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The Round-up

Imagine Golf Club's Tom Cates gives a review of what's happening in the world of golf

Posted May 12, 2009 by Tom Cates

stenson

Anyone else feel a little bit sorry for Alex Cjeka?  The German will never be one of the top 10 players in the world, and it is highly unlikely that he will ever win a major.  But for three glorious days, the journeyman pro led the field a merry dance at The Players Championship.  Unfortunately for him, a certain Tiger Woods played very well in the 3rd round, the rest of the leading players failed to get home over the closing holes without leaking a few shots and Cjeka found himself with the worst possible draw for the final 18 holes of the biggest tournament of his career.  As Johnny Miller said on commentary, “When you stand on the first tee of the final round with Tiger Woods as your opponent, you are a pack of butter, and he is the sun”!  It soon became apparent that Cjeka's "butter" hadn't even been stored in the fridge.  A 5 shot lead disappeared a whole lot quicker than it had been constructed and that was that as far as the German's supporters were concerned.
 
It was left to Henrik Stenson to show just why he is now rivalling Sergio for the tag of "best player to have never won a major" (BPTHNWM for short).  The Swede produced a flawless final round display which, by the time the final putt went in, amounted to a stunning 66.  On a course set up as hard as Sawgrass was, this may go down as one of the Swede's greatest ever rounds by the time he hangs up his spikes.  It also suggested that the US Open at Bethpage this June might just be where the likeable Henrik makes his major breakthrough.

Of course a certain TW (Tiger Woods not Tidy Williams) will be doing his damndest to ensure that no one but he is lifting the trophy in New York.  Tiger, of course, is the defending US Open champ and also won the tournament the last time it was played at the famed Bethpage Black back in 2002.  His game at present is still a little off, well a lot off from the tee box but he has five weeks to get to work with his coach Hank Haney.  But there are some who believe that may not be long enough.  Woods has been with Haney now for five years and his driving still remains his achilles heel. And how about this for a stat - in the six or so years that Woods spent with previous coach Butch Harmon he hit the fairway on average 68.66 per cent of the time. In the Haney era that average has dropped to 57.82 per cent. In golfing terms a 1 per cent margin is colossal.  It's the difference between 28th and 140th place on this year's driving accuracy table.  Tiger is Tiger though, and his short game remains the best in the world.  Throw in his incredible will to win and the odd missed fairway isn't going to stop him getting back to winning ways, especially at the majors.  Win number 15 could well be being celebrated on June 22nd.

A quick mention as well for Ian Poulter's excellent showing at The Players.  2nd spot behind Stenson showed that his performance in finishing runner-up to Padraig Harington at The Open last July was no flash in the pan.  He definitely has the game and belief to figure regularly on the biggest stage, and one hot week with the putter could see him lift one of the big four.  He has undoubtedly silenced his critics who were quick to question his selection as one of Nick Faldo's Ryder Cup wildcards (one of the few things Faldo got right). 
Meanwhile on this side of the Atlantic, Long John Daly continues his rehabilitation both on and off the course.  The hugely popular American, is showing just why with a bit of discipline in his life he is still one of the biggest talents and draws in the game.  A 2nd placed finish behind runaway winner Daniel Vancsik at the Italian Open has lifted Daly from 794th in the world up into the top 500. Daly is currently serving a six month suspension from the PGA Tour and this kind of performance and maturity will no doubt please tour commissioner Tim Finchem who will ultimately decide when one of the biggest draws in the game can return to action on the PGA Tour.  We at Imagine Golf Club wish the two time major winner all the very best in his quest to find fulfilment both on and off the course - and there'll be plenty of people cheering him on at The 3 Irish Open which takes place at Co Louth Golf Club.  I personally can’t wait to see what trousers the big man will be sporting!  His efforts in Italy would have surely drawn gasps of admiration from Poults.
‘Till next time...Keep you head down and swing smooth.

- Tom

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