New Zealand Golf has named a strong team to contest the 2013 Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship in Thailand.

APGC LogoThe team is comprised of Vaughan McCall (Gore), Joshua Munn (Manawatu), Luke Toomey (Lochiel) and Cameron Jones (Gulf Harbour) for the event at the Santiburi Country Club in Chiang Rai from November 14 – 17.

Gregg Thorpe, the High Performance Manager at New Zealand Golf, believed that the Kiwi lads have a great chance of claiming the title for the second time.

“These guys have performed consistently both home and abroad in the past 18 months and have earned their place on merit,” said Thorpe

“Vaughan and Josh are seasoned competitors at the international level while Luke and Cameron have shown some exciting form in 2013 to be selected in the senior team for the first time. It is a great opportunity for them to perform on a big stage.

“We believe that we have a well-balanced team who will very competitive and represent New Zealand well at this prestigious event.”

The last time New Zealand held aloft the Nomura Cup was in 1995 when the Russley Golf Club in Christchurch hosted the event. This team wants to end that 18-year drought.

All four players have been standout performers throughout the 2013 season.

McCall returns for his second Nomura Cup after being part of the team that finished runner-up to Australia in 2011.

He made a name for himself in 2012 when he completed the NZ Stroke Play and NZ Amateur double. This year he played superbly in Texas to qualify for the US Championship to become the first Kiwi since Danny Lee to progress to the event.

Munn has shown good form on both the local and international stage. The two-time Charles Tour winner achieved his “most significant international win” in January when he claimed the Lake Macquarie Cup in Australia.

Toomey came close to winning the LawnMaster Classic on The Charles Tour when he finished runner-up by one stroke to Grant Moorhead in February.  He also shot an 11-under par 61 at Manawatu in qualifying for the NZ Amateur to win the two-round event by 11 shots.

Jones achieved his breakthrough win on the national scene when he won the NZ Stroke Play Championship at the Papaparaumu Beach Golf Club. He shot an incredible six-under par 30 on the back nine to claim the win. The North Harbour amateur backed that up abroad when he finished tied ninth at the Canadian Amateur.

The Men’s Asia-Pacific Teams Championship, or more commonly known as the Nomura Cup, is a biennial competition rotated among the Asia-Pacific region. It was first held in the Philippines in 1963.

Conducted by the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, each team consists of four male players, contesting 18 holes of stroke play for four days.

In each round the best three out of four scores constitutes the team score for the round.

The four-day (72-hole) total is the team’s score for the championship. The winning team receives the Nomura Cup, which was named after Shun Nomura, the former Vice-President of the Japan Golf Association who donated the Cup.

 

cover_oct-13_webThis month we continue with commentary on the major structural issues surrounding Golf with a couple of very good feature articles inside. In particular read Mark Richards piece on pages 30 to 32. It sums up the complex challenges facing amateur golf completely. It is not simple.
We continue to receive anecdotal feedback on the social (non club member) golfer issue. There are over 400,000 individuals that play golf socially in this country. Now if they averaged (say) 2 rounds each a year and paid a levy to NZ Golf Inc. of (say) $5 per round then this could transform the finances of the entire industry. Now this is simple.
So the end of the US season has arrived. However it signals the beginning of the Australasian Summer of Golf with the hosting of the Australian PGA at the new venue of RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast. This will be a stunning event and we encourage Kiwis to go and watch this. There are cheap flights to the Gold Coast at the moment where accommodation is affordable and there is a great choice. RACV Royal Pines Hotel is fully booked out though.
The Australian Open in Sydney and then the World Cup in Victoria will quickly follow this.
However it was very gratifying to see the New Zealand Women’s Open announced by New Zealand Golf and long-standing promoter Bob Tuohy of TA Associates. With all the turmoil surrounding the financial viability of these events at the moment Mr Tuohy and New Zealand Golf Inc. have managed to secure the necessary funding for this event to continue onwards. The crowds following Lydia Ko as she came down the 18th fairway at Clearwater to win last year exceeded the Men’s Open by a fairly large margin.
Next year (31st January to 2nd February 2014) we predict that Lydia will play this event, her debut, as a true PROFESSIONAL, not the professional amateur that she has been this last 12 months. So here we Ko again!
We have seen Pairs events in both Australia and New Zealand come and go, and none of them have really ever amounted to much for various reasons. However Jim Clelland who is well known in golfing circles has designed an event, which on paper looks just about perfect. Played over 3 days and 3 courses, Kinloch, Wairaki and Taupo, at the end of this month with a prize table every night and a final dinner at the Taupo Hilton it has attracted a very large amount of interest. Entries are now getting limited so check out their web page at www.laketaupomastersgolf.co.nz and get your entry in now.
We will report on this event next month.
Enjoy this magazine
Geoff Witton
Publisher

Carrus Open LogoIt has been a fixture at the Tauranga Golf Club for the past seven years and has played an important role in developing New Zealand golf talent to compete on the world stage.

The eighth-annual Carrus Open on the Charles Tour begins tomorrow and will look to continue its legacy of fine champions who have gone on to bigger and better things.

New Zealand No.1 Michael Hendry, who is now a two-time NZ PGA Champion and has full playing rights on the Japan Golf Tour, won his first four-round event as a professional in Tauranga.

Tauranga pro Josh Geary, who headlines the field this week, has only played the event twice and won both times in 2006 and 2008 before playing on the web.com Tour.

Masterton’s Ben Campbell won the event in 2010 as an amateur before he finished tied fourth at the Eisenhower World Amateur Team’s Championship and climbed to his highest amateur ranking of sixth in the world.

Defending champion Mark Brown, who shot an incredible eight-under par 62 in the final round last year to win, is unable to play this week as he has a start in the Alfred Dunhill Links on the European Tour.

He said that winning the event in 2012 played a big role in his strong summer on the PGA Tour of Australasia where he came close to winning the Order of Merit and also the BMW NZ Open.

“Towards the end of last year I went across to Australia and played a run of tournaments in Australia,” said Brown, a former winner on the European Tour.

“I finished third in the Aussie Masters and had a good performance at the NZ Open and this tournament was important in that. I was fairly quiet tournament wise before that run of events and my win here really kick-started my season.”

New Zealand Golf General Manager Dave Mangan, who is the Tournament Director this week, said the Carrus Open has a proven track record of producing good champions.

“The Carrus Open is one of the original events on the Charles Tour,” he said.

“It is where Mike Hendry first won a four round event as a professional, spring boarding what has been a successful career to date.

“We can only hope that the next Hendry or [Ryan] Fox is playing at Tauranga this week and will be playing on one of the world’s major tours in a few years’ time.”

The field this week includes a total of seven former Charles Tour winners in Geary, Fraser Wilkin, Troy Ropiha, Mark Purser, Doug Holloway, Nick Gillespie and Joshua Carmichael in the $40,000, 72-hole stroke

play event.

New Plymouth professional Grant Moorhead, who won at Manawatu, is a late withdrawal from the event after suffering a shoulder injury.

Also in the field are former Japan Tour pro Richard Lee, who shot a 59 at Tauranga in 2010, to be the only Kiwi to have shot golf’s magical number, and Luke Toomey, who was runner-up at the LawnMaster Classic.

Mangan regarded Geary as the favourite to win the tournament for a third time.

“It would be very hard to go past Geary with his proven track record at Tauranga,” he said.

“It’s great to have Josh back, playing in his hometown.  We all know the great success he has had here at the Carrus.  And let’s hope the Charles Tour here at Taruanga and at Harewood in Christchurch over Labour Weekend can

give Josh the golf he needs to reclaim a major tour card.

“The chasing pack will no doubt include Richard Lee, Daniel Pearce and Nick Gillespie.”

Mangan said that missing the likes of Brown, Hendry and Fox in 2013 is testament that The Charles Tour is working as a stepping stone.

“While we would love the likes of Ryan and Michael to be playing here the fact they are playing in bigger events on the Japanese and Asian Tours proves that The Charles Tour is working as a true pathway to professional success.”

Mangan said the Carrus Open, as one of the original events on The Charles Tour, is a popular stop for the players, officials and spectators.

“This tournament always attracts great crowds in the Tauranga region, we’re looking forward to another great event in 2013 and again looking forward to having some big crowds out to watch the future talent of golf in New Zealand.”

The Carrus Open Pro-am is today in overcast and windy conditions with the tournament running from Thursday September 26 – Sunday September 29.

Lydia KoLydia Ko is keeping everyone guessing over whether or not she will be turning pro in the next few months.

Ko is back in New Zealand after a two-month stint overseas, which saw her defend her Canadian Open title and also finish second in the year’s final Major Championship, the Evian Championship in France.

The 16-year-old has been subjected to repeated questioning over when she was planning to join the play for pay ranks, but has consistently batted the questions away, relying on her parents and management team to decide on the timing that is in her best interests.

That was until her final media conference in France, when she suggested she may well be a professional the next time she plays later this year.

However, the message was a little more circumspect when Ko fronted the expectant media at Auckland International Airport when she arrived home.  Rather than confirm the impending switch to the pro ranks, Ko reverted to the previous message that she is yet to make a decision on when she will surrender her amateur status.

“I’ve got exams until mid-November. I have had some invitations to tournaments from the end of November to December, but I haven’t said yes or no at the moment because I’m going to concentrate on studies.  There hasn’t been a clear decision on when. I may not be pro then.”

For now, Ko will revert to being student at Pinehurst School and prepare feverishly for her upcoming exams, with golf off the agenda altogether.

“I don’t plan to play much golf.  I’ll be doing study pretty much every day.  I don’t want to see my golf clubs for about two months,” she said.

Last month’s comments regarding Social Golfers and their non-payment of any financial contribution to New Zealand Golf Inc. certainly hit a nerve.  It has brought us a very large feedback and anecdotal comment and we have taken the rare step of publishing a letter from one of our long-standing subscribers that sums the issue up to a fault.
We continue to think that this matter is urgent.
Back to a more exciting topic we have of course Lydia Ko.  Miss Ko is rapidly going from strength to strength and seems to be maturing in a very measured way.  Her ability to communicate her humour, and to maintain her composure will, we think, grow at a very rapid pace and it is clear that her management team (Mother) is controlling the growth almost perfectly.
There is already a growing clamour for Lydia to be voted Sportswoman of the year, and although there is competition from Valerie Adams and others, at the moment, she should be a shoo in for the honour.
Watching golfers grow has always been one of our little sources of pleasure.  We have written about this before but it bears repeating.  Many years ago when the PGA was on a rare high with the, then, Nationwide Tour being co – sanctioned at Clearwater we had the pleasure! of playing in the Wednesday Pro Am with one Jason Dufner, and caddy Kevin.  Jason proceeded to hack his way around the course, chewing baccy the entire way, and we asked caddy Kevin what Jason’s objective was.  The laconic drawled response “make the cut”.  It seems this was Jason’s third visit and he had not yet achieved that.  Indeed his travel expenses so far that year were over $200,000 and his winnings were zilch.
The considered view of our team was that he was going home dry again that year.  His putting was so bad!!
Well blow us down.  At the end of round one he was at the top of the leader board, indeed he did make the cut, and he placed well at the end.  He has then gone on to greatness.
Which leads us to Messrs Wilkinson and Lee who have regained their tour cards for next season.  It was very unfortunate for Steve Alker to miss out by $1600, but he does have another chance over the next few weeks.
It will be good to comment on Kiwis on the US Tour next year.
Enjoy this magazine.

Geoff Witton
Publisher

NZPWGLucrative NZ women’s golf event hopes to inspire more young stars.

New Zealand Professional Women Golfers (NZPWG) is hoping to inspire more players like Lydia Ko with the announcement of a lucrative new Tour event.
The fifth Anita Boon Pro-Am will this year be co-sanctioned with the Australia Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) Tour and carry a lucrative $35,000 prize purse for the 36-hole event.
With continued support from the major sponsors KFC and Coca-Cola, the Tournament will again be hosted at the North Shore Golf Club on 31 October and 1 November.
It will be an official ALPG Order of Merit event that offers aspiring professionals opportunity to earn points to better their chances to play in the major summer events in Australia.
It is the second ALPG Tour event in this country alongside the New Zealand Women’s Open.
Tournament organisers hope the upgraded pro-am will attract top level professionals from Australia and accordingly offer a real incentive for both New Zealand women professionals and also aspiring amateurs.
“Lydia Ko got her first opportunity to shine at the New Zealand Women’s Open which is also an ALPG Tour event,” said NZPWG spokesperson Stephanie Alderlieste. “She grabbed that opportunity, was motivated by playing against world class professionals and has blossomed.
“Our aim has always been to provide opportunities for aspiring female professionals and young amateurs to take that first step. Lydia has shown the way and we hope this tournament will provide a stepping stone for the next Lydia Ko and others to follow in her footsteps.”
The ALPG signalled support for the new Order of Merit tournament in New Zealand.
“We are delighted that the NZPWG have been successful in gaining the necessary sponsorship to enable the 2013 Anita Boon pro-am to become a part of the official ALPG 2013-14 schedule,” said Karen Lunn, the new Executive Director of the ALPG.
“The pro-am will showcase the best of New Zealand’s golfing talent. The event will provide an exciting mix of the who’s who of NZ women’s golf alongside the future stars of the game. Anita was an inspiration to many of us and we are so excited that we can honour her memory in this way.”
Former leading tour professional Marnie McGuire believes the upgraded tournament will offer significant benefits.
“This is fantastic news.  This is a credit to the NZPWG in developing our young professional golfers in New Zealand and giving them opportunities to develop their games under tournament conditions,” McGuire said.
“This will potentially bring ranked Australian players and European tour players to New Zealand which will provide great exposure for our players and potential sponsors of the events.  It is a very exciting time for Women’s Golf in New Zealand and I hope many Kiwis will get behind the event with participation and enthusiasm around the great talent that our players have.”
The event will be played as an open Pro-Am event over the two days with one female professional with three amateurs. The amateur field is mixed with men and women able to enter for either or both days. Commercial organisations and individuals are invited to enter the strictly limited number of spots in the field.
Tournament organisers are already in contact with several professionals and expect to make further announcements on players in the coming weeks.
The tournament will again help fund the NZPWG Golf Scholarship, with this year’s recipient Caroline Bon from Northland utilising the grant to assist her in qualifying for the Asian Tour where she is currently plying her trade.
The event was established in 2009 as the first all women’s pro-am in this country in memory of former New Zealand representative Anita Boon who passed away from ovarian cancer. The tournament, promoted by the New Zealand Professional Women’s Golf, includes a range of female professionals and former Tour players, club professionals and teachers as well as amateurs.
The tournament will also raise funds for NZ Gynaecological Cancer Foundation, which was Boon’s chosen charity.
Details: www.nzpwg.com
For more information contact:
Stephanie Alderlieste
Media Manager NZPWG
Tel 027 246 7911
[email protected] 

Seven shots clear at the start of play, such was Woods’s complete mastery not one of his challengers was able to make any inroads into that massive advantage at any point.

In the end, the final winning margin proved to be seven strokes as the 37-year-old closed with a 70.

Champion: Woods won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by seven shots

Two hours before this latest tee-time with destiny, Woods emerged from the players car park clutching son Charlie’s hand. Both dressed in matching red shirts, there were no security guards around them and no hangers-on. For just a second they could have been any father and son, enjoying some time together in the warm Ohio sunshine. What followed next, however, as they turned the corner and embraced the madness, was anything but conventional.

No doubt Woods will have to win majors before everyone’s agreed that he is back but one thing’s for sure: the aura is back.

His huge lead at the start meant this was a non-event in terms of being a competition. But try telling that to the fans who descended in such numbers on Firestone the ‘car lot full’ signs were posted well before noon.

The excitement around the first tee was almost on a Ryder Cup scale as Woods made the short walk from the practice ground. Two teenage females were acting like they’d come straight from watching One Direction. ‘Look, there he is!’ cried one, prompting her friend to add: ‘Come on Tiger! Eight times today, Baby!’

 

Under the spotlight: Woods lines up a putt on the seventh green

A couple of years ago there might have been some doubt as to what she was talking about but Woods’s rehabilitation in his home land is now so complete it was a clear reference to his extraordinary prowess in this tournament.

‘Welcome home,’ cried another fan, and that’s how it felt as he took off his cap, acknowledged the roars, and set about completing his eighth Bridgestone triumph.

The temptation, of course, is to think this awesome display makes him a shoe-in to return to winning majors at the USPGA Championship this week on a similarly storied inland course in Oak Hill. But it should be resisted. Nineteen of Woods’s previous 78 PGA Tour victories have come in his final event before a major and he has gone on to win the Grand Slam event itself on just four occasions.

Still, talk about majors could wait for another day. Whatever his faults as a human being, this was an occasion to celebrate his status as arguably the finest sportsmen of his generation, a man with achievements so far ahead of his peers they’re rivals only in the loosest possible sense.

Procession: Tiger Woods' victory was never in doubt

Take the closest of them, Phil Mickelson, rightly lauded last month for his Open success and duly promoted to the ranks of one of the greatest golfers of all time. Which is fair enough.

But Mickelson, who is six years older, has 42 wins to his name. That’s 37 fewer wins than Woods. If Tiger keeps winning tournaments at the rate of four or five a year, that gap will be more like 60 wins by the time he reaches Mickelson’s age. This must be a contender for the biggest gap between the number one and the number two in the history of any sport.

Over the first nine holes Woods played like a man who has been in this situation countless times, taking few risks and fully aware that making pars rather than the spectacular was the name of the game.

 

The chasing pack: Stenson finished tied for second

 

The chasing pack: Bradley finished tied for second

 

With the course protected by a healthy breeze, good scores were harder to come by than the first three days. In the battle for second place – worth £650,000 in its own right – defending champion Bradley came out on top as Luke Donald faded badly. Donald’s fellow Englishman Chris Wood shot 71 to finish in the top ten.

After all his back problems, how good to see the 25 year old Bristolian and undoubted talent feeling healthy and playing as he can.

As for Rory McIlroy, there was no Eureka moment as there was here last year when he turned his season around. But it was a solid enough week nonetheless, ahead of his USPGA title defence this week. He finished with a 72.

Girls Noosa Golf and Spa Break

Elizabeth Witton, our Managing Editor, is off to the Sunshine Coast of Australia for a short break before Christmas and she is inviting you to join her.

When: December 1 – 4 2013

Staying: Noosa Springs Golf and Spa Resort

Doing:

  • 1 day of as much golf as you want at Noosa Springs Golf Course
  • pampering at the Spa
  • Entry into the final day of the Noosa Springs Ladies Series (includes champagne lunch, fashion parade and prize giving)
  • Group dinner

 

Plus we will give everyone who joins Elizabeth our ladies subscription package  which includes:

  • 1 year subscription to New Zealand Golf Magazine
  • 1 dozen golf balls
  • 1 golf shirt
  • 1 copy of John Hanlon’s book ‘Golf – a course in life’

 

Noosa Springs Golf and Spa Resort is set close to the heart of Noosa and is only 3 minutes from the famous Hastings Street.
The championship golf course has 18 inspiring holes that meander through lush bushland and spring fed lakes. It rates amongst the best in Australia.
The world class spa has luxurious facilities that are unique in Australia. They have a variety of treatments that will relax and nurture you.
The accommodation has luxury apartments that look over the golf course.

 

If you are interested in joining our group contact Elizabeth at [email protected] or freephone 0800 golfmagazine (465362)

The British Open 2013 prize money including full prize money breakdown and money list for players who finished in a prize winning leaderboard position..

  • 1st. Phil Mickelson – Prize Money: $1,442,826
  • 2nd. Henrik Stenson – Prize Money: $832,106
  • 3rd. Ian Poulter – Prize Money: $428,776
  • 3rd. Adam Scott – Prize Money: $428,776
  • 3rd. Lee Westwood – Prize Money: $428,776
  • 6th. Hideki Matsuyama – Prize Money: $249,377
  • 6th. Zach Johnson – Prize Money: $249,377
  • 6th. Tiger Woods – Prize Money: $249,377
  • 9th. Francesco Molinari – Prize Money: $175,582
  • 9th. Hunter Mahan – Prize Money: $175,582
  • 11th. Brandt Snedeker – Prize Money: $142,756
  • 11th. Angel Cabrera – Prize Money: $142,756
  • 13th. Justin Leonard – Prize Money: $121,381
  • 13th. Miguel Jimenez – Prize Money: $121,381
  • 15th. Eduardo De La Riva – Prize Money: $95,043
  • 15th. Harris English – Prize Money: $95,043
  • 15th. Charl Schwartzel – Prize Money: $95,043
  • 15th. Danny Willett – Prize Money: $95,043
  • 15th. Matt Kuchar – Prize Money: $95,043
  • 15th. Keegan Bradley – Prize Money: $95,043
  • 21st. Stephen Gallacher – Prize Money: $72,218
  • 21st. Darren Clarke – Prize Money: $72,218
  • 21st. Richard Sterne – Prize Money: $72,218
  • 21st. Rafael Cabrera Bello – Prize Money: $72,218
  • 21st. Sergio Garcia – Prize Money: $72,218
  • 26th. Jason Dufner – Prize Money: $56,873
  • 26th. Stewart Cink – Prize Money: $56,873
  • 26th. Jonas Blixt – Prize Money: $56,873
  • 26th. Steven Tiley – Prize Money: $56,873
  • 26th. Paul Lawrie – Prize Money: $56,873
  • 26th. Ernie Els – Prize Money: $56,873
  • 32nd. Oliver Fisher – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Shane Lowry – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Fred Couples – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Y.E. Yang – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Thongchai Jaidee – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Bubba Watson – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Bud Cauley – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Martin Kaymer – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Dustin Johnson – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Jason Day – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Jamie Donaldson – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 32nd. Ryan Moore – Prize Money: $39,251
  • 44th. Bo Van Pelt – Prize Money: $24,641
  • 44th. Tim Clark – Prize Money: $24,641
  • 44th. Martin Laird – Prize Money: $24,641
  • 44th. Freddie Jacobson – Prize Money: $24,641
  • 44th. Geoff Ogilvy – Prize Money: $24,641
  • 44th. Mark Brown – Prize Money: $24,641
  • 44th. K.J. Choi – Prize Money: $24,641
  • 44th. Jordan Spieth – Prize Money: $24,641
  • 44th. Shingo Katayama – Prize Money: $24,641
  • 44th. Matthew Fitzpatrick – Prize Money: $0
  • 54th. Padraig Harrington – Prize Money: $20,955
  • 54th. Marcus Fraser – Prize Money: $20,955
  • 54th. Gonzalo Fdez-Castano – Prize Money: $20,955
  • 54th. Carl Pettersson – Prize Money: $20,955
  • 58th. Mark O’Meara – Prize Money: $20,077
  • 58th. Richie Ramsay – Prize Money: $20,077
  • 58th. Boo Weekley – Prize Money: $20,077
  • 58th. Tom Lehman – Prize Money: $20,077
  • 58th. Graeme McDowell – Prize Money: $20,077
  • 58th. Johnson Wagner – Prize Money: $20,077
  • 64th. Ben Curtis – Prize Money: $19,085
  • 64th. Chris Wood – Prize Money: $19,085
  • 64th. Branden Grace – Prize Money: $19,085
  • 64th. Webb Simpson – Prize Money: $19,085
  • 64th. Bernd Wiesberger – Prize Money: $19,085
  • 64th. Ken Duke – Prize Money: $19,085
  • 64th. Gregory Bourdy – Prize Money: $19,085
  • 71st. Gareth Wright – Prize Money: $18,398
  • 71st. George Coetzee – Prize Money: $18,398
  • 73rd. Shiv Kapur – Prize Money: $17,864
  • 73rd. Kyung-tae Kim – Prize Money: $17,864
  • 73rd. Russell Henley – Prize Money: $17,864
  • 73rd. Todd Hamilton – Prize Money: $17,864
  • 73rd. Thomas Bjorn – Prize Money: $17,864
  • 73rd. Jimmy Mullen – Prize Money: $0
  • 79th. Kevin Streelman – Prize Money: $17,253
  • 79th. Mikko Ilonen – Prize Money: $17,253
  • 79th. Peter Senior – Prize Money: $17,253
  • 82nd. Josh Teater – Prize Money: $16,947
  • 83rd. Graham Delaet – Prize Money: $16,795
  • 84th. Sandy Lyle – Prize Money: $16,642

A round featuring five birdies – including four on the back nine – propelled Championship hot favourite Tiger Woods to a well-earned round of 69 on the first day at Muirfield. The three-time Open Champion overcame a bumpy start to finish two under par, in a six-way tie for ninth, very handily placed.

Graeme McDowell, who shot a four over 75 in the same group as Woods, said: “Tiger played phenomenally well for his two under. Really ground out well, did what he does best.”

Five years since his last Major win, Woods himself was happy to agree after completing an up-and-down round.

“I really played well,” said the world No.1, who has four wins under his belt in 2013. “I had to grind it out. More than anything it was just trying to hang around par. It was tough. I’m very pleased to shoot anything even par or better.

“It was so hard to get the ball close. Very difficult. I tried to keep the ball in front of me as best I could and sink a putt if I could keep it below the hole. But it was so difficult to get the ball even below the hole and in the right spot. I putted the ball off the green today, and it really wasn’t that bad a putt. Anything that goes four feet by, it’s gone. It’s tough.

“Fun? It was more of a grind than one of those Pro-Am, happy-go-lucky, talking-to-your-playing-partner days. There wasn’t a lot of talking out there today because we’re trying to grind it out on that course. Louis got hurt [playing partner Oosthuizen withdrew injured mid-round] and Graeme was struggling a little bit. It will be interesting to see what the course set-up is tomorrow. You pack for the other weather but we got this. Today we have a westerly wind, it was hot, the ball was flying. Tomorrow the wind is supposed to come out of the east and it could be cooler – or it could be warm. That’s the thing about links golf. You just don’t know. The wind actually changes with the tide, and the tide goes in and out. You’ve just got to be prepared for all of it, and be fluid in your course adjustments.”

Best of all for Woods, he had no pain from the elbow which has kept him out since the US Open at Merion last month.

“Elbow held up great,” he reported. “That’s one of the reasons I took the break, to make sure that was good. I knew the ground was going to be hard over here. That little time off helped. I’ve taken three and four weeks off before Major championships previously, and come back and played well.