It's that time once again. The first major of the year always brings a level of excitement but this year's Masters has taken the normal level of excitement to a whole new level. There are plenty of reasons why. For a start, Tiger is back. The re-emergence of Tiger Woods has brought a whole new level of expectations. The key question is will he be able to show the world just how brilliant he is? Well, if the early signs are anything to go by then, yes.
Away from Woods, we have also seen a number of contenders hit the right form at the right time. Rory McIlroy is a PGA winner in 2018 and looks in good shape as he embarks on his quest to claim his career "Grand Slam". The Northern Irishman is certainly in a prime position to pounce.
Others are also proving their worth by winning titles in the build-up to this year's Masters. Jon Rahm is laying his claim to the Green Jacket with some spectacular displays in 2018. Yet, it is those that been there and done that, that are also raising a few eyebrows. Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, both previous winners of the Green Jacket have ended their winless streaks just in time for Augusta. The bookies have certainly taken notice by slashing their odds from this time last year. With Augusta favouring lefties, these two will make many mouths water.
Then there is Justin Rose. He may have lost in hos play-off against Sergio Garcia last April but the Englishman is not there to make up the numbers. He has the Green Jacket in his sights thanks to an improvement in his putting. Having proven that he has got to terms with those difficult Augusta greens it would appear that his Achilles heel is now a thing of the past as he looks like a more complete player.
It would be criminal to forget about Jordan Spieth. If any player in recent times has commanded a course, then it is Spieth. Memories of 2016 have been quickly dealt with as he claimed the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. His game looks great, his putting, sublime. Perhaps that is why he starts as the favourite.
One thing is certain though, this year's Masters is wide open with plenty of players staking their claim in style prior to the event. The fact that we haven't highlighted Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama or Paul Casey is a testament as to how open this one really is. All that remains is to sit back and enjoy. The thrills, the rivalries and the roars echoing around Augusta await for us all. It's enough to make the hairs on your arms stand up.
Let battle commence. It's shaping up to be an epic contest where the man who wears the Green Jacket come Sunday can really say that they are the Master.
Following the introduction of several new players, a new title sponsor in Staysure and brand-new tournaments around the globe, the European Senior Tour is on the rise, with the Farmfoods European Senior Masters one of the newest events on the map. With excitement building ahead of the beginning of the 2018 season in March, starting with the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq, taking place in Abu Dhabi, let’s take a look at a few of the stars to watch on the Tour this year…
The American came into 2017 as a relative unknown after gaining a Tour card through qualifying school. After a tricky start at the first event in Sharjah, finishing tied 19th, Clark found his feet on the Tour and went on to record a fantastic six top-five finishes, winning the Dutch Masters, the Senior Italian Open and finishing top of the Order of Merit, taking home the John Jacobs trophy in his rookie season. 2018 will present him with a different type of challenge, but if he can replicate his 2017 form, he will have a chance to clinch back-to-back titles.
Having turned 50 in October, Peter was only eligible to take part in two European Senior Tour Events last year. He got off to a flier, hosting his first, the Farmfoods European Senior Masters and recording a top 10 finish, before finishing in the top 20 for his second at the MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius. His pedigree speaks for itself and he is renowned as one of the most respected and popular players within the game. Peter’s first full season as a senior professional on the Staysure Tour will be a tough test but one he’ll be able to take in his stride.
A top 10 placing in the first event of 2017 in Sharjah was the perfect start to the European Senior Tour season for Stephen Dodd. But a run of bad form saw him only make one top 20 finish in the next eight events before September. Whether it was the autumnal air, or the leaves beginning to fall off the trees; Stephen’s form became red hot making three consecutive top 10 finishes before the inaugural Farmfoods European Senior Masters in October, where he holed an extraordinary 40 foot birdie-winning putt to take home his second career Staysure Tour title. If the Welshman’s end-of-season form is any indication, he will certainly be one to watch on the 2018 Staysure Tour.
Another qualifying school success story, Brendan proved that consistency was the way to go in his debut season on the European Senior Tour. The Irishman topped the qualifying school back in February 2017, and showed exactly why, with a string of eight top-20 finishes across the season, including tying for second place at the Travis Perkins Masters, which helped him to retain his tour card by finishing 20th in the 2017 Order of Merit. Known for his colourful attire, Brendan will be hoping his consistent results can continue to bring him success in 2018.
Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup winning captain began his European Senior Tour career last year, and surprised no one when landing three top 10 finishes out of the five events he entered, including a tied second at the Farmfoods European Senior Masters. McGinley’s pedigree and prowess within the game speaks for itself, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone for him to shine on the Staysure Tour once again.
The inaugural Farmfoods European Senior Masters was won by Welshman Stephen Dodd, in a fiercely contested event at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club last month. As the first tournament of its kind in the Midlands for over a decade, the Staysure Tour event saw thousands of spectators flock to the Birmingham-based course to see golfing heroes such as 2014’s Ryder Cup winning captain Paul McGinley, 1991 Masters champion Ian Woosnam OBE and tournament host Peter Baker participate.
The 2018 Farmfoods European Senior Masters takes place between 4-7 October 2018, for more information visit: www.europeanseniormasters.com.
Unless you didn’t know, Golfhacker is preparing to turn into a print magazine. Needless to say, we are pretty excited about the whole thing but we need your help in helping this becoming a possibility. We are launching our Kickstarter to help us do this. So here is our plan and seven reasons why you might pledge your support when our Kickstarter goes live on Monday 19th February.
Our aim is to make something new in the golfing media. Our new extended 110-page issue is going to be quite different to other magazines. We aim to make something that our readers can enjoy and take pride in owning. In order to do that, we have decided that our new magazine will be released every three months. This will give us the time to produce higher quality features and longer, more informative reads. In the age of the internet, we are concerned that many articles have become clickbait driven rather than that of quality journalism. With our new magazine, we aim to put this right. We also aim to change the landscape of what is included in most golf magazines. For too long we have seen that many have focused on the big names. Whilst we will include them, we also aim to find the stories that matter to many readers. Going quarterly allows us to do just that.
Travel has become a key focus for many as golfers expand their horizons and play away from their traditional courses. Whilst many publications focus on the golf, we intend to go further. Golf societies and families who travel are looking for locations for quality golf but also want to know what else they can do at the destinations. For this reason, we will be focusing on the concept of city guides in order to highlight what else you can do away from the course.
Our first guide will be the stunning city of Oslo in Norway. Our travel writer, Lily Hymes, has gone to great lengths to highlight what you can do in this amazing city as well as choosing some stunning courses to play.
Magazines often include far too many ads. There is, of course, a valid reason for this. Advertising produces a substantial income to many titles. However, there are some pitfalls that we have considered carefully. With more advertising comes less actual content. Our aim is to produce a content-rich magazine that will depend on sales rather than advertising revenue. For this reason, we have significantly reduced the number of adverts in our magazine. There will 13 pages of advertising in our magazine.
We have also become concerned that this revenue can at times causes issues with regards to the reviewing of equipment. The threat from companies pulling ad revenue or providing extra incentives in order to get favourable reviews and features is an area we do not want to cross. Our aim is, to be honest, and maintain the integrity we have established over the past two years.
We are fortunate to have a great product reviewer in William Murfitt. Over our many discussions over the past year, we have spoken about the need for honesty with reviews and William is as honest as they get. He reviews all products with our readers in mind and the products that we get sent are keen to find out his views.
Through the printed word and his YouTube videos, William shows you exactly what he thinks from your point of view. We believe this is a critical part of Golfhacker’s success. We are golfers just like you and if we were asked to shell out a lot of cash for a product we would hope that what we read is accurate. Sadly that is not always the case as others may not be as judgemental. We are answerable to our readers and our readers only.
Something for everyone
Golfhacker is about golf...pretty obvious really. If there is one thing that really annoys us about Golf media it is the lack of representation of the women’s game. For two years, we have aimed to put those wrongs right and have featured Lisa Longball, Charley Hull and Lydia Ko on our covers. We have dedicated a lot more coverage to the women’s game than other publications and we intend to continue to be a flag carrier for the women’s game.
But we don’t stop there. Sometimes the greatest stories are away from the public eye. Our interview with former Marine turned golfer, Aaron Moon, was a major turning point for our humble magazine as Aaron spoke about his injuries and how golf has given him a new lease of life. We will be seeking more stories like this.
Instruction with you in mind
We have all read those articles that give you tips to break 80...then put them in the magazine rack to gather dust. They are often generic and well, impersonal. So what if we could change that? Well, that is our plan. Our instruction PGA pro, Ben Derbyshire, is keen to focus on our reader's issues. We will be asking what your issues are and Ben will solve them. He will also invite you down to the course so we can film the help you receive.
We believe that this is what readers want when it comes to instruction. Something more personal, more tailored and most importantly of all, something that actually helps.
Niche is best
There is so much happening in the world of golf and yet you wouldn’t have thought so judging by the coverage others produce. We are staunch believers in that niche is best. From the British Par 3 Championship (which is definitely our highlight of the year) to new ideas such as urban crazy golf, we believe there is much more to the game than just it’s majors.
So there you have it, seven reasons why we are different to the others. Now we need to make it happen and for this, we need your help. Our Kickstarter launches on Monday 19th February where you can pre-order our digital and print editions. We also have some limited edition packs that include the magazines as well as printed Vice golf balls and Twisted Frog pitchforks. We have even completed 60% of the new extended edition prior to our Kickstarter.
If you can pledge and support us you will be helping to create something new, something different and most importantly, something we believe you will love.
When the Open Championship arrived at Royal Birkdale last year you would have assumed that the town of Southport would have been buzzing with people. Sefton council even paid for shuttle buses to and from the town centre to encourage golf fans to come to the centre. However, there was a problem. The R&A introduced a policy of no re-admission at the Open Championship.
Whilst the Open Championship attracted hundreds of thousands of people that week, the economic benefits were unfairly distributed when fans were told that once they left Royal Birkdale, they would have to pay again to re-enter.
It was the first time that the R&A introduced this policy and they claimed it was to stop people getting ripped off with unofficial hospitality packages. Once fans were in they were welcomed with over inflated prices for food and drink and denied the chance to spend some time in Southport.
The town had its day trippers but not many. Instead, the R&A park and ride shuttle buses took patrons straight to the gates of the Open Championship. Since the Championship began, the policy has always been to allowed re-entry if patrons wanted to explore the surrounding areas.
The inconvenience for any town to host a major sporting event is considerable. Traffic build up, one way systems and other issues. Now the Open heads to Carnoustie, a small village where the links are only a short walk from the high street. The R&A have decided to keep its policy of no readmission.
Needless to say that those businesses on Carnoustie high street are going to be hit. It should be a golden period for those businesses and the local economy. Instead, fans will be trapped inside the Open where the R&A will rack in the cash and deny patrons the chance to see the town.
Local businessman, David Valentine has set up a petition to get the R&A to reconsider this policy. David writes: ”We think the R&A have made a mistake by saying this policy will guard against the "inferior" and "unofficial" off-course hospitality. This is a slur on the hundreds of excellent pubs, eateries and cafes in all the host venues on the Open Rota. It will also prevent fans from enjoying the legitimate activities of the host communities whose residents, golf clubs, restaurants and other local businesses have traditionally helped Open fans to celebrate off-course by providing festival-style entertainment.”
We couldn’t agree with you more David and for this reason, Golfhacker is backing the campaign and urge the R&A to reconsider this policy.
To sign the petition simply click the link below:
Whilst Women's participation is on the rise in Europe, the UK lags behind as some clubs continue to cling to their "precious traditions".
It was a relatively reasonable request made by Lowri Roberts as she asked if her golf club could allow Full Members of the Ladies Section to play competitively at a time of their choice on a Saturday morning. The morning slot was allocated to the men’s section until 12.30pm. The whole request seems fair enough given that the Ladies involved pay the same full membership as the Men.
However, at the Cottrell Park Golf Club AGM, not everyone agreed with Lowri Robert’s proposal. Votes were cast and the result was a 50/50 split. It was now up to the Chairman to use his casting vote.
His choice was clear-cut. He could have voted for change, a change that the club could have used as a beacon of equality. His other choice was for tradition. Where segregation opens continues and the status quo remains in place. He chose tradition.
Needless to say, when the news broke on Twitter there was some instant reaction. The vast majority being negative towards the decision. The club's Twitter administrator will have no doubt been inundated with comments that will provide plenty of food for thought.
Whilst it is important to stress that the club is fully entitled to continue in whatever way it wishes to proceed, it once again raises the issue of female participation in golf. Do decisions like this put female golfers off from becoming members? Is the idea of "Tradition" actually doing more harm than good for the golfing economy?
The research does not bode well for the UK when we compare female golf participation with the rest of Europe. According to the European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA), female participation on the continent is on the rise. In Austria, female golfers make up 35% of all golfers in the country. Just behind Austria are Germany and Switzerland on 34%. These three countries currently hold the gold standard when it comes to female players.
The same could not be said for the United Kingdom. England, Scotland and Wales stand at the bottom of the list. In England, only 14% of clubs membership are women with both Scotland and Wales holding the bottom spot on 12%.
Let that sink in for a moment. Here in the UK, Women’s golf is suffering whilst it is growing everywhere else. Golf’s traditional heartland is losing out.
Golf is very different on the continent. Here women’s golf is embraced. Club opens are mixed, families are encouraged to play together and a love of the game benefits because of that. Values are also different. Tradition is replaced with equality but not for the sake of driving the game towards the 21st Century but also for its economic benefits.
This is key as to understanding why golf clubs in the UK are closing at an alarming rate. The economics are simply not there. Municipals are closing, clubs are going into administration and those that are surviving are heavily dependent on the rise of the nomadic golfer using Teeofftimes websites.
The cold hard truth is that if golf clubs are to survive they need the yearly guaranteed income that membership provides. The continent understands this relatively simple equation. Surely the aim, therefore, is to grow your membership? Women’s membership can help grow any club. However, with things as they currently stand, why would they even want to?
Tradition, where the men rule the club, creates an atmosphere where women don’t feel accepted. However, I bet the clubs love taking their membership fees, only to give them a second-rate service. Tradition and its failure to move with the times, to modernise and evolve, will kill your golf club.
The game is beautiful. Getting that little white ball into the hole in as few shots as possible does not differentiate between creed, colour or sex. It’s not the game's innocence that is at fault, but those who hold the keys to the powerful chambers within. This has to change.
The situation is an easy one to solve. We are all golfers, we all love the game and we all want to play. Our aim has to be to let everyone play and in doing so, everyone will benefit both socially and economically.
The events at Cottrell Park will be played out across the country. Some will hold on to their precious traditions until the end. In doing so, they will drive people away to other clubs who have embraced change. Those clubs will then flourish, become beacons of equality, case studies will be written about how to do it effectively. The others who held onto their traditions with a cold grasp will have golfers, they will be happy for a short time, then they will close as memberships decline with each passing year. They will do so with a foolish pride masked as "tradition". No one wants to see that happen, do they?
Tiger Woods is back. The will he, won’t he saga has proven a lot over the course of the Hero World Challenge. He performed well over the four days and most importantly, there looked like no signs of back injury. The world of golf can rest.
Whilst many fans of the great man went to Twitter to express their glee at his return, we should also note that those watching the humble telly also increased during the event. Over in the States, the Golf Channel has reported a massive level of interest in his return.
As Tiger approached the tee and the excitement grew, it was the Golf Channel that benefited revealing that the opening round of the Hero World Challenge was the most-watched opening round since The Open. Not bad for an 18 man, no cut exhibition event. The good news didn’t end there either. Over 2 million tuned into Saturday’s coverage and 7.4 minutes were streamed online. Other than The Players and the Majors, this was the most watched tournament of the year in terms of streaming.
So Tiger’s impact has certainly made its mark. Betting odds tumbled as punters (perhaps in haste) placed their bets on Tiger winning the 2018 Masters. He went from 100/1 to 15/1 by the end of Friday. All of this based on a tournament that only had 18 players.
Tiger Mania is certainly in the air. The only thing is that perhaps the sheer excitement of it all has clouded judgement. It’s great to see him back it really is. It’s fantastic to see him in competition but let’s take a few moments to really think.
One tournament won’t really change anything. He played at the Hero World Challenge last year after a hefty lay off. His return was, however, short-lived. Whilst completing the Hero he then fell quickly. A missed cut at the Farmer Insurance and then the withdrawal at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The positive thing at this year’s Hero World Challenge is that the niggling back issues appear to be resolved. He’s playing without pain.
Tiger also has another issue to tackle. Those pesky kids that he is playing against now and pretty darn good. Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas represent this new generation best. Fowler is arguably one of the best players not to win a major yet torn the course apart on Sunday. His time will come that is for sure but can an ageing Tiger Woods keep up?
Questions are still to be answered when it comes to Woods return but the signs are positive. For him personally, his back looks in good shape and he can compete. The desire to win is still clearly there for all to see. For the ratings, it is also good as many tuned in to watch. However, before we all pass judgement on whether or not he is truly back, let’s see him in a real tournament. Only then will we know for sure. It’s exciting, it’s happening but let’s be patient.
Playing in any competition is nerve-wracking enough but this is not your average club medal that I’m talking about. Here at the Forest of Arden this weekend I find myself playing alongside some of the game’s legends at the European Senior Masters.
Ryder Cup heroes Steve Richardson and Eamonn Darcy were our playing partners as Golfhacker tagged along as we competed in the Alliance event. For someone with a 20 handicap, the pressure was on to keep pace alongside players who had won European Tour events and beaten the best.
“Next on the tee is Steve’s playing partner, Nick Kevern”, the tournament starter announced. With the crowd waiting for something special all I could think to myself was simple. Looking towards the sky I said a little prayer to the golfing gods.
“Don’t top it, for the love of god, please don’t top it.”
Taking aim and a deep breath, I was hoping not to embarrass myself in front of the knowledgeable crowd let alone the Ryder Cup stars who had the misfortune to be paired with a hacker.
It was now or never as I drew my 3 wood back from the ball. I’d love to tell you that it was a pure strike that sent the ball far down the fairway. Instead, I topped it. Thankfully, it was one of those better terrible shots that scurried about 60 yards. Needless to say, it was not the start I had wanted.
With the first pressurised shot out of the way, it did get better with some notable successes. The par 3 fifth was where I finally managed to get some points on the board in style. The tee shot may have hit the bunker but the bunker shot put me a couple of feet away from the hole. Sinking the putt meant that it worked out as a birdie based on my handicap. Kerching.
Further success came on the seventh and eighth as the flow began. For a moment, I looked like a real golfer. For a couple of holes, I didn’t feel like a high handicap player. For four holes, I was up there with the best. However, golf is all about consistency. The difference between the pros and the hacks is that they are consistently consistent. For mere mortals like myself, golf has a great way to bring you back down to earth.
In my case, it was the ninth hole. Rather than topping it, I got right underneath the ball as my tee shot headed to the heavens. With the afternoon sun hampering our view we all had no idea where it ended up. It couldn’t have gone far but the line was towards the woods. In that moment, I was a hacker again. I enjoyed the four holes where I felt like a king. However, it felt like a distant memory in a heartbeat.
The rest of the round became a scramble and yet it really didn’t matter. The company was brilliant, the course was beautiful and the experience of playing a round with legends of the game was simply amazing. This is what it was all about for the amateurs paired with the professionals during the Alliance event.
I may have picked up some points along the way that helped Steve in the team event but really that was just a bonus. For me, it was about spending time with my heroes. Playing on the same course in an event alongside the likes of Ian Woosnam, Paul McGinley, and Sam Torrance. My heroes from the past who inspired me to pick up a club in the first place.
That is what all of this was really about. The European Senior Tour is where all of that happens. Where you can rub shoulders with some of the game’s biggest names from yesteryear. However, it also reminds us why this game is so amazing. No matter your age or even your ability, you can still compete with the best around.
British Par 3 Champion Richard O’Hanlon discusses how winning the competition ‘totally changes your life’
Just over a month on from his second victory in the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship, Pro-Am winner Richard O’Hanlon has reflected on what proved to be a stunning victory at Nailcote Hall in August.
Having finished as runner up in 2016, Richard went one better this year claiming victory in a tense final day, where the lead changed several times. With an overall score of -5 he took home the €50,000 prize.
Richard has experience in winning the Championship, having also triumphed on the Cromwell Course greens back in 2010 but the competition has grown significantly since then and he spoke about how his latest win has changed his career for the better.
“Playing golf full time is expensive, I’ve spent the last three years playing regional stuff but it is still hard work. So, winning the BP3 has helped me play with less pressure. I still want to win, I don’t want to rest on my laurels, and if anything, it’s made me hungrier for success.
“It’s also allowed me to play in more tournaments. Now I’m looking to go to the World Par 3 in March and I have around seven overseas Pro-Ams, so they will come with slightly less pressure. The least amount of pressure you can put yourself under the better you will perform.
“The type of money I won at the BP3 totally changes your life. I have a couple of years to go until I’m eligible for the Senior Tour, which is the long-term aim. I’ve seen what the likes of Paul Broadhurst have done on the Tour. You can’t just turn 50 and go straight onto the Senior Tour you need a plan. You need to get yourself fit and in shape.”
Famed for its small greens, Richard gave an insight into how to tackle the Cromwell course for future competitors: “I played nine practice rounds with Jarmo Sandelin and that is what helped me win, as I was pretty comfortable with the yardages and the greens. I take it seriously and I think that is what a lot of the Tour players are doing now too and that’s the frame of mind you need to be in to win.
“It breeds confidence and now I’m thinking why can’t I win it next year. When I won in 2010 it was £5,000, and then last year coming second, I won £25,000 which was just fantastic. The money really is life-changing.”
Since his victory, Richard has commemorated the achievement with a personalised licence plate which has gone down a storm on social media. He said: “I thought I deserved to treat myself! It was so hard to try and find something that worked but in the end, I went for BP03 PRO. It looks great and I’ve added on the bottom of the plate ‘British Par 3 Champion 2017’, it works brilliantly.”
Next year’s Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship takes place between 7-10th August 2018, with free tickets available from: http://bit.ly/2wmnaok.
The Challenge Tour has a reputation for unearthing the best-golfing talent around. Acting as a feeder tour for the European Tour, the level of stars the Challenge Tour has produced is simply staggering. Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer are only a handful of names to have learned their trade at the Challenge Tour. Working closely with the European Tour, the events, staffing, rules and tournament officials are the same as is the personnel. The idea is to make it as close to the elite standard in order to make the transition smoother.
Luton Hoo was the host course for the Bridgestone Challenge. A course with no bunkers, thick rough and at times, water, the course was in immaculate condition. Ryan Evans was our pro who would play with a motley crew of media and sponsors. Evans is having a great season on the Challenge Tour. Sitting in fourth position on the Road to Oman, the Englishman is edging closer to his dream of a full European Tour card. It is easy to see why as the winner of the Turkish Airways Challenge. Five top ten finishes have also shown his level of consistency.
Whilst myself and the other amateur partners hacked our way around the course, Evans looked like a man composed, relaxed and on fire. He also possesses the gift of ball finding as he managed to save my skin a number of times. Charming and funny throughout the day he even seemed to warm to our new nickname for him. We suggested the name of “RYNO” and were determined to use whenever we could.
“RYNO is making a charge on the back nine!” was a particular favourite of mine. Slightly unconvinced with our antics, he still took the whole thing with good grace. That is the point of the Pro-Am, to have fun, get on with each other and enjoy it. In that respect, having Ryan with us made the day even better. Keep an eye out for Ryan Evans on the European Tour sometime soon. Given the pedigree of the talent that comes out of the Challenge Tour, something tells me that you will be hearing his name a lot.
Golfhacker: What do you think has been the secret behind your successful year so far?
Ryan Evans: “It’s difficult to say. I was a reasonably good amateur, had some good wins as an amateur so I got the feeling of what it was like to win a tournament. Stepping up to the Pro game for the first year I played on the Challenge Tour and had a couple of top three finishes so I was close to winning. From there I got my main tour card and come third, which was my best result at the Czech Masters. Then I won the Turkish Airlines Challenge which is a Challenge Tour event. I don’t know what I put it down to really? Working hard on your game, believing in yourself and getting a good team around you. I feel like I have tried to make the game simpler over the last few weeks. I was putting a bit more pressure on myself when I won and was trying to win again, probably not too soon, but I put it on myself to win. So I’ve just gone back to enjoying it, swinging easy and go from there.”
Golfhacker: And it’s obviously working because you are fourth on the Road to Oman and looking good for your European Tour Card
Ryan Evans: “I’d say the last six events are the big events. Kazakhstan is huge, huge prize fund. Then you have two in China, Dubai, and Oman. There will be a lot of movement in them few weeks. There will be guys in the top 15 who might not be there at the end. I’ve just got to make sure I’m not one of them. I’ve got to go on and keep playing well like I have and the results should take care of it. I don’t feel like I need to win because I’ve got myself in a good position but I still need to put in some good golf and as long as I can do that then I will be fine.”
Golfhacker: You look at players like Jordan Smith who are doing so well on the European Tour. He won the Road to Oman last year, is that where you want to be this time next year?
Ryan Evans: "Yeah, of course. Jordan has had a phenomenal couple of seasons. He’s won on all tours and even a top ten in a major. He’ll probably go on and make the Ryder Cup team. Tyrrell Hatton is the same, he came through the Challenge Tour. I feel like we all have the talent it’s just putting it together, getting on that waves of confidence. If you get a win then it is huge in your career. Confidence is the biggest thing I think."
Golfhacker: But that also goes to show just how good the Challenge Tour is in bringing fresh talent. I mean you’ve had Brooks Koepka, Jordan Smith
Ryan Evans: "You can go through the list of guys that have come through. Some are major champions, Ryder Cup players. The Challenge Tour is a great tour. The standard is fantastic. You’ve got to be 20 under nearly every week to win a tournament. Anyone can win and like I say, the guys that graduate, some come back down but some go on to do great things. You’ve got to take your chances when you get them."
Golfhacker: And you are certainly doing that at the moment, the future’s bright.
Ryan Evans: “Yeah I got a win early in the year then I hit a bad patch, I was struggling. Probably trying to force things. I’ve gone back to feeling like how I used to play. I’ve got a guy on the bag over the past few weeks who has been a great help. He’s very good at making sure I see the shot, that I’m happy with the right club, we have a good discussion and results, five top 10’s out of six says that something is working."
Golfhacker: You’ve got a good partnership going haven't you?
Ryan Evans: “Yeah, I feel like we bounce off each other well. You have some caddies that you gel with and some you don’t. It’s finding that right person for you and I feel that’s a big help. If you look at the guys doing well at the minute, like Jordan. His friend Harry is on the bag and they are doing well. Tommy Fleetwood has got his best mate on the bag and doing well. I’d say Steve Williams and Tiger Woods were the best in the world, but me and Steve might not get on, we might not work. So just because he’s the best caddie doesn’t mean I’d become the best golfer. So it’s finding someone right for you, sticking with and enjoying the journey.
Golfhacker: And that journey has plenty of miles to go.
Ryan Evans “I hope so. I hope I’ve got many many years. Plenty more ups than downs would be nice but I’ll just take it day by day.”
Golfhacker: That’s the right attitude I think. Having seen what I’ve seen today I think you have every chance mate.
Ryan Evans: “Cheers I appreciate that mate.”
Has it really been two years since I was in Germany to witness the spectacular USA come back at the final day singles at the Solheim Cup? Personally, I love the Solheim Cup and it is one of my favourite competitions in the world of golf. Now, the Solheim Cup heads to Des Moines in Iowa and there is already plenty to talk about.
The European team, captained by Annika Sorenstam, will be looking to prise the Cup back from the Americans. The team is a nice mix of youth and experience containing four rookies. It would all too easy to dismiss those rookies but do so at your peril. Georgia Hall currently leads the LET Order of Merit and comes into this fresh from her T-3 at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. This kid is showing that she can more than handle the pressure. Florentyna Parker is also having a great season and has one tour victory under her belt so far. Not too shabby for two rookies now is it?
The two rookies that Sorenstam has enlisted as her picks could be dark horses in Iowa. Emily Kristine Pedersen has proved her worth among golf’s elite with a T-13 at the Ladies Scottish Open that was co-sanctioned with the LPGA. Madelene Sagstrom will bring her experience of the LPGA feeder tour, the Symetra Tour, with her. Three victories on that tour and a world ranking of 69 shows that she is ready to make her name.
Sorenstam has also opted for experience with her picks in the form of Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Masson. Both have hit form at the right time with strong showings at the Ricoh Women’s British Open but both also have plenty of experience at the Solheim Cup. These two could pick up some valuable points for the team.
Melissa Reid is playing in the LPGA and is a quality match-play player. Her record at the Solheim Cup speaks for itself. She brings with her an impressive record of Played 8, Won 4, Lost 3, Halved 1. Now she is a much stronger player with her experience on the LPGA. She is definitely one to watch at this year’s Solheim Cup.
Charley Hull found fame at the 2013 Solheim Cup that showed that rookies should never be underestimated. Hull is another player whose record at this event shows that she thrives on it. With a 75% win rate at the Solheim Cup, Hull is a player the Americans will already be wary of.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff comes into this following her second place at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. She may have only experienced the Solheim Cup once before but let’s not forget that she was part of the winning team back in Colorado in 2013. She won two and lost one back then but will enter this year’s event in red hot form.
Then there is Suzann Pettersen, Carlota Ciganda and Karine Icher. This is the core of the team in terms of experience. Ciganda makes the team for the third event running and Icher will make her fourth appearance. However, when it comes to experience then you simply have to look towards Suzann Pettersen. Eight times she has represented Europe at the Solheim Cup and on three occasions she has lifted the trophy.
There will be those who believe that the USA will comfortable win on home soil. However, this European team might just surprise you. Remember Colorado anyone? The Solheim Cup is becoming a tighter event. The days when the USA swept Europe away each time have now gone. This will be good, this will be close. I’ve already got my popcorn and beers ready, have you?