News and notes from Clive Agran, arguably the most gifted golf writer either side of the Urals, filing from the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in Virginia Water, England.
• Paul Broadhurst and Ross Fisher enter the final round as 4-1 joint favourites.
• A South African has never won Europe's PGA Championship.
• Since 1955 there have been 23 holes-in-one at this event but only one double eagle, which came at the 531 yard 12th.
• Padraig Harrington could bank the biggest winner's check in golfing history. In a bid to attract the top players, the owners of Adare Manor, last week's Irish Open venue, offered a $1.4 million bonus to anyone who won the Irish Open and the BMW PGA Championship back to back. Add that to the first prize of $1 million on offer at Wentworth and, potentially, you've got the biggest winner's check ever.
• Ross Fisher, co-leader after three rounds, used to pick up the balls on the driving range at Wentworth to earn a few bucks. Regarded as one of the best teenagers in the area, he was awarded a scholarship and helped make ends meet by working in the pro shop and collecting balls on the range. He's still a member of the prestigious Surrey club and now is in the running to win the Championship.
• Justin Rose is playing in his first European PGA Tour event in three years. Maybe he chose Wentworth for his return because of its happy memories. He won the Rawlinson Trophy for juniors here when he was only 12 years old. His handicap back then? Scratch.
• Spectators arriving at Wentworth in a BMW were delighted to learn that the sponsors had provided them with their own car park. Elitism or what?
• Popular TV commentator Peter Alliss, is one of six players with a share of the low score for 18 holes in this Championship. Back in 1961 he shot a 63, which, in those days, was six under par.
• Despite two eagles - at the fourth and 12th - Ernie Els could only manage a level-par third round. A triple bogey at the seventh didn't help.
• 19 under is the record low winning score, which definitely won't be beaten this year. Since Ernie Els toughened up the course recently, it may never be beaten.
• The cut this year fell at three over. Back in 1963, when there was nothing more powerful than persimmon woods, even those at 13 over made it through to the final two rounds.
• A bad back forced reigning champion David Howell to pull out before a ball was hit. After watching the action for the first two days, he stayed at home on day three because it was, "Too frustrating watching others having fun," he said
• Sam Torrance, presently doing battle at Kiawah Island in the U.S. Senior PGA Championship, holds the record (32) for the most appearances in this event.
• The forecast rough weather has brought forward the final day's tee-off times half-an-hour so that the first pairing will hit off at 7 a.m.
May 26, 2007
Although in his 60s, with a handicap of 15 and lifetime earnings comfortably below $100, Clive Agran nevertheless still believes he can win a major. Arguably England's most gifted golf writer, when not dreaming of glory he's scouring the globe simultaneously searching for lost balls and great golf courses.
With stellar play on the back nine at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington shot a 69 in the final round to earn a four-shot victory and become Europe's first back-to-back British Open champion in more than a century. He earned nearly $1.5 million and climbed to No. 3 in the world rankings. "I'm really thrilled with the way I felt today on the golf course," Harrington said. "I hit the ball as pure as I could and just felt really good."
... full article »