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Showdown at Hazeltine

The eyes of the golfing world will be on Hazeltine this weekend as the Ryder Cup starts tonight in Minnesota.  Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose spearhead the Europeans in the opening foursomes match, and will be looking to avenge their defeat at Gleneagles two years ago as they again come up against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.  Europe has a good record in Ryder Cup foursomes golf, but they could struggle to maintain that against some strong USA pairings.  Darren Clarke has six rookies in his team, and is sending out two in the Friday foursomes: Andy Sullivan to partner Rory McIlroy, and Thomas Pieters with Lee Westwood.  He then has the tricky task of giving his other newbies (Chris Wood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Danny Willett, and 22 year old Matthew Fitzpatrick) some game time before Sunday’s singles matches, whilst all the time being conscious of the overall state of the match over the 16 foursomes and fourball matches on the Friday and Saturday.

Sit back for a fascinating weekend of golf – there’s simply nothing quite like the Ryder Cup as a sporting spectacle.

Charles Tour Season Underway

The 2016/2017 Jennian Homes Charles Tour is underway with the Augusta Funds (presented by Pipe Tech) Taranaki Open.  This is the first of six events in the series, and is sure to attract plenty of interest with home town hero Grant Moorhead leading after Round 1 with a five under 67.  There’s plenty of top professional and amateur talent breathing down Grant’s neck though, with one of the strongest Taranaki Open fields for years underpinning what a great proving ground the Charles Tour is for our leading players.

Arnold Palmer and New Zealand  Palmer

Tributes have flowed from around the world for golfing legend Arnold Palmer, the common theme being Palmer’s huge contribution to boosting golf’s popularity and moving it from a niche sport to the massive following he created during his era in setting up the platform for golf as we know it today.  New Zealand also benefited from this, with Palmer visiting New Zealand in 1966 to play Sir Bob Charles in a four round series culminating at Royal Auckland, and resulting in a convincing victory for Charles with a four round tally of 282, eight shots clear of Arnie.  However, that series will be remembered more for some typical do or die golf from Arnie, not least at Balmacewan where he drove the famous Glen hole for a two putt birdie, and later smashed a five iron onto the short 17th for a similar result. 

He later returned to play in the 1978 NZ Airlines Classic, and was still good enough to finish third in that event (won again by Bob Charles).  In both cases, he did not demand the massive appearance fees that would be sought by today’s elite – clearly for Arnold his focus was to grow the game around the world, and what a fantastic job he did of that.

Thank you Arnold Palmer for all you have done for the game, and special thanks as well from the New Zealand chapter of Arnie’s Army.

LPGA Tour

Lydia Ko is not playing in this week’s Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing, and as a result is likely to lose her 1# ranking to Ariya Jutanugarn, who is leading the tournament after opening with an eight under round of 64.

Lydia has plenty of chances to get back on top again in the six tournaments remaining before the season ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, starting on November 17th.

European Challenge Tour

Ryan Fox is currently T46 on -1 in the Kazakhstan Open in Almaty, six shots behind the joint leaders.

European Q School

Mathew Perry looks well placed to proceed to Stage Two in the European Tour Q School Series.  After 3 rounds of the latest event in Hardelot, France, he lies T6 on -4.  The top 24 finishers will progress to Stage Two.

Japan Tour

Michael Hendry is sitting out this week’s Top Cup Tokai Classic.  David Smail is playing, but is clearly struggling to find form this year, and has opened with a forgettable 81.  There’s better news on the Japan Tour Q School front, with NZ PGA Board Member Brad Shilton currently leading the field after an opening round of six under 66.

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