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The Open, Royal Liverpool Betting Preview

Hello! Sorry it’s been a while, the weather has been BEAUUUTIFUL up North, which if you are from England will know this doesn’t happen all too often. This weather only means one thing, evening rounds of golf after work YES!!!

Anyway, its Open week, actually there’s only a day to go so let’s get to it!

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I love the Open, I’ve been the past few years and we’ve made it a tradition ever since. We’re off to Hoylake on Sunday for the final round and I cannot wait! I think this year more than ever it is completely wide open.

Rose, Mcilroy, Mcdowell are all in with a shout along with half the field, annnnnnnnd Tigers back! Tiger coming back is always good for golf and of course adds a little more excitement to the competition. Whether you are a player or a spectator, you want Tiger there over the weekend!

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So my tips, take these with a pinch of salt as I really can’t call this one!

The actual course is a 7,312 yard par 72 with 4 par 5s that are so vital to finding a winner – The last time it was held at Hoylake in 2006, Tiger shot a remarkable -14 on those 16 trips to the longer holes and it was a big contribution to his -18 total that won him the trophy by 2 shots from Chris DiMarco.

His game plan? Tee to green master class.  With the weather in everyone’s favour he found 85.71% of fairways (1st in Driving Accuracy for the week) and 80.56% of GIR (1st for GIR.)

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You are going to need a solid and accurate game from tee to green in order to win any Open Championship.  If you do find the hay then it is just as important how you recover, therefore scramblers always seem to do well.

Justin Rose, coming off a win up in Scotland Rose’s game seems in fine form ready for Hoylake, is it his time to lift the claret jug?

G-Mac The French open saw Mcdowell as he ground his way to another European title. His all round game suits Hoylake, getting up and down is what he does best, he’s a grinder, this sets up for him very nicely.

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Rickie Fowler, we have been raving about Rickie all year, we can’t stop now, he has to win at some point right?

Webb Simpson, you will NOT win the Open without a good putting stroke. Actually you won’t win a lot without a good putting stroke, luckily this man has one of the best putters in the game! 2 top 3 finishes in his last 4 will also fill the American with confidence.

Zach Johnson, again another contender, 2nd last week at the John Deere, his short game is impeccable, I think he will contend for a top spot as he picks apart Royal Liverpool.

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There’s so many to pick from this week, it really is tough to call, outsiders for me are,

Shane Lowry, we saw enough of him at the Scottish Open to suggest he could be in for a career defining week, a game suited to the links courses with both of his wins coming from the coastal ranks. Shane is arguably playing some of the best golf of his career right now.

Danny Willet’s game is right there at the moment, being an Englishman he will feel right at home on Hoylake and with a decent showing at Scotland he could be a real outsider..Could be.

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Do you guys have any tips? Or have you been to Hoylake before and have any course tips, where to go, stand, which grandstands to go to etc, get in touch and let us know, otherwise enjoy the golf!

That’s all for now folks, thanks again!

I’ll have  couple of course reviews coming up soon and lots more to come, stay tuned. As always if you enjoy my Ramblings you can follow me on twitter @shaun_lloyd4.

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World Cup Ambushed!

I don’t know if you have noticed but the World Cup has been occupying most of the television the last few weeks, im not complaining, football on TV every day is how it should be, since coming home and watching nothing but football for the past few weeks something stood out for me…sponsors.

Now take a minute and think of brands you have seen over the World Cup, name 3 or 4? Bet there not the official sponsors, this is ambush marketing at its finest.

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Before I explain, Nike are the masters of this technique! Paddy power are too!

Ambush marketing is a marketing strategy wherein the advertisers associate themselves with, and therefore capitalize on, a particular event without paying any sponsorship fee which in this case would be extortionate.

I studied this at University where consumers are drawn to brands that don’t pay the extraordinary fees others do to get brand awareness; it’s a technique not many can truely master!

Going back to my question, brands I think of from the World Cup are; Fosters, Nike, and Beats by Dre, now none of these are actual sponsors of the World Cup!

The actual sponsors are: Coca- Cola, adidas, Budweiser, Sony, Visa, McDonalds, Kia, Emirates, Continental to name a few.

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So what does the research say?

The research project involved the business asking members of its real-time panels in the UK, US and Brazil to identify sponsors. Respondents were asked to pick official World Cup sponsors from a list of 38 brands, both official sponsors and their non-sponsor rivals.

Two-fifths (38%) of UK, US and Brazilian consumers mistakenly think MasterCard is a World Cup sponsor, with rival credit card brands Visa scoring just 4% higher recognition at 42%, according to research from GlobalWebIndex.

Other brands not officially linked to the tournament but which scored high recognition as “sponsors”, included Carlsberg in the UK. Budweiser is the official World Cup beer sponsor.

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Non-sponsor Pepsi, which has been running football-themed advertising, scored the highest awareness as a World Cup “sponsor” among US consumers. Nike, which  launched a humorous five-minute animated epic, was selected as a sponsor by nearly a third of UK and US consumers.

Meanwhile, a fifth of UK consumers also thought that Samsung is a FIFA sponsor.

MasterCard has not sponsored the World Cup since 2006, when it discontinued its 16-year association with the tournament.

On a more positive note for those brands forking out millions of pounds on sponsorship of the Brazil World Cup, Coca-Cola, a sponsor since 1978, and Adidas, a sponsor since 1970, gained the highest recognition as World Cup commercial partners.Fabregas-Pepsi-pepsi-2251258-1024-768

Coke’s association proved the most resonant for consumers, with two-thirds of UK and US consumers selecting the brand.

So what draws you to the brands that actually don’t sponsor the World Cup, the bright yellow Nike football boots? Neymar appearing on every other advert there is? The catchy adverts showing beach volley ball, funny cartoons or social media ‘buzz’?

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For me all of the above, for example Nike, they put themselves IN the game, the extremely high visible boots that everyone seems to be wearing, they have managed to integrate themselves within the World Cup, like they did in past Olympic games and other sporting events. The Nike logo visible or not becomes irrelevant when people associate the bright yellow colour to Nike football boots. That combined with their perfectly placed adverts places their products at the forefront of peoples minds!

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So yes, I think ambush marketing definitely works, why would clever brands pay so much to be official sponsors when they can still get awareness and recognition just the same? On the other hand it can also back fire, association to certain brands/services etc can give you a bad image, damage your reputation and of course really p*** off those who fork out millions to sponsor the event!

What are your thoughts on ambush marketing? Do you think it works, do you even agree, I’d love to know!

Pinehurst No.2, 114th US Open

Let’s get straight to it, the second of the majors gets underway this week with the 114th US Open, at Pinehurst No.2. Woooooooooooooooo!

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Did you know… ( I didn’t either)

Twelve of the 14 US Open winners this century have been aged between 26 and 37 – only Woods and McIlroy have won at an age younger than 26 and in the case of those two world class stars such players are always likely to buck trends. Reducing the age range of the last 14 winners further, exactly 50% of them have been aged between 29 and 33.

So what does it take to win the US Open?

Well, in 2010, Pinehurst underwent a massive renovation that completely changed the way it plays. The course cut 35-40 acres of area that was just fairways and rough.

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‘The course now consists of 50 acres of turf, all maintained at fairway mowing heights, essentially eliminating the higher rough. The rest of the marginal areas were transformed into irregular, sandy ground dotted with wispy, unpredictable wiregrass. Bunkers that had been grown over also were reclaimed, while some existing ones were tugged and extended into lines of play.’

So yes, now it has been cut back it does allow the longer hitters to have a little more room when they hit bombs but I think Pinehurst will still have enough bite to punish those wayward drives to make some think twice for their risk and reward.

However for me I still think it’s going to come down to strong approach play, tight recovery shots and a magical touch around the greens that will Unlock Pinehurst No.2 come weekend.

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Although Rors and the inform (never really out of form) Adam Scott are favourites I honestly think it’s somebody else’s day… Not Jason’s either (apologies for the pun!)

To me this favours players like Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell and Zach Johnson. They aren’t the most intimidating off the tee, but they understand that putting the ball where it needs to be is more important come Sunday!

Other favourites for me are Matt Kuchar, steady eddy, a few hiccups here and there so far in 2014 but Matt’s always there, scrambles well too which will be key at Pinehurst!

Another one for me is Jason Duffner, another easy going guy, but hey what do I know, let’s wait and see, bring on Pinehurst!

Who’s your pick to win the US Open? Who will rule the weekend at North Carolina?

 

Major issues for Tiger

So Tiger announced last week that he will be missing the US Open in a couple of weeks…Noooooo! I don’t know about you but through his trials and tribulations, injuries and so on I just want to see Tiger back to his best, and at the top of that leaderboard.

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A question so many ask and I guess only time will tell, will he pass Nicklaus, will he get passed 18? Well not by missing majors he won’t!

There is nothing magical about the age of 38 for many professional athletes. Late thirties bring about certain changes in an athlete’s body, you start to slow, injuries keep popping up and the majority have sights set on their future after they fall in to retirement.

The minority who preserve themselves thanks to good genes, habits, luck, Ryan Giggs’ Yoga DVD, you name it know the clock is ticking. Okay golf is a little different, plus you get the senior tour too, however when you’re talking about beating records, age has everything to do with it!

Even for the great Jack Nicklaus. “My golf game can only go on so long,” he said……. at 38.

One might have been an unmarked intersection out in the country, the other a junction with bright, flashing lights in a big city, but Nicklaus was at a crossroads when he was 38 as Woods finds himself in the same situation. At that point of their careers, there are similarities and differences between the legend who set the standard and the one who is trying to eclipse it.

Nicklaus, who turned 38 on Jan. 21, 1978, had gone two years without winning a major championship after capturing the 1975 PGA at Firestone CC for his 14th professional major title (a number that wasn’t used nearly so much as 16, which included his two U.S. Amateur victories). In the 1977 Masters and British Open, Nicklaus had been beaten by a younger man, Tom Watson.

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“Sure you wonder if you’re going to win again,” Nicklaus said,

For Nicklaus, major No. 15 was indeed a drought-buster — although he had won eight regular tournaments since the ’75 PGA — but it wasn’t being plotted as an essential way point on a journey. When he won the 1973 PGA Championship, it was Nicklaus’ 12th pro major, surpassing Walter Hagen’s 11, and 14th overall, bettering Bobby Jones’ 13. Nicklaus would have plenty of opponents after August of ’73, but history wasn’t one of them.

He was so competitive, and so good, that a back stretch with a target number at the finish line might well have pushed Nicklaus to win more than 18 majors — converting at least a few of the 17 top-four major finishes he had after the ’73 PGA into victories.

That is speculation. The reality is that Woods’ hopes of surpassing the great Golden Bear are slowly fading, missing the Masters and now the US Open, you wonder if he can find that fire in his belly again to compete let alone win another 4 majors.jack-nicklaus-tiger-2009-vert-apjpg-2a840c9d9c356a31

Fourteen was just a number for Nicklaus. For Woods, it is a punctuation mark no one ever dreamed would be a period. Since then he’s hit trouble in some way or another, many thought last year could see his return, Tiger was on the prowl, however another set back meant he fell short of another major success.

“I know I’ve won with something besides the shots,” Nicklaus told Deford in 1978 after rediscovering his major touch, “but I don’t know for sure what that something is.”

Well the first thing Tiger needs is a new back, knee, hip, and elbow that all work, joking!! Once fit again he needs to find that ‘something’, that very same something that made him one of the most remarkable athletes of his era, that desire, that passion to win, that.. fear factor! Tiger, who once seemed to overflow with it, needs some magic!

What are your thoughts, reckon he will match or pass the great Jack Nicklaus or will he fall short on his mission to conquer the great game. Let me know.

 

Sports Science- Rory Mcilroy

Now technology is now at the forefront of golf, from drivers and irons to clothing which helps you swing better. Nike have created some pretty cool campaigns of late advertising their new line of equipment, from old to new, it’s funny, creative and eye catching.

This is a good insight from ESPN on the Sport science on putting! Check it out!

The old saying ‘it’s like putting on glass just won’t be the same again will it, no excuses now!’ damn it!

Source: ESPN Sport Science

Where it was won, The Masters!

A week on and we take a look at how the Masters really won!

A Masters without Tiger just didn’t seem possible, however this year marked the first year Tiger didn’t feature at Augusta since 1995!! This undoubtedly opened the door for so many, now yes Tiger may not have been in the form of his life but I still believe he has that ‘Tiger’ Factor, he would still have taken the favourite spot! This gave a massive opportunity to those in the field to showcase what they truly had!

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Off the back of several top ten finishes many thought Matt Kuchar would come close to wearing that green jacket, however few stumbles in the final round saw him drop to T5 along with Rickie Fowler.

Jiminez marked a late challenge for the green jacket however it was too little too late, however he finished nicely in 4th spot, the Spaniard was the only one looking to challenge the two at the top.

Moving day

The 3rd round found 8/9 players in with a shout, however that soon went down to four at the midway point, Kuch, Fowler and Young Swede Jonas Blixt fluttering with the top spot however Bubba Watson started to show signs of his former Masters form!

The American left-hander, 35, shot a final-round 69 to win by three after overhauling a two-shot deficit on his co-overnight leader Spieth on a sultry day at Augusta. Watson became the 17th player to win two Masters titles, eight of whom have gone on to win three or more Green Jackets. He showed signs of brilliance where so many faltered, his short game accuracy, his distance off the tea, he just didn’t seemed phased by any of it, he proved myself and im sure a lot of people wrong when he grabbed his second win at Augusta.

Stand Out?

Jonas Blixt was one of two who stood out for me, the young Swede came from absolutely nowhere to grab a slice at Augusta but fell short towards the end when his birdie run dried up.

The other stand out was of course Jordan Spieth. A debutant Spieth, 20, was bidding to beat Tiger Woods as the youngest ever winner and duelled with Watson for much of the day, but the Texan’s chances were sunk in the water of Amen Corner and he carded 72 to end five under.

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So where was everybody else?

Justin Rose started round 4 nicely after struggling in the first couple of days, although he seemed to struggle to go low towards the end and ending any hope of putting an early low score on the leader board. Westy, well he did what he does best, play better than everybody tee to green and just couldn’t get that putter warm enough. Adam Scott and Rory two more  favourites who just couldn’t get in to the swing of things (apologies about the pun 😉 ) and Luke Donald still struggling after some swing changes which have left him fall short of his sublime form.

What next?

After his first Masters win Bubba had a bit of a hangover didn’t he, leaving him waiting till 2014 for his next victory on Tour at the Norther Trust Open, hopefully he can replicate his masters form and kick on this season!

I fancy Kuch to have another good season, he’s a safe bet, whether he can get to the finish line is another question. Westwood, well hopefully he gets the flat stick working, his game tee to green is second to none and that could see him up there this season, a major though? I’m not sure. Spieth and Fowler are looking good so far, Spieth may taper towards the end of the season, he’s young and a long season could take its toll, however I feel Fowler isn’t far away from something special!

Thanks for stopping by, see you soon!

 

Jordan the 2nd

Where to start with this one…

America has already seen one of the best Jordan’s to grace the sporting world, so is it time for one more?

He might not be an NBA legend like Michael, however Jordan Spieth, who last year won the John Deere Classic to became the fourth youngest PGA Tour champion and also the first teenager in 82 years to win on the PGA Tour, is about to set the golfing world on fire!

Everybody watched Sunday right?

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Composed (most of the time), creative, mature (again at times) and with that instinct you just don’t see in every young kid? Yep and he’s only 20 years old! I am slightly envious being 2 years older than him and still hacking at my local club yes!

Now before we get started I hate to say I told you so.. however..I told you so, see our first blog on ones to watch for the year.

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Without a doubt Sunday was the start of something, something just a little bit special! I’m sure he won many fans over last week, and it’s not hard to see why!

He poses an excellent short game, and is just an incredibly talented young guy, however this isn’t what separates Spieth from the other young potential pool of talents out there. Spieth conducts himself in a completely different manner to the other youngsters out there, he’s calm, collected and could be… ‘could be’ mentioned in the same breath as Mcilroy. Not yet I admit, but he isn’t too far away!

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For me, Rory McIlroy represents the RAW talent in the game, so many youngsters progress to be a pro and so many fall short.

Rory for me, is the only player since Tiger to have capitalised on their raw talent, with two major wins in 2012. Rory knew he had this, he just had to unlock his true potential. Dustin Johnson is up there and has improved year upon year, and Jason Day too!

Oppositely you look towards Adam Scott, he has in my opinion the best swing in the game, and was labelled the next ‘Tiger’ and yet it took him an age to realise just how good he was, since winning the green jacket last year he just looks ruthless!

But Spieth? He’s here to stay, in my eyes a definite future major champion, this year or next? Maybe, maybe not he, consistency is key in my eyes, once he gets on that ladder he will definitely be up there for good!

Now Rory and Tiger showed promised potential, Jordan’s obviously got a long ladder to climb before being in the same ball park as Tiger or Rory but this could definitely become possible!