HIGHS AND LOWS THE BEST AND WORST OF 2008
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Tue Oct 28 22:02:56 UTC 2008
HIGHS AND LOWS THE BEST AND WORST OF 2008
Young Ireland display great strength in depthSeveral targets on
offerCRY FORE CADDIE EARNS JUSTICEThe young master of Castellon
thrivesYou're a bit of a legend, PadraigThe short gamePhilip Reid
examines the high points and the low points of 2008
Foot in mouth
The biggest gaffe of the year came off the course, with the LPGA in
the US making plans for an "English only" language policy that was
scheduled to be introduced in2009.
After a year in which three South Korean players won majors, the
proposed policy would have suspended players who didn't have an
adequate level of spoken English.
However, the proposed plan was widely criticised - by tour players and
politicians - as being discriminatory and the LPGA backtracked and
dropped the proposal.
Identical 13-year-old twins Leona and Lisa Maguire from Ballyconnell
in Co Cavan continued their trend-setting in the ladies' ranks, not
just in Ireland but in Europe. Leona beat Lisa in the final of the
Irish Women's Championship and, then, Lisa beat Leona in the final of
the Irish Girls' Championship.
For good measure, Lisa also won the European Young Masters' Girls'
Championship. . . with Leona finishing in second place.
England's Richard Finch made more than one splash on his way to
winning the Irish Open at Adare Manor. Although he had a three-shot
lead playing the 18th, Finch's eventual victory was not without its
hazards as his second shot finished up on the riverbank. Then, after
hitting his third, Finch slid into the River Maigue, but managed to
keep his eye on the ball and saw it land on the green.
"It was a bit of an awkward stance, but I never gave falling in a
thought. The momentum of the follow-through took me round and in."
Shot of the Year
Pádraig Harrington's five-wood approach to the 17th in the final round
of the British Open at Royal Birkdale to set up an eagle. He had 220
yards to the front - 249 yards to the pin - and, even though the ball
was on a downslope, he convinced himself the hanging lie would help.
"I said, 'this is great, it is going to come out low so I can't get it
in the air (and into trouble)'," he recalled. "Once I hit it, I knew
it was perfect."
The ball bounced over a bunker short of the green and used the green's
nuanced contours to finish within three feet of the flag.
Irish eyes are smiling
The 2008 PGA European Tour campaign was one of unprecedented success
for Ireland's tour card carrying players. Apart from Pádraig
Harrington winning two majors (the British Open and the US PGA), there
were also double successes for Graeme McDowell (Ballantines
championship and Barclays Scottish Open) and Darren Clarke (BMW Asian
Open and KLM Open), along with breakthrough career wins for Damien
McGrane (Volvo China Open) and Peter Lawrie (Spanish Open).
Not your average golfer
Boo Weekley - christened Thomas, but known to all and sundry as Boo
after the character Boo Boo in the Yogi Bear cartoon - is once reputed
to have fought (and lost) to an orang-utan as a teenager at a county
He has also wrestled alligators in his time.
And he brought more than his game to the Ryder Cup in Louisville.
Aside from emerging unbeaten in the match, Weekley brought his share
of belly laughs, especially in doing a "Happy Gilmore" impersonation
when he went off the first tee in his singles match with Oliver
Wilson, galloping down the fairway astride his driver.
Putt of the Year . . . x 3
On three occasions on the 18th green at the US Open at Torrey Pines,
Tiger Woods had to make clutch putts in what would be his last outing
of the season. Not that we knew it at the time.
On the Saturday, he holed an eagle putt that gave him the 54-hole
lead. On the Sunday, he holed a birdie putt that put him into a
play-off the following day (with Rocco Mediate). And, on the Monday,
he sank another birdie putt that took the match to sudden death. Of
course, he won.
He left with the 14th major of his career, and a doctor's appointment
for knee surgery.
(c) 2008 The Irish Times
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