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British golfers end 2011 on a high

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Iain Carter | 12:39 UK time, Monday, 19 December 2011

How appropriate it was that UK golfers could eke out one more weekend of glory before this astonishing golfing year came to a close.

Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood recorded outstanding wins in Australia and Thailand respectively to put even more gloss on 2011, a year of rare vintage for home golfers.

Darren Clarke will settle down this Christmas to watch for the first time the DVD of his Open triumph but so many of our leading players can reflect on the season of their lives.

For some, like Clarke at the Open, it has been for a superb individual week. For world number one Luke Donald, it is the relentless year-long consistency.


UK golfers (left to right) Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald have all had a fantastic year and will be looking to add more silverware in 2012. Photo: Getty  

No-one won more than the four tournaments Donald did – the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, the WGC Matchplay in February and the season-ender at Disney that gave the Englishman the PGA Tour money list title.

Donald then became the first man to win the earnings titles on both sides of the Atlantic – the toughest of feats because of the onerous task of fulfilling the playing obligations of both circuits.

As with Westwood, all that is missing for Donald is a major. The achievements of these two at every other level in the game should imbue them with confidence, but equally they play majors with increased expectation and pressure because they are the top two players in the world.

It must become harder for both with each major that passes. Ensuring they peak at Augusta for the Masters next April is their top priority heading into 2012.

Donald undoubtedly possesses the short game to win, while Westwood was second to Phil Mickelson in 2010. Last year, he only trailed eventual winner Charl Schwartzel by four strokes despite a woeful week on the greens.

This year’s Masters will be remembered as much for the South African champion birdieing the last four holes as it will for Rory McIlroy’s closing 80 after carrying a four-shot lead into the final round.

How on earth, we wondered, would this youngster from Northern Ireland recover from such a visible meltdown when one of the game’s biggest titles was on the line?

The answer was "just fine”. At the US Open in June, McIlroy compiled his extraordinary eight-stroke victory for his maiden major title. A superstar was born – one who seemed to command as much adulation in the United States as on this side of the Atlantic.

McIlroy, with his tale of Masters redemption and natural charisma, became the man to fill the void left by the absent and fallen Tiger Woods.

Naturally the build-up to the Open at Royal St George’s was all about golf’s newest hero – the boy from Holywood, Northern Ireland, not the seasoned pro located up the road in Portrush.

“After the way Rory destroyed the field at the US Open, he went there with huge expectations,” Clarke recalls in a BBC Radio 5 live programme looking back on both of this year's Northern Ireland major wins. “It was supposed to be his week but you know golf can throw up some surprises.”

In practice rounds with McIlroy and Westwood, Clarke shed negativity that had built up in a disappointing final round at the previous week’s Scottish Open. By the time the 42-year-old teed off on the Thursday at Sandwich, he had found a rare and unbreakable serenity.

“Whenever I’ve won big tournaments in the past, World Golf Championships, I’ve always been very calm, relaxed and accepting of what was going on.

"The way that I played on the Saturday I couldn’t have played any better,” Clarke told Ulster’s Major Year, which is aired on BBC Radio 5 live on 23 December at 2100.

Clarke produced a masterclass of ball-striking in the most hostile of weather conditions.

But he said: “I moved home back to Portrush a year and half ago and I’ve been playing there with my friends in conditions that would make Royal St George’s look pleasant.

“Because of my fondness for links golf, I know most of the time what is required. You’ve got to be able to figure out how to make a score and most of that week I was able to do it and control my ball flight.”

Ultimately Clarke held a four-stroke lead with two holes to play and that was the first time he was aware he would realise his ultimate golfing ambition.

He added: “The crowds and support I had all week were totally amazing. If I’d been playing in Ireland I couldn’t have got more support.

“I don’t know but maybe people identify with me a bit more because I’m not the highly tuned athlete who is in the gym every morning. I think they were genuinely pleased to see me lift the one trophy that I wanted.”

While Clarke began his long celebrations, McIlroy bemoaned the wind and rain that had blown away his meek challenge. His claim that he will have to wait for a calm Open before he can win was a surprising sign of immaturity.

So was McIlroy's attempt to hit his ball against a tree root on the third hole of the final major, the PGA in Atlanta. He ran the risk of serious injury and was lucky to complete all four rounds after suffering a mere sprain.

Rookie American Keegan Bradley uses a putter which he wedges into his stomach – and he became the first belly putter to win a major after overcoming Jason Dufner in a play-off.

We would not have to wait long for more home celebrations though. Nigel Edwards’s GB & Ireland amateurs upset the odds to win back the Walker Cup from America at Royal Aberdeen.

Then, at Killeen Castle, Europe’s women claimed victory in the Solheim Cup in one of the greatest golf matches ever played.

Captain Alison Nicholas’s tactics of resting all of her players paid full dividends as the home side edged the singles to win back the trophy for the first time since 2003.

Laura Davies, who has played in every Solheim Cup since its inception in 1990, said: “For me, being in golf for such a long time, that was the pinnacle for excitement. The way it swung in the last 30 minutes was incredible.”

Needing something from each of the last three matches, Europe’s number one Suzann Pettersen birdied the closing three holes to beat Michelle Wie, Caroline Hedwall claimed an unlikely looking half against Ryann O’Toole and Azahara Munoz secured a narrow win against Angela Stanford.

It was a sensational victory and fully deserved for the likes of Catriona Matthew and Sophie Gustafson who had laid the foundations.

The win gives European women’s golf the chance to prosper heading into 2012 but a new star from America, 16-year-old Alexis (Lexi) Thompson, the recent winner in Dubai, is sure to command many headlines.

So too in the men’s game might Tom Lewis. At the age of 20, he has already led the Open and won on the European Tour. The newly crowned European Tour rookie of the year is the latest addition to a group of players destined to compete in golf’s most-exciting era for generations.

The best of the UK constitutes the best in the world - Donald, Westwood and McIlroy head the rankings and there is a host of potential home major winners in 2012.

But there is also a certain Mr Woods also to be factored in. Tiger’s win at his home tournament may have been a limited-field event, but it showed his famed killer instinct is back.

Bring on 2012 – and we haven’t even mentioned next September’s Ryder Cup.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Looking forward to next year, looks to be one of the most competitive in years on paper, i'm sure we won't be disappointed.
    Iain, nice to see your boss had a change of heart and let you comment on SPOTY contenders, or are you rebelling?

  • Comment number 2.

    Much better blog than recent ones. Good job Iain. I am so excited about next years golf season! even more excited than i am about Christmas, and i love Christmas!!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    I wouldn't have said that it was immature of McIlroy recognising that he plays better in calm conditions. Quite the opposite in fact. Hitting that ball from the tree root wasn't really immature either it was just plain dumb. Even I wouldn't have attempted that!

  • Comment number 4.

    I can't remember such a positive year for British golf. As a Scot, I have to bow to the achievements of the English and Northern irish players, however with Martin Laird, Scott Jamieson and a maturing Richie Ramsay the future is looking bright and it was great to see Paul Lawrie enjoy success once more.
    Like Monty, it will be a crying shame if Lee and Luke in particular can't add their names to a major. However both have shown such skill and resolve that they must both be in with opportunities again next year.
    It's possible though that two further challenges will come from other Europeans with Sergio and Paul Casey appearing more prominently as the year ends. I do hope that some of these great players do get their hands on a major trophy and that we are not left scratching our heads as some less deserving journeyman pro enjoys a fluke week and waltzes off with a big prize (e.g. Todd Hamilton)

  • Comment number 5.

    Best of british indeed...and 2 of them major winners.
    Fantastic stuff....the boys from Northern Ireland are made of different stuff from the other two.
    I have given up on saying "hopefully this year Luke or Lee will win a major" cos im saying that for the last 5 years.

    Not gonna happen.

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't agree for McIlroy's daring shot.

    Had it been Seve we'd have been saying what a genious to attempt it, and it will work for him next time.

    Luke Donald played the best shot I'll ever see from the forest after a disgusting drive at Wentworth. He went on to win.

    If you don't try it you can't pull it off. Who wants to to bet against me when I say McIlroy will try something stupid again in the future, pull it off, and go on to win?

  • Comment number 7.

    Let's hope it is a great year for British golf and doesn't go the way that it has for our boxing champions. I don't want to be talking next year about all our great golfers and their pitiful loss of form and subsequent plummeting down the rankings.
    Rory being immature? Painfully honest I would have said.
    Tiger's killer instinct? No I don't think so. He will win one tournament next year and everyone will be on his bandwagon again saying that he's back and the world had better watch out. He has lost it. He is a great golfer but he has no aura of invisibility that he had before. That won him so many tournaments, without it he is a mere top 20 golfer who can win the odd tournament throughout the year.
    Well done to Luke. Best golfer of the year by far. I just hope he wins a major.
    Because lee won't.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hahaha aura of invisibility! Woops! Invincibility still doesn't seem right but you know what I mean! Although invisibility is probably not far wrong!

  • Comment number 9.

    i'm sorry but i dont see donald winning a major,he hasnt got the bottle.his best finish was a distant 3rd in the masters years ago.i think westwood has the game to win he bombs it with relentless accuracy and when his putting is on he is hard to is tough for donald the masters is the only realistic shot he has,the 2 other US majors are based for long,consistant hitters whereas the Open(i hate the word "british open",no respect) have churned up alot of 1 hit wonders and those who accept that they are not going to play their best to win,needing luck and composure.

    if tiger returns to at least 90% then the rest of the field may aswell not turn up,the best putter,best clutch putter,the most relentless athlete the world has ever seen.i think a few US players will break through,i hope it is dustin johnson and fowler.if mcilroy wins a few events next year and fails to win a major then it will do him good,get more experiance of closing under pressure and build for the future

    i hope tiger returns to anywhere near his best he will rack up the titles and cash as quick as his life self destructed,that day in late november 2009.

    sorry for the donald fans but i dont think he a killer instinct in him,he has only won 11 times in his career,never won a play off until this year,i would be stunned if he wins a major

    my predictions for 2012
    us open-mickelson
    no1-mcilroy,tiger no2

  • Comment number 10.

    What an incredible first round 60 by Lee Westwood, obliterating the field with an stunning aveda kedavra golf curse.

  • Comment number 11.

    A great year for British Golf. Two out of 4 of the Majors and the top 3 golfers in the world. Besides the United States i wouldnt have thought any country has enjoyed such a position of strength, especially considering the depth of talent. To emphasise just how good the strength is I actually believe that a Ryder Cup team picked purely from GB&I could compete and not go into the event as underdogs.

    Despite this rosey picture that Monkey that is the majors still clings to the back of the English contingent, whether they can rid themselves of that Monkey only time will tell, Of the top players, they have the mental strength (Despite all the guff about them being bottlers) and they have the game to win a major, fingers crossed that it'll all click into place for at least one of them in a major next year.

  • Comment number 12.

    wonder what some of the regular bloggers thought of Lee Westwood doing his very very best to choke on a baked bean again!? he was very lucky to win.

  • Comment number 13.

    Great article and a great year for British Golf. The way the game has been played and the sportsmanship and respect for the rules has been another outstanding feature.

  • Comment number 14.

    12 BiloMcT

    another original, sidesplitting, insightful contribution. What a blogger you are. No doubt all of the 'regulars' will be here soon, and you can all 'choke on the same old baked bean' together.

    Merry Christmas, and a cool Yule to all.

  • Comment number 15.

    12 BiloMcT

    you really are becoming tedious - watch out or I may have to whip out a little cruciatus curse.

  • Comment number 16.

    For all of you who are talking about a great year for British golf. Nothern Ireland is not part of Britain, it's part of the United Kingdom. Ireland 6 Great Britain 0.

  • Comment number 17.

    At 10:47 20th déc. 2011, BiloMcT

    You're right, shooting -3 on the final day with three birdies on the back nine to keep the current Masters champion at bay, after hitting 60 on day one, is a terrible result!

  • Comment number 18.

    As a proud Ulsterman and golf fan you know its been a good year when a BBC blogger is talking about the success of 'UK' golf in 2011. This decade see's little NI sitting on top of the golf world. 10 majors contested winning nations NI 3 , USA 2, South Africa 2, Germany 1. I relation to the English boys, they really need to start to believe, I'm sorry but topping both money lists? Means nothing in the overall scheme of things, it'll be as meaningless as a Olymipic Gold in golf. It's all about the majors. Good luck though to Lee and Luke (not so much Ian!) make 2012 the year that you finally 'count' for something.

  • Comment number 19.

    I really hope Luke Donald wins a major next year and comes on this blog to rub it in the faces of some of you guys.
    @9 - Your so sure he won't win one????
    He has been constantly improving over the last couple of years by working on his game and weaknesses, do you not think he'll be looking toward the greatest prizes in golf and and working out what he will need improve to put himself in the running?
    He's a smart guy and knows that with all he's won this year that all eyes will be on him next year, especially in the majors.

  • Comment number 20.

    16 NedTheNoodler

    You´re a clever guy but it is far more idiomatic to say 'British golf' than 'UK golf'. For example, everyone refers to a passport of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island as a 'British passport'. The word 'British' in this context refers to those countries within the UK - therefore including NI. So yes, you're technically right but you know what we're on about.

    18 Turin

    You're touching on the very worn-out topic of what makes a great golfer, is it only majors etc etc. Maybe clarify what you mean by 'the overall scheme of things'. Because being from NI your view appears predictably biased.

  • Comment number 21.

    #16 lol....the man is right!

    In that case...its been an average year for GB but a great year for the Irish.

    But we tend to do this...when your useless your Scotish or Irish...but when your good we try claim ye as English by calling ye British...I do it myself.
    Its sad I know but we havent had a major winner in 60+ majors (1996)

  • Comment number 22.

    fantastic year for British golf. Luke Donald in particular has been phenomenal. To have that kind of consistency all year is something unparalleled.

    I see some of the "choke" brigade are already out to belittle his achievements. Luke Donald will win a major and I believe it will be in 2012. It will be a great day, as it will finally shut the absolute morons up, who are forever, bitterly, putting down his achievements.

    Rory has come to the fore as the potential new superstar of golf. He has it all and hopefully he will reach his potential.

    I've never really liked Lee Westwood, as he has always come across as really smug and arrogant, but the round of 60 was unbelieveable.

    Darren Clarke's win was brilliant, loved the emotion shown and it was really great to see.

    2011 has been a vintage year for British golf and hopefully 2012 is even better.

  • Comment number 23.

    why do people think i dont like Lee Westwood? if anything i have been his strongest supporter on this blog constantly fighting his corner against those constantly calling him a choker and a bottler.
    All i was saying above was that he nearly choked but he showed the metal he is made of again and held of a strong challenge. Once again Lee showed his quality. Either Lee or Luke are sure to win a major next year and get all these haters off their back.

  • Comment number 24.

    Indeed 2011 was a great year for British Golf but also Golf Worldwide with the emergence of numerous Koreans and Ryo Ishikawa , who donated his prize money to the Japanese Earthquake appeal. The US have found new stars with Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson Nick Watney and Van Pelt.Jason Day has risen to the challenge too and European Golf in particular English Golf has never been better and although the Americans have unearthed some new talent i have no doubts the Ryder Cup will be back from Chicago on our side of the pond.
    My wishes for 2012, Donald, Westwood and please please Sergio to all win a Major.
    I think 2011 has been all the better as its proved GOLF is bigger than Tiger Woods and doesn't need him, dont think i saw any of the above or Darren Clarke 'spitting' on the greens. So much young talent now who aren't in awe of him that i cant see him winning another Major which as a Nicklaus fan is fine by me...........

  • Comment number 25.

    @16 & 18 NedTheNoodler & Turin : ROFL. This is the typical BBC Bias - great 'english' sporting success unless it's one of the other home countries when all of a sudden we are 'British'. Don't you just love it!!!!

    The stat for the last 10 majors certainly makes good reading for us 'british' people. lol

    Anyway, on a more serious note here are my predictions (fantasies?) for next year:
    us open-McDowell

    The Open will be at Royal L &St. Annes and about 7000 yds which will be 400 shorter than the Bridgestone this year when Luke was runner up to an inspired Adam Scott. He is also No.1 in the Stroke Average, Driving Accuracy, GIR, Putts per GIR and #3 in Sand saves on the European Tour so the course won't scare him.
    He will also win 1 of the WGC events next year and continue his dominance of the game.
    As for Lefty? He will be lucky to scrape a win anywhere in the world let alone a major. Tiger's new dawn will be a false dawn.

    And yes, I expect Bilo & co. to produce these guesses at the end of next year to prove just how wrong I was - but it's a bit of fun!

  • Comment number 26.

    Ned - That debate was on here about a month ago, Mickysausage (If i remember rightly) provided a pretty definitive defenition.

    There is no such thing as being United Kingdomish, or United Kingdonmican or United Kingdomese or any other ending equating to Nationality that you choose to use. In my boredom at work i had a little check and Wikipedia (Admittedly not always the most reliable source but usually pretty good) defines a British person as a citizen of the United Kingdom.

    None the less fair play to Northern Ireland for producing 3 major winners in such a short period of time, all richly deserved, I dont mind seeing the Ulstermen crowing about their dominance over English, in terms of them majors at least. Lets hope the gap till the next one isnt as long as the gap between Fred Daly and G-Mac cos i'd like to see young Rory grab a hatful of majors.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hard to see past the top 3 for the Majors next year. If McIlroy get his mojo going, he'll be nigh-on unbeatable. That will mean 1 or 2 Majors for him in 2012. I expect Donald or Westwood to hoover up the rest.

    As for #21, I am so tired of hearing that rubbish. I occasionally use "England" as shorthand for the country I live in, but really I feel more British than English. I certainly don't feel "abroad" when I visit the other home nations! McIlroy, McDowell, Clarke, Montgomery, I've cheered them all on. I don't cheer on rubbish Scots, but I don't cheer rubbish Englishmen either. And I don't give a hoot whether the feeling is reciprocated, so I even support "Anyone but England" Andy Murray.

    Would I be happier if England had 2 Majors this year rather than NI? Well, I do think there are 2 Englishmen in particular who deserve success and it's a shame they are still without a Major, but I'd have been no happier to see Poulter and Casey win in 2011 than Clarke and McIlroy.

  • Comment number 28.

    My Predictions for 2012

    US Open-Donald
    Open - Kuchar

    I think Luke has had an incredible year, i was a bit disappointed by Mannasaro's dip in form after looking so promosing at the tailend of last year and the beginning of this year.

    I'd love to see Luke win SPOTY, but it wont happen.

    I can see next year a rise in form for Karlson and Kjedsen.

  • Comment number 29.

    sumo@19 & timmilew@22 - I couldn't agree more RE: Luke Donald. He has been showing consisntent signs of improvement over the last years, after recovering from an injury hit season a few years back. This season he stepped into a new gear and I fully expect him to maintain a similar level of play over the coming years. Only just entering his mid-30s he has a lot of time on his side, IMHO he is only peaking as a golfer.
    My 1 wish over the next few years is to see someone, anyone, step up and start bagging multiple majors (like my beloved Paddy H in 07&08). Seeing different winners all the time is exciting however the sport also needs great players of particular generations to separate themselves from the crowd by winning multiple majors and writing themselves into the history books as a "great" of the game . Every era needs "greats".

  • Comment number 30.

    Lee Westwood comes across as smug and arrogant???? Timmilew, if you can see that, then you are confusing LW with someone else. Down to earth, normal, well balanced, yes, but smug?

    Predictions for next year -

    Masters - Westwood
    US Open - Donald
    Open - Monty
    USPGA - Garcia

    Oh look, there are four monkeys off backs!

  • Comment number 31.

    Yes Lord Voldermort I'd be happy to clarify what make's a 'great' golfer. History will remember who wins the majors, and little else lets face it. Granted winning an major does not make you a 'great' but to be a 'great' I think most people will agree its a necessity to have at least one to your name. Don't get me wrong I think Luke and Lee are top of their game, but they like everyone knows that they must win one if they are to be remembered as a golfing great.

  • Comment number 32.

    "But we tend to do this...when your useless your Scotish or Irish...but when your good we try claim ye as English by calling ye British...I do it myself."

    This saying really grates me as everyone seems to use it all the time. They are ALWAYS referred to as Irish or Scottish when they are winning and the 'plcuky Brit' when they lose.

    When on earth did this myth materialise and how on earth have so many people bought into it. McIlroy isn't even Irish which makes me laugh.

    Anyway back on topic, I agree with posters saying the better money would be on Westwood to win a major before Donald. Sadly too much emphasis on the big hitters these days.

    Also with so many up and coming golfers emerging from Asia, SA, AUS and Europe is there ever going to be a possibility of removing the US domination of hosting the majors. I understand the history but golf must move on if it is to stay ahead of other sports and pick up on this surge from around the world.

  • Comment number 33.

    Jeff - Do you think "Your" Padraig goes down as a great of the game?

    Its all so subjective and you see it on here all the time, "Luke and Lee are nothing until the win a major" Vs "They are clearly the best players in the world, just look at their rankings" I personally would never rank Padraig as highly as Monty. Despite Paddy holding a decisive 3-0 lead.

    I personally think that Monty will be remembered as a fantastic player despite his lack of a Major. He's easily comparable to LoveIII, Leonard, Stewart, Elkington, Lehman, Pavin to give some examples. Gone are the days when the Majors count for everything, unless your the type of fan who only pays attention 4 times a year.

  • Comment number 34.

    Anyway this is pointless. It's obvious that the greatest golfer never to win a major was the late, great Kim Jong-Il. He played one round of golf and shot a round of 38 under par for a total of 34 strokes. This miraculous feat featured 11 holes in one. How could Westwood ever compete with a man of such talents?

  • Comment number 35.

    Re #34 Ned. Your right. It take back my previous comments about greatness in golf. It is such a shame that so few saw the great man in action.

    Surely, On that bombshell its time to draw a line under this discussion.

  • Comment number 36.

    Why, what's happened to Kim Jong-Il ??
    The last i heard he was blow drying his hair into that ridiculous bouffant.

  • Comment number 37.

    The rumours were he could have broken 30 if it hadn't of been for the difficult par 5 12th hole. He just could get it past that stupid windmill.

  • Comment number 38.

    wirral18 @32 - Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell as well as other NI golfers such as Gareth Maybin (which the BBC seem content to let us have seeing us claim until such a point where they win a major or something) played youth golf and were developed under the Golfing Union of Ireland. This is an all-island golfing union, not defined not defined by political border, much like it is in Rugby. Therefore the aforementioned players are as Irish as the Ulster players such as Stephen Ferris and Andrew Trimble who line out for Ireland in the 6 nations. Hence GMAc and WeeMac play the World Cup of Golf for Ireland.

  • Comment number 39.

    I heard he took Goldfinger on, was 9 up after 9 then met Oddjob. Kim was found with a fractured niblick, a crushed mashie and his jigger was hyper-extended.

  • Comment number 40.

    Kim Jong-Il was unlucky that day not to have 13 Hole-In-One's, 2 of the shots lipped out because of dodgy green's.
    He was truelly the greatest golfer to have played the game and its a shame we never seen him at the Masters or the Open.

  • Comment number 41.

    Kim Jong-Il has played all the greatest shots of all time except for John Hawksworths 3 Iron.

  • Comment number 42.

    @31 Turin

    I'm not sure I entirely agree with you. Yes, majors are the pinnacle of a golfer's achievement - if you asked Donald and Westwood to hand over all their past achievements for a solitary major they'd probably say yes.

    However, I don't think it's true that history only records the majors. There's the Ryder Cup for example, where legends can be made with just one shot e.g. Christy O'Connor jr, Paul McGinely. History isn't just about the record books but people's memories. People remember Bob May for his memorable play-off loss to Tiger Woods, and Scott Hoch and Doug Sanders for missing tiddlers for the Masters and the Open. It's also about the great drama too, would you agree?

  • Comment number 43.

    Bilomct-you never answered my question from the last blog - what do you think of John Hawksworth ditching his once favourite 3 iron and replacing it with a game improvement 21 degree hybrid club? Shocking stuff altogether

  • Comment number 44.

    BiloMcT - Kim Jong-Il never played the Hawksworth shot because the 3-iron is too longer club for his little frame.
    I heard he trialed Garragus' putter before he decided to 'go low'

  • Comment number 45.

    Jeff, Its not a case of us having them or you having them, Without getting into the semantics of whats British and whats the UK, The BBC covers NI, therefore under that banner they include Clarke and The Macs. If RTE (Other networks are available)wanna celebrate NI's sporting success on the golf course i'm sure the BBC will be happy to share the wealth.

    With the best will in the world to Gareth Maybin the reason he gets less coverage isnt because he's "From NI so not one of ours till he wins a major" but because he's textbook journeyman who's ranked outside the top 250 in the world

  • Comment number 46.

    LOL these blogs always end up about Westwood and Donald and the whole bottler issue! Good to see Kim Jong-Il finally getting a mention!

  • Comment number 47.

    @43 & 44...jeffkenna and Sumo82....thats just not true. Hawksworth would never lower himself to using these new 'cheat' clubs.

  • Comment number 48.

    I heard he'd introduced the Rescue club to sit alongside his new Belly Putter and MD Golf chipper

  • Comment number 49.

    Lee Westwood - smug & arrogant ???!! This is the man who found out he was World Number One whilst out buying cereal at Sainsburys !!!! Mmmm - wonder if virtaully every other golfer mentioned above does that. ANyway - onsomuch as he is arrogant, golf is a bit like boxing - if you don't have total belief in yourself, then you can forget about making a career out of it, let alone winning a major. As it happens, I get the feeling that when Lee eventually joins the Seniors Tour, his record will be something like 10 top 10 finishes, but no winner's cheque from the Majors. Luke Donald is 4-5 years younger, and may do it one day - anyway, who on here predicted a Major win for Darren Clarke ? Some doubted his ABILITY at 41,to win a major let alone his mentality. Bottom line is that half of each year's majors are won by 'outsiders'. A bit like the Grand National.

  • Comment number 50.

    Monty will be remembered, he never won a major. In fact he made the Ryder Cup his major. He didn't even need to play in it last time and still managed to help us win it!
    Majors aren't everything. The proof is that major winners are forgotten (Ben Curtis who?), and non-major winners are remembered (Van de Velde, Bjorn) even if it can be for cock-ups.

    As for the whole Anglo-irish debate... In golf they are clearly Irish. Their Federation is Irish. Their nationality at the world cup is Irish. Versus England. And in the Seve Trophy its Continental Europe Vs GB & I. But I'm sure they appreciate the "British" including them. Go ask Clarke if the crowd cared about his nationality at Sandwich. Not to mention the media coverage they get from BBC...

  • Comment number 51.

    Re #42 Lord Voldermort

    Its all about opinions really. I was really referring to what we will one day refer to as golfing greats. Legends are made in many different ways, for example, I do not believe we will be talking about Darren Clarke on that sense in 40 years, will may talk about his legendary, victory against the odds. I am fan of golf, but mostly British and Irish golf and there's nothing I love to see more than the Brits or Irish beating the Americans on the golf course. I truly hope Lee and Luke can take that step, so that they can truly cement their places in the history books. If either or both of them end up another 'Monty' it would be such a shame.

  • Comment number 52.

    yeah I think arrogant was the incorrect word choice by myself! apologies.

    It's actually a irrational dislike of Westwood. He appears smug to me, he probably isn't, but there's just something about him that gives that aura to me. My personal opinion. Just not my cup of darjeelings.

  • Comment number 53.

    @52 - I know what you mean, i'm the same with Poulter, can't stand the man and i don't know why?

  • Comment number 54.

    @52 timmilew and @53 sumo82

    maybe it's a northern thing/southern thing? This may be a bit un p-c to say but for some people certain accents/regional mannerisms can appear more arrogant, or condescending or whatever. Geoffrey Boycott might be an example - many people find his plain-speaking Yorkshire speech very grating and arrogant (of course it's not only a question of region or accent but I think it can accentuate it)

    Personally I find scousers quite arrogant but then I'm a southern boy.

  • Comment number 55.

    @54 - Maybe thats true, i'm Northern and Poulter is from the South. But i don't think i'd like him no matter where he was from. Fair play to him in Melbourne last week though.

  • Comment number 56.

    Ian Poulter certainly has to be taken with an enormous pinch of salt. Great matchplay golfer, and I always get a premonition of him winning before every Open (which has cost me a few quid over the years), but his prediction from a few years back that golf would soon be all about him and Tiger seems doubly ironic now that it's not remotely about either of them.

  • Comment number 57.

    @38 - If NI golfers are going to represent Team Ireland at the World Cup, surely it's about time we had an all-Ireland flag representative of both countries on the island of Ireland. I found it insulting to watch GMac and Rory parade behind the Irish tricolour (the flag of the Irish Republic for the uninitiated) at the opening ceremony. Other all-Ireland sports such as rugby, hockey and cricket have adopted an inclusive green flag with a white shamrock in the centre, so why not golf?

  • Comment number 58.

    I've heard that Mayor McCheese is a fantastic golfer.

  • Comment number 59.


    haha...Rory McIlroy isnt Irish is he not? If this was correct then grumpy Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are NOT English...and Andy Murray IS NOT Scottish.

    Is that what your saying?


  • Comment number 60.

    Cougarforest2, Your predictions for next year & comment

    "Oh look, there are four monkeys off backs!"

    Great Post - I love it!

  • Comment number 61.

    Iian, I agree with most of article and I love all golf. just one question you called Rory immature , does that mean you were #1 @ BBC5 when you were 21?

  • Comment number 62.

    #57 TemplePatrick 606v2 : Please don't bring such rot into this forum. I'm an "Ulsterman" and proud of it - as a Scot/Welshman would be proud - but I don't give a fiddle (which is, incidentally an irish violin) about what flag is displayed for the boys. As a golfer and member of the GUI (Golf Union of Ireland) I can enter any open competition in this fair isle of ours which is great. I also want tourists who come to play at Druids and the K-Club, etc., to come up 'north' and play Ballybunion (which is in Ulster), Portrush, Portstewart, Royal Co Down, Royal Carnalea, etc. If they do it the opposite way round thats good too.
    This is a golf forum and politics isn't part of it. If that upsets you then I apologise here and now. My own post at #25 was tongue in cheek and I hope it came across this way - again my apologies if it didn't.
    Lets PLEASE keep this about golf.

  • Comment number 63.

    Trev - Couldnt agree more really, Whether they consider themselves more Irish or British is more of a Historical, Political and even Religious debate an none of the NI big three seem particularly inclined to enter those murky waters. As it is they are UK citizens and rather than fighing over possession why not just celebrate/discuss their skills, acheivements and prospects.

    Anyway can you imagine the fuss if it had gone the other way and Iain had written a blog about British success this year and then totally ommited to mention Clarke and Mcilroy.

    PS. Ballybunion in Ulster? Really???

  • Comment number 64.

    What has happened to this blog? It’s turned into an absolute farce! Where are all the regular good bloggers, Don247, Mickysausage, Mattefc, Powerhitter and Jamesmatthews?? They made this blog what it is and you can tell their absence. Why are people mocking Kim Jong IL?? You should all be ashamed, what that man did for North Korea he should be given the recognition he deserves, he protected his people from the demons of the outside world, terrible! It’s people like Luis Suarez you should be mocking how you can call a black human being those names is a disgrace to the sporting world! Anyway as my father always said “You gotta make a change. It’s time for us as a people to start making some changes, let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live, and lets change the way we treat each other. You see the old way wasn't working so it's on US, to do what we gotta do to survive”.

  • Comment number 65.

    Can we stick to golf on here in future, people are turning this into a shambles!

  • Comment number 66.

    I dont think Luis Suarez ment anything bad...the world is just too PC.

  • Comment number 67.

    @ the sorcerer - Your dad was David Bowie last week? Now he's Tu-Pac?

    P.S. - Are you Kim Jong-Il's caddy ??

  • Comment number 68.

    @66 - Meant !!! - your definitely james mathews.

  • Comment number 69.

    I know this was discussed a lot after the Open but I can't help but get annoyed by what Iain's says above:

    "Clarke produced a masterclass of ball-striking in the most hostile of weather conditions.

    But he said: “I moved home back to Portrush a year and half ago and I’ve been playing there with my friends in conditions that would make Royal St George’s look pleasant."

    Let me say first that I think Clarke was a worthy champion, he played very well and although he had his fair share of luck, he never ever looked like choking, which is the sign of a great player.

    However, it is simply not true that Clarke played in the "most hostile" of weather conditions at Sandwich. As anyone who was there on Saturday morning, the weather was truly atrocious; cold, windy and very wet, it was utterly miserable. Even if Ben Hogan had been out there playing with no gallery I would have thought twice about heading out.

    By the time Clarke teed off, the weather had calmed down slightly, and after a few holes it was far more benign. Indeed, he played the last few holes in glorious evening sun. I've never been to Portrush, but I seriously doubt the truth in Clarke's words when he says that he would go out and play in weather "that would make Royal St George’s look pleasant."

    I'm sorry, but I think only the hardest hardest golf nut would choose to go out and play in the type of weather that Tom Watson shot his 72 in, let alone worse weather (and at the time it was difficult to imagine that there could have been worse weather). I repeat, it was utterly miserable, and I feel that by insinuating that he had the worst of the weather at Sandwich, Clarke is disrespecting those players that did. Clarke, frankly, couldn't have had more luck with the weather, not only on Saturday but on Thursday and Friday too.

    I'm not saying that Clarke wouldn't have won without the favourable draw, but rather that people like Iain Carter shouldn't pretend that just because there was some atrocious weather at St George's, it necessarily means that the champion, Clarke, played in them.

  • Comment number 70.

    62 trevthetrainer
    "Lets PLEASE keep this about golf"

    Ha - you have no fekkin chance - see the last few posts - the trolls are awake

    Bye bye till next year.

  • Comment number 71.

    Seems to me like Iain Carter is struggling to know what to write in these blogs. This must be at least the third in a row which talks about Luke Donald's achievements. Maybe if Iain Carter actually came on to the blog to engage with his readers, he'd get a flavour of what the golf fans are interested in discussing.

    End of Year Report card for Iain Carter - Shows glimpses of promise. Must do better in 2012.

    As for SPOTY, no golfer will come close to winning as the golf vote will be divided again. Perhaps Clarke would have the best chance as he has more of a story of personal loss etc which the general public will sympathise with. However I think most golf fans would vote for McIlroy or Donald before Clarke, so he'll lose out.

    Anybody else think TheSorcerer and mickysausage are the same person? we already know that james mathew has changed names.

  • Comment number 72.

    69 LordVoldemort

    It's true that Clarke never got the very worst of the weather, but the weather as a whole wasn't good that week. Even on Sunday, there were occasions when the wind and rain was lashing across the course for a hole or two at a time. You made the important point though, in that he was able to keep things together when it mattered - and Mickelson and Johnston couldn't.

    I love watching the pros play in awful conditions, as it's something we amateurs can relate to. Similarly it's great to see them struggle round a US Open venue - who want's to see them all shoot 20 under every week?

  • Comment number 73.

    TheSorcerer and mickysausage are the same person thats for sure
    as are Jamesmathew and cougarforest2.

    Let keep this blog purely golf if we can.

  • Comment number 74.


    I'm going to get a reputation for leaping to Darren Clarkes defence if i'm not careful so instead i'm going to leap to Iain Carters in the main.

    I think you read the passage that you referred to in slightly the wrong context.

    Its fairly accepted that the most atrocious conditions for golf in general are strong winds and heavy rain, conditions that all players at The Open that week had to deal with to a greater or lesser extent.

    Therefore when i read that passage i took it to mean that Darren Clarke produced a masterclass of ball striking in what are generally the most atrocious conditions to play golf in, and not the most atrocious conditions of the week.

    If you read it in that context you might find it a little less annoying.

    PS - I just cant help myself from being DC's knight in shining Armour. He didnt insinuate he had the worst weather of the week and therefore he wasnt disrespectful to the rest of the field

  • Comment number 75.

    Donald and Westwood both have a great chance of a major next season. It's too narrow minded just to brand them chokers based on previous performances. There's a lot of other factors at play in a major, including the 'luck' involved to hit your groove or to 'feel' right during that week. If either of them get a bit of luck they have everything else in place to win a major. Personally I think Westwood will do it this season, he has a great chance at all four events and his confidence must be sky high.

    Regarding Rory, G Mac and Clarke - they all came through under the GUI. Rory winning major GUI amateur events like the West of Ireland when he was 16. Whether they are called Irish, Northern Irish or British I couldn't care less as i'm sure they don't.

    Amazing time for GB&I golf and hopefully we can see a few more young guys like Danny Willett push on next season.

  • Comment number 76.

    #HarryVardon "Donald and Westwood both have a great chance of a major next season"

    Come on long are we saying this? Every major every year for the last few years we have all said now is the time and Luke or Lee will win...and yet they manage to mess it up. Ive learnt my lesson after following Monty for 20 years and every year saying this year he will def win....and Im afraid Luke and Lee are cut from the same stone as Monty...great players but lack bottle for the big time.

    This time next year you will be saying the same thing...and they will still be majorless. Major winners from England died when Nick Faldo retired!

  • Comment number 77.

    this blog has turned ridiculous once again because of trolls like cougerforest2. He's a disgrace.
    Can we have mickysausage and Don247 on please to help matters?

  • Comment number 78.

    Until Westwood or Donald win a major they will be pure Monty #2's.

  • Comment number 79. here!

  • Comment number 80.


    So you think they don't they a great chance? How can the players in the Top 3 in the world NOT have a great chance? I didn't say they would definitly win one, nobody can be sure of that, but they are better players now than they have ever been. Has Luke every been World number 1 before? Has Westwood ever been as consistent on the world stage? They do have a GREAT chance. Whether they actually do it or not is not totally in their control.

    For every Monty you have a Harrington or a Clarke. Westwood could yet win 2 or 3 majors. Who knows? I do know i'll enjoy watching them try.

  • Comment number 81.

    I hope they do Harry...Luke is my favourite golfer and he deserves a major more then anyone else in golf...Im just not a believer in his bottle.

  • Comment number 82.


    Monty was never world number one. Both Donald and Westwood are / have been.

    Monty never won in the States. Donald and Westwood have.

    Monty achieved his best finishes in majors from the age of 31 to 43. Donald is 34 and Westwood is 38.

    They have plenty of time to win a major yet.

  • Comment number 83.

    i think TheSorcerer used to post as Deverdie69 about a year ago. Think its the same joker. He must have got banned as Deverdie69 and come back as TheSorcerer.

  • Comment number 84.


    I think Luke has shown more bottle than any other player in the world this season. Having to win the final tournament in the states to secure the money list? Bang. Needing a good finish to secure the European money list? Bang. The man is a rock.

    I have no doubt that if he was in position to win a major he would close it out. Its getting into that position that requires a bit of luck - hit form on the right week, hot putter, no other players going beserk.

    If your life depended on any player to shoot -3 over 9 holes right now who would you pick? Rory? No chance. He's liable to hit 4 birdies and snap hook it OB on the last. Donald is the player i'd pick.

  • Comment number 85.

    #Harry...i see what your saying and your probably new to golf...but ive seen these players come and go through out the last 40 years...and i can tell that neither Lee or Luke have what it takes to win a major. Monty,Lee,Luke,Poulter,Casey...none of these guys have what it takes.

  • Comment number 86.

    #63 Jimmy - Little known secret that Ulster is 9 counties which includes Kerry.

    Or I could just man up and say that I meant BallyLIFFIN - sorry and thank you for the hint! :)

  • Comment number 87.

    Does anyone know Ian Ulster?

  • Comment number 88.

    Good Luck Harry, You've more chance of drawing blood from a stone than a well reasoned argument from James, ... I mean Don.

    Trev, I knew Ulster included a few of the counties in the republic (Donegal being 1 not sure of the other 2) but i thought trying to extend it to Kerry was a push.

    I undertook a whistlestop tour of the west coase of Ireland last year and briefly saw some of the fantastic golf on offer. Unfortunatly my companions were non golfers who wasn't keen on the idea of stopping even to let me gaze wistfully through the endless drizzle at the likes of Lahinch and Ballybunion, the chances of then stopping off and waiting for me whilst i had my fun were zero.

    I vowed to return unencumbered by such philistines though, got to admit it was my idea of heaven

  • Comment number 89.

    All you idiots saying that Lee, Luke and the rest CAN'T win a major ... what magic ingredient do they lack that Curtis, Hamilton, Micheel, Campbell etc.etc. possess?

    What's so ridiculous is that some of you spend half your lives posting on these blogs and passing yourself off as experts, get a life or at least some perspective.

  • Comment number 90.

    has anyone played Rosses Point in County Sligo? its a top course. Rory won the West of Ireland there.
    mattlehagi, you have a cheek, your the worst for constantly posting garbage on here

  • Comment number 91.

    Insult me but don't answer my question. Well done Bilo, you continue to define yourself with every post!

  • Comment number 92.

    Before it starts i did NOT burn down Jim's house

  • Comment number 93.

    @mattlehagi, i am sorry, i now regret those comments. I would like to apologise. I have had a good long hard look at myself and have realised i need to wise up. Please accept my apologies and i hope we can move on as mates?

  • Comment number 94.

    @ jimmy...are we mates okay? since mickysausage and Don247 have left i feel i only have Sumo82 left as a real true mate.

  • Comment number 95.

    lol ... ;-)

  • Comment number 96.

    one of the best things about golf courses over here is that you can get great deals. I went to play Portsalon in the summer and called to check on tee times. Because I was on my own I was offered a discount right away and when I went back later was charged the grand sum of 15 Euros when the normal rate is 40 Euro!
    You couldn't beat it with a big stick!

  • Comment number 97.

    Regarding the whole greatness, Major winning thing. It's certainly possible to be the best golfer in the world for a short period or to be remembered fondly by golf fans without winning a major but ...
    All the true greats have won AT LEAST 2 majors. Norman was as talented a golfer as I have seen and should have had 5+ majors if he'd been stronger mentally or just luckier. The closest to great without 2 majors would be (in my opinion) Kite and Wadkins with 1 each and Monty. Donald could join that list if he stays in the worlds top 2 or 3 for the next 3 years or so and Garcia not far off either. Only my opinion of course but very few non greats with 3+ majors and hardly any greats with less than 3 and none I think of as great with less than 2.

  • Comment number 98.

    @96 have never played Portsalon.

  • Comment number 99.

    Peter the Hoss - Who is Jim, and why did you burn down his house?

  • Comment number 100.

    I think Lee has a better chance than Luke next year to win a major. My predictions:
    Masters - Woods
    US Open - Woods
    Open - Woods
    USPGA - Garcia


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