Colin Montgomerie (right) admitted to having new Callaway
clubs, a new ball, “and a new body that’s heavier than it was.”
GEORGE, SOUTH AFRICA | Ernie Els is
clearly feeling that he is in good shape
to chase Tiger Woods in this week’s
tournament in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s a good start to my year,” he said
at the end of his fourth-round 67, the low
score of the day, that vaulted him into a
playoff with Retief Goosen and eventual
winner Branden Grace. “I kept the ball
in play and if I’d holed a few more putts,
it would have been something special.”
For putting purposes, Els is working
on his peripheral vision with Sherylle
Calder. The latter is a visual skills and
performance specialist, who helped
England’s winning Rugby World Cup
side of 2003 and the winning Springbok
side of 2007.
up with the perfect response.
As far as he was concerned, the
more good players who were absent
the better. “Would that a few more were
missing,” he said, tongue-in-cheek.
Thomas Levet, who broke a leg when
he jumped into the water following his
victory in last year’s French Open, slipped
and fell on the steps before his fourth-round 76. This latest mishap prompted
the aching Frenchman to declare, “I now
know how I’ll feel when I’m a senior.”
Jos Vanstiphout, who has worked on
the mental side of the game with such
as Thomas Björn and Els, had a lengthy
operation on Saturday against a backcloth of good-will messages from the
players at Fancourt.
The Belgian psychologist had an accident when putting up a Christmas tree
on the balcony of his flat in Hasselt.
Besides falling from his ladder, he
tumbled from the balcony and onto the
street, smashing virtually every bone in
the left side of his body. Saturday’s surgery was to replace his hip, to re-set his
ribs and to repair damage to his thorax.
Prior to the accident, the engag-
ing Vanstiphout was midway through a
book with Graeme Otway. The working
title, though they might need to change
it, is “From A to B, Making Golf and Life
how he had new Callaway clubs, a new
ball “and a new body that’s heavier than
Once he had successfully tackled
his drive up the hill at the 18th the first
time around, the comfortably contoured
Scot announced that he now had the
rather harder task of negotiating the
“You wouldn’t function as a person
if you didn’t live your life. If you stopped
doing things it would be detrimental to
your golf,” said Harrington.
The next trick Casey has – or maybe
had – up his sleeve was to take part in an
amateur leg of this year’s Tour de France.
Goosen and Lee Slattery collected a
Volvo car apiece for winning the contest
within a contest on Friday. Alongside
Mark Vandenberghe, one of the finalists
in the Volvo Amateur championship,
they came up with a winning 18-hole
team score of 18-under par.
The last time Goosen won a car –
another Volvo – was for a two at the
17th in the 2010 Nedbank Challenge.
On that occasion, this least demonstrative of men threw his ball into the
crowd, only to misfire with the missile
to the extent where he dented the Volvo.
with what he was saying.
The answer was in the negative.
“Alvaro being Alvaro, he would probably
say that he is the longer,” admitted the
That the four top players in the
world were missing from the Volvo Golf
Champions was never going to escape
the attention of the press. There were a
few carefully crafted reactions from of-
ficials before Colin Montgomerie came
It’s at the start of the season that
everyone notices such things.
Paul Casey’s dislocated shoulder in
a snowboarding tumble was another
Christmas accident, although one of
rather lesser magnitude.
When Padraig Harrington was
quizzed on whether or not it made
sense for a player of Casey’s calibre
to go snowboarding, the Irishman was
quick to protest.
Nicolas Colsaerts, who followed his
record 64 with a 76, was suggesting that
when you drive between 310 and 320
yards, like himself and Alvaro Quiros, it
goes beyond the point where you worry
about who is longer than whom.
Everyone nodded, wisely, at the
laws which apparently pertain in this
“300-yards plus” club when someone
queried whether Alvaro would agree
When Els suggested that poor
putting was costing him his sense of
humour, he explained that the connec-
tion between the two characteristics –
poor putting and no humour – was first
made by Bobby Locke.