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"You lose a lot more in golf than you win. So when you do win, you have to enjoy it. I'm going to go back home and enjoy it with my friends and enjoy it with my family and, yeah, I love being from Northern Ireland. I tell everyone how great it is. For me, it's the best place on earth. I'm obviously biased, but I love it back there and I love the people."

 

 

HINT: Look at the bottom of the page.

 

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As spring finally arrives, it begins the thawing of a long, cold winter. The USGA is also coming out of hibernation, in terms of communication, as it begins its countdown to the US Open Championship. This year it will be held at Pinehurst #2 and the women’s edition will be played the week after the men’s. While that is unique, this year’s edition also has some other surprises in store for both fans and players.

“For the first time ever, we are not having long rough grass for a U.S. Open or for that matter for a Women's Open. That's a first. Considering the fact that we have been playing U.S. Opens for 120 years,” stated Mike Davis, Executive Director of the USGA. “So what they're going to encounter is sometimes they're going to be pinehurston sandy hard pan.  Sometimes they're going to be on soft, foot printed loose sand. Sometimes they're going to be up against or underneath wiregrass. Sometimes some of the vegetation, the natural vegetation that's just come up in these areas, sometimes it will be on pine needles or up against a pine cone. But it's going to give these players who miss a fairway just a different type of challenge. I think that all things being equal, will it be easier? Probably a little bit easier, but there is an element, I guess there's, I suppose, an element of luck involved, if you get on hard pan, which for a good player is kind of green light. Or do you get up against a clump of wiregrass. You could have two balls six inches apart and one can go for the green and one can't. That's kind of the nature of the game we play. It wasn't meant to be equal all the time or necessarily fair,” Davis continued.

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Reputed pugilist, Mike Tyson is credited with saying everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face! While golf is struggling to attract a younger audience, one equipment company is taking extreme measures to draw more attention to itself with hopes it spills over to game. cubPowerBilt has signed MMA athlete Cub Swanson, to promote its brand-new Air Force One DFX driver and all of its latest golf equipment. He is considered an avid golfer who grew up mostly in the Palm Springs area. The mixed martial arts pro Swanson is part of a new marketing campaign to position PowerBilt with an edgier personality.

"We're in the process of signing other extreme sport athletes," stated Ross Kvinge, president of PowerBilt. "Cub is the first because of his passion for golf and his connection to the local community. Cub gives us the opportunity to enhance the future of golf and the idea of golfers as athletes. In signing Cub, other MMA athletes, and additional extreme sports figures, we are reaching younger demographics to entice them to consider PowerBilt for their golf equipment. We are breaking the mold of who golf companies should endorse," added Kvinge. PowerBilt will announce a power golf fitness program in 2014 that will showcase Swanson and other extreme athletes. The program will feature custom fitting instructions and extreme fitness techniques with the theme of 'get your game power-built' from the ground up with PowerBilt Golf.

PowerBilt is hoping to attract youth into golf that might otherwise not consider it by showing them how many extreme athletes play golf as well as their core sport. "We need to get them off the electronic games and out on the course," said Kvinge. "The youth are following the extreme sports athletes and we feel we can have an impact by reaching out through our athletes and introduce them to golf. PowerBilt will reach out to baseball players, MMA fighters, BMX, Motocross, surfers and snowboarders."

 

 

The adidas Group has appointed TaylorMade-adidas Golf CEO Mark King as President of adidas Group North America effective June 1, 2014. In his new role, King will be in charge of all adidas and Reebok operations in the North American market. Together with adidas Group CEO Herbert Hainer, King will continue overseeing the TaylorMade-adidas Golf business and will serve on an Advisory Board for the company. Ben Sharpe, currently Executive Vice President of adidas Golf and Ashworth, will become the new CEO of TaylorMade–adidas Golf, reporting into Herbert Hainer.

“Mark King’s appointment underlines our clear commitment to the North American market-place,” said Herbert Hainer, CEO of the adidas Group. "Mark has a proven track record of success and leadership excellence. In turn, TaylorMade-adidas Golf is in best hands with Ben Sharpe who has been part of the successful TaylorMade leadership team since 2006. I am convinced that Ben will lead our golf business into the next era of growth.”

Ben Sharpe (40) currently holds the position of Executive Vice President of adidas Golf and Ashworth. Prior to that role, Sharpe spent six years as TaylorMade-adidas Golf’s Managing Director in Europe. Sharpe is also an acclaimed athlete, having represented Great Britain at the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games as a member of the country’s field hockey team.

“Ben’s business savvy, vision, charisma and competitive drive make him the right man to lead TaylorMade-adidas Golf into the future,” said King. “My role on the board will allow me to stay connected with the golf business while focusing my efforts on ensuring adidas Group reaches its full potential in North America.

 

 

 

Much has been made about how hard golf is. There are those that think the game would be well served if it could find a way to soften it up in order to attract a larger audience. The game certainly doesn’t discriminate from one player to another. Consider last year’s major champions didn’t find the first round at Augusta National very easy. Defending champion Adam Scott posted a score of 3-under par, despite making a double bogey. However, Jason Dufner, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson found Thursday to be quite challenging.

Dufner, the reigning PGA Champion, shot 80 at Augusta National that included making a 9 at the par-5 13th! The Open Champion, Mickelson recorded a triple bogey and a double to finish four over par. The only other time Phil Mickelson had two 7's-or-worse in the same major championship round was round three at the 1997 PGA Championship (T29). In other words, it happens! The US Open Champion, Justin Rose also made a double bogey en route to a four over par score of 76. Between the four major champions of 2013, the cumulative score was 15 over par. Adam Scott’s opening round helped to off set some of the damage inflicted by the others.

Former Masters’ Champ, Zach Johnson posted a score of 78 that left him in 80th place after the first round, while another former champion, Trevor Immelman was one higher at 79. Former world #1, Luke Donald, who has finished T3 in 2005 and T4 in 2011 at The Masters, also carded an opening round of 79, thanks in large part to raking up an 8 on the 9th hole. Former Masters champ and last year’s runner up to Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera opened with a 78 that included a triple bogey on the 11th hole.

It was also a harsh day for the beloved amateurs in the field at Augusta National. The low score was 76 (Fitzpatrick, Goss, Porteous), which put them in good company with Mickelson, Rose and Ian Poulter. However, the six amateurs were a combined +35 on the opening round.

If the game is still hard for the best of the best, professional or amateurs, how can be any other way for the rest of the world?

 

Courtesy of the PGA Tour and Shot Link

 

 
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