In the swing

Opens, majors, championships and tournaments

PENINA hosted the recent Portuguese Open for the first time in three years, but, amazingly, for the 9th time in history. While I am not a great lover of the course, I must say that only Penina and Quinta do Lago have the facilities to support the travelling circus that is the European Tour. I played at Penina just before the tournament and had never seen it in better condition.

It certainly produced a worthy champion, with the Spanish star Miguel Angel Jiminez producing a near faultless last round of 67 to win by two shots from Australian Terry Price. Although the crowds could have been better, the weather was fantastic and the event was a wonderful advert for the Algarve, which will hopefully help to bring some of the tourists back!

The following week on the other side of the pond saw the dramatic conclusion to the first Major of the year, as ‘The Masters’ at Augusta unfolded. In fact I am not sure which was better to watch on TV — Adam Scott winning at The Players’ Championship after hitting the ball into the water on the 72nd hole, or the last nine holes at Augusta on Sunday. Viewers were treated to Phil Michelson and Ernie Els firing birdies and eagles at each other. In the end Michelson won by one shot after five birdies in the last seven holes. I’m an ardent Ernie fan, but I don’t think that anyone begrudged Michelson his first major victory. It shows the incredibly high standard of the world game today when a talent such as Michelson needs 46 (that’s 111/2 years’ worth) Major appearances before taking one home!

And talking about incredibly high standards, here’s my prediction about world number one Tiger Woods, who has gone off the boil (by his standards), since winning the Accenture Match Play Championship in February. I think he will be back with mentor Butch Harmon and on top form before the US Open at Shinnecock Hills in June.

Closer to home, prodigious talent António Sobrinho won the Portuguese Professional Championship, held at the Amarante Golf Club near Porto, by an incredible 18 shots. There is no doubt that António has the game to go all the way in European golf and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. I’d also like to take this opportunity to compliment Mota-Engil on their sponsorship of the Portuguese Professional Championship. We certainly need more sponsors like them to provide competitive opportunities for young Professionals to help them develop and keep pace with the ever improving standard of the modern game.

Lee Westwood, Pinheiros Altos’ tournament player, visited the Algarve recently and presented a superb golf clinic to the Pinheiros Altos membership. He explained some of the swing thoughts that he has worked on with David Leadbetter and which have resulted in his return to form and almost certain selection for the European Ryder Cup Team in September.

Lee also paid a visit to Pinheiros Altos’ resident Golf Health Clinician Dr. Chris Ford, who is fast developing a reputation as a very important part of the golf scene. There is no doubt that the better condition the body is in, the more chance you have to swing at your best.

Finally the Blue Monster Pro-Am at Pinheiros Altos will take place on May 25. We would like to invite all Professionals and Amateurs to enter this tournament. For more information please contact Christopher in the Pinheiros Altos golf office on 289 359 947 or fax 289 394 392.

Pro TipPrepare for success

The way you prepare for your round has a massive influence on your performance. Take a page out of the professional’s book — arrive at the course around 45 minutes to one hour before your tee time.

Warm up with two to three minutes stretch routines, then hit 30-40 balls, starting with a wedge and building up to a driver, trying to keep a smooth rhythm that you are going to take with you to the gold course.

This should leave you 15 to 20 minutes before your tee off time. Spend at least 10 minutes chipping and finally putting, leaving yourself time to arrive at the first tee with a full five minutes before you are due to hit. Remember — preparation is the key to success. Try it and see.