Sport has a wonderful ability to defy logic. Underdogs beating favourites and seemingly impossible comebacks all add to the reason we love the drama of sport. Golf is a great provider of drama. The 2012 Ryder Cup was one of the most incredible comebacks in sport. It was a comeback for the ages. That Ryder Cup Sunday may be the most emotional day in golf history. Today on the blog we will relive the “Miracle at Medinah”.
Team USA had won the Ryder Cup last time they played on home soil in Valhalla. Times were tough for the Americans as Europe had begun to dominate the event. Medinah was their chance to win a second home Ryder Cup in a row and show the visitors what they were made of.
Chicago is one of America’s great sporting cities. With teams like the Bears, the Cubs, the White Sox and the Blackhawks, sports are part of the fabric of the city. That week, golf would be a major part of the conversation. The Ryder Cup always has huge galleries. Everyone knew that this would be a rowdy crowd. Chicago was just 25 miles away from Medinah, after all. Davis Love III would be hoping to use those fans to help carry his team to a win. They needed one. Jose Maria Olazabal and his European team wanted a rare away victory.
The 39th Ryder Cup was being held at Medinah Country Club. Having the Ryder Cup here was a real treat. This is one of America’s great country clubs. Medinah is a PGA TOUR course and a five-time major venue. It is a truly grand club. There are three courses at the prestigious Medinah Country Club of which, Course No 3 is the most famous.
Tom Bendelow designed the course originally then work from A.W. Tillinghast, Roger Packard and Rees Jones created the finished product we see today. In preparation for the Ryder Cup, a renovation project took place on Course 3 costing around $1.5 million.
The 7,657 yard par 72 was a wonderful host course for the Ryder Cup due to the nature of the course. Medinah is a classic American inland course. There are plenty of risk versus reward decisions to be made as you make your way around the course. The course is packed with hazards. Trees, bunkers and water hazards all punish errant shots but the shape of the course tempts you to take risks. The hostile atmosphere would be another hazard for Europe. The home fans hoped that this fortress would be the site of a victory.
The teams were published. Captain Olazabal started his Ryder Cup with a proven pairing. He went for Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell as they had played together three times at Celtic Manor in 2010. Team Northern Ireland. They faced Furyk and Snedeker, two of the steadiest golfers on earth, and would win 1up. Team USA took the next two matches with wins from Mickelson/Bradley and Dufner/Z. Johnson. The all-English pairing of Rose and Poulter gave a strong finish for Europe to end the session at two points apiece. The 2012 Ryder Cup was on its way. It was a tight affair.
The afternoon brought some troubling events for Team Europe. The Americans started with a huge 5&4 victory from Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. This was a sign of a rough afternoon ahead. This emphatic win sparked a strong session for Team USA. That Mickelson and Bradley pairing that had worked so well in the morning worked again as they won 2&1. This would become a key partnership. Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar also worked well together for a win over Rose and Kaymer.
The first three matches brought red points, some resistance was needed from the visitors. Europe needed a point. Thankfully, Lee Westwood, a European Ryder Cup regular was in the final match with Nicolas Colsaerts. They put a blue point on the board with a last hole win over Tiger and Steve Stricker. Finally some blue. USA took the session 3-1 taking the overall score to 5-3 in favour of the US.
That morning the players warmed-up on the range. Would USA dominate the foursomes again? It was clear from the team selection that Captain Jose wanted to stop the rot with some blue points. He went with Ian Poulter. The European Ryder Cup hero would lead off with Justin Rose hoping to get an early point for his side. They did their job. They sealed a 1up victory over Watson and Simpson. This European point was overshadowed by a crushing 7&6 victory for Team USA in the second match. Davis Love’s men smelled blood. They wanted to put more pressure on their visitors. The crowd were getting more and more hostile and things were becoming tough for the Team Europe.
Wins from Dufner/Z. Johnson and Furyk/Snedeker would seal a second 3-1 session win for the home side. The momentum was firmly in the American camp as the score now at 8-4. Europe were in a bad place. The home side had a chance to set-up a fairly easy Sunday for themselves with another strong afternoon. They wanted to put the hammer down.
Things were looking bleak for Team Europe. The afternoon session continued on the same theme and yet more American points came in. Team Europe couldn’t stop the red points. Wins from Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar then Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson took the score to 10-4. There are 28 total points available in the Ryder Cup. The magic number is 14½. This meant that Team USA, with 14 points still up for grabs, needed 4½.
Thankfully, Europe took the next point. The score was 10-5 to the home team and there was only one match left out on the course. Thankfully, for the visitors, that match included Ian Poulter. One thing Poulter is known for is his passion during the Ryder Cup. He is this generation’s Seve and a Team Europe hero. He and Rory simply had to win their point. They would go all the way to the final hole to win 1-up against Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. A rare European point. The importance of that point may never be fully appreciated. It was a vital glimmer of hope.
10-6 going into Sunday isn’t good. There was no other way to look at it, a miracle was needed. A European win form here was surely impossible. As the holders, they only needed to get to 14 points to retain the trophy, but even that seemed like a mammoth task. Europe had a secret weapon. This was the first Ryder Cup that had taken place since the death of Seve Ballesteros in 2011. Seve is a Ryder Cup hero. He was also a close friend of Olazabal. Captain Jose Maria wanted nothing more than to honour his late friend with a win on US soil. He needed the spirit of Seve from his players.
It is hard to imagine the words that must have been said that morning to Olazabal’s team. These times show what leaders are made of. Losing a Ryder Cup is a painful experience for any golfer but this loss would hurt more. The team would have been well aware of the uphill battle that awaited them, but they were ready for the fight. They needed a fast start. Jose had no choice but to ‘front-load’ his team. Europe needed early momentum. Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy were the first three Europeans to the tee. Nothing short of a point from each of them would work.
Rory was nowhere to be seen. As mentioned above, he was out third and by all measures, he was late. Thanks to a mix-up with time zones, Rory was an hour late in leaving for the course that day. Given that Rory usually doesn’t get to the course until about an hour and a half before he tees off, this made things really tight. Things were so tight that Rory needed a police escort to get there on time. His tee time was 11.25 and he was playing against Keegan Bradley. Olazabal later said, “All of a sudden we realised Rory was not here. My heart was beating quicker than expected.” With just ten minutes to spare, Rory rolled into the car park of Medinah in an unmarked police car. As he made his way to the tee, American fans chanted “central time zone” at him.
Luke Donald was first to put some blue on the board with a 2&1 win over Bubba Watson. That was the first test passed. Paul Lawrie was playing incredibly, he won his match second with a 5&3 win over Brandt Snedeker. So far, so good. Game three came in with a win for McIlroy. Just as well for him he brought in the point after putting the captain through the stress of the morning.
All of a sudden the score was 10-9. Momentum was firmly with Europe and the course was eerily quiet. Another European point came in. Ian Poulter took a 2up victory over Webb Simpson. The match was tied. It is often said in sport that if you believe in a cause that goes beyond just yourself then great things happen. There is little doubt that athletes draw on forces greater than themselves in order to do the great things that they do at times. That week, Europe had Seve. Team Europe had emblems of the great man on everything that week. He was on their bags, stitched onto their shirt and truly at the forefront of their minds. There is little doubt that the spirit of Seve helped drive the team back from the brink and into an incredible position.
The 5th point came in from this session, it was America’s of the day. Finally the European onslaught had been stopped, but it was just a short break. The 6th point was for Europe. Who could ever forget the putt that Justin Rose rolled in on the 17th to level the match? That set him up to take the match on the final hole and keep the comeback alive.
The match was now 11-11. Things were getting tense. Neither team could believe the position that the match was in. Europe were still flying but at least the Americans had steadied the ship. The rest of the games out on the course were tight so it was really on a knife-edge.
The 7th point went to the US after a win from Zach Johnson over Graeme McDowell. Europe quickly followed that up with two points and were, unbelievably, in the lead. Olazabal’s team now needed just one point to retain the Ryder Cup. This was a situation that wasn’t supposed to be possible.
After Jason Dufner beat Peter Hanson on the last hole, the match was tied again. Two matches remained on the course, only two more points. Those last two matches both ended up on the 18th hole at the same time. Kaymer and Stricker were on the green, Molinari and Woods were on the fairway, Tiger was 1-up. Medinah was silent. Stricker made his par and forced Kaymer to make a 5-foot putt to win the match and that all important 14th point. The German had only played once that week so far, this was proper pressure.
They could still win it though, if Molinari could win the last hole and get a half point, Europe would win it rather than just retain it. He did it. Europe had comeback from the dead to win the Ryder Cup and the Miracle at Medinah was complete! Then came the emotion. The players were delighted. This was a different kind of Ryder Cup celebration, this was one mixed with disbelief and emotion. Jose Maria Olazbal was in tears. He had managed to drive his team to victory and honour his best friend. He would later go on to say that it was the greatest day of his life and who could blame him. This was as special as sport gets.
The Ryder Cup is team golf at its finest. The 2012 Ryder Cup was a historical and emotional one. These are three days that will live forever in the golf history books and deservedly so. What that European team did on that Sunday was a sporting miracle. They did the impossible.
If you could build a golf course of your own with holes from real courses which holes would you choose?
We have compiled our very own Fantasy Golf course, the only stipulation being that the holes must fill the actual position they do on their course.
Our dream 18 holes is a tough par 77 and a whopping 8,201 yards from the back tees! Why not tell us which holes you think should be in your Fantasy Golf Course.
This could be deemed among the best starting holes in golf; the view of the beach and massive dunes from the tee is breathtaking. Pitching your drive onto the downhill fairway you then need to avoid a small pot bunker with your second, leaving an approach to a green protected on three sides by an enormous dune.
A dogleg right with a stone wall running all the way up the left hand side of the hole, the 2nd at Tralee is an early indication of just how visually breathtaking Tralee is as a course, not to mention being both an early birdie chance and a tough test early on in the round. Both the tee and the green are perched on the edge of the headland, with nothing but a glorious sandy beach and the Atlantic Ocean awaiting any stray balls lost to the right.
This hole requires a drive down the left side of the fairway to try and reach the green in two, if not you will have to lay up short of the lake leaving an approach shot that requires the correct club selection, anything near the front of the green will come back off it.
This hole gives you the first glimpses of the ocean in the background although take care with your tee shot since the wall on the right and pot bunkers on the left await any stray drives. A raised green runs deep into the dunes and a mound short of the green could partly block your approach.
This is a tough par 4, the downhill tee shot is played to a fairway that sits at a slight left-to-right diagonal. Large overhanging oaks will block your approach to the green if you stray too far left so you need to hug the right-side cross bunker with your drive. The approach is to a relatively small green that slopes from back to front.
Officially renamed in 2003 as Hogan’s Alley to commemorate Ben Hogan’s Open Championship win in 1953, this hole is where Carnoustie starts to turn up the heat. Often played into the prevailing wind this hole can be a severe par 5. Bunkers and out of bounds await the miss-cued drive and it requires a brave player to drive to that narrow piece of fairway. Care must also be taken with your second shot as once again Jockey’s burn bites deeply into the right side of the fairway.
Playing from an elevated tee, you have to hit straight out towards the Pacific into the ocean winds coming straight back at you. Miss the green and you are either in one of the pit-like bunkers or on the rocks amongst the crashing waves.
The hole, originally called “Ailsa” because of the perfect view of the rocky islet of that name from the tee, was changed when Willie Park said of the tiny green, “A pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a Postage Stamp”. There is no safe way to play this hole, the ball must find the green, two bunkers protect the left side of the green while a large crater bunker shields the approach, any mistake on the right will find one of the two deep bunkers with near vertical faces.
This long par 4 is perhaps one of the most photographed holes in world golf. A blind tee shot is played down the left to a sweeping fairway some eighty feet below to set up the best approach to the green. Too far left and you will find a dense gorse covered dune, more room is available on the right for the shorter hitter, although not providing the best approach.
Dinna Fouter ‘Don’t Mess About’ is a fantastic hole that rewards a brave tee shot down the left to shorten the hole, stray too far left however and the Firth of Clyde awaits. More trouble can be found in the middle of the fairway in the shape of two pot bunkers, while the famous island bunker protects the approach to the green.
Perched high on the cliffs and flanked by an impressive half-moon bay it’s no wonder Tom Watson once described this as one of the toughest holes in golf. Anything going right will disappear into the crashing waves of the Atlantic while anything left will find a terrain of brown and purple dunes.
This long par 5 hugs the coastline with its dogleg right to left shape, tempting many shortcut shots, although the ever changing wind makes it very risky to put your ball out over the sea. Set up an approach from the right to provide a good angle for the third shot down to the middle of the long narrow green, taking the large greenside bunker out of play.
Regularly playing into the wind this hole often plays longer than its yardage suggests. Aim right with your tee shot as there is much more room than is visible from the tee. The very deep and slightly elevated green is mostly hidden for your approach so it will be difficult to tell where the hole is located.
Named ‘Foxy’ this is the only hole on the course without a bunker. The left side of the fairway is full of mounds, while the right side has many grassy peninsulas protruding out towards the fairway and defending the right of the elevated green, which has a steep rise of about 5ft at the front with a 10ft drop left and right.
Make sure you stay on the fairway with your drive as there is a 140-metre cliff on the left and a 20-metre drop on the right. The key to this hole is to keep it simple, three or four straight shots and you are safely on the green.
Who wouldn’t want to play this hole with the pin in the Sunday position, land your ball in the right place on the green and watch it roll towards the hole for a chance of bagging an ace! Played entirely over water to a green secured by three bunkers it is still a tough ask.
The Road Hole at St Andrews is one of the most famous holes in golf with a reputation of being the toughest par 4 on The Open rota. The approach to the green should be up the right, avoiding the Road Hole Bunker at all costs but you also need to make sure you don’t go long and end up on the road.
The final hole at Pinnacle Point plays along the cliff edge of Eden Bay with a fairway that slopes right to left all the way to the hole. A drive up the right is essential leaving a downhill approach that could be pitched short to roll onto the green.
Two 5 Star Hotels…
36 holes of Championship Golf right on your doorstep…
19th hole included…plus a wide range of restaurants…
Just moments from the beach…
Watching your friends lose their balls in the water…
That’s just five reasons to pick Sueno Hotels in Belek. READ ON to see another 12…we think we’ve found the perfect trip in Belek, Turkey at the incredible Sueno Golf Resort.
One of the biggest appeals of this resort is preferred access to the golf courses. Both courses meander through pine trees to provide an amazing frame to your golfing experience, placing a need on accuracy rather than just distance off the tee.
The jewel in the crown is the view from the clubhouse across the island green, which is directly opposite. Approaches need to be deadly accurate, otherwise, they’ll suffer a watery grave.
Having experienced this myself, it is simply a fantastic place to sit and watch your golfing buddies attempt to avoid the water, as well as the laughter and ridicule.
If you are sick of grey English skies and you’re seeking golf in the sun, then Turkey is the place for you. The table below shows the average weather for March, comparing London to Belek. 12 hours of sunshine! Don’t forget your sunglasses.
|Belek, Turkey||London, UK|
|Average High Temperature||18C||12 C|
|Average Daily Sunshine||12 Hours||5 Hours|
A quick look at The Sueno Golf Hotel
The Sueno Golf Hotel is the ultimate golf resort and a great choice for those visiting this area. With both courses literally on the doorstep of the hotel and the beach just a short walk, you have everything you need.
Sueno Golf Hotel by day….
Sueno Golf Hotel by night….
Sueno Golf Hotel – Having two quality courses on your doorstep is unique to the Belek region.
Ian, YGT Senior Sales Specialist
We had a great golf break at Sueno Golf Resort. The hotel was lovely with a view over golf courses. We played 9 games of golf on 2 lovely courses and will certainly be going back. We recommend the hotel to all holders. Many thanks to Your Golf Travel for their help everything, it went without a hitch.
Kathleen, YGT Client
Checkout The Sueno Deluxe Hotel
The Sueno Deluxe Hotel is a 5* luxury resort, located right on the seafront with direct access to the beach.
The Sueno Deluxe Hotel by day….
And by night…..Pretty spectacular!
This new addition to the Sueno Hotel group is a gem. Superb Beach front hotel with easy access to the Sueno golf courses and practice facilities
Ian, YGT Senior Sales Specialist
The Sueno Golf Club is home to two fantastic courses, both unique and different with many lakes and pine trees scattered throughout the course, providing an enjoyable and challenging test of golf. The golfing amenities and services at Sueno are truly outstanding and add to the overall Sueno golfing experience.
Enjoy the Free shuttle from both hotels to the pro shop at Sueno Golf Club
The Pines course is viewed as the main golfing feature at Sueno, measuring just over 7000 yards from the championship tees. Apart from The Pines course being a superb layout, there are huge water hazards making for a true test of championship golf. The Pines Course has been recently nominated for the 2019 Best Golf Course in Turkey by Wold Golf Awards competing against the likes of PGA Sultan, Montgomerie Maxx Royal and The Faldo Course at Cornelia Diamond.
The Dunes course at Sueno is suitable for all levels of golfers measuring at 6,171 yards.. With plenty of bunkers in play off the tee, you might need to opt for a shorter club off the tee to ensure you find the fairway. With the course created through the existing sandy dunes and pine forest it does have a links feel to it, although this might just be down to the incredible sunshine that bathes the course throughout the year! And whilst we’ve already mentioned it, the 18th is indeed the hole that really stands out on the course, find the green or find the water, that is your choice!
If you are non-golfer or need a well deserved break from the course, Sueno has plenty of entertainment and activities to offer. For those seeking a more active holiday, don’t forget to check out these sporting options:
If you struggled on the course, why not head to the bowling alley for some fun & games?
Don’t worry about the kids, Sueno has their very own Kids Club with plenty of activities and games to offer!
Hands up for the water slide….
Sueno also has its very own luxurious spa offering a wide range of massages & treatments that include a volcanic hot rock massage and an Indian head massage. The facilities at the spa include a sauna, hay room & Turkish baths. Heading to the Sueno Spa has got to be the perfect place to unwind & relax after a long day on the fairways.
If you don’t fancy a treatment, why not just even relax by the one of the pools, indoor or out, your choice!
Going on a golf holiday is great.
That time of the year when you can put down the pen, turn on your out of office and prepare for some time away on the fairways.
And while we are fully focused on bringing you the lowest possible prices, we know a golf holiday doesn’t come cheap, but what can be done?
Quite a lot actually….
Collectively, we’ve called on our golf travel experts to bring you the 10 best tips for you to save on your next golf holiday!
Most golf courses experience a peak of play between 9 and 11 in the morning.
Well all the golf travellers want to enjoy their golf in the morning, leaving the rest of the day to explore, drink or chill…. and who can blame them?
But if you’re willing to break the mould, it could really pay off…quite literally.
Now, I know I’m not alone in thinking that when most of us look for summer holidays, we have our eye on one thing in particular.
And for good reason. While we have a whole host of championship golf courses on our doorstep here in the UK, we’re definitely not blessed with great weather.
So when booking a golf holiday, consider booking out of the ‘peak summer seasons’ of June, July & August; it’ll bring your cost down….
Want some proof? Islantilla Golf Resort for 5 nights, playing 3 rounds of golf will cost you £190 more if you travel on 31st August rather than a day later on the 1st September.
Oh and by the way, if you’re worried about the weather…
While the majority of these tips are most effective for golfers travelling abroad, we still have some for those who enjoy UK golf breaks.
This one is simple – if you take your trip on a Sunday night, instead of a Saturday night, not only will you experience a quieter golf course and hotel but you can also save up to £100.
If you wanted to travel to Druids Glen in May, staying on a Saturday for a 1 Night, 2 Rounds package is £259. However, if you stayed for the same package the next day, the price would drop to £179.
Going away for a long weekend is an extremely popular type of holiday, especially for city breaks.
3 nights, 4 days in an area allows you to see and do most of what you want without recycling activities or restaurants.
Thursday to Sunday is most common, with travellers wanting to experience the best nightlife on offer, most often on a Friday and Saturday night.
The same applies to a golf holiday; if you’re visiting the Algarve and want to experience the hustle and bustle of the Albufeira strip, the weekend is probably the best time to go.
But if you’re not fussed, then still go on a long weekend, but switch it up.
These screenshots from SkyScanner show just how you can save up to £59 just from changing your dates from Thursday to Sunday to travelling from Saturday to Tuesday!
When you go to a region, or even some resorts, you’ll have several amazing courses available for you to go and play.
And while this will be extremely tempting, choosing to stick with one of the courses will be cheaper than testing your game on the different tracks.
Granted, this might not be as exciting, but there are some benefits of playing the same course twice, other than the price.
Take Penina as an example – three courses on offer but the main attraction is the Championship layout, and for many, turning up on the first day and playing that course could be quite a shock – especially that tricky 7th hole.
So returning the next day, with an idea of what you’re facing might be met with a sigh of relief, allowing you can right the wrongs of your first day!
Even though getting a group of mates to commit to a golf holiday can be a hassle, it’s almost certainly worth the persistence.
Travelling in a larger group not only allows for the extra on-course competition and off-course banter, but will also help everyone to save money.
If you’ve browsed some of our great deals before, you will have seen the phrase “groups of 8” or “1 in 8” or “1 in 12” used frequently across venue pages.
This is a pretty simple, yet effective way to save on your golf holiday…
If the resort, hotel or course of choice displays either of them phrases, and you can get between 8 to 12 people to join your golf group, then one of you travels free!
Then all that’s left to do is split the saving between the group and you’ve all saved some cash.
Being organised comes in very handy when booking a holiday; it allows time for any schedule changes, gives you the best chance to secure the accommodation you want and takes away a lot of the stress early on.
With a golf holiday, things aren’t any different, although this time you’ll get the tee times you desire as well. (See Tip #1)
More importantly to this article, the earlier you book, the cheaper it will be. Let’s create a scenario…
You want to go to Turkey in June for a golf holiday and wondering when to book; if you were to book now then fares can be as low as £250 and that’s including golf club carriage.
However, if you were to leave it till February then the prices could rise by a huge £100 to £150 per person!
Let’s be honest, while the golf is the most important part of your trip, it’s almost always about finding the whole package so you can enjoy the things away from the fairways.
Choosing an all-inclusive package is as convenient as it is cost-efficient; you won’t need to go searching for a breakfast spot or worry if the bar you researched will have more than five people in it, as everything is on-site.
And everything is paid for already, which is why the all-inclusive deals will be more expensive, but they will cut your spending costs down massively.
Turkish resorts are the champions when it comes to all-inclusive deals, which is largely down to their incredible hospitality and jaw-dropping hotels…not to forget the world class golf courses.
I’m sure if money was no object, everybody would choose to take their clubs with them, and rightly so.
You use these clubs week in, week out and naturally know what you can and can’t do with them, helping you on the course.
But it’s not always that easy…EasyJet can charge you between £72 and £92 to take your clubs with you, while Ryanair is between £60 and £70.
Luckily for you, we have a neat little partnership with British Airways, which allows you to get FREE golf club carriage when booking long haul flights.
So this one is partly down to common sense and partly down to doing some research.
For example, it’s obvious that a long weekend (See tip #4) in the Algarve will be cheaper than a week-long stay at Pebble Beach.
But sometime’s research takes time; time we would rather spend down the range or on the course.
We would hate to take that time away from you, so we did the research! Below are 10 destinations around Europe that are boast both affordability and high quality…
So there you have it, 10 tips to make your golf holiday more affordable. If you have any more tips to share, comment below or tweet us at @yourgolftravel!
And if you want to put these tips into practice and book a golf holiday simply call 0800 043 6644 or visit yourgolftravel.com
The European Tour comes to the 2019 Portugal Masters this week at Dom Pedro Victoria. We’ll give you a run-down of the tournaments’ history and a hole by hole guide to the course.
The Dom Pedro Victoria Course in Vilamoura is celebrating its 13th year hosting the Portugal Masters, having done so since 2007. The tournament has provided us with much drama as well as some low scoring that makes this event one of the most anticipated on the European Tour. Here are some of the highlights over the years:
Steve Webster (2007)
Alvaro Quiros (2008)
Lee Westwood (2009)
Richard Green (2010)
Tom Lewis (2011)
Shane Lowry (2012)
David Lynn (2013)
Alexander Levy (2014, 36 holes)
Andy Sullivan (2015)
Padraig Harrington (2016)
Lucas Bjerregaard (2017)
Tom Lewis (2018)
The Dom Pedro Victoria Course designed by Arnold Palmer, has hosted the Portugal Masters 10 times now, and it’s several water hazards mixed with undulating fairways and length have made this a fan-favourite course. There are many risk-reward holes that can result in scores like a 60 from Nicolas Colsaerts in 2014 and winning 72 hole totals of -23 from Andy Sullivan last year, which make this event such a thrilling watch.
Here we have a hole-by-hole guide to the Portugal Masters with video footage of Nicolas Colsaerts and Andy Sullivan.
|Hole||Par||Yards||Scoring Average (2015)||Key Features|
|1||4||446||4.15 (3)||A fairly long opening hole that has a bunker left and right of the fairway, so any offline shots are likely to find the trap or some punishing lies in the thick rough.|
|2||4||358||3.83 (14)||A straightforward hole that will only require a wedge in for the pros, but it is accuracy on the green that is key as there can be some tough pin positions on the undulating green.|
|3||4||481||4.1 (6)||Plays as a Par 5 for the amateurs but is far too short to be a par 5 for the pros. There’s not too much trouble… apart from the classic strategic bunkers, narrow fairway and thick rough which pro’s will discover all over the course. This will be seen as a par hole for the pros before a couple of chances at birdie over the next 2 holes.|
|4||4||407||3.86 (13)||A dogleg left awaits the players here and a fairway bunker ensures players must carry the ball to cut the corner. At only 407 yards I expect the pros to have no trouble in doing this, in which case setting up a birdie chance.|
|5||5||579||4.65 (18)||A tough hole for the amateurs with Out of Bounds right and an elevated green that has 3 bunkers protecting anything short. For the pros, however, this played as the easiest hole which rewarded 5 eagles and 154 birdies last year.|
|6||3||218||2.98 (9)||The first and longest par 3 on the course is definitely a test to get it close but with players current distance it should be a regulation par with only 3 bunkers protecting the hole.|
|7||4||510||4.33 (1)||A dog-leg left requiring a 220yard carry over a lake to a highly undulating fairway and bunkers grouped on the right-side. Last year this hole caused 29 double-bogeys+ across the week, the most of any hole. I expect similar high scoring this year.|
|8||3||168||2.91 (11)||The 8th is the shortest of the par 3s and has a fairly large green so Par isn’t too hard to find and Bogey isn’t too hard to avoid as last year this hole had the most Pars & the fewest bogeys all week. The amateurs will enjoy the design of the bunker short but I don’t expect to see too many pros in there.|
|9||4||442||4.14 (4)||To close the front nine, players face a long and narrow drive to a very undulating fairway. This hole had the 3rd fewest birdies last year so most players will be hoping to get this hole out the way with a par, before turning on a birdie run on the back nine.|
Watch how Andy Sullivan played the 10th here…
|10||4||406||3.9 (12)||Fairly narrow fairway that slopes downhill towards the green so might not see too many drivers on this hole as players want to leave an ideal wedge distance. Bushes left off the tee but a large bank on the right is likely to save any loose fades.|
|11||4||385||4.04 (7)||Water covering the left-side of the hole, but a fairly short hole so the pros should have no problem in strategically finding their way to the green whilst avoiding the lake. Any right-to-left wind, however, and it’s a completely different story.|
|12||5||610||4.76 (16)||An Island Hopping hole, which features one fairway from the tee surrounded by a lake and another fairway and green surrounded by a lake. A Stroke Index 2 for the amateurs, but was clearly no match for the pros distance with 10 eagles being made across the 4 days.|
|13||3||200||2.93 (10)||Another long Par 3 with a lake and bunker covering anything short and left. Last year’s players enjoyed this hole, averaging under par for the week and no double bogeys.|
|14||4||424||4 (8)||Choice of 2 fairways from the tee, with the left being the safe play and the right requiring a 220 yard carry over a lake. With the pro’s distance you can expect many to be hitting at the right fairway, depending on the direction of the wind.|
|15||4||315||3.83 (15)||Driveable Par 4, depending on the wind, that is sure to entice the pros this week with only bunkers providing the main threat.|
|16||3||208||3.13 (5)||A long par 3 to finish, that has a strategically placed front bunker which is likely to catch the players out with any swirls of wind or miss-clubs.|
|17||5||589||4.72 (17)||The Signature Hole. Several Lakes and waterfalls are down the entire-right side of this hole, which are sure to trouble the amateur off the tee and for the approach. But clearly played as no threat for the pros last year, being the 2nd easiest hole.|
|18||4||463||4.26 (2)||One of the great finishing holes that caused 23 double bogeys+ last year with a lake consuming the entire left-side of the hole. Sure to provide some drama to finish!|
For some more in depth analysis check out how Nicolas Colsaerts played holes 13-17 at the Dom Pedro Victoria
With so many long holes and water in play, the longest and most accurate driver is likely to win here. That’s why my money is on Thomas Pieters!
It is hard to find a better stage for the Ryder Cup than Gleneagles and in the heart of the home of golf, The PGA Centenary was purpose-built for this event. Team USA was led by a member of golfing royalty, the perennial fan favourite, Tom Watson. He would be up against someone who had been there as a player and knew what it took to win, European Ryder Cup star, Paul McGinley.
For some time now, Europe was on a winning streak and Team USA hadn’t won since 2008 at Valhalla. After the “Miracle at Medinah”, the Europeans were going into this week with momentum and the Americans wanted to make up for their bruised ego.
As the teams arrived, there was a feeling that this was going to be a special week. Both teams were bringing in inspirational figures from the wider world of sport to help with their efforts. Captains were turning to sporting legends to get their players fired-up for matches. Michael Jordan and Alex Ferguson would be there to give speeches to the USA and European Teams, respectively. Before we delve into the action of that week, let’s have a quick history lesson on the tournament.
So, why was the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles a somewhat of a homecoming? Scotland is the home of golf but also, the tournament that became the Ryder Cup started life as an event at Gleneagles in 1921. With golf making its way over the Atlantic to North America, the sport was becoming an international pursuit. At this time, professional golf was not thought of as a glamorous job. The Amateur Championship was the most prestigious event on the golfing calendar but The Open Championship was growing in popularity.
In those days, transatlantic travel took a long time as the only way to reach Europe from the USA was by boat. To play in The Open, a player had to board a ship for a voyage that would take over a week. Unsurprisingly, The Open had never been won by anyone other than a Brit, except Frenchman Arnaud Massey in 1907. The new pros of America were fed up with that fact and wanted to stamp the trophy with the mark of the new golfing world. They assembled a bunch of top pros from the PGA and wrote to the PGA of GB&I.
They had a plan, they suggested that in the build-up to The Open that year, the Americans would arrive early. They would take this time to play against some select British and Irish pros to prepare for The Open. Gleneagles Resort was chosen as the battleground and The Glasgow Herald would be putting up a prize for the winning team.
The Glasgow Herald 1000 Guinea took place on June 1920 on the King’s Course and saw a ten-a-side match between the USA and Britain. This one-day event consisted of foursomes matches in the morning and singles in the afternoon. Team GB would take the first match 10½ – 4½ and the transatlantic event was born.
What may be surprising to some is that the 2014 event was only the second time that the Ryder Cup had been held in Scotland. In 1973 the matches were held at Muirfield, so the Home of Golf was long overdue a chance to host the tournament. Understandably, the Scottish crowd were eager to see the world’s best back on their turf and once more playing where it all began back in the twenties.
The Gleneagles Hotel is one of the finest inland golfing playgrounds on the planet and has played host to The European Tour for many years. World-class courses from James Braid, The King’s and The Queens, rightly put the resort on the map. These are glorious courses packed with doglegs and elevation changes that demand accurate and bold golf. There was fear that week that there could have been a repeat of the Celtic Manor washout weather. Thankfully, the rain stayed away and the golf went on without any issues.
Adding a course to this famous resort is a brave move and it takes a special designer to be able to do that. Jack Nicklaus was responsible for the creation of the new course. The course that would host the Ryder Cup. To make a great match-play course, you need lots of risk vs. reward holes and shots. To be a successful Ryder Cup course you need space and amphitheatres for fans to witness the magic. Nicklaus didn’t scrimp on either. That week, around 45,000 spectators were expected each day on Jack’s course, around 250,000 would be there across the whole event and 7,500 volunteers were there to control it all.
Many extra details were in place to inspire the home players and ensure that this Ryder Cup was a huge success. One of the most famous and visible of these was the tunnel that players walked through as they made their way to the first tee. As they made their way through the tunnel, images of heroes from tournaments gone-by awaited them to give them that last pep before they started. In a fitting tribute, the last image players would see was that of the late and very great, Seve Ballesteros. This would be the first home Ryder Cup since the European legend died, and he still had that talismanic presence over McGinley’s team. That week you could see many players fist-bumping the image of the Spaniard as they left the tunnel and walked to the first tee. This feature is still there and you will get goosebumps as you take that walk yourself. Just imagine how those players felt as they made that same walk during that week.
On a bright, early and chilly morning in Auchterarder, the natural silence was shattered with the cheers and chants of golf fans. Europe was defending their trophy and their fortress, so the home crowd were making themselves heard.
There was another great touch, they had a Scotsman in their team, a local hero to ensure maximum support. A Captain’s pick meant that Stephen Gallagher had made the team for the first time. He would be playing in his home nation, a great honour for any golfer. That morning, he was getting the whole event underway. Thankfully, his playing partner was none other than Mr Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter. In this tie, they were playing against the youngest American pairing in the history of the event, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. The Americans would go on to win that match 5&4 and the session would take the session 2½-1½.
During the morning session, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson had provided Europe’s only full point with a 5&4 win. They went into the second round of the day and took another 2&1 win, the duo were unstoppable and the European crowd were loving it! That result came in quickly after a win from Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood and the momentum was firmly with the home team.
Team Europe would win this session 3½-½ and finish the first day with a 5-3 lead. Tension started to build in the American camp as questions surfaced around Team USA Captain, Tom Watson, not picking Spieth and Reed for this session. This would be a theme that would continue through the week.
When you have two players combining as well as Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson were that week, Captain McGinley’s job was easy. This talented duo was selected as the two that would lead out the Europeans. The pair combined to put in another solid performance, they took their tie 3&2. They were unstoppable and had a team score, to this point, of twelve under par which was a Ryder Cup record. That would be the only full point for Europe in that session though, the Americans were dominating the foursomes that week. Wins from Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan and Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed would mean that the US took that session 2½-1½ and made sure that Europe knew this wouldn’t be easy. As the final doubles session awaited, the match was tight, Europe was up by just one point.
As the Saturday afternoon tee times drew closer, Europe was hoping for another strong fourball session to set themselves up for the Sunday singles. Would they dominate this session again and leave Team USA facing an uphill fight during singles? European Ryder Cup Captain McGinley decided to go for practically the same line-up in this session. He would make one exception, he gave Henrik Stenson a well-deserved break and replaced him with Martin Kaymer.
McGinley’s men didn’t disappoint, they came out hot and turned the leader board blue once more. All matches were won by Europe, except for a half from Rose and Kaymer against Speith and Reed. The young American pairing was a revelation for the visitors that week. They were a show of defiance against the European dominance as they won 2½ point of a possible 3 during their games together. Many members of the visiting team were poor that week and came under fire for their performances, Speith and Reed did not. Europe would win the session 3½ – ½ and take a 10-6 lead going into the Sunday singles.
Ryder Cup Sundays are among the most special of golfing days. They are right up there with Open Championship and Masters Sundays, it is as good as it gets. Watching the leader board as it goes from red to mainly blue and back again, it’s as exciting as golf gets. That day, Europe needed just four points to retain the Samuel Ryder trophy. Tom Watson’s Team USA needed double that to get the trophy back.
The first match to finish that day was a duel between two rising stars in international golf. Rory McIlroy was up against Rickie Fowler, and he got a blue point on the board quickly. His 5&3 victory over Fowler was the strong start that Europe needed to make the dreams of an American comeback miracle even less likely. Fellow Northern Irishman, Graeme McDowell then added another blue point on the board with a 2&1 victory over Jordan Speith. Momentum was firmly with the home team and just two more points were needed for the win.
Things were looking good but Patrick Reed, the American player of the tournament, posted a point for his team with a win over Henrik Stenson. Having watched both of these players play so well in their respective doubles matches through the week, it was fitting that this great match went down to the last hole. Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson looked to try to start the comeback winning each of their games. These two points took the overall score in the match to 13-9, but with Europe just one point from retaining the trophy, things were looking bleak for the visitors. A half-point from Justin Rose meant that one question started to fill the air, who would get the next point and seal the victory for Team Europe?
That year, Europe fielded just three rookies, Stephen Gallacher, Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson. The night before the singles, Captain McGinley approached Donaldson. He had something that he needed to talk to him about. He would be putting the Welshman in at number ten. This is considered an anchor position in Ryder Cup singles and a big job to put on the shoulders of a rookie. Donaldson was told that he could end up taking the decisive point, but he could also be required to stem off an American comeback. Having already won two out of three points that week, he was confident and loving the Ryder Cup experience so far, he was ready.
When Jamie Donaldson teed off that morning, the galleries were light, the fans were watching other games. Keegan Bradley’s golf can be frustrating to watch. As a result, the spectators were watching some of the games further into the action. As the day went on, the galleries were growing around this match. It was becoming clear that people were starting to take their positions to watch history down the 15th hole. With a wedge in hand from a perfect distance, Donaldson hit one of the shots of his life and spun it into about a foot from the hole. The decisive point had been won and Europe was victorious again!
The crowd that week was incredible, they played their part and provided the most incredible atmosphere. Tens of thousands were respectful, loud and intimidating, as European Ryder Cup crowds are famous for being. They helped protect the home of golf from the travelling American team and became that extra player to help the home effort. They helped create one of the best modern Ryder Cups and the magnificent course was also central to this showcase of world golf. Jack Nicklaus did a truly wonderful job crafting a golf course that gave spectators plenty of space and vantage points to watch the action. He also made a golf course that was perfect for match play golf, this is one that no golfer should miss.