic or imported, although you will never know which company actually brewed it. And like the sandwiches available at the venue, the beer will cost no more than you would expect to pay on the outside.

The same applies to clothing. A Masters T-shirt, you may be surprised to hear, can be bought for around $40. A steal.

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MARK ROE, in Sky's studio watching Friday's second round of the Wells Fargo Championship, could not have been clearer about what he had seen. And the slow motion replay certainly appeared to confirm his concerns.

Roe informed us that he had sent two text messages in an effort to alert Sergio Garcia to the fact that he had replaced his ball in the wrong place on the green – hoping that the Spaniard would avoid disqualification.

In the end, the incident was reviewed at the course and Garcia reported that "the rules officials felt that I didn't gain anything by it."

Following hot on the heels of Tiger Woods avoiding disqualification from The Masters despite admitting to breaking the rules, golf in is serious danger of losing control over how the rules are applied. It used to be that if you replaced the ball in the wrong place, you incurred a two-stroke penalty. Now, it seems, you can get away with a couple of centimetres, depending on how much of an advantage you gain.

Rules are rules? Not any more.

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The Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee is to invest €300,000 over the next three years to improve medical facilities at point-to-point meetings. The first €100,000 is to be donated immediately to the Jockeys' Emergency Fund. Further investments will be made in the current year in upgrading medical services at point-to-point meetings.

Initiatives earmarked for funding include the roll-out of more Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) to complement the units which are currently in use at almost all point-to-point meetings (the intention is to have such units at every meeting), the provision of full medical kits at all point-to-points and a Turf Club medical officer at every point-to-point.

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The GAA Museum, as part of its national archive collecting drive, is seeking the location of the older records of the GAA. The type of material the GAA Museum is interested in acquiring includes minute books, convention reports, match programmes and photographs.

It is hoped these can be added to the GAA Museum's existing library and archive, where the material will be made accessible to researchers. Anybody with material which fits the bill is asked to contact the museum.

Fergus McDonnell and Seán Ryan


Irish Independent