Chopra achieves lifelong long dream in Hawaii
Daniel Chopra wins the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii after beating fellow FootJoy ambassador Steve Stricker in a tense playoff at the Plantation Course, Kapalua. The pair were tied on 18-under-par 274 after the final round, Chopra carded a seven-under 66 while Stricker shot an impressive nine-under 64. Luck would prove to be on Chopra's side going into the play-off, in the shape of his ball marker, which reads “Fortune Favours the brave”. On the first extra hole on the par-5 18th, Stricker putted from 120 feet for eagle when his ball hit Chopra’s ball marker, resulting in the putt finishing 10 feet short. Stricker missed the resulting birdie putt. The win finally came at the fourth playoff hole, the par 5 ninth, where Chopra made birdie leaving Stricker needing to hole from 15 feet to tie. The putt slid past the hole giving Chopra his second career PGA win.
The Swede earned $1.1 million and a Mercedes-Benz sports car. More importantly to Chopra the win earned him his first trip to the Masters. “I get to go to Augusta, my lifelong dream,” Chopra said. The tournament also saw strong finishes for FootJoy Players Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney who both finished T5. Mahan finished with the joint lowest final round carding a nine-under 64.
Chopra strode to victory wearing a combination of the new black FootJoy DryJoys PODS (#53523) and the all white Golf Athletics (#56808) , while a FootJoy StaSof golf glove helped him take a firm grip on the winner’s trophy.
South Africa’s James Kingston claimed his first win on the European Tour on home soil at the Pearl Valley Golf Estates, winning the South African Open by one stroke from England’s Oliver Wilson. Kingston was crowned champion after a final round which was heavily affected by torrid weather conditions which saw play suspended for nearly 4 hours earlier in the day. The 42 year old shot a final round 1- under-par 71 which took him to 4-under for the tournament. Kingston’s victory ensured that the trophy remained in the republic for the eighth straight year.
Kingston achieved his first European Tour win in a pair of Black FootJoy® Classics Dry Premiere golf shoes. And to complete his attire, Kingston opted for a FootJoy SciFlex golf glove which helped him get a grip of the trophy.
FootJoy - #1 Shoe in Golf
Ian Poulter sealed his first win of the year with victory in the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan. Poulter led the event after each round and although challenged early on day four, he kept his cool in gusty winds to take victory with a final round 69 to finish 11 under par 269, 3 shots ahead of fellow FootJoy wearer, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño. Englishman Luke Donald completed the FootJoy 1-2-3 finishing on 7 under. With this win in Japan, Poulter obtained his ninth worldwide victory, and his first in Asia.
Renowned for his flamboyant dress sense, ‘Poults’ sported some FootJoy Classics golf shoes colour coordinated to match the rest of his attire. And to complete his outfit Ian opted for a FootJoy SciFlex golf glove which helped him get his hands on the trophy.
The southwest of Ireland is a place I could never get enough of. Having played these courses the week prior, it is nice to be back through the area with some familiar faces. We arrived to the Dingle Golf Club and were greeted by heavy rain and stiff winds. Dingle played like a tiger that day as the long holes all seemed to play in the wind and the rough gobbled up many of our balls. We must of take our rain gear on and off 4 times as the rain would appear and then just as quick as it appeared it would blow through. The 18th hole is a par 5 up the hill that played directly into the wind. We had a bet to see if anyone could make a par and the best score that was managed on the hole was a 6. It was a round of golf that took a lot out of us but it didn’t damper our spirits later in the day as we put up a fine effort in trying to visit as many pubs as we could in Dingle. Dingle is a town that is buzzing every night during the high season and one that I am sure to visit on every trip.
After a short drive the next morning we arrived at Tralee Golf Club. The rain had moved out but the wind was still a big factor. I had originally visited Tralee in 2001 and our group had 2 of the best caddies I have ever had. As luck would have it, we got paired that morning with one of the caddies from my original visit named Morris. Morris is a slight man, with a weather faced, which reflected the many rounds he has played and caddied at Tralee. Morris had us all laughing before we even teed off as he told us the to put the yardage book in our “***” pocket as it won’t do us a bit of good in this wind. As we walked up the first fairway Morris told me “he had has been dead and reborn.” He then explained he had a heart attack a year ago so now I wondered if I should be the one carrying the bag. With Morris’ company we have a fantastic day on the links and as many laughs as we do strokes, (which is a lot). Tralee was a hit within the group and we top it off with a pint in the bar and then hit the road for our early round in Kinsale the next morning.
As we pulled into Old Head, it was clear we had gotten pretty lucky. The sun is shining without a cloud in the sky and the wind was relatively calm, especially for Old Head. The boys were blown away at the views we were afforded that day. One of the guys in our group had played Pebble Beach before and said the views there don’t even compare to what you get at Old Head. The caddies take an interest in the little match we have set up and decide to set up a bit of a wager between them on whose twosome will take the match. I am not proud to say that being 1 up with 2 to play, my partner and I spit the bit and lost the last 2 holes. I must say, my one shining moment was when I made a birdie on a par 3 and my caddie informed me I had beaten Phil Mickelson on this same hole by 9 shots as he carded an 11 on the hole. I am sure he got me on the other 17 holes but this is the one I can hang my hat on. Following the round, we ate lunch and enjoyed a cigar on the deck outside the clubhouse. It is here you will find one of the best places in the world for a post game drink as you look out over the lighthouse and the Atlantic Ocean.
Ballybunion awaited us the next morning and this was the one day we were to play 36 holes. I would not recommend 36 holes a day while visiting Ireland as there is just too much to see and do after your rounds. However, with both courses on site we decided to give it a go. I had not played the Cashen Course at Ballybunion so I was curious to see what it held as I had heard varying reports. Our morning round on the Old Course was a blast as we had 2 good caddies who provided proper guidance and found almost all of the golf balls we tried to lose by hitting into the knee deep rough. I find the 17th and 18th holes at Ballybunion to be a great way to finish a round as they are two solid par 4’s that if played correctly, give you a chance to make a birdie. However, if you make a mistake off the tee, you are in for a big number.
We enjoy a long lunch and a pint or two between rounds and head out to the Cashen course for our afternoon round. I had heard that the Cashen Course, while shorter than the Old, was much more difficult. Well, we found that to be true as well. I must say, we did not enjoy the round as much as our round on the Old Course. I had heard that they had a number of proposals in to redesign the course which I think may be a good idea as it did not measure up to the Old Course experience. Of course, there are not many courses that would so you have to keep that in mind.
Well, only a couple of rounds left and I this great adventure is over. We are heading up to County Clare and I will check back in a couple of days.