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Big week for Big Easy and Tiger

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Iain Carter | 17:03 UK time, Tuesday, 20 March 2012

There was plenty of aerial activity as the players were helicoptered in and out but there was no need for a blimp to track the movement of a single black Mercedes.

The opening day of the Tavistock Cup at Lake Nona, an event exclusive to golf's Floridian gated communities, marked the start of a gruelling week for Tiger Woods.

It was only eight days since he had hobbled out of the WGC Championship, when overhead cameras dramatically charted his drive away from Doral.

Now it is time to prove the diagnosis of a 'mild' left Achilles strain was accurate and that Woods has fully recovered in time to make sure he is in perfect shape for the Masters.

Ernie Els

Ernie Els needs a top-two finish at Bay Hill to extend his run of Masters appearances to 19. Photo: Getty

He came through his initial 18 holes at the Tavistock Cup unscathed. It was the first round of an exhaustive fitness test because by Sunday night he will hope to have completed 126 holes of golf.

Once the lucrative exercise of making the super-rich even more wealthy is completed at Lake Nona, Woods will head to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The fourteen times major champion will play the Wednesday pro-am and then hope to complete all four rounds in his last competitive action before the first major of the year. Assuming he makes the cut he will play seven rounds in seven days.

Certainly the signs are encouraging so far and Woods seems to have reaped the rewards of a prudent withdrawal after 11 holes of his final round at Doral.

"I've done it before and played through not just pain, but injury and set myself back quite a bit," he admitted.

"That's what I did last year and missed two major championships because of it. I want to be ready for Augusta."

If there is any enduring concern it is that Woods' latest injury setback occurred doing nothing more than playing golf.

This was also the case a year ago when he hurt his left knee at the Masters, rushed back for the Players' Championship and ended up missing the US Open and Open.

That's what makes this extended week of competitive golf so valuable for the former world number one. If he comes through it unscathed he will be ideally placed for a week honing his skills ahead of Augusta.

And at least he can prepare in the certainty of his Masters eligibility. As a former champion it is there for life but the same privilege doesn't exist for a two-times runner-up like Ernie Els.

The famous Green Jacket has never sat on the broad shoulders of the South African and now he is in acute danger of not even making the journey to the first major of the year.

Currently ranked 62nd in the world, the three times major winner is likely to need a top two finish here at Bay Hill this week to make it into the world's top 50 in time to clinch Masters eligibility.

Els has played 18 consecutive Augusta tournaments and there have been calls for him to receive a special invitation to compete.

Traditionally the Augusta National has extended invitations to overseas players but that was a process that began before the official world rankings offered a barometer of a golfer's standing.

Greg Norman was invited for the 2002 event but his standing as the ultimate Augusta nearly man was far greater than Els, even though he was runner up in 2000 and 2004 in a period when he never finished outside the top six.

As a fully active American-based PGA Tour player Els is not short of routes into the Masters field. The fact that he has been unable to find one so far tells its own story.

The South African's errant putting down the stretch at last week's Transitions Championship cost him the chance of the win that would have had him Augusta-bound.

A stroke clear with two to play, Els didn't make the play-off won by Luke Donald in the Englishman's last competitive outing before the Masters.

Donald, who has gone back to the top of the world rankings, can complete his Masters preparations full of confidence and so can the man he deposed as world number one, Rory McIlroy.

The WGC event in Miami earlier this month was the Northern Ireland youngster's final outing before the Masters and he likes plenty of downtime before competing for a major title.

There is no such luxury for Woods, who hopes he will feel in similar mood come the end of this exhausting week.

Requiring rather more optimism, so does Els. If he can bounce back and earn the required finish at Bay Hill, the one they call the Big Easy will be well worth his place in the Augusta field.


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  • Comment number 1.

    The blog is hear at last. I think Ernie will get an invite regardless of being in the top 50. Tavistock cup has been great viewing, feherty is as dry as they come!!! I wonder if bilo has been watching the great man's analysis in the studio..I quite like him!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Iain, what about some commentary on Luuuuuke's win last week-end? that's more interesting than Tiger's preparation for the masters. when the chips were down, luke pulled through, and it looked almost inevitable the way he kept calm, ket hitting the birdies and then on the first play off hole sunk another to win, even after hitting his tee shot into the rough.
    It was great to see him win another tournament, and he will be one of my bets for the masters. what about a european 1,2,3 with luke, Rory and Justin Rose at the top?

  • Comment number 3.

    I'd also like to ask Iain Carter AND the BBC why they haven't even bothered updating the scores on their website. The latest tournament scores throughout the Transitions (and still there today) is the WGC event won by Justin Rose.

    This quite simply isn't good enough from a Corporation that advertises itself with bringing all the latest news across the globe. What a joke. Trade Descriptions Act anyone?

  • Comment number 4.

    Now, having got THAT off my chest - the blog is pretty pathetic this week Iain. As LGolf says - what about a commentary on LD's fifth win on US soil and his return to No. 1 in the world.

    Robert Garrigus had just about the same putt in the play off that he made in normal time to take the clubhouse lead. MISSED. Luke Donald hit a fantastic risk shot from the rough to leave himself with an uphill putt for the title. GENIUS.

    But then again, as the BBC coverage was all linked to the PGA web site you just have to wonder if anyone from the beeb actually watched any of it? Tell me I'm wrong, Mr. Carter????

  • Comment number 5.

    @3..trev...The ceefax is no better either, i dont even go on there now for leaderboards!!
    Given the fact they have lost the rights to Horse racing, i fear golf will be the next.

  • Comment number 6.

    McIlroy wins and gets a blog all to himself, ditto Rose. Donald wins and gets two lines. He was the forgotten man in the wake of Rory's ascent and has bounced straight back in typical Luke style. What a story.
    With all due respect to Ernie, a few lines on his efforts to qualify for the Masters would have sufficed. As for Tiger....

  • Comment number 7.

    Also in fairness to Ian he has to mix the blog's up...and Ernie did throw it away last week!

  • Comment number 8.

    Really hope Ernie gets an invite as i love watching his slow! Poor blog Ian as you should have been writing about a terrific win for luuuuuke which brings him back to number 1! Cant wait for augusta....mcilroy and donald playing there best r just a joy to watch simply cant wait

  • Comment number 9.

    just watching the 17th at Lake Nona - a line of Audi A6's down the side of the hole. Hope they are well insured!

  • Comment number 10.

    We finally have the blog, which unfortunately has barely a passing mention of last weeks tournament. Although if it was Westwood in Ernies shoes no doubt we would have a raft of Choker comments to follow (please don't, I didn't really mean to bring it up)

    Also what's with the thinly veiled contempt for this tournament in the 6th "paragraph" (I say paragraph as the beeb bloggers don't think we can read any longer paragraphs), golf is hardly the paupers game is it?

    Still great last round by LUUUKE and that playoff hole second shot from the rough, almost as good as that Hawksworth bloke I keep reading about, what was that shot again by the way? ;)

  • Comment number 11.

  • Comment number 12.

    Luuuuuke has missed the cut in a third of the majors he has participated in, and has missed the cut in 2 of the last 4 at augusta!!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Luke would get a mention if he was a jock no doubt. Or perhaps if he was a wee northern irish man sarcasm intended.
    Personally think the number one slot will change hands several times this year.

  • Comment number 14.

    There are a lot of good players all playing really well at the same time and anyone of them are capable of winning any tournament on their day.
    Then there is Tiger to add back into the mix so looks great for the year ahead, on another note Els is yesterdays man might win a tournament but wont win many these days.

  • Comment number 15.

    davey...Whats happening dude?? I need the sausage prediction league updated, ive gotta be mid table now..How about you m8

  • Comment number 16.

    Good evening gentlmen this is now my 3rd attempt to post, the bloody computer keeps crashing

    I'm sorry to disagee with most comments already posted,but I thought Iain actually thought about his blog this week(probably why it was late !!!)If he had mentioned Luke winning and going back to #1 all the EXPERTS would say he should not be #1 as he has never won a major.Westwood choked (although he didn't play)and if little mac or tiger had played they would have walked it !!!!
    mattefc,daveyboy how did you get on with your predictions ?
    I predict a certain blogger (jm) will moan about Luke not getting the main blog headline and then critisiising the poor bloke for never winning a major and being the #1
    Bilo when you turn up tomorrow could we please have an update about the golf day

  • Comment number 17.

    It looks as though Els definitely succumbed to the pressure. ( I daren't use the C word !!) He should have won that tournament on Sunday. Though I notice that he had a decent score today in the Tavistock / lads from "Florida" jolly boys outing.

    Well done to LD, he played really well. I too think that the #1 will change a fewtimes this year.

    Can't we have the prediction league over the first 3 rounds ? By my reckoning then I would be up with the Mighty Sorcerer !!! My picks seem to fall off beyond that mark.

  • Comment number 18.

    Is it my connection or the BBC web which keeps going down ?

  • Comment number 19.

    Matte got a few points to go on as picked Luke but other than that not sure whether I got anything from the previous week.
    I am not sure about the special invitation thing for Els for the Masters he should earn it like everyone else but then to keep a far East interest they invite japanese players etc .

  • Comment number 20.

    @ 18 you make a comment then the web site says comments can not be added at the moment and you end up having to refresh the page several times to see your last comment

  • Comment number 21.

    @19 Davey...I agree they should earn it m8, but they always give out a few exempts...After all it is the lowest field for a major!! Maybe with ryo it was the pull of asia??? I picked luuuuke as well dude, so i am eagily anticipating the new table, mid table obscurity for me.

  • Comment number 22.

    I am gutted, I mean GUTTED that I missed out on my picks for the weekends golf - my head was in the clouds. I swear that I was going to pick Els, Donald and Harrington? Haha.

    Good weekends golf though, disappointed Mannasero didn't win in Spain. Agree with those who say Number 1 spot will change a few times this year but I think we all know the longer term No. 1 and I don't think I need to mention his name! Can't see Donald winning Masters, my outsider shout is Gary Woodland and my more realistic shout is Tiger.. we'll see!

  • Comment number 23.

    12. At 20:48 20th Mar 2012, mattefc wrote:
    Luuuuuke has missed the cut in a third of the majors he has participated in, and has missed the cut in 2 of the last 4 at augusta!!!!


    No wonder Luke says he felt "bypassed"! He just won a tournament (albeit not really comprehensively, but still a win). 50% of cuts made at the Masters? Like one Rory McIlroy then!

    Luke putts better, is a steadier player, better short game, etc. FACT!

    One hit wonder! Flukey win at a very benign US Open. Mr. McIlroy will not win another major in his twenties. Why? There's just too many possible winners out there no.

  • Comment number 24.

    The blog was late this week because I was travelling out to Bay Hill. On that basis I thought it better to look ahead rather than back. Anyone who has read this blog in recent months will know my admiration for Luke Donald could not be higher and as I tweeted and reported on BBC 5Live after watching on Sunday night it was a huge win that again shows he is not lacking in bottle. He has become one of the finest competitors in world golf at the moment and is a deserving number one. I do try to avoid being overly parochial, although that is not easy given the current success of UK players. This was a chance to comment on two of the biggest names in world golf for whom this is a hugely important week.

  • Comment number 25.

    Golden Bear you are having a laugh - 'One hit wonder! Flukey win at a very benign US Open. Mr. McIlroy will not win another major in his twenties. Why? There's just too many possible winners out there no.' I don't think demolishing a field is flukey.

    'Luke putts better, is a steadier player, better short game, etc. FACT!' - of course that instantly means he will win the Masters? Also what you have said may be true but answer me this - has Luke Donald a major to his name?

  • Comment number 26.

    So golden bear are you arguing with my stats because i think you will find them pretty close...i have always said LD is a very good golfer but im afraid he is not a major champion, cmon LW is older than TW and he missed the boat big time. At the end of the day Ernie just gave the transitions away..

  • Comment number 27.

    Iain...nice to see you comment, and i agree with regards to the blog, it's not like we can keep talking about the world number 1 without a major!!!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    #26 matt,

    On the contrary, i am using your "stats" to show that while ,as you say, "they are pretty close", Mr. McIlroy is oddly bypassed.

    Re. LW, just like how TW is coming back to some semblance of form, LW coming back from #200+ in the world is an achievement in itself.

    "LD is a very good golfer but not a major champion"? Oh, I see. Not as good as Todd Hamilton or Ben Curtis then? Right?

    Yup, Ernie did give it away, but sometimes, there's this thing called trying too hard.

  • Comment number 29.

    *was meant to be..... Mr. Donald is oddly bypassed.

  • Comment number 30.


    It was a fluke. The proverbial flash in the pan. Nothing more, nothing less.

    At the upcoming Masters.....
    Mr. McIlroy can drive the ball straight and far. He hits it with a somewhat high-ish ball flight. Good things to have if there is no wind (I remember how windy it was one Masters). If you recall the recent Honda, Rory's knock-down shots weren't particularly good.

    Rain, soft greens, and he'll be fine. If the greens at Augusta are at their usual lightning-fast pace, his dodgy putting stroke and tendency to pull will not stand him in good stead.

    I anticipate fair weather, with a stiff breeze, at the Masters this year. This means that Rory (who will probably start on Thursday afternoon, i.e. late tee time) will not make the cut.

  • Comment number 31.

    The BEAR is back :) At least for a day or two, before the next trip to Dubai :(

    Where's everyone?

  • Comment number 32.

    I was all ready with my "In defence of Iain Carter" comment when lo and behold up he pops himself and says all that i was going to, except with the eloquence of a journalist rather than my haphazard musings.

    To be fair a blog about Luke win wouldnt make particularly good reading. Luke played a good last round, Looked to have missed the boat by making par on the last 7. Got thrown a lifeline by Els and to a lesser extent Furyk, And then played an exceptional iron shot en route to sealing the playoff.

    We all know thats what happened, i dont think we need it writing down in a blog to confirm it do we?

  • Comment number 33.

    Golden Bear your OPINIONS on Rory McIlroy are, well in my opinion, ridiculous. I will respond in the morning to your mindless drivel.

  • Comment number 34.

    #33 gbell

    I wouldn't bother - Golden Bear / Jack Nickalus may genuinely believe the stuff he's posting (hey - anything's possible) but he's posted it before and been soundly rebuffed before. My suspicion is that he's just a troll (and I'm no big Rory fanboy).

    Anyway, well done to Luke - showing again that he's got the balls. Things building up nicely for the Masters.

    And be honest - had anyone heard of Julien Quesne before this weekend?

  • Comment number 35.

    Like your scathing comments about the Tavistcok Cup!
    world Ranking points for it next year?

  • Comment number 36.

    Well done to Mr. Carter for finally replying to a blog!

    I don't think the blog should every week cover the past tournament because we all get around to talking about the same points and arguing in favour of our preferred golfer. Yes super well done to luuuuuuke he proved he's not a one season wonder and he's finding form at the right time. Can he do what Zachary Johnson did at Augusta????

  • Comment number 37.

    As for the blog.

    I saw TWs interview after his first round at tavistock and he was defending his withdrawal, which I think was honest enough. He missed the invitational last year and he will want to get back into Arnold's good books. Only worry is that's a he'll of a lot of golf by the time he tees up at Augusta.

    He always has a chance there because of his power and recovery, but I think his putting will need to be up a notch if he's going to cope with those greens.

    As for Els he will surely get an invite, he's in good form and he has more to add than his golfing ability, a lot of fans will tunein to watch the Big Easy. Maybe him and Vijay need to get together and try and re-kindle some form.

    Roll on Thursday.

  • Comment number 38.

    Tiger, Tiger, Tiger. Argghh, spare me.
    You talk about his mild achilles strain as if it's a fatal war wound.
    "He came through his initial 18 holes at the Tavistock Cup unscathed."

    ...and then we get the Tiger himself

    ""I've done it before and played through not just pain, but injury and set myself back quite a bit," he admitted."

    What a hero.

    If you must "blog" about golf, can't you at least keep it about the current challengers ? Keep the Tiger blogs for his inevitable retirement announcement.

  • Comment number 39.

    i thought this was a good blog from Iain. nice to see him come on aswell.

    Guys, i am waiting to here back from someone i have contacted at the BBC about golf day and getting access to details to contact people etc. It will happen! trust me.

    In other news i have been asked to out togther some John Hawksworth classic shots so ill get on that too!

  • Comment number 40.

    Why don't we all just meet up at a pay n play? Preferably in Yorkshire!!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Or get BBC to pay for it!!

  • Comment number 42.

    Nice to see Iain come on and comment on his blog. Given the high esteem he must be held in by his BBC bosses (based on the recent 7 pages of comments) I'm sure he flew in first class to Bay Hill.

    Having picked Manassero and Donald last week, I'm looking forward to seeing the league table update.

  • Comment number 43.

    I don't agree that Els should be given an invitation to play in the Masters. In fact, I don't think there should be any invitations for major championships.

  • Comment number 44.

    You talk about his mild achilles strain as if it's a fatal war wound.
    "He came through his initial 18 holes at the Tavistock Cup unscathed."

    This actually made me laugh. I would like to think that nobody has ever been stupid enough to use the word "Unscathed" with regard to a "Fatal War Wound". How would you even do that?

    "The soldiers came through unscathed suffering only fatal war wounds"

    To be fair In the past we've seen accusations of Iain being Anti-Tiger, this is definatly a balanced view and hopefully goes some way to dismissing that accusation. Its not all sweetness and light in Tiger world but walking of the course, whilst attracting criticism might have saved him from missing the Masters

  • Comment number 45.

    *off not of.

    for the benefit of the pedants out there

  • Comment number 46.

    Good blog Iain, well done to Luke, again proving that he is made of sterner stuff!
    Nice to see Iain coming on and answering a couple of points as well.
    Can't wait for the Masters now, i think Els should get the invite, maybe i'm being biased but i don't think it'd be the same without him, as YB said before, he brings more to the table than just his golfing abillity.

  • Comment number 47.

    Well done Luke for getting the number 1 spot back but I cant help but feel he is just keeping it warm until the masters where Rory will take it back. Luke is a fantastic player but I dont know if he deserves to be called world number 1.
    Anyways well done to him...I hope he enjoys it for the next 2 weeks.

  • Comment number 48.

    #33 #34 totally agree with you about the golden bear! He can't be serious saying mcilroys win at the us open was a fluke, he destroyed the field that week!

    As for tiger woods, his driving of the ball & iron shots looked fantastic at the Tavistock, pity his putting let him down once again, I think its fair to say that's the only part of his game he's missing!

  • Comment number 49.

    Not wishing to put the boot in but I do actually agree that you fail to recognise the achievements of Luke Donald. I am sorry, but Els is in his twilight and should not be offered a free invitation to pick up money, world rankong and fedex points. But, the Masters comittee like to be a law unto themselves so they will probably relent.

    Back to the main point. The media are caught up in a Rory frenzy to the extent that their coverage comes across as biased. You sort of expect this from over the pond, but not from the BBC. Luke Donald absolutely deserves his no 1 ranking, to win both the US and European Tours last year and to begin this year with a win is a monumental achievement. To topple Rory first time out demonstrates a drive and determination from a very skilful individual who must surely be ranked as the best putter in the world today. Had the tide been turned, there would have been many more column inches about Rory because of his age and swashbuckling style. I think the weekly blog could have focused on the see saw situation that we are likely to encounter at the top of the world rankings giving each player due praise because they deserve it. A footnote about the sad demise of Els would have also been appropriate but just that.

  • Comment number 50.

    As a few of you have commented... the weekly blog does not need to be about who won what at the weekend. We'd soon switch off and flick straight to the 'comments' - though, I expect a few do already!
    OK so each week's blog may not to be to everyone's liking but a bit of variety never hurt anyone and I for one am as happy to read about Ernie as anyone - even if it is a nod to his current predicament.
    Hope he makes it to Augusta - if not then he just didn't deserve it... golf, like all sports, is results driven.
    And well done Luke - not lease because I picked him and it buts young Rory back in his place... for now!

  • Comment number 51.

    @ 48..Steve...Totally agree, i have never seen TW looking so good from the tee. It said on the commentary yesterday that he leads the pga tour in overall driving (not sure how that is deduced).

  • Comment number 52.

    I know IC's blog shouldn't always be about the weekend's golf, but this time it wasn't an ordinary weekend's golf so I think Donald should have got more of a mention.

    Firstly, the number one spot changed hands again, not for the first time in the last two years admittedly but it is still by definition a big deal.

    Secondly, Donald has replied strongly to all those predicting a 'second season syndrome' for him after a slow start to the season. I see no reason why a repeat of last year isn't possible (although hopefully this time he picks up a Major along the way).

    Golden Bear is a troll, end of. I think from now on we should all just ignore him, no matter what he says.

  • Comment number 53.

    Matt... is/was Tiger playing his driver or the 'stinger' with the 3 wood (or a bit of both)?

  • Comment number 54.

    Bilo - Any news on the 'Blog Masters' ????

  • Comment number 55.

    # 52

    agree ignore Golden Bear

  • Comment number 56.

    @53 ...cfc....From what i watched it was mainly the driver m8. He has definatly added some distance as well.

  • Comment number 57.

    #53 it was basically all driver, was hitting his 3 wood now & again for poistion but when he was his 3 wood was keep up with roses driver

  • Comment number 58.

    As usual I'm late here - was refreshing the page like crazy yesterday and nothing, then suddenly there are 50 comments.

    I would echo comments 2-6 and say that Luke Donald deserved more of a mention. It wasn't just a win, but to me the obvious story is how he has returned to number 1. There are a few sub-plots from transitions - Donald winning in a pressure situation, more evidence that the top spot will change hands a lot this year, and Ernie's implosion. No-one could call Ernie a choker, but it has been well documented that he is battling with his putting. That last putt was the evidence.

    Two more points. FIrstly, kudos to IC for replying on his blog. I don't want to take credit for this, but last week I emailed the BBC and asked why he never replies. I didn't get a response, but lo and behold here he is. I wonder if they had a word with him? I also checked some old blogs from 09 and they didn't even reach 2 pages. So he should be thankful to us, especially if his bonus is blog-based.

    The other thing - and I am surprised Iain didn't mention it - was the post round interview by Steve Sands with Ernie. OMG, possibly the least appropriate questions imaginable (to a golfer who has just missed a 4 footer to lose out on a title and possibly a masters appearance). For those of you who missed it, check out this link:

    The transcript of the interview is as follows:

    Sands: Very disappointed, Ernie Els; what happened after that drive on the 18th hole?
    Els: (Angry pause)What happened? Well, I pulled my second left and I chipped it up there. Didn't have a great lie on my third shot and I pulled my putt.

    Sands: Did you have the confidence to make that putt before there?
    Els: (laughing, not in a nice way) Yeah, I guess so. I just pulled it a bit.

    Absolutely disgraceful interview!

  • Comment number 59.

    51 Matt - I think total driving is a combination of driving distance plus driving accuracy. I googled it and found this article which is way too complicated to read, but suggests that the method of adding the two together is flawed. I'm not sure if they have changed the method though:

  • Comment number 60.

    @ The BMG

    Americans are by nature tactless, so not really surprised. Feel sorry for Els.

  • Comment number 61.

    I saw that interview, it was a total car crash. I actually felt sorry for Sands in that i'm not sure that there was an appropriate question to ask in the immediate aftermath. At least he had the sense to recognise that the inteview was going horribly and nipped it in the bud almost instantly.

  • Comment number 62.

    @Sumo82, see my last comment Pal, i am working on it, waiting to here back from somebody i contacted about it.

  • Comment number 63.

    On the basis of the response to what Golden Bear said, I won't bother responding to his trash talk - after all he has won 18 major titles!

    I can't believe Ernie actually was interviewed in the first place, but fair play to him, stupid questions to ask someone who has just choked. Nice to see him smiling about it when he was asked on Monday at the Tavistock Cup, whilst strolling down the fairway in the sunshine!

    Like I have said before I think Rory is the new long term number one, but I do have the feeling Luke might hold on to it for a couple of months unless Rory wins the Masters. I think Rory has a great chance, but the pressure is certainly being heaped on him.

  • Comment number 64.

    One man's meat is another man's poison. If us Americans are "tactless", then English people are mindless lemmings, lemmings without the ability to think but merely follow blindly.

    With that, here's food for thought. TW needs 4 majors to reach 18. Phil is a great golfer - he has 4 majors. Which is more likely? Rory to get 14 majors? Or no more than 4 majors? Or no more majors, given, as you all say, the field is very strong now?

  • Comment number 65.

    If Rory can win one of each (he has the ability) then I think that would be a great achievement. I honestly believe he can win at least 6 or 7, but if I am realistic I think 4 would be amazing.

    IMO it depends on what he does in the next 3 or 4 years. If he wins 3 or more in that timespan then who knows how many he could win. If he scrapes 1 or doesn't win any majors in that time then I think winning just one more would be a challenge.

  • Comment number 66.


    I agree with you, Rory's form the last 5 months has been worthy of being number 1, both in terms of points and the way he's played (IMO). He now needs to continue that form the whole year so that the ranking points tot up and he'll have a comfortable cushion.

    He and Donald could well be numbers 1 and 2 for the foreseeable future too, I don't see anyone else up to their standard at the moment.

  • Comment number 67.

    Good point about the Els post match interview - Sands was about as subtle as a train crash. As a professional he could have lightened the situation by talking about the positives in that Els had played great golf up to the final two holes. I think then Els would have regained his composure and would have been able to talk more openly about the missed putts. I felt for Els, he was absolutely gutted, hopefully he can move on from this. As for Sands, a quiet word I think !

  • Comment number 68.

    @ Jimmy

    I think there are questions one can ask in that situation, primarily ones which don't go out and relive the car crash that has just happened.

    e.g. How are you going to react to this disappointment?

    What areas of your game needs improvement?

    Very generic questions of course but at least sensitive to the fact that Els isn't a happy bunny right now.

  • Comment number 69.

    @Golden Bear "English people are mindless lemmings, lemmings without the ability to think but merely follow blindly"

    Wow....thats a pretty big insult to all English people! So your saying that the English are just dumb sheep who follow the sheppard that is the USA?
    Wow...thankfully im not English or I would be hugely insulted!

  • Comment number 70.

    Someone should of give Els a Big Mac, he loves them apparently!

  • Comment number 71.

    Agree with other posters, sorry GB you've cooked your goose mate.

    I think Steve Sands could have easily asked appropriate questions, such as:

    "Ernie, although you must be very disappointed to miss out on the playoff, you must be encouranged by the way you played this week?"

    or even

    "You holed some great putts this week and your putting seemed to be back to near your best. Did you misread that one on 18 or do you think maybe you pulled it a touch?"

    Or something slightly more tactful, to try and make the guy feel a little better about himself instead of making him feel like a doos! The fact that he ended the interview so abruptly just made it worse I thought.

    He reminded me of Gary Newbon in his pomp, when he used to stick the microphone in boxers' faces and proceed to tell how rubbish they had just fought. I remember one in particular with Nigel Benn where I thought Newbon was going to get clobbered.

    I'm off to work on my predictions...

  • Comment number 72.

    67, 68 - exactly.

    I happen to think that Ernie was probably not in such a bad mood in the first place, but when Sands asked him the first idiotic question he was a bit shocked and didn't know what to say. I don't suppose that brightened his mood too much. Not surprising either.

    Re: McIlroy and how many majors will he win, I think he'll do well to win more than 4 or 5. The reason being that there seem to be so many more golfers right now who are capable of winning. As I've said before, the Tiger era was unusual in that it is rare for a single player to be so dominant. Even if you compare Woods to Nicklaus, you find that whilst JN only won 4 more majors than Tiger currently has, he came second 19 times to TW's 6. In other words, it suggests that Woods has won a very high % of the majors in which he has been in contention.

    In the 09 blog that I was browsing the other day, a couple of the posters were saying with absolute confidence that Kaymer would dominate for years. I do think RMc will win more majors but he'll have to work for every one

  • Comment number 73.

    I agree it was a bad interview, just saying it was a very difficult situation.

    We have had from sunday to Wednesday to assess the situation and not 5 minutes, you can type, re-word and then think again about your questions rather than having to work on the spot.

    Secondly to avoid the obvious issue of what happend on 18 is just avoiding the Elephant in the room and is pretty much patronising, which Els doesnt deserve either.

    Els should have refused the interview, i think being too much of a gentleman and a good guy didnt help him on this occasion. Equally Sands or his producer, or whoever at the network should have made a decision to allow Els a bit of breathing space.

  • Comment number 74.

    Yes, I agree with BMG above. Winning tournaments is tough, winning majors even tougher. Because someone emerges so young doesn't mean to say they will be a world force for 20 years, remember what they said about Garcia, Scott and their cupboards are major free zones.

    I do think McIlroy will win again, and I hope he does, but one also has to consider what may be coming along behind McIlroy. There are so many good players around, the law of averages state that one of them will have a great week as Schwartzl did last year. McIlroy has to concentrate on getting into contention, and if he achieves a high percentage in this regard, lets hope he can convert a fair few. I think the Woods era was freakish and is unlikely to be repeated in our generation.

  • Comment number 75.

    For once I'm going to differ, Jimmy. I think Else was gracious to take the interview and would have handled it fine had the questions not been so tactless. Had he declined, people would be on his back for being a sulk like they do with Monty, Tiger etc.

    As I said, Sands could have mentioned the missed putt, but more subtley and in the context of a good performance, eg 'you played so well, that miss on 18 must have hurt' or 'such a shame you came up 1 shot short after such a great rournament'. Then I think else would have responded positively and there would have been no awkwardness

    The least you'd expect of a professional journalist would be to show some empathy. If I did my job as badly as that I would expect a rollicking or worse!

  • Comment number 76.

    *'Els' not 'else'!!!

  • Comment number 77.

    No way will Rory or anyone come close to 14 majors ever again. I think TW will win more majors and has a chance to catch jack. At his fitness level he has another 10 years + compeating at the highest level.

    Tom Lewis is the man who might push Tigers record.

  • Comment number 78.

    At 13:10 21st Mar 2012, Alan wrote: "I think the Woods era was freakish and is unlikely to be repeated in our generation."

    Absolutely spot on. Possibly too sensible for some bloggers though. I'm waiting for jamesmathew to come back and start with his 'Luke donald isn't a real number 1' line again

  • Comment number 79.

    77 speak of the devil!!

  • Comment number 80.

    77. At 13:14 21st Mar 2012, jamesmathew wrote:
    No way will Rory or anyone come close to 14 majors ever again. I think TW will win more majors and has a chance to catch jack. At his fitness level he has another 10 years + compeating at the highest level.

    Tom Lewis is the man who might push Tigers record.


    Hang on, you said at the start of that post that no one will get close to Tiger's 14 majors... then you say that Tom Lewis might push Tiger's record? Which is it?

    No harm to Tom Lewis, but he hasn't won a major yet (I know he is young) so lets calm down before we make rash statements. Maybe start off with saying that he might challenge Faldo's record (after all he is the most successful English player).

    James Matthew.... stop being ridiculous.

  • Comment number 81.

    Not sure I'll get back to this again so I'll get the ball rolling...

    Arnold Palmer: Rose Garcia GMac
    Morocco: Lowry Jacquelin Rock

  • Comment number 82.

    Lads - in fairness Iain has dedicated his fair share of blogging time to Luke Donald's success over the last few months (look back at the archive). It's a measure of how consistent LD has been that he keeps putting himself in the frame for attention such as this. However I don't think we'd be too happy if Iain was writing a blog on the amazing Luke Donald every other week.

  • Comment number 83.

    P.S. to all those people who have an opinion on what the blog "should" be - why don't you start up your own blog so YOU can write about whatever it is YOU want to write about, or better yet apply for a job with the BBC as a junior blogger.

  • Comment number 84.

    Amazing facts I just read on a website...had to double check it and its all true.

    Since 1934 there have only been 2 English major winners!
    And since 1970...only 1 English major winner!

    How is that possible? 52 million people...and 2 Winners! (both won more then 1)

    So in the last 78 years of majors England produced only 2 golfers that can call themselves major winners!

  • Comment number 85.

    Fantastic win from Luke, made his score early on and even though didn't birdie any of the last 7 kept himself in the mix while others showed how difficult the last few holes were playing. A wonderful birdie in the playoff hole, pure class and skill under pressure. Very sad to see Ernie collapse like that, proof indeed that his nerve is shot. Despite all he has done for golf IMO he does not deserve to be at the Masters just because. He hasn't qualified on merit through either world ranking or a past win, or a win in any of the other majors in the last 5 years, simple.

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm not putting Steve Sands up for an Emmy, or a Tony or whatever they have over there. Just saying its was a tough situation to ad-lib as opposed to mulling it over for 3 days like we have been able to. Its clear that he knew his error so he was sensitive to what was happening and he did well to stop digging.

    Ernie is a gent and i applaud him for being gracious enough to take the interview but i dont think that 20 years of excellent conduct would have been ndone by declining one interview in the immediate aftermath of such a public disappointment.

  • Comment number 87.

    Morning All

    Have to agree with the Els comments car crash interviewing at its finest right there. When you see interviewing like that you have to wonder how many interviews with different people the golfers may do and given that why some do not come off as well as others do. I have a sneaking suspicion that the networks pick the one that makes better/worst interview to run with.

    I made a complete mess of my picks last week going for a random theme of J (although if I had picked Julien Quesme and Jim Furyk it would have been a master stroke) sadly I picked a guy who wasn't even playing. #palmsfaceandshakeshead.

    This week I am going to go for:

    Arnold Palmer; Mickleson, Snedeker, Wagner
    Morocco; Manassero, Molinari (F), and Ramsay

  • Comment number 88.

    #84....I dont know why England has only managed to produce 2 major winners in 78 years. I think the players must just be mentally weak and cant hack the pressure a major delivers!
    So since 1970 Wales have had as many players that have won majors as England!

  • Comment number 89.


    I am pretty sure you reeled off those facts at the back end of last season as a stick to beat someone with/and then defend.

    And what point are you making? What percentage play golf? how many professionals? etc and unlike the US you don't get a college scholarship to a prestigious college because you can play. What are the mentoring schemes like? Support mechanisms etc

  • Comment number 90.

    Must be pretty annoying for English golfers looking at their Irish counterparts....

  • Comment number 91.

    JM - Wrong again. Unlucky, I'll leave it for you to figure out why, you might learn something.

  • Comment number 92.


    I don't mean to be controversial but its just a very interesting fact for such a huge country and sport that is hugely popular among the English.
    Its almost an unbelievable fact and if was talking about how Brazil only had only won 1 football world cup in the last 50 years you too would be saying its an interesting fact...but they didn't...they won 5.

    Its just English people don't seem to be world leaders at any sport...which is very very strange. (I know Luke is no1 now...but he has never won a world event in stroke play or a major so hes not really no.1)

    Its just interesting...there must be some reason behind the psychology of why English sports people can't compete with the best.

  • Comment number 93.

    @90 - With 2 golfers in top 50 compared to 6 English? Let alone 3 in top 10.

  • Comment number 94.

    @93 - I was going along the lines of Majors. Will someone be remembered for winning the Open or being in the top 50 in the world? Hmmm.

  • Comment number 95.

    A bit too much Jimmy-bashing going on after #61

    It's all very well for us to sit down in our leather chairs at our davenports, quill pens in hand thinking up the most appropriate questions a couple of days later. Sands is out there with a producer yelling in his ear to get some questions asked in the next ten seconds. On the other hand, it is his bloody job ;-)

    #77 jamesmathew
    "Tom Lewis is the man who might push Tigers record."

    Errrm ... right. On what basis might you think that? I guess the leading amateur in The Open and the (impressive) win in the Portugal Masters. Hmmm ... if I was a betting man (actually I only bet on golf) I'd estimate his grand total of majors around the end of his career to be around the zero mark. I'd be delighted if I'm wrong though.

  • Comment number 96.

    Well yes I agree to an extent with regards to Psychology, maybe it is to do with adolescent years. Being in school I remember it being a typically English trait that we were forced to play all the kids as not to appear to be excluding kids, and it being "let everyone play, its only a game old chap and not to push kids with potential to be the best they can be. It seems a typically English trait to do this.

    However the counter argument is we have the current number one ranked cricketers. Have led the way in Cycling, Formula 1 has two English world champions currently, we have possibly one of the greatest triathletes of all time.....

    So, maybe its just that in certain sports others are just better and get promoted as such at an early age?

    It is an interesting topic, I was just giving you a bit of a hard time really.

  • Comment number 97.

    @84 Max Faulkner

  • Comment number 98.

    #84, 97

    Henry Cotton won The Open in 1948 too.

  • Comment number 99.

    @96, you're quite right. Jamesmathew is just trolling (and actually talking to himself as he is also Don274).

    In my opinion, McDowell will be remembered as being a 'one-hit wonder'. He's a likeable guy, but I just don't really see him winning any more majors. Same goes for Darren Clarke, who was arguably a much better player in his day than GMac.

    I think anyone who has lived through the past 20/30 years or so will remember Monty as a better player than Clarke, Harrington or GMac. Rory is the one who everyone recognises could be ultimately remembered as one of the greats. His natural talent is a class above any of those others.

  • Comment number 100.

    @anglesdan I totally understand mate...and Im glad you didn't take it like I was trying to wind anyone up. I just read it a while back and was shocked. I think in sport in general no country dominates...if you look at the number 1 player or team in every sport no country although the English golfers maybe lack that killer instinct other English sports people obviously dont.


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