Date: November 27, 2013
Author: Mike Clayton at Royal Sydney Golf Club

Pro-Am day: More fun than an IRS audit

Golf championship Wednesdays can be an interesting time to observe players before the battle begins. The better ones are enlisted to play the pro-am with the sponsors and whilst Tom Weiskopf, the great American players of the 1960s and 1970s, likened them to an IRS audit they are more fun in Australia than they are in most parts of the professional golf world. The amateurs here don t take them too seriously and it s a good chance to see how the course is playing. The rest of the field populates the practice fairway and green, beating balls, working on swings and chipping and putting. Nathan Holman, the new young Victorian pro who has played well these past couple of week is there with coach Marty Joyce and the Trackman computer that analyses pretty much everything imaginable from spin rates, ball flight, clubhead speed and the delivery line. Joyce can tell where the ball has gone without watching it and for those inclined to see the game as a science computers are becoming indispensable parts of the teaching armory. Further down the line is the old-timer and defending champion, Peter Senior. He of the familiar uplift as he hits the ball has been one of our best players for years, first winning on the tour (South Australian Open 1979) before most of this week s field was born. He has Gary Edwin keeping an eye on his, much improved, backswing and whilst the unobservant suggest Senior s swing hasn t changed in decades, it has and it s never been better. He probably he won t win this week but he still plays the game tremendously well as his consistency week after week on the American senior tour. Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy played early in the pro-am but it didn t used to be that way back when Greg Norman was the best player. All the best ones would be drawn to play in the afternoon but perhaps business habits have changed or perhaps the players exerted a little influence on the organizers because all surely would prefer to be up early and long gone by the middle of the afternoon. Geoff Ogilvy, the winner in 2010, played in about as relaxed a state as one could imagine. Thursday, of course, is a quite different day and the key for Ogilvy is to move from Wednesday to Thursday with no discernible change of mood. His form this past year has been far below his expectations. The swing looks the same, indeed his teacher Dale Lynch thinks it has never been better. His driver flight is lower and that is an aid in the wind and there is plenty of that forecast for later in the week. He played well in The Masters at Royal Melbourne finishing up with 67 and 69 for 7th place but of his 71,72 start he offered that he would have been home after those scores in America. He is ranked as the 119th best player in the world and for one who, in 2008, ranked as high as number three the slide this year has both curious and alarming. Only the top fifty earn automatic places in the major championships and next season he is exempt only into the US Open because of the ten-year pass he earned for winning at Winged Foot 2006. His play this week won t change his rank too much but a good week would do something for his confidence. In the end though golf tournament Wednesday s are just a way to get from Tuesday to Thursday. It’s too late to change anything much of importance. Tuesday is the day for real practice rounds and most have learned Wednesday form doesn’t necessarily bear any relationship to what might happen on Thursday when they put a scorecard in your back pocket. The key of course is to forget its there but it s the hardest part of the game.